One of our family members succumbed to cancer over the weekend. It had been a lengthy affair. Cancer seems to be a common ailment these days. I lost a close Missoula friend and former colleague to cancer not too long ago. I miss our weekly coffee visits and his often witty take on the markets.
This afternoon I decided to do some mountain bike laps on one of the local trails. This followed my having picked up on Friday my two mountain bikes from one of the local shops. The bikes had been there for over a month. Jogging and the cross bike had been filling in during the period; however, one gets tired of occasional episodes such as a diesel pickup truck slowing down just as it passed and then hitting the gas hard followed shortly thereafter with red break lights. One recent and rare Pattee Canyon asphalt (road cycling) experience…. So, I grew wary of not hearing from the shop and stopped in. At any rate, it felt great to hit the trails. There were many folks out in the afternoon sunshine, most wearing light down athletic jackets or similar cold weather apparel. There were trail joggers, fellow mountain bikers, and families walking with their children and dogs. Many smiling faces under warm caps. Maybe the notable gregarious orientation was a result of the Grizzly victory over the Bobcats Saturday?
Missoula is an ‘outdoor recreation’ town. Rivers and mountains just outside one’s door – not to mention two national parks relatively close by as well. The city also has significant cultural flair. This is due in part to the wonderful University of Montana. I’ve been here for twenty five years. Our children have been fortunate to grow up here. This of course will not be fully appreciated until each one experiences life in other parts of the country; however, I’m sure they’ll look back and say, ‘Man were we lucky to have grown up in Missoula!’
When gentlemen deal sincerely with their kinsfolk,
then the people are stimulated towards humaneness.
Summer is rapidly clipping by in Missoula. The temperature during today’s evening jog was 32 celsius, a cool spell given the sweltering heat over the just ended weekend. Once again there are regional forest fires sending their smoke into the valley, just in time for the county fair in a few weeks. Our proxy is once more in place to buy a lamb during the 4H auction for a local pantry. Over the years this has become a tradition. Hopefully the Western Montana Fair will have clear skies and nice attendance.We’ve been paddling a bit in the canoe. We recently canoed a favorite Blackfoot River section down to Whitaker Bridge. During the brief shuttle, just following a climb which Seth and I cycled last year shuttling ourselves on the bikes, a large tan black bear bounded across the dirt and potholed road right before our eyes. Molly, Erin, Seth and I watched the animal bound up the hillside at a pretty full stride. “That’s the first bear I’ve seen,” Seth said from the access cab. This was surprising news to me. I still don’t believe it, really. Maybe so. Molly shuttled us this trip since we had Wen, which meant Molly got to learn a bit about one of my favorite areas.
There were a couple of fishermen at the put-in, one of whom was fishing. We visited briefly and then shoved off, Seth in the bow followed by Wen. Just above the first rapid there were two fishermen. One fellow, who had a full white beard, appeared familiar. I think he was using blue fly line. As I write this, I realize that is not something one sees too often on the stream; however, I believe as I watched his line roll across the water, the color was indeed blue. From the far bank, as to stay out of their hole as much as possible, I said hello to the bearded man’s fishing partner as we floated by. I managed to steer us through the rocks, which were poking up through the section. The water is “boney” with plenty of obstacles, especially during early August when the streams are running lower. A fun challenge navigating as long as the boy in the bow does not shift in one direction at the same time as his four legged best friend. I pointed out an eagle that flew over us. We simply watched the magnificent creature’s large wing span glide upstream. I pointed out a Bald Eagle hiding in the top of a Lodgepole, perching behind green branches obstructing our view. Eagles are great fishers.
A large bear, eagles and no pike caught. A fine and somewhat typical day in the Blackfoot area. Our put-in on the river was pretty late in the morning. The mandatory hoot period is two o’clock, after which the local rivers are closed to fishing due to the warm temps in the afternoons and accompanying low oxygen levels. Weather patterns today are not easily understood, but they are what they are… Well, to augment the summer reading, I’ve once again taken to Mark Twain and in particular, Huckleberry Finn. Classics are occasionally required to be dusted off and reread. One does not hear much about Twain today. Does he still makes the freshman high school summer reading list? Hard to beat Huck and Jim’s river adventures.
Todd piled in with some of his new found summer camp councilor friends and hightailed it over to south of Bozeman for some camping. Erin and I decided to take in the northern Selway-Bitterroots by driving up to the Saint Mary Peak trailhead, west and high above Stevensville. It’s a popular local option for quick access to the wilderness, following a ten mile or so drive. The hike from the trailhead winds its way up to the old forest service lookout, which, I noticed this trip in, has a nice new coat of white paint on its upper outer deck. The views on top are spectacular. The last time I was up, I sat under a section of the empty lookout during the late afternoon as low clouds and an accompanying storm set in. It was spectacular and unnerving as lightning cracked that day over the Kootenai, wind and rain pelting below the low dark canopy. Storms in Montana quickly blow in and seemingly almost as soon as they hit, they’re over; during the dry summer months, typically leaving fires in their wake. Wintertime clappers are pretty rare, but when they occur, they’re pretty awesome. The mountains are alive and always part of the system.
fire’s illuminating collage below
Saturday afternoon I cycled up Second Thought to Point Six a few times to clear matters. This used to be routine. Spectacular sunsets, reflections, vernunft. One had a soccer tournament the same day in Great Falls, another in Missoula. I reasoned what was one afternoon? Next weekend spring soccer wraps in Billings, a long drive. So, I figured let the legs burn for an afternoon, two days post Trail 513. My first time back to the hill in quite a long, long while. Not sure actually the time of the last visit? Pat was washing his motorcycle outside the lower Cat shed. Art was running the Backhoe atop the Headwall by the pond. Realizing the Beargrass would most likely still be obstructed by winter’s remaining deadfall, I stayed with what should be clear. The Backhoe’s tracks below the Griz Chair had made the climb quite loose in switchback sections. Rewarding work. No other tracks. Small piles of felled pine in upper areas. No game sighted, though one large pile of purple bear scat was noted under LaVelle. Flathead evident from an upper aspect. Point Six’s north face still had pockets of snow obstructing the way above small lakes in the lower Rattlesnake Wilderness.
an ethereal couloir above
the Mission’s Jocko.
At eight last night I took a shot into the setting sun. The Rattlesnake’s foliage below appearing blanched by the evening’s sultriness. Sitting on the upper talus reflecting, I recalled a great raptor’s brown and grey feather resting in the trail beneath Blue. While cogitating, family and friends, the Pintlers, Missions, Bitterroots and Glacier, the state of the world, streams not flowing in their natural beds…, I gleaned above two thin white lines streaking westward, parallel and tight yet dissipating against the orange hue. Missoula’s transcendent rivers. The east fork rivulet known but not visible in the lower undergrowth. Trout and flies. Old rods.
Blackfoot Valley an
During the descent a large brown leg galloped across the trail ahead in the distance. A momentary aspect, the rear left quarter of an elk ~ or was it a moose? Typically a brown mass a scampering bear. Noble creatures.