The alarm of birds chirping goes off well before sunrise. Even for the birds, this is early. The cool morning mist and temperature are but a soft and subtle hint of the lies the day brings. Enjoy it while it lasts, for the day is calling for a very different feel once the sun arises. Coffee is poured and the car gets packed with bike, paddle, fly rod, climbing shoes, and backpack with hopes of taking in this long awaited day from back in the depths of winter when the sun set too early. Long when the snow fell for what seemed like an eternity and long when Spring decided to show up and still ended up snowing. Now is the time we’ve all waited for, Summer. When the forecast for the day calls for what seems like an endless day of sunlight, sun screen, and a serious drunk off some Vitamin D. Welcome to Montana’s favorite season.

Let the ski bums, die hard snow boarders, and whiskey sipping old timers complain about how they miss winter, while the hoards of tourists and freed school children take to our shores like the battle of Normandy, armed only with camping gear and adventure toys. But even they I know smile ever so daintily with the arrival of the longest days of the year, while they too dust off the cobwebs from their camping and fishing gear and take to it.

The rivers swell for a little longer just in time for paddlers to enjoy the remaining days of the impressive runoff. The trout begin to frolic on the surface finally able to see the grass hopper and caddis pattern you’ve been waiting to throw, and the trails clear of snow, even at altitude, now lined with wildflowers and endless views of granite once caked with snow and lines of spring corn runs. Mountain bikers rejoice as the laundry days shorten of the spring mud runs that are now dried and ready to be flown down. And the ice tools, crampons, and base layers get replaced by shorts, crash pads, and chalk bags.

There is but one disclaimer to this incredible season, and sadly we fall victim. But the days’ haze begins to settle and the smoke of distant fires engulfs our valleys and cirques. Need not worry however as the days activities simply carry on much like the day dreams of looking forward to this day while attending school. With only one other speed bump in the days efforts of enjoyment being bear ready with spray attached to the waist, nothing will ruin the spirit of a long days play in the woods, mountains, or plains like a cold beer and the making of a campfire.

A barbeque outside with friends is the ultimate way to wind down the day. While the beers go down, reminiscing about the colors on the trout released, the speed blur of the aspen run on trail, the class four rapid and the buddy who fell out, the long hike in, or the exploration of something new in the countries forth largest state, summer beckons simply nothing but smiles all around. And with the beginning of the day starting with the birds singing to the enjoyment of the day’s arrival, they do so the same with the ending much like our coffee pour in the morning and our cracked beers in the evening. Nothing beats Summer.

Distinctly Montana