Friday, September 16, 2016

Lolo Pass and Elk Meadows Road

Yesterday, Quinn and I went up to Lolo Pass to the Visitors Center there.
I've noticed that here in Montana the eastern approach to a pass is often long and shallow where the western side is "Trucks use low gear" straight down!
I hardly knew we were going up, the pass is 5235feet high and in Idaho, barely!
They built a new Visitors Center here in 2000, changed where the road was so they could bring back this swampy meadow and creek.

The forest service and some First Nations groups are hard at work reclaiming the drainage in the area since a big flood in the 1990's
For the first time I could actually smell the forest proper.
Many deep, deep breaths were taken.

Lolo pass was the route of several First Nations groups who joined with the Nez Pierce in their unsuccessful flight from the US Army towards safety in Canada.

This is Packer meadow, Lewis and Clark camped here and they speak of the meadow and the pass in their journals.
Having worked on and studied Lewis and Clark since 1998 (in preparation for a new exhibit and the bicentennial) I'm pretty tired of Lewis and Clark!
They are, or at least seem to be, Montana's claim to historical fame on the national level and it's right up there with "George Washington slept here!"

When we left the visitor's center I took the scenic route back to Missoula.
Elk Meadows Road (Forest Service Road 373).  Gravel for 33 miles.
Good gravel though so only slow (like 15 mph) but not terriby brain shaking!

The road was mostly through the trees.  I wish I could have captured how tall these trees are.  
I couldn't get all of one in a photo. 
We went high, really high!
Met two cars passed one other truck going my way.

 Through a burn zone-1910 I think they said.

I will whine about tree tunnels but I will admit that open spaces with big drop offs on one side make me nervous.  After those I was always grateful to be in the shelter of these massive trees.

Indian Paintbrush

There is no way for me to adequately explain the expanse of these National Forests.  I was in parts of Lolo, Clearwater and Bitterroot National Forest.  Just beyond the pass is the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness which combined with the Frank Church Wilderness constitutes 5 million acres-there is one road between the two.  Otherwise, you're hoofing it!

The National Forest Service administers 232,053,392 Acres(2014 total) of forest and grasslands in the US.  Now you know why I am in awe of the SPACE and the trees!  I said before, if you knew what you were doing you could disappear into one of these forests and no one would ever find you!

No comments: