Blog 43: TrekWest in Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front
“It was warm enough that we left the flies of our tents open (except for Ed, who sleeps under a tarp) and watched the moon, which would be a full harvest moon in just a few days, arc across the sky, keeping our tents bright well into the night.”
TrekWest has been accomplished. I am heading south by storm and vehicle in time for my friend’s wedding (Kenyon Fields seen in previous blogs), but rest assured, I have much to share, and there will be a final blog forthcoming. Until then, please enjoy this blog from our gracious and passionate partner in conservation, Wendy Francis, Program Director, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative.
It was a warm morning when John Davis, filmmaker Ed George, and I set off from the West Fork of the Teton River trailhead in the Lewis and Clark National Forest, west of Choteau, MT. Ed and I were joining John for a day and a night of his five day northward journey to Highway 2 just southwest of East Glacier. Driving to the trailhead we noticed that much of the forest had been burned, and the burn was so large that we were rarely in intact forest for the next eight hours. We climbed up the West Fork valley, stopping for a couple of rests before cresting into Teton Pass, the boundary of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. There were greeted by a deer, that seemed more curious than nervous, getting closer and closer as John and I snapped photos with our phones and Ed took a few minutes of footage.
The National Forest land we had just traversed is included within the proposed Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act. The legislation would add more than 57,000 ac. to the existing Bob Marshall and Scapegoat Wildernesses, and establish another 208,000 acre Conservation Management Area. Within the CMA most existing uses and activities would continue, but new development and activities would be curtailed. The goal is to keep things the way they are now. This concept has a lot of support from local ranchers, hunters and others. For more information and to get involved, visit http://www.savethefront.org/.
Shouldering our packs, John, Ed and I crested over into the headwaters of Bowl Creek. The burned forest extended as far as the eyes could see. After hiking for another hour or so, we were ready to make camp. So we dropped down to the creek and set up our tents amid the spars of some huge, burned trees. It was a lovely evening and we cooked our dinners over a small campfire. It was warm enough that we left the flies of our tents open (except for Ed, who sleeps under a tarp) and watched the moon, which would be a full harvest moon in just a few days, arc across the sky, keeping our tents bright well into the night.The next morning was chilly but lovely. We chatted and drank steamy drinks over our small fire. Then it was time to pack up and say good-bye to John. He was heading north through the Bob Marshall and into an area of the National Forest called the Badger-Two Medicine. For various reasons, the Badger-Two Med was omitted from the proposed designations in the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act. A small but enthusiastic organization called the Glacier Two Medicine Alliance works to defend the region’s beauty and integrity from a variety of industrial incursions. The organization does not have its own web site, but more information is available here: http://www.conservemontana.org/content/glacier-two-medicine-alliance/cnmF68CE668434B66836.
With a wave, John was gone on his way. As Ed and I chugged our way back up to Teton Pass on our return to the trailhead, we were thrilled to hear a few howls from a lone wolf who appeared to be traveling on the hillside opposite us. I hope he was signifying his endorsement of Trek West and our work to protect his kind.
For the Wild,