Saturday, August 25, 2007

#6 - Cut Bank & Hingham

Monday, Aug. 20: It was finally starting to rain and clear the air of smoke as we rolled out of Whitefish. It was a welcome relief after weeks of hot dry weather. There was very little traffic over Marias Pass and we made good time. After stopping for lunch in East Glacier, we continued on to Cut Bank, which would be our base camp for three nights. We set up camp at a small RV park overlooking Cut Bank Creek. According to local history, Lewis and Clark camped at or very near this spot in 1804. It was very windy but we had a great view of the railroad trestle. We could watch trains and beautiful sunsets at the same time. On the down side, we had no internet access and marginal cell phone service. The computer age was slow to arrive in Cut Bank. However, we did find a Super 8 motel with Wi-Fi and were able to check our email in their parking lot.
Cut Bank Creek formations --- Riverview RV Park

Tuesday, Aug. 21: We took a day trip to the small town of Hingham, about 100 miles east of Cut Bank. Hingham is another significant place in Ron’s family history and he hadn’t been there in decades. The Kindschy family moved to Hingham from South Dakota around 1900, established a farm and raised 12 kids. One of the 6 daughters was Olivia, Ron’s grandmother on his mom’s side. All members of the Kindschy family eventually went their separate ways. The big old barn, pig pens, chicken coops, farm implements, windmill, and animals are all gone now and the driveway is knee high in dry prairie grass. But the old farmhouse still stands. It’s boarded up and probably beyond repair, but it’s still there and not yet eroded away by time and the elements. Ron was lucky to have experienced this house in the 1950s when it was full of activity, family life and good times. Now, it’s sad to see it standing alone and silent against the wind and amid the amber waves of Montana grain.

The old farm house --- Grain elevator along the Hi-line

#5 - Glacier Nat'l. Park

Sunday, Aug. 19: The Flathead Valley was still full of forest fire smoke, but rain was finally threatening and temperatures were dropping. We grabbed the opportunity to spend a day in Glacier National Park. It was only a half hour drive to West Glacier. We snooped around the Apgar campground and village at the south end of Lake McDonald, then parked in the new transit lot to await the shuttle bus to the summit of Logan Pass.

The famous Going to the Sun Road was battered by avalanches and flooding last winter. Crews were patching it up in places and, to minimize traffic, a shuttle bus program was being offered. It’s convenient, free and does reduce auto traffic. However, it didn’t lessen the white-knuckle experience and extreme terror that Bonnie experienced as we wound our way along the narrow twisty bumpy ledge thousands of feet above the valley below. We made it up and back but Bonnie may never go that way again.

Logan Pass -- Hidden Lake in background

From the Logan Pass visitor’s center we hiked the 3 miles (round trip) to the Hidden Lake overlook. It’s a good uphill climb but we managed to get there in good shape, although the altitude and smoke didn’t help. Even through the smoky haze, the scenery was beautiful. We saw a marmott, a family of ptarmigans, aother small critters nd six or eight mountain goats, some just a few feet away. The humans were generally respectful and didn’t bother the goats at all.

Later in the afternoon, as we were listening to a ranger explain the link between global warming and loss of glaciers, a frisky year-old grizzly cub came romping into the area. He was having a good time and minding his own business. Momma bear wasn't in sight so the rangers chased the little fella out of the area as quickly as possible, with a herd of tourists following closely behind with cameras clicking.

The trail back --- The young grizzly

We visited the East Glacier side of the park on Wednesday, Aug. 22. Ron’s grandfather worked for the Great Northern RR, was the station agent at East Glacier for many years and lived above the station. We visited the RR station, the Glacier Park lodge and took a side trip to Two Medicine Lake and Trick Falls. We also stopped at the studio/museum of famous Montana wood carver John Clark and spent a few minutes with his daughter Joyce, a long-time family friend. East Glacier has always been a favorite place and has a lot of family history and memories. Time to move on . . .

Trick Falls --- Bonnie relaxes at Two Medicine Lake