Monday, May 9, 2016

Day 6, Friday, May 6, 2016 Missouri Headwaters State Park, Montana to Missoula, Montana

“Yes, the weather here is wonderful
  So I guess I’ll hang around
      I could never leave Montana.
     Cause I’m frozen to the ground!”
     Hunt Talk Forums

The Back Roads Pay Dividends!
Invariably our route to Missoula, Montana is via I 93 through Butte to Deer Lodge and then Missoula.  Andrea and I decided to try something different…as many back roads as possible, discovering what is between the “start” and the “destination.”  Veering North on Hwy 287 from Three
Forks, Montana (named for the confluence of the Jefferson, Madison, and Gallatin Rivers) we arrived at Wheat Montana Farms Bakery & Deli, the first store they established.  It is here that they produce some of the most amazing Cinnamon Rolls known to hungry travelers.  Fortified with these delectables, we continued north and passed through beautiful irrigated wheat fields surrounded by towering mountain peaks.  With Helena National Forest on the left, Lewis and Clark National Forest on the right and a myriad of other mountains, the scenery was stunning.  The further we traveled on Hwy 287 the better it became, warping into breathtaking majesty especially after we turned onto Hwys 12, 141, and 200 where we encountered little towns with names
like Ovando, Clearwater, Potomac, Bonner and ranches that seemed straight out of “The Horse Whisperer.”  Passing over a cloud shrouded pass we connected with the Blackfoot River.  It is along this river where Andrea’s sister and Brother-In-Law (Bonnie and Gary) have a place nestled in the mountains.  Over the last two years visiting them, we have yet not to have a bear approach us as we have sat in their front yard.  This along with the ever present wild turkeys and deer make this a great site to visit.  Unfortunately, it is not an option in the RV as the road into their property is gravel, narrow and steep.  Along with the turkeys, deer, and bear, they routinely have elk as well as the occasional mountain lion and wolves in their hay field.  As remote as they are, Gary had to plow the road in the winter and neither Gary nor Bonnie missed a day of work before they retired.  Gary, with more rifles and handguns than Bonnie has sewing needles, does not hunt nor allow hunting on their property.  As a result, it is a pristine sanctuary where they have lived for more than 40 years.  The whole family loves it there and Gary, as eccentric as Bonnie is normal, is loved by all.  Beware, cross his locked
gate at your own peril.  Leaving your car to cross the gate, walking the mile or so downhill to their home through plentiful bear and mountain lion habitat, one then may then find themselves facing the owner, rifle in hand, gently directing you back to “the Hell where you came from.”

This area of Montana is a habitat wonderland.  With the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area adjacent to the Scapegoat, Great Bear Wilderness Areas as well as Glacier National Park, this “creates the second largest corridor of wilderness in the lower 48 states.” This provides the habitat needed to harbor some of the greatest wildlife diversity on the North American Continent.  I have never backpacked in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area, albeit I would like to, but I do not travel with any protection and thus feel terribly vulnerable in Ursus arctos horribilis habitat (Grizzly).  I’ve run into black bear a number of times while camping/backpacking and these are scary enough without protection…but the
Grizzly…I admit, I’m a sissy.  I camped with a couple of buddies (Joe Delaney and Jack Nichols) last summer and they do backpack in the Bob Marshall Area.  I’m pretty confident that I can outrun either of them so maybe they will invite me to join them sometime…hint, hint. 
Capt. Andrew Arvish
U.S. Army Air Forces
1942 - 1945

We will be stationed here in Missoula for a number of days visiting Andrea’s mom.  Then it is off to Orofino, Idaho for her dad’s memorial as we lost him last winter.  He was a wonderful, mountain of a man whose career in the U.S. Forest Service took Andrea’s family to some of the most remote and scenic areas in Montana and Idaho.  We miss him terribly and the whole family will be gathering for the memorial.   

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