North Fork of the Flathead River: Close encounters of the 4th kind
The North Fork looked to be much less visited than the other areas. An interpretive trail about fire, the Huckleberry Fire Trail, burned down a few years ago and is now about the 2007 fire. However, the trail guides were not available so it was just a .6 mile walk with numbered signs.
We spent a very quiet night camped among charming yellow flowers in the Flathead National Forest. When we awoke, we headed out for our last adventure in Glacier National Park.
Our goal was Upper Kintla Lake but first we needed coffee so we stopped at Home Ranch Bottoms. The coffee was excellent and shopkeeper was incredibly friendly so we made a mental note to stop on our way out for a Huckleberry Margarita and other huckleberry goods.
Next we stopped at the Polebridge Mercantile where we made a mental note of their delicious peanut butter cookies and beer selection.
Finally, we made it to our trailhead, just outside the Kintla Lake Campground. The Boulder Pass Trail followed Kintla and Upper Kintla on a mostly flat trajectory so we made fast pace towards camp. Stopping at the very busy Kintla Lake Backcountry Camp, we made small talk with the many outdoor enthusiasts. About 2 miles after leaving the company of the campers, Luke casually said, “OK, that’s a bear!” This time it really wasn’t a log. I saw a bunch of black fur pounce away, down trail, towards our camp.
For the first time this trip, we came across on-duty backcountry rangers. We had a nice talk and they actually checked our permits. Soon after Luke stopped and exclaimed, “There’s the bear again.” The bear was sitting right next to the trail. We made noise but it didn’t seem to respond. Then it started to huff and we started talking quietly and consolingly as we slowly backed away; but not before Luke got some pictures. The bear eventually rambled away and left us fuddled and confounded, amazed at the sight of a bear so up close and personal. We viewed the bear as a final farewell from the Glacier National Park.
The long road home
Finally on the road, we thought our adventure was over but the road never disappoints. We just had to stop at the goat lick to observe the large number of mountain goats hanging out. We eventually stopped for the night right after crossing the Montana-Idaho border. We pulled off into national forest lands and decided to pitch our tent so we stepped around the piles of cow poop, found a clear spot, and pitched for the night. When we woke 3 hours later, we heard cows sniffing our tent and chewing on the grass around us. I asked, Luke if it was safe to get up and he responded by unzipping the tent and peeking out. This frightened the poor cows who all bolted across the road and stared questionably at us as we packed up and rushed to drive away from the stench.