Published: August 7th 2010August 2nd 2010
Entry 16: Lolo National Forest, Springboard to Glacier National Park, August 2, 2010
Grabbing a big ol’ mug of coffee, I finally made it out of Great Falls, Mont. around 7 p.m., taking scenic route 200 after a ten mile stint on I-15. Fifteen miles after that, I had a decision to make regarding the last 100 or so miles to Glacier National Park, my next stop. The more direct route, 89, had no “scenic route” designation, so I opted for the longer route.
Highway 200 seemed to extend forever. In my tired state, it was a surreal, time-warp kinda’ drive, with flashes of orange and yellows, sun and pavement, and Sophie staring right at my face the entire time. I passed the Continental Divide just as the Helena National Forest Started. The mountains were here.
I missed the turn at Clearwater, adding 40 miles and 20 minutes to my now-2500 mile trip. I was getting wearily, and was a bit started at the amount of development along Hwy 83. Passing a few official National Forest campgrounds, I finally found a suitable dispersed camping-possible road. I took the 3rd right, which turned out to be
the exact opposite of my earlier getting stuck on the mountain top by rocks. This time, the culprits were tree branches, both still living and littering the drive. 1-2 foot grass also framed semi-permanent tire indentations.
My tired state took me 2 miles back in; at my first site selection, the “shoulders” of the road were so thin that I couldn’t get the truck completely off the road (and would probably have to camp in the road). I was uncomfortable with both, so I traveled back down ½ mile, barreled the truck into a roadside gully, former truck merits be dammed.
It was completely dark, and I was too tired to even freak myself out. But, the site did it for us—the only spot to safely camp off the grass road was a 5-foot patch of land between some small trees and the hillside. In any case, I was too tired to worry about it. Sophie the dog got her nightly combing curled up in the backpackers tent’s small inside vestibule. There was a slight downward slope, and I awoke a few times to pull myself back to the top of my Army sleeping pad. I had
strange dreams about Methheads racing vehicles up the grassy road, past the tent and causing us to roll down the hill. At one point, I awoke convinced that I heard an engine racing, but it was only the creek located 100 feet below.
In the morning, at the crack of dawn, we took a 30 minute walk more up the road. I have a Diet Dr. Pepper in lieu of spending the time making coffee, and high-tail it back down the grassy road and onto 83. It seemed like it was taking a long, long time to get to Glacier. The 80 miles to near Kalispell then turned to 20 miles north, then 20 miles northeast, then 10 miles once inside Glacier National Park.
My first visit to the Park was beginning brightly with the notion that I would be here for 2+ days, and, thus, not be packing/unpacking twice a day (not to mention the long drives).
Sophie the Dog and I crept towards the Glacier National Park campsites…
There are more photos below