The Story Behind Salsa Storysite No. 4

Today we launch our fourth Storysite, Montana Firetower Bucket Brigade. I had the opportunity to experience this trip firsthand.

Media partner Trina Ortega of Mountain Flyer Magazine on the final ascent to Garver Mountain Lookout on the first day of our trip—photo by Scott Haraldson ...

We first sat down to spitball an all women’s hut-to-hut in early March 2015. Our notes were cryptic: “Laura, Kelly, Media partner: Trina Ortega, (a couple of other names who ended up not making the trek), Utah? Tyax?” That was it.

As a first-time bikepacker, the idea of going from a permanent structure to another permanent structure was appealing—so it was decided we’d look into what other “huts” might exist and where they might be.

I don’t even remember who first mentioned the idea of a firetower-to-firetower destination, but we set about looking up options in the Oregon area (just because we wanted to go there), which quickly led to Idaho and Montana for the more attainable distances we were finding between lookouts.

We knew so little about what we wanted to accomplish going in, which held up our planning. In retrospect, I’d agree with Adventure Cycling Association’s Casey Greene on this point from his blog (which, once we found it, became a big inspiration for our trek): Start with a goal, however big or small, then work to attain it. We hemmed and hawed over whether we wanted this to be a singletrack trip or something other—ultimately, the towers we were able to book dictated our terrain (and bike choice) more than our preference did. If we’d gotten started three months sooner, we would have had many more options.

For the record, this is not a novel idea. People have been camping overnight in these fire lookouts for ages—and biking up to them for almost as long. But that’s what I love about this adventure: It’s defined by the people who experience it. I won’t give any more than that away—we want you to visit the storysite, after all—but I’ll leave you with this takeaway that I think embodies what each of these features has attempted to share: Inspiration to get out and ride.

The only night we could clearly see the sky—and Aurora Borealis—through the forest fire haze—photo by Scott Haraldson ...

We hope you enjoy Montana Firetower Bucket Brigade.

This post filed under topics: Bikepacking Cutthroat Kelly Mac Laura Haraldson Salsa Crew Travel

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Laura Haraldson

Laura Haraldson

Running and mountain biking with her dogs in the great outdoors—rain or shine, winter or summer—are two of the things you’ll find me doing when I’m not gathering inspiration from my daughters, Ella, Cora and Lili. I have a recent fascination with wellness topics that include circuit training, TRX, HIIT and any other fitness acronym of the day—a simmering-beneath-the-surface competitive edge means I’m willing to try any form of exercise once. Helping my husband Scott’s wedding and lifestyle photography biz offers a bit of creative balance to my everyday routine.


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