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On to Montana! June 14/15, 2013


Aiming for a Forest Service C/G on Idaho Hwy 12, we pointed Tergel's nose east.  As our road climbed, we followed alongside rivers racing down toward the Columbia – the Clearwater and the wild and scenic Lochsa River.  When the Lochsa river channel narrowed and white water became the norm, we began seeing rafts and kayaks ripping and ricocheting thru the water – everyone wearing wetsuits!  Jimmy and I looked at that white water and said, "no way!"  Too bad we couldn't pull over to watch or take a picture.  We passed groups of bikers laden with camping gear, etc., grinding up the mountain and marveled at their stamina.  The first C/G on Hwy 12 was closed.  However, Wendover C/G in the forest by the Lochsa River was empty when we arrived ($4 for old farts, no hookups, of course).  We needn't have worried about finding a campsite on Friday nite!  We hiked around some and then settled in for a quiet, chilly evening.  [39F the next morning]


Nice pull out site to eat lunch on the Lochsa River.


We're not only following Nez Perce footsteps, we're also in Lewis and Clark country.
Crisp and clear lands.


The river parted here and formed an island (where the logs are); the main river channel is on the other side of the island.  Our campsite in Wendover is to the right in this photo.


Common Bear Grass.  Doncha love the graceful dancing forms?
The stalks are about 3 ft high. 


Bear grass close up.

* * * * * * * * * * 

Saturday morning at Lolo Pass (5235') between Idaho and Montana, we stopped at the excellent Visitor Center.  They even serve coffee!  The rangers told us the Blue Camas Lilies were blooming a mile up in Packer Meadows.  They were so enthusiastic, we unhooked Smartie and took off to see the lilies.  As we neared the meadow, we thought we spotted a lake.  Not so!  A veritable sea of Blue Camas Lilies unfolded in front of us.  It was incredible!  Between the VC stop and ogling lilies in the field, I bet we killed an hour ... and it was well worth the time.


Yup, the intrepid explorers were here!


One word:  WOW!


Close up of the lily and an American Bistort
(plenty of them mixed in the meadow).




The Nez Perce people dug and prepared the blue camas (quamash) bulbs, steaming them in pits.  In 1805 Clark and his advance party were "growing weak for the want of food ... and have fallen off very much."  The friendly Nez Perce shared with them their quamash bulbs and bread that they made from it.

As soon as Jimmy and I left the VC, we descended into our second most favorite state (Montana).  We gassed up in Lolo Hot springs and then turned south on Hwy 93.  Sandwiched in a valley between grand snow-capped mountains, we had no set destination, passing by a couple of places that didn't suit us.  We finally chose a small $6 C/G out in the boonies called Spring Gulch (near Sula) located on the banks of the scenic Bitterroot River at 4100' in Bitterroot Nat'l Forest.  Another great place, but - again - full of voracious skeeters!  Dang things -- so many places this time of year are infested with 'em.  We bought our fishing licenses and a Styrofoam cup full o' worms today and we're ready to fish (guess we'll have to spray, eh?).  Other than bugs we enjoyed our time in this park.  One of these days we'll need to come out of the woods and return to civilization.  Come to think of it, we stay in these quiet, out-of-the-way parks because we enjoy the peace and don't really miss being "out of touch" -- just not forever!  (Plays havoc on regular blog posting.)  And that was our weekend!

Next up:  Adventure in Montana!

3 comments:

  1. That field of wildflowers blue you away eh? 39 degrees? Too much like winter for me.

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  2. Yea, the prettier the forest, the more lush the greenery, the thicker the mosquitoes. Sigh. I have all sorts of little repellant thingies that I use, but it does get tiresome. You are in an area that I mapped for soil survey in the 80's. I worked all along the Clearwater River to the Montana State Line at the crest of the Bitteroots. Familiar country to me as I look at your photos. I remember the Camas Prairie blue with Camas for as far as the eye could see. Another great place in Nez Perce country is the Weippe Prairie. I hiked into wilderness along the North Fork of the Little Clearwater, and have some fun bear and "bare" stories I'll tell you someday. Nice post, Nickie. Glad you have found your second most favorite state and hopefully the fish are waiting for you both.

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    Replies
    1. Thanx, Sue. Oh boy, I can't wait to hear your fun bear/bare stories! Missed the Weippe Prairie - save that for next time!

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