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Mud Riding in Glacier

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Published: June 16th 2017

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I never thought I would say that I went mud riding in Glacier, but today we did just that. But not before Mother Nature attacked us with all her mighty tiny blood sucking critters.

We headed back to the park today since the weather had cleared up. We decided on going to the more remote section to get away from the crowds and hopes of finding the elusive wildlife. If given the choice, I will always choose the road less traveled. I did a little reading before going and knew that some of the roads were not paved. But not sure we were prepared for the condition of the roads.

We took the Camas road on the west side which leads to the remote section of Polebridge and other areas. We stopped at a meadow (actually called a fen) looking for any type of movement, but the only things moving were the mosquitoes and they were full throttle. The area was very wet and after the rain yesterday, they were in mosquito heaven. We quickly got back into the car and moved on down the road. We stopped at a trailhead and opted to get out for a bit

before continuing to the deep forest.

The trail was a nature trail that took you through a section of the forest that had been part of a wildfire in 2001. This trail shows how the forest rejuvenates after such hot conditions. Though fires were once thought to be a horrible problem, research has shown that fires are actually beneficial to nature. So what does a forest look like 16 years after being scorched? Green – lots of green everywhere. The growth of the forest is not only in trees, but all sorts of bushes, flowers, plants and in return certain animals come to those areas searching for the very nutrients that are present during a forest fire recovery.

The trail started out great. Easy to navigate, not muddy, clearly defined so I opted to not put on hiking boots for it was only a mile long. I soon regretted that decision. The trail got smaller and smaller for it was taken over by the forest growth. The trail was hard to find in some places and I personally knocked off all of the rain from the trail plants and was soon dripping water from my knees down –

soaked through my jeans, shoes, and my socks. It was a most unpleasant feeling. The trail did not look like it had been utilized in quite a while. Mosquitoes were vicious. They were everywhere. They were landing on Donald’s hat, biting through my shirt – could not get away. Could not stop for the 10 that were hitching a ride would turn into 50. I was actually a bit nervous on the trail for the growth was so thick that if an animal had been lurking nearby, it would have been hard to see. There were no other people around and thoughts of ‘what if’ played through my head. But I pushed those thoughts out of my mind when every step started reminding me that not putting on my hiking boots was a bad decision.

After donating blood to the Montana mosquito population, we got back to the car and I changed my shoes – to the hiking boots. Only I would wear my tennis shoes on the trail and my hiking boots off the trail. We made our way to the unpaved section of the route, but the roads were in pretty good shape – just a bit

bumpy. Our car rental agreement stated “no gravel roads”, but we did not fully adhere to that rule. But if I had to, I could argue that there was actually very little gravel on the roads – it was mostly dirt, at least at this point.

After about 10 miles of dirt road, we stopped in Polebridge at the bakery. Everything I had read said to not miss that stop – that it was THE place to stop at and grab some goodies. So we did. Polebridge was a little community in the middle of nowhere. It had the bakery, a saloon, a few rental cabins and bathrooms. According to publications, the bakery was an actual mercantile many many many years ago. It was a unique place to stop.

We continued on into the park to Bowman Lake. Signs warn you that the roads are primitive but not sure we were prepared for how primitive they were. There were miles and miles of pot holes and mud holes everywhere. Donald was really testing his driving skills trying to avoid the ones that he could and carefully navigating the ones he couldn’t. When we arrived at the lake, we

saw signs stating that a mountain lion frequents the area but we were not fortunate enough to see him. We actually didn’t see any wildlife. But we did see a great view of the lake and mountain range behind it. The area is popular for kayaks and fishing and we saw plenty of those. We walked around a bit and then decided to head back out. But this time Donald turned into Mario Andretti on a Mario Kart race course. He was flying through the roads zipping in and around every mud puddle dodging oncoming cars and mud slinging everywhere. And our rental car that we are not suppose to have on these type of roads was white.

Once we made if off the mud hole road, we were back on the gravel road – which was better but the road grading machinery had left behind their tracks which created a continuous bounce. All of that caused us to realize that we could not venture to the other lake – 15 miles deeper in the forest. So we went back to the city area and toured a bit of the town of Whitefish.

Whitefish was a bustling tourist

town. It was definitely a higher scale type of place than the other towns we had visited and the prices reflected such. We ate a mid afternoon meal and toured a few of the shops before heading back towards Columbia Falls. We then decided to go check out the Montana Fur Trading Company located in the town of Hungry Horse. We did not find a horse in the town, but did find a fur. Donald wanted a real animal fur to put in our cabin and knew this was the place to get it. After much deliberation, he purchased a beaver fur. Since we were in the town, we decided to see the Hungry Horse Dam. It was bigger than I thought and looking down at it certainly puts a fear in you and a bit of vertigo. It was worth the quick stop and were even surprised to find a waterfall on the other side. We decided that was enough for today, so we headed back to the B&B and made plans for tomorrow.


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