So. Much. Water. Following the Clark Fork River Northwest Into the Kootenai National Forest. Plus, Some Big Trees.
From Missoula we began our trek north with our ultimate destination being Libby, Montana. Because we spend so much time in the arid southwest we found ourselves constantly noticing all the rushing rivers, creeks, and brimming lakes as we drove. We couldn’t help but notice the nearly-daily rain showers too. As we followed the Clark Fork River west/northwest through a series of lovely series of valleys we took a short dogwalk that gave us an opportunity to photograph the dark clouds hanging over the river as we scrambled around on some granite outcroppings overlooking the magnificent Clark Fork River.
Though we were heading to our next Habitat build we had a couple extra days to spend exploring which led us to camping for 2 nights along the Bull River. Abby and I (and/or Tom) took a few lovely short walks along the river on our 2 mornings and evenings there but our full day in between led us to drive through the spectacular Cabinet Mountains. Here we found lovely vistas of the peaks and some remarkably clear waters in Bull Lake. Stopping at the Ross Creek Cedars, we followed the short trail through a grove of western red cedars that stretched as far as 175 feet into the sky. Some of these giants were over 500 years old, having been protected from the logging in the Kootenai National Forest. Other than their size what was remarkable about these trees was their role in sheltering a lush ecosystem of mosses and greenery on the forest floor that was reminiscent of the rainforests of the coastal Pacific Northwest.
Our last stop of the day came after following signs for a viewpoint at the Cabinet Gorge Dam. The amount of water roaring over the arched concrete dam was a sight to behold but the best views were downriver as the rapids tumbled through the dark rocks of the canyon. Continuing west into Idaho provided us more views of the river after the land dropped back down to meet the water, but we didn’t find another spot to walk before it was time to turn back to camp.