"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Sunday, October 7, 2018

One Last Fall Hike in Montana

Florence, Montana
Chief Looking Glass

The sun was playing peek-a-boo and the winds were calm so we wanted to get one last hike in.  We chose Bass Creek Trail in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness.  It's a moderate to strenuous hike a bit under 8 miles roundtrip with a lake at the end.

There was color everywhere.  The trees, bushes, berries and mushrooms.
Hurley leading the way.
Color reflecting in puddles from the previous evenings rain.
It was a nice trail that steadily climbed.  You can tell the hunters are out as these trails are popular for hunting camps as they head further back into the wilderness.  You had to dodge plenty of horse/mule poop along the way.
A nice stream meanders along most of the trail.
Along the opposite side of the stream were the cliffs.  Straight up and covered with yet more color.
This moss/fungus was like a very tiny miniature.  When you looked closely, there was so much detail.

Even the rock itself was glowing with color.  As we admired it, Steve noticed a paper wasp nest hanging from one of the rocks.  You can see it in the picture below. (bottom, middle)

Raindrops and dew still clung to the leaves.
More puddles and more colorful reflections.
There were deep mossy greens and bright red berries with raindrops hanging from them.


I loved the strange way the trees hung over the cliffs. Strong and steady with threatening skies behind them.


Some pretty bright orange growth/mushrooms(?) on the rocks.
We were dressed for a cold hike, but not a cold rainy hike so we turned around about the 1/2 point.  We went back home and warmed up.  The clouds never left the mountains and the next morning there was a new dusting of snow on the peaks.  Down in the valley the skies were a bit friendlier.

Later in the afternoon we drove back into Missoula for one last visit.  We were headed to Montgomery Distillery hoping for a tour of the distilling process.  Well, the tour was not to be as they only do them on Fridays and today is Saturday.  Heck, we were happy they were even open.  Even on the weekends it seems many businesses close down early this time of year.
Steve did a tasting and I chose one of those new-fangled drinks, the Damiana Dare Me. (see below).  It's a naughty drink, made with "spanked rosemary".  The herb, not the waitress, Dave.  It was very good!
We spent a lot of time talking with the young couple sitting next to us at the bar.  They overheard we are fulltimers and were full of questions.  By time we left, they were seriously considering it. 
Since they didn't sell any kind of food at the distillery and the BBQ place next door was closed, we headed off to the Draught Works Brewery for one more tasting and some FOOD!  We hadn't eaten since our hike.

They had an older couple playing music in the corner and they were great!
While they also didn't make food, they had a food truck out front.  It was a combo Asian-American menu.  Most of their items were Asian but with a unique flair and ingredients.  Ok, I get this a lot from my friends, family and readers.  "Geez, you guys are always at bars and eating out!".  Well, that's one of the benefits of this lifestyle.  We can do what we want!  It's a very inexpensive way to live.  So we can do more of what we like.  Besides, that is usually hiking, kayaking, biking etc. and we normally just order an appetizer or two or sometimes split a meal.
A twist on the usual egg roll.  These had pulled pork.  The Fried Balls reminded me of Italian Arancini but these were filled with mashed potatoes, sausage, jalapeno then dipped in Panko and deep fried.  Yummy!
As we drove by Imagine Nation Brewery, we had to stop in for one more brewery sampling.  They had a couple of good IPAs and some popcorn (which I enjoyed with my water).
Sunday started off lazy.  We have a 4 hour drive to our next stop in Idaho but stopped at the Cracker Barrel for that Sunday Chicken that I love so much!  We haven't been near a Cracker Barrel since February in Arizona so we're having lunch here.  It's so much food that we can eat our leftovers for dinner.  It was also conveniently located right off the highway outside of Missoula on our way to Moscow, Idaho.
We had a nice lunch in front of their giant fireplace.  So cozy.
It was another beautiful day to travel, driving west on I-90.  We sure lucked out so far with the weather.  If any heavy snow is scheduled to fall, we'll just cancel some plans and head south quicker.  This is as far north as we'll be this year.  Only two other stops will bring us in higher elevation where snow will be a possibility.  That is Joseph, Oregon and McCall, Idaho.  Fingers crossed!
I-90 westbound criss-crosses the Clark Fork River many times.  Traffic was light and the grade not bad at all.
We started to notice in Montana, and much later in Idaho and Eastern Oregon, that many of the pine trees were turning yellow.  How odd.  Is that pesky beetle invading these trees like we've seen in so many other states?  Maybe a fungus?  It turns out these pines are called the Western Larch (also called Tamarack in the Eastern states) and are one of the few evergreens that turn brilliant yellow and shed their needles in the fall unlike most evergreens.  They are also one of the first to return after fires.  They sure enhanced the fall color.
Goodbye Montana until next year.  The rest of October you'll find us weaving in and out of the borders of western Idaho and Eastern Oregon before arriving home for the holidays in November.  We hope to enjoy more fall color and escape any serious snow.


  1. Wow, beautiful pictures of the hike. Good luck on missing the snow.

    1. Best part of traveling north to south in the fall is extending the fall color. So far, no snow and looks like we will make it home without any changes to our plans due to weather.

  2. LOL!!! Loved the "spanked Rosemary"!!! We've enjoyed a vacation day in the Missoula area. I was surprised that in OK there wasn't food at the breweries, laws were soon changing to rectify that. I love it when the breweries also make their own root beer for us non beer drinkers.

    1. Thought of Dave when we saw it! I'd think it would be better to have food at breweries? Agreed on the root beer.


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