In the final days of September 2016, the North Fork of the Flathead River, Polebridge, and Glacier National Park put an exclamation point on why autumn is best.
Random thoughts from the weekend that was….
- Drove up to Polebridge Wednesday afternoon, our home away from home. Unless you’re living on another planet, you likely know that the West is essentially on fire. Leaving Missoula around 4:00 it was pretty smoky and gross, but 35 miles north in the Mission Valley it was even worse. Headed toward Glacier on Highway 93, we couldn’t even see the Mission Mountains through the smoke, and they rise up from the valley floor impressively just a couple miles to the east. By the time we got to Polebridge though, on the western edge of Glacier National Park, it wasn’t too bad. We settled in to the Goat Chalet, and all was right with the world. I want to live there with the weirdos and hippies and dirtbag through-hikers and all the other rabble that pass through there. We even have our lot all picked out for when our ship comes in and we check out.
- Hanging out in the kitchen of the North Fork Hostel, as we are wont to do whenever we stay there, we had a little conversation with a young couple from Virginia Beach who were in the area hiking around Glacier. I admire them for that. The young woman urged her boyfriend to share an idea he had — he is a self-admitted “idea guy” — for the Appalachian Trail. He would like to restore a bunch of old Airstream trailers and locate them along that trail at specific intervals for hikers to rent to sleep in. I can’t think of a worse idea. Comfort and kitschy ease are the last thing these trails need. I think the AP could use a little more danger, like introducing some man-eating predators, to keep those people out there on their toes.
- Even full of smoke, Glacier Park is gorgeous. Pictures from a drive up Going to the Sun Highway will be posted as soon as I pull them off my camera. Also, a picture of and the story of our friend Amie, whom we met last year at the hostel and was there again this year.
- Coming back down out of the mountains (and back onto the grid) Friday night was a shock. It always is. They love Jesus in Kalispell and Columbia Falls. There must be eight or ten signs listing the ten commandments scattered throughout the area, and there is a big “Ten Commandments Park” as well. It freaks me out, man. There was a faction with boots on the ground we drove past too. A valley choked with smoke and enraged Christian freaks waving signs on street corners makes the Flathead even more frighteningly apocalyptic than usual.
- I might have mentioned that Julia and I are in a contest at our Bikram Yoga studio. We had to go at least 3x/week all summer. At the end of the season, everyone left standing is entered into a drawing to win a free year. This week just completed was the second-to-last week, and we seemed to do everything we could to sabotage ourselves. Basically we cornered ourselves into having to find a class in Kalispell or Whitefish on Friday, since we wouldn’t be home on Saturday until after the two Missoula class options had passed. We found one in Kalispell, and, after a day inhaling smoke and not really eating anything, it destroyed us. “Our room gets kind of dry,” the instructor said, “so we run it a little hot.” I chose a spot in front of two fans, assuming that, like in our studio, they would kick on to blow cool air when things got too hot from all the working bodies. I was wrong. They kicked on to blow hot air. I was right next to the thermostat. It was 115° when we started, and when it dipped down to like 112° the heat would kick on back to 115°. Nightmare. At least we got our note saying we did it and are still in the running to win the damn contest.