Sunday, June 2, 2013

22 miles from Canada: Another Little Feet Adventure

 Twenty-two miles from Canada. Not too far from home but it certainly feels like it. I started out in the early afternoon driving to Glacier and exploring the Camas Road. There are a couple of ways to go to the North Fork area and Polebridge. A state road from Columbia Falls , The Camas road and the Inside North Fork Road. I believe the Inside Road is blocked off at a certain point due to weather. Most likely snow run off that has made the road impassable. The Camas Road is part paved and about half is dirt and gravel. Best to head up this stretch with a set of good tires. Heading north we drove through the remnants of the 2003 Roberts Fire. This was a man made fire that burned 3200 acres in the first 24 hours. It combined with the Wedge fire which was caused by lightning eventually burning over 100,000 acres. In the picture below you can see the burned trees still standing and the new growth under story about 4 to 5 feet tall after ten years of recovery. Among the new evergreens there is bear grass and huckleberry blooming .
McDonald Lake through the remains of the Roberts Fire

Bear Grass up close

McDonald Lake
 Ten years after the fire scarred the area, there is renewed habitat inviting new fauna and flora. Below looking East towards Glacier proper, the North Fork is full with winter melt and has the lovely green blue color from the rock flour carried down from the high mountains.
Glacier National park
 Thirty five miles later meandering through Northern Montana I arrive at Polebridge. This small area is well known for it's camping and outdoor experiences. It also has a nice bakery and saloon.
Hang a right
 Below is the bakery/Mercantile . It changed hands a few years ago and has a reputation for it's baked goods and some local jewelry. It is largest building with the saloon next door in a rustic one story building.
Polebridge Mercantile
 Two Miles north is a bridge that crosses the river. On the other side of the river is an entrance to the Park. The ranger station is not manned. There is a stop sign and message that invites those with a proper pass to move on through. A huge optimistic statement of the human race that the people without a park pass will turn around and return home.
We have been blessed with rain and the local flora is eye gouging gorgeous in the spring baby green . The roads inside the park on the way to Bowman Lake are basically one lane although you can squeeze two cars passing if you close your eyes and scream. 
 A view from the west side of the North Fork River, looking at bridge to the ranger's station. Bowman creek empties into the river slightly upstream.
North Fork of the Flathead River 2 miles North of Polebridge
 Bowman Creek below frolicking through the greening meadow. This is happy water . As the trip has progressed , the skies are clouding up. 6 more miles to go to Bowman Lake. I am hoping for possible rain but snow is not out of the question.
Bowman Creek

The unmanned Ranger station on the way to Bowman Lake
 Below the destination achieved. Bowman Lake in near black and white. The clouds have gathered and it is 5:30 PM  . The sun doesn't really set till after  9 PM however I am not sure I would want to be hanging out as it gets darker. The information board states that cats have been seen in the area and to keep young children close.
Bowman Lake
 A nice green marshy field before the Lake. It looks about 4 acres. I was hoping for a moose or something but probably too early for the dusky meal. The wetlands in the area are always a delight.
Marshy cove

Looking at the south shore of the lake
The forest is quite dense in places. It makes you wonder if keeping the windows down is a good idea. The trees are thick enough to hide Mr Griz. Other areas that have been burned are more open but have dense short growth that could also provide cover . 
 My partner in crime, the ever Coveted Marley is enjoying the lake below. He is my daughter's dog but has been hosteling with me while she is on the move. He is enjoying nature's finest pure water . It is still a bit chilly so I didn't have to chase him into the water after an unplanned swim. Maybe later in the season.

We took the outside North Fork Road home . A good 10 miles of gravel road but some fuzzy friends were hanging by the side for a nibble. Bouncing south on the gravel and dirt road towards Columbia Falls another satisfying day of hiking and sight seeing.

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