Friday, June 19, 2009

June 19, 7 p.m. - 3rd entry - West Glacier

Just arrived at the KOA Campground out of West Glacier; a city of RV’s - a few campsites and a few little two-bedroom cabins with porch and swing, one of which we took. Our tents are wet from last night, and we are wet from the day. We came up from Columbia Falls on back roads in a heavy, cold rain. Took a 12-mile detour, six of which was washboard gravel. Beat us to death. Road wasn’t fit for the name. We were cursing the little tricksters back in the map room and then already across a mountain on this goat trail, we realized our mistake and retraced. A sour note on that accordion, for sure. It was my mistake, and I’m in the penalty box. The recovery route was almost as bad, so we arrived exhausted - looking for any safe harbor. I’m convinced after our detour that one mile of gravel is equal to four miles of asphalt experientially. I’m also convinced that if there had only been gravel roads in the west, it would never have been explored. The washboard made it hard to climb and harder to go downhill. My mule tried to throw me, and David’s buggy did throw a wheel. The quick release, released and the wheel went careening away. The dragging buggy brought him to a halt without a crash. Had he lost a wheel doing 30 mph, perhaps a more serious result. My Chinese-made American flag - attached to my bear-broken fiberglass pole was shaken loose and lost by the pounding, as well.

This was a tough day equivalent to being staked down on an ant bed in full sun at the equator. We do this for fun, of course.

It’s good, they say, to read the map
Don’t miss a turn and be a sap.
The male brain, though, likes to dead reckon
Head for those hills there that beckon.
Women, they say, will take direction
And men will say they should, upon reflection.
I said we’re alright. This way looks just fine
What the hell anyway, we’re the exploring kind.
Turns out, though, riding on gravel will kill a man
Better to read that map and stick with the plan.
I didn’t do it, and we spent 12 miles riding on rocks
Now I’ve lost face as guide and am in the penalty box.

An additional note on the Whitefish Lake State Park in Whitefish in case you ever want to stay there. Nice place, friendly people - helpful, welcoming. Designed well. Has small courtyard-type places enclosed by vegetation. Hot showers $1 for three minutes. More time extra. Whitefish Lake borders it with the mountains beyond. To the west a wall of trees, green and lush, appealing to the eye with its variety of soft greens and leaf shapes, but behind that wall 60 feet up is a train track, a very busy train track, a train every 45 minutes. This has the effect of a train coming through your living room every 45 minutes - or more accurately, your tent. Must be about the same level of sound as that within a jet engine at take-off. And the same effect as a continuously screaming baby in a movie theater. Hard to pay attention to anything else. The sound would build as the train approached, reaching a crescendo that caused every molecule within you to resonate - then de-crescendo. After four or five of these, your molecules were pretty well retrained so that they continued this activity without provocation late into the morning. Sleep, of course, was not an option except for Dave who slept through the bear attack.

Pat Sewell

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