Today we took a break from XC skiing and tried our hand at snowmobiling. We rented two Polaris 550 SHIFT snowmobiles from Travelers Snowmobiles across the street from the Days Inn complete with full body suits, helmets and boots. We planned on riding the groomed Two Top Trail, part of the Island Park snowmobile trail system. Riding a snowmobile, I quickly learned, was pretty much the same as riding a jet ski. It took a few minutes to get the hang out the clutch, but it was easy enough after that. We headed along the Streets if Wast Yellowstone to the edge of town where the trail began.

The rules of the road are simple… 45mph and as people pass you from the opposite direction hold up a hang to indicte how many folks from your group are behind (including yourself). The final person holds up a fist. Eric led at first. We switched after 15 minutes and I stayed in the lead after that. As it turned out, I was a faster and more bold rider so I made sense. We followed the track for an hour or so before pulling a few yards into the Two Top Divide turnoff. Here we dismounted our sled and strapped on the Atlas snowshoes we rented from Freeheel and Wheel. We weren’t about to spend the entire saying sitting of course!

We followed some old off trail snowmobile tracks to the top of the hill where we met up with Idaho. The border of MT and ID is within Island Park. We also discovered the Continental Divide Trailhead here. We journeyed into the virgin snowing trail… sinking deep into the snow even with the snowshoes. Eric fell in a drift and it took him about 5 minutes to stand up again since the snow was so powdery… plus it was much deeper than our trekking poles (over 4 feet). Heavy cloud cover blanketed the sky and snow fell softly around us. The forest was still and beautiful… and we moved painfully slow! We returned to our sleds three hours later to continue the Two Top Loop… unfortunately we continued amount the very bumpy Two Top Divide Trail and had to make an awkward U-turn when it dead ended. We got back on the real trail though. By then white mist hung above us. The air had the right amount of moisture and chill to cause a thick layer of frost over our face shields even though we lifted them at every stop. We had to ride with them up with the cold air cutting our faces… I had my baklava over most of my face though so it wasn’t too bad. Two Top is known for its views, but we couldn’t see anything int he distance with the low clouds and now heavy snow that fell around us as we drove to the high point. At some place I could barely see the long poles that marked the trail! Eric and I went off trail in some places where other sleds had packed down the snow, though this was not as much my thing. I liked going fast on straight track.

We descended to a bowl on the lower part of the trail and played a bit in the field. Eric got caught in a deep drift… pushing the throttle as be pushed while standing BESIDE the sled as opposed to being ON the sled proved to be a back idea as I got throw a bit, but it ended up freeing his snowmobile. We had time to spare and decided to get off the Two Top Loop and extend the trip by taking the Powerline Trail back to West…. a less used area with rolling hills and fun straight track!

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