Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting Rich for lunch in nearby Missoula. We worked together at The Orange County Register before I retired last October 2013. He was on vacation here in Montana with his brother and several friends who live in Idaho. They were all traveling on their motorcycles and fishing along the way. We met at Famous Dave’s in Missoula and spent several hours catching up before they had to move along traveling over the Lolo Pass to their next destination. Again enjoying myself and didn’t take pictures! Oh and thanks again for the lunch, Rich.
Back at home preparations had been underway for some family members who were traveling from California. They will be visiting my Brother-In-Law and Sister for a few weeks, while Jagger and I head out for a short two-week trip. First to Lolo, Montana and then to Columbia Falls just outside of Glacier National Park Montana. I stayed for a few days in my Coach to see the kids and visit, then Jagger and I took off on a nice sunny day to our first destination.
Jagger and I first stayed at a small RV Park in Lolo known for decades to people near and far for “Square Dancing”. No, I don’t square dance. I don’t think I could physically anymore, at least not for more than a few minutes. 🙂
I have noticed there aren’t very many RV Park’s between Hamilton and Glacier that looked like interesting places to stay for the first week so I chose this one tucked into a stand of tall pine trees along the Lolo Creek.
After setting up camp and hanging out for a few days I decided we should explore the Lolo Pass, known for its rich history. Most notably in our American history was Lewis and Clark.
The Indians however, had been using the Lolo Pass for centuries. To them, it was known as naptnišaqs, or “Nez Perce” trail in the Salish language.
Our first stop was at Fort Fizzle. It was only a few miles from our camp at Lolo.
This turned out to be one of our hangouts during our stay at Lolo due to its proximity and considering Jagger isn’t very social with our neighbors. There were a lot of trees and room to play right alongside the Lolo Creek.
Fort Fizzle was built quickly after the locals and the US Calvary heard the Nez Perce Indians were coming that way in July of 1877. This was as a result of their defeat several weeks earlier at Clearwater in Idaho.
From Fort Fizzle, we continued up Lolo Pass going by the remains of the Lolo fire of 2013. I always become melancholy when passing sights like this knowing it will be centuries before the land can recover completely.
Continuing on, I look around and try to imagine what it was like two hundred or more years ago when the Indians would have passed through here on their travels for survival trade.
When approaching the higher elevations I looked out to see Mountain range upon mountain range into the distance.
It is recorded that the Lewis and Clark expedition were expecting to see the Pacific Ocean in the distance when cresting the first mountain range of the Lolo Pass. Instead of a “disappointing view”, more mountains to cross.
Driving a little further we passed the Lolo Hot Springs. Here there is a campground, lodge, and coffee shop. I had planned to stop, but the way it was built up didn’t interest me and I drove on further.
I have read stories of how the Indians and trappers would gather at various hot springs, especially to warm up with a hot bath and socialize. This was one of the more famous ones.
Arriving at Lolo Pass Visitor Center at the top of the pass we stop to walk around a little and check out the grounds. I went inside to pick up a few postcards and talk with one of the rangers. This doesn’t sound like a fun place to be if you have to drive in the winter time. Skiing and Snowmobiling would be a different story.
DeVoto Memorial Cedar Grove
We load up and again move further West down the pass not knowing what to expect. Another half hour drive we arrive at the DeVoto Memorial Cedar Grove. This was an unexpected find. A lush grove of cedar pines so thick they provided continuous shade throughout the day. I read an article that said some of the trees here were over two thousand years old.
After spending time walking through the grove, we loaded up once again for the drive back to our camp. We will have to leave the remainder of the pass to another visit.
Until next time, safe travels… Gary
More Photos: Lolo, Montana