U.S. Northwest - Day 7


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North America » United States » Montana » Missoula
July 18th 2021
Published: July 19th 2021
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We woke up late and since our reservation wasn't until noon, we left the KOA around 9am. Soon into the trip we entered the Flathead Indian Reservation, populated by the Salish Indian tribes. It was obvious we were on a reservation when many of the road signs had a very different looking language on them. See the photo of one sign. As we got close to our destination, Big Arm Marine, we got a view that was amazing, so I turned off onto the next roadside area and we walked way back up the road to get some photos. Soon after that, we made the sharp right turn onto the road where Big Arm Marine & Rentals were located. There is also a restaurant, a group of cabins, and a number of private homes along the road. We went to check in for our noon trip around 10:30, so we walked up and down the lake for a while. A number of people came after us and rented either kayaks, speedboats, or a pontoon boat.

We got on our pontoon boat for the ride to Wild Horse Island, along with 4 other couples. What would have been a fun, scenic ride to the island became a free shower, for me at least, getting sprayed by water most of the way. We pulled onto the beach, literally since there are no docks, and climbed down off the boat. The first thing we did was locate the park sign that shows the various trails around the island, noting that there was one bathroom, near the beginning of the trail from the beach. We also paid our $4 each fee to enter the park. Before we even reached the bathroom turn off, we spotted a couple of big horn sheep just off the trail. We climbed up the hill to the top where there were two very old buildings that looked like small barns. We considered eating the lunch we'd brought there, but there was no shade, so we continued on down the "loop" trail. At the bottom there was an old corral with shade, so we stopped there to eat.

Not sure where to go we started down a trail to the right, which started getting rather overgrown and little like a real trail, so we returned back to the corral and took the other route. A lady had told Manoli down by the park sign that nobody had spotted the wild horses in a couple of days. Well, not too far down this trail, I spotted the horses, standing in a group of five (which is all there are supposedly on the island), right on our trail ahead. We slowly approached them, and not only did they not move away, but as we stopped near them, a couple of them came up close to us and even let us touch their foreheads, briefly. See the photos. There were five horses altogether, 4 dark ones and 1 painted type. After taking some photos, and trying to talk to them (LOL), we continued along the trail, rising steeply to a nice overlook, where Manoli spotted a group of elk. We had now seen all three types of wildlife the island was known for, and from talking to others on the island, we were the only ones that did see all three types!

Since it was getting a bit late, and our boat would be back soonish, we opted not to continue on this trail, but to backtrack to the beginning, where we both used the restroom, then walked back to the beach to wait for our boat. Luckily I was paying attention to the comings and goings of boats and spotted a pontoon boat very much like the one we had come in, pulling up to the beach a ways down, and 15 minutes early. I quickly discovered this was our boat, empty since the 3pm tour was a no show. We climbed back onto the boat, where I sat in a different location to hopefully avoid the sprays. Unfortunately, I picked the wrong seat and was soaked again long before we returned to shore. After getting off the boat, I took off my soaking wet shirt and put on my more or less dry sweater, even though it was about 90 degrees out. We headed back to our KOA, looking for a gift shop Manoli had noticed that had huckleberry things. We stopped there but they didn't have the syrup Manoli was looking for, so we grabbed a coffee and soda and got back on the road. We stopped one more time to take a photo of the interesting bridge across the road that had what looked like teepees on each end.

We arrived back at the KOA about 6pm and decided to get dinner from Panda Express. After dinner, I worked on this blog while Manoli watched movies on her iPhone. Tomorrow we leave for Spokane Washington, where we are staying only one night, to avoid the 9 hour drive from here to Seattle. We plan on stopping for a bit to see Lake Coeur d'Alene, which is supposed to be beautiful. I also noticed from the map the along the way there was a mountain called Petty Mountain, reached by Petty Creek Road. I just can't resist checking it out.


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