Part 2: Snowmobiling in Yellowstone during the Shutdown.
There were just two months to get ready for this trip and so much to learn and prepare for. I actually enjoy this part of a trip just as much as I do the trip itself. It extends the anticipation.
To set a plan in action I needed to:
1. Find someone to go with
2. Learn how to snowmobile
3. Book everything
I had some amazing help along the way.
The first task was much harder than I anticipated.
Finding adventure partners to join me. I started by asking friends and family but found that the short notice, expense of this trip and lack of passport were a deterrent. My husband could not be convinced to go on vacation with me in minus double digit temps. And though my daughter was keen she would not know her schedule until late Dec. I then went on to contacting perfect strangers who I thought might be into a trip like this. Photographers who I follow on Instagram, Youtubers with videos about adventuring to cold places, basically anyone who looked up for this extreme type of adventuring was accosted by me.
By mid Dec I still had no one to join me and there was the threat of a shutdown looming.
Which in all previous shutdowns has closed National Parks. I was most definitely worried about the reality of this trip happening. And my very rare N-CGSAP going to be unused. But when I felt into the future it overwhelmingly felt like it was going to happen and be a success.
Little did I know I was just a couple of days away from learning my daughter could join me and that much to Trumps ridiculous part in the shutdown he had decided to keep the National Parks open! My passes would still be honored even though there was no one working to honor them...
Learning to Snowmobile was a crucial step for this adventure.
In a stroke of luck of my husband had met a couple who teach avalanche safety courses when he designed a website for their electric bike company. Rob and Saari of www.bcsnowmobile.ca took my daughter and me up Mt. Washington for a crash course in riding and safety and, of course, crashing and rescue. They were so keen to share their knowledge of riding/snow safety and techniques and we ended the day with the confidence that we could manage 5 days on snowmobiles in Yellowstone. It was honestly one of the most fun things I have done ever and I would highly recommend, even if you already know how to snowmobile, take a course from these guys. It could save your life one day.
So much needed to be booked to make this possible.
The logistics of flying into a place and then going snowmobiling for several days were huge.
The north entrance of the park sees the least amount of snow and it was looking like that entrance may not even be passable by snowmobile leading up to the trip. But I spoke with a ranger and they assured me that if that were the case I could use the west entrance. However, that was before the shutdown. As luck would have it they did get some snow at the north entrance.
We rented 2 BAT certified snowmobiles from www.bigboystoysrentals.com along with a trailer and some other snow gear. And a 4x4 Toyotal Tacoma from www.explore-rentals.com these guys were amazing to deal with and the truck was awesome for towing the sleds!
I found some great hotels for the trip. I was flying into Bozeman and had some things to do there, like buy food, get my camera sensor cleaned, pick up my daughter from the airport the next day... So I found the cutest hotel to stay at for 2 nights. The RSVP hotel had been recently renovated into a very chic place to lay your head, with a fabulous breakfast restaurant called the Farmer's Daughters, where I discovered my new favorite food, beet cured salmon!
After getting everything I needed in Bozeman, it was off to Gardiner for 3 nights at the Park Hotel Yellowstone. I booked the penthouse suite in this historic building overlooking the North Entrance to Yellowstone. Also newly renovated they did not miss a detail in the design and accouterments. We had a full kitchen to prep meals, two very comfy beds and a view worth a million bucks!
The pass was for Jan 7-11th So we would stay at the Park Hotel from the 6-9th and then move into the interior of the park and stay at the Old Faithful Snowlodge for the last two nights of the passes.
I would then go back to Bozeman to return sleds and truck and fly home. In Bozeman I just used my aeroplan points to book into MyPlace a pretty generic but actually fairly comfy hotel that had the bonus of having a kitchenette for cooking.
Well that's the logistics. I wanted to also shout out to Bozeman Camera for the rush job on my sensor and the great gear I picked up that really helped with the trip. Check back for more on this adventure including the adventure within the park and some cold weather gear lists.