Last week we took a tour of Eastern Montana, along US Highway 2, also know as the "Hi-Line." This is an area of Montana where few tourists venture. We had never been out there, so we decided to give it a whirl.
We left Polson on Friday and made our way to Glacier National Park to go over the Going to the Sun Road. Just before the trail head to Johns Lake, a small black bear crossed the road in front of us. The Weeping Wall was in full sob..the west bound cars couldn't possibly get by without getting drenched. Just past Bird Woman Falls, there was a nice Big Horn Ram browsing along the hillside.
Snow at Logan Pass...on July 11???
Columbian Ground Squirrel - Spermophilus columbianus
Glacier Lillies in bloom at Logan Pass
Another Ground Squirrel
Logan Pass has a visitor center and is the trail head for a couple of very popular trails. There was still lots of snow so the Highline Trail was closed. The trail to Hidden Lake was open, but it was covered with snow, so we decided not to try it. We had done that trail in the snow a couple of years ago.
We went through Cut Bank, which many of you might have heard of on your evening weather reports..."Coldest spot in the nation yesterday was Cut Bank, Montana!"
We spent our first night on the road in Shelby, MT. They were having a 60s high school reunion that weekend, and while neither of us attended the local school, we got lots of curious looks everywhere we went...people were trying to figure out who we were and what year we graduated!
We went through several small towns on Rt 2, with names you are probably familiar with: Dunkirk, Joplin, Inverness, Kremlin, Harlem, Zurich, Malta... Well, you're familiar with the names, but not the locations in Montana! Chester, Montana, had a very nice welcome sign...as did many of the small towns across the Hi-Line.
We stopped in Havre, MT for lunch where we asked the waitress, "How far is it to Malta, MT?" Her initial response was, "Why do you want to go THERE?" Well, we wanted to go there because there is a National Wildlife Refuge near-by. Bowdoin NWR...I know you might think it is "BOW-dun" but out here it is "Bo-DOIN"!
The Rt 2 highway is very straight across much of Eastern Montana, and it it paralleled by a busy railroad corridor. Needless to say, most of the campgrounds were near the railroad tracks. The place we stayed in Malta, MT was right next to the tracks and there was a train every 40 minutes...all night. The tent shook! The ground shook! Paula was thrilled.
We decided to turn south from Rt 2 and head toward Great Falls, and visit the Charles M Russel NWR on the way. There was a nice 20 mile "auto-tour" through a small part of the refuge and we spotted a coyote, three elk, and a nice mule dear, as well as several birds and some great vistas along the Missouri River. There were also some interesting abandoned buildings along the route.
After spending a night in Great Falls, with no train traffic, we visited Benson Lake NWR, just north of the city. Lots of birds out there: Marbled Godwit with chick, several Eared Grebes, quite a few Ruddy Ducks, etc. Here's the chick heading down the road...
Marbled Godwit in flight.
Eared Grebe pair.
Ruddy Duck pair.
Eared Grebe and Ruddy Duck.
Red-Winged Black Bird in flight.
Red-Winged Black Bird.
We stopped in Lincoln, MT, for the night before visiting the Garnet Ghost Town and Sealey Lake, on the way back to Polson.
These two visited our campsite in Lincoln!
The Hotel at Garnet.
Honeymoon cottage in Garnet.
Growing beside the road in Garnet
More photos from our trip are on our website, ... Well, you're here now, aren't you!
Since this trip we have had a three day work session and are now "off" for our twelve day break. We're thinking about heading over to central Idaho for a few days before we have to go back to work. So, our adventure continues...
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