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Discussion Starter #1
I've never snowmobiled before, but I've ridden off-road vehicles and jet-skis many times. I'm heading to West Yellowstone the first week of January. 500+ inches of snow a year...I know to respect that. What sort of things does a newbie like me normally forget? I've got sunscreen, snow glasses, a GPS..the normal stuff. I'm planning on riding a total of 4 days. Two w/guide, two without. I see from other post a backback is essential, got that. But seriously, I have been reading aobut avalanches in the area so my question is...how dangerous is this going to potentially be? I'm adventurous, but not stupid either. This should be a wild vacation. I'm stoked!
 

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If youve never snowmobiled before stick to the trails until your comfortable going off. Youll just give yourself a headache digging yourself out or worse. I am prob going there this feb for a week, you should have fun out there.

I see you already said GPS,snow glasses?, and sunscreen, don't forget to get a map.

As for things you forgot, I would just remember to bring plenty of layered clothing, its better to overpack than to underpack. I also always carry matches on me in a waterproof container, chances are you'll never need them, but If you ever do get lost or stranded you'll be glad you have them. I doub't youll really be doing much climbing or off trail riding, but if you do an avalanche probe (becon, or whatever you want to call it, is a good idea).
 

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one thing Im not sure you have is buddys. I would never ride alone in mountain areas. you might be ok if you stay on the trail but never get off by yourself. to many things can go wrong. break something hit a tree/ditch/rock, run out of gas, get hurt, berry your sled so bad you cant get it out by yourself. ( I just saw over at snowest that a group of 4 had to leave 2 sleds on the mountain cause they couldn't dig them out before the sun went down.

other things you might need. 2 gall gas can, cell if you got one, map, stay in the area west yellow stone is not that big you can find yourself were your not supposed to be easily.
 

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I would deffinatly not ride alone! I will be in yellowstone the first week in January as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I can't find anyone adventurous enough to go with me so I'm going alone. Knowing this ahead of time, I plan on playing it safe and taking a fully provisioned backpack with me every day. I'm flying in on the 6th, taking the Yellowstone 90 mile trip on the 7th. Taking a guide with me on the 8th outside of Yellowstone into the National forests. Then a day off to recover from a planned hard night of partying to watch the BSC championship game. Then 2 more days of being a sled-head on my own and returning to the flatlands of Ohio on the 12th.

From looking at the trail maps on-line. Most are well groomed but there are some that are little or not at all. The folks that planned this out are local and very nice to work with. I did ask them if I don't return on my solo days what then. They said they'd come find me which I thought was pretty funny but good to know. I do plan on purchasing some essential items (knife for one) when I get there and leaving them since explaining some items to airport security isn't worth the hassel.

From what I gather, this is a fairly "hot" time to be going to W. Yellowstone so there should be at least a few people on the trails if things go South quickly. I've got a 5 weeks to prepare so I appreciate all the replies here. I am taking this trip seriously and planning ahead so I can have a great time. I love snow, I love the mountains, but I respect them both. I didn't even know the term "surface hoar" until I started planning this trip.

I have a real newbie question. Do snowmobiles have any storage comparments at all like a jet ski does? I can't tell by looking at pictures.

Thannks again for the replies!
 

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once again the dumbest thing you can do is snowmobiling alone in the mountains. but if you have to be careful watch for tree wells, bumps in the snow, and hidden streams. to many things can go wrong, and I cant believe someone who has never snowmobiled before is going alone in the mountains. but good luck

as for storage. depends on what sled your renting. most do have storage on the seat or under the seat. its not much though. backpack is your best bet. or you could strap a bag on the tunnel behind the seat.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I'll be the first to admit this doing this alone isn't the smartest thing I've ever done. That's why I'm here, to learn what I need to do to arrive alive wherever I go. I'm not opposed to hooking up with other riders at all while I'm there. I just want to go have a good time and don't plan on taking any crazy chances.

I saw the Mountains for the first time this past October when I was in Denver for work and on an off day I drove on Trail Ridge Road http://www.nps.gov/archive/romo/visit/weather/scenicdrives.html into the Rocky Mountain National Park. That is what hooked me. Can't explain it, but it changed me in a good way. I appreciate life a little more and that alone makes me cautious. But the mountains call to me now. I've seen pix of the mountains over the years from other family member vacations, but to see the mountains in person, what a rush.

I also planning a trip with family to Wyoming next fall for some Muley hunting. Like I said, I'm hooked.
 

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Riding alone is never a good idea, but don't let it spook you or you wont have a good time as you'll be too consumed with what "could" happen. Yes, there are a lot of things that can happen but your there to have a good time so go for it, however, I would highly recommend trying to hook up with a group and tag along. Sledders are a great class of people and I'm sure you could find a few guys that will let you tag along, I wouldn't go out looking for the crowd with sleds Modded to the hilt though as they are probaly going into some territory not so much suited for a rookie. Hang out at the Lodge the day before or the night before and check things out, I wouldn't be surprised a bit if you could find a small group that would let you tag along.

IF you HAVE to go by yourself, have fun but be careful.
 

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MOUNTAIN RIDING, WHERE TO BEGIN?

First of all, mountain riding in the powder will be alot different then riding the flatlands. How different people tend to ask, it can be alot of work when you get into some fresh powder and the sled handling characteristics will be a little different as well. There will be more leaning and overall working the sled then just pin the trottle and hang on and turn when you want.

As far as the Park, if you never been there then you might want to see it but I have not riden in Yellowstone park for the last 5 to 6 years. To many people, trail riding only, highly enforced speed limits with pricy fines.

I would also check around and see if you can hook up with another small group of similiar riding style. You don't want to go by yourself if you don't have to.

You mentioned sunglasses??? the first week of January will be cold in the mornings and gets nicer as the day goes on. I've ridden in March in Yellowstone and then I've used only sunglasses but early in the year, goggles are the way to go. Just make sure you have some tinted goggles for when the sun comes out. I have rose, blue and amber, it all depends on the conditions and your preference.

What to bring?????

-Good backpack / waist strap and quick adjust shoulder straps.
-Small survial kit
-Map / compass!!!! (GPS if you have one is great)
-Waterproof boots
-Waterpoof outer clothing (gortex)
-Extra gloves / lightweight and warmer ones (waterproof)
-Layered clothing / under armor works great as a base layer.
-Shovel / saw combo
-Plenty of food and liquids, stay hydrated and have energy at the ready. You don't want to get altitude sickness.
-Multitool (leatherman)
-Make sure the sled has an extra belt and plugs!!!!!!!
-Clear goggles and a tinted pair, conditions change quickly, you may need to swap out a pair due to sunlight conditions or they might be icing up. Have a soft cloth with to wipe and clean goggles if they get iced up.


Riding tips:

-Turning in powder, remember to lean the way you want to turn and turn the bars in the oppisite direction, sounds crazy but it works.
-When you stop in powder, stop on someone else's track or with the front of the sled pointed slightly down hill. This is to avoid getting stuck.
-Getting stuck and digging out, take your time and do not over excert yourself. Getting run down and not taking in enought food and water will equal altitude sickness.
-Check the avalanche report at least once or twice. Early season is usually bad in areas.
-Don't ride alone off the trail system!!!!
-Speed limits are enforced on the trails, just ask my brother. [:(]


This is what came to mind right off the bat, so I may have forgotten something.

O, last but not least, have a great time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
You will love it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Excellent! Since I'm renting local machines it makes me wonder about the extra belt and plugs. I will check that for sure. I'm renting the outerwear so I trust they know more than I what I'll need. I was wondering about the goggles myself but until I see what kind of helmet they offer I might have to wait until I get there to get some that fit right. I just got some nice sunglasses designed for snow and more than one style/color so I should be covered there. I'm bringing extra clothes to store in the packpack, no doubt. I obviously have the choice to upgade the sled depending on the type of riding I plan on doing. I've been told that riding in deep powder is "where it's at" but the thought of purposefully getting stuck because I think I've becomed skilled enough in a few days is a pipe dream. What really surprised me is some sleds do work a lot better than others in powder. Leaning one way and steering the other in powder was exactly the advice I was looking for. I do not plan on putting myself in danger, but things do happen and I'm acutely aware of that. With so many different trails to explore there's no need to "prove myself" in order for me to have a great time. Lion's head trail itself is clearly for those more experienced than I and certainly not a trail I plan to take alone.

I have no problem admitting to others I'm not a pro either. I don't have a death wish by any stretch. Many of the trails I've read up on are fairly safe and well used so those are the ones I plan on sticking to. That is the primary reason on the second day outside of Yellowstone I'm taking a guide to gain as much local knowledge as possible before venturing out on my own. Having a day off before my two solo days gives me plenty of opportunity to stock up on supplies and potential to find others to hang with. Speed on the trails? Not an issue with me since I'll be too busy going slow to take in the scenery. [:)] I plan on getting trail maps and whatever else might be useful once I arrive. I'm not going to get much sleep the night before the first day of riding either since I'm coming into Bozeman so late in the day on Saturday (10:30 PM).

The alttiute sickness was something I was wondering about too. West Yellowstone is over 6 thousand feet and Two Top (one of my primary destinations) go close to 10. Hydration is key to handling the altitude. No way will my body acclimate in just a few days. The saw and shovel might be the one thing I don't have (unless it's provided by the rentals which is possible), but if I'm going it alone, I'll bit the bullet if need be. The one thing I do plan on doing if I get off-trail is to go where obviously others before me have. I can always come back after this trip and upgrade both the sled and where I ride.

The sled I'm renting for Yellowstone is obviously going to be a low-end environmental friendly one. For the next three days of riding I have options. I figure I'll upgrade a bit the 2nd day with the guide to see if I can handle it well enough to get one with more muscle when I go it alone. I don't see a need for me a new person to rent the best of the best because I just won't need it.

Bottom line, this trip should be awesome and I want to enjoy it as much as possible while being overly careful. The temp is getting down to minus 22 there tonight, now that's cold! I can't thank everyone enough for their responses. That's why I found this place and why I'm not hestiate to ask questions. Has anyone ridden the trails out there and have some local knowledge they'd like to share I can't gleem from reading trail reports? Also, what about gas? I'm assuming it's likely I'll run out the first free tank most days. It looks like there's plenty of places to get gas on the trailheads. What's a gallon going for these days in the mountains? How much does a sled generally hold?
 
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