Day 250 – Charlie Russell Country, August 23, 2011
My first stop was at Choteau, the home of novelist A.B.
Guthrie, Jr. who is the author of The Big
Sky. Choteau is known for its
abundant wheat and barley harvests evidenced by the rolling fields of yellow
and black (grain and fallow soil). The
town’s courthouse, on the south end of town, required a $40,000 bond issue which
was very controversial, though it passed by about 50 votes. All I can think is…inflation!
Outside of town, is Egg Mountain which has yielded the
largest cache of dinosaur eggs, embryos, and baby skeletons found in the
Western Hemisphere. The site has also
yielded one of the largest concentrations of adult dinosaur skeletons found
in the world. The mass accumulation of
Maiasaura (a duck-billed dinosaur) led scientists to believe they died from a
catastrophic event like a volcanic eruption or hurricane.
I actually found Egg Mountain by mistakenly turning down the
wrong road…I was trying to find Pine Butte Swamp Preserve. When I didn’t find the turn a second time, I
kept going to Blackleaf Wildlife Management Area. This posed a slight challenge as well. It wasn’t in my GPS and the road didn’t exist
on my paper map. Since the town had
about six buildings, I took a gamble and turned on the biggest dirt road
around. It was the right one…I
eventually found a sign. VANilla had to
bounce along 17 miles of rocky road before reaching the Preserve and then she
had to keep bouncing through stunted trees to Blackleaf Canyon. The canyon was beautiful, and I probably
should have hiked, but I was truly in the middle of nowhere. I was concerned just about getting a flat
tire, much less hiking through bear country.
We turned around and bounced another hour back to the main road. It was quite a long scenic drive!
Eventually I made it to Glacier National Park where I took
an evening drive on the eastern side. I
was hoping to spot some wildlife, but was unsuccessful. I did, however, enjoy some fantastic views
and a very short hike.
First, I stopped at Triple Divide Peak. From a distance it looks like any other peak
and it looked like the shortest one of the bunch as well. Due to its three-sided pyramid shape, the
rain and snowmelt flows to three oceans as opposed to the normal two. Water goes to the Atlantic, the Pacific, and
to the Arctic through Canada.
Next we stopped at Wild Goose Island Overlook for a
spectacular view of St. Mary’s Lake and its surrounding peaks. The small island poking through the lake’s
surface was named Wild Goose Island for geese that once nested on its shores.