Montana

Escaping Yellowstone through West Yellowstone into the Gallatin National Forest, I stopped at the first NF campground which turned out to be full. They had directions to the next NF campground going north which was Rainbow Lake campground. I pulled in and after circling the campsites found one open. The camp host pulled up after a few minutes and said “Congratulations, you’ve got the last spot.”

Picture of me with the Land Cruiser for Elliot

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Next morning I drove to Bozeman MT for lunch.It’s a decent sized town with a real downtown of several blocks, but no one there seems to understand the concept of parallel parking. I guess because it’s the only parallel parking spots for a few hundred miles in any direction. I pulled up past an open spot, flicked on the turn signal, shift into reverse and BAM there’s somebody pulled up right onto my rear bumper. They’re looking at me like what are you thinking? I gave up on that spot, the person behind me pulled around and I went on down the block looking for another spot. Pull up, turn signal, reverse, BAM somebody else right up on my rear bumper. Finally got a spot on the third try. It’s a nice downtown, a little touristy but not too precious.

Plenty of driving time after lunch so I set my sights on Helena. Spent the night in the Helena RV Park/Campground. It used to be a KOA but now it’s a full time trailer park with some areas for tent and RV camping. A little sketchy but it had wifi and hot showers. There were a bunch of kids who lived in the ex-KOA office who spent the whole day playing with a sprinkler. Apparently that was all they had, no bikes, iPhones, skateboards just a hose and a sprinkler for 6 hours. The three who got yelled at the most by their moms were Tater, Bubba, and Miley.

Next morning continued north to Glacier NP. Passed through Choteau which has to be the quintessential American small town. A real downtown with a Roxy theater, diner, gas station, grocery store, no precious art galleries or craft breweries. No boarded up storefronts. It’s the kind of place I’d like to move to someday when I’m tired of traveling.

Pulled into Glacier NP and all campgrounds are full. They advised trying one of the myriad private campgrounds just outside the park. I went to the KOA and although they initially said they were full they ended up giving me a group campsite and for the second time in three days said “Congratulations, you’ve got the last spot.” It was mid afternoon so rather than battling the crowds in the main section of the park I drove north to Many Glacier and took a hike through the lakes. Nice views.

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Next day I headed into the main entrance early to beat the crowds. I drove to up Logan Pass, right on the continental divide. Took the Highline Trail hike, 12 miles mostly above the tree line.

Just about a mile in were some bighorn sheep. They were kicking rocks down onto the trail.

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Met a marmot along the trail

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Great views all along the trail. Right along here someone coming in the other direction said there was a grizzly bear with a cub down below, she had her bear spray out and was clutching it tightly in one hand so I took her seriously. Kept my eyes and ears open but  I didn’t see anything. People are on edge about bears as someone was killed by a bear in the park a couple weeks ago and they haven’t found the bear yet.

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Made it to the Granite Chalet at 8 miles and had lunch looking out across the mountains. It reminded me of the tea houses in Nepal, just a little place with bunk beds and a kitchen way up in the mountains.

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Then four miles straight down through scrub and brush to the road where I caught the shuttle back to Logan Pass. The whole way I was thinking this would be the perfect place for a bear to jump out at me.

Next morning off to Canada, it’s only about 30 miles north of here. At the border I waited 15 minutes in line for the customs booth, then they decided they wanted to search my car so I got to pull off into the customs shed. Two guys spent 30 minutes going through all of my stuff, then with a clean bill of health I was off into Canada.

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