This blog entry documents the third day of our Lolo Trail trip & the jPod’s first off-road adventure with Nathan & Erin, Carl, and our family. If you haven’t read about the trail & our first two days on it, visit: Part 1 and Part 2
Day three started with a great breakfast. Breakfast foods are my favorite foods in life. However, breakfast is perfected when camping. Our camp breakfast was a collaborative effort by Erin, Nathan, Senior Management, and me. We made eggs, potatoes, huckleberry pancakes, & coffee.
The “cougar bait” played in the grass all morning as we packed up our things. Then it was time to drive. From Howard’s camp, we drove up onto a ridge. It was beautiful and often had views off of either side of the motorway. We paused so Senior Management could shoot a picture out the window of a doe we found wandering in the woods.
At one point, we stopped to go look at two mountain lakes which we were above. It was at this time that we met some people on their ATV and swapped stories. While we were all chatting about this and that, two bucks wandered in from the trees. We think that they were after something in our area because they would come by us and then turn back from a different angle to get to our area. I sprung into photographer mode & started shooting photos. These were mule deer and had little fear of human contact. I was able to get some of the best photos I have ever taken.
Once the moment had passed, we continued our drive. The scenery changed drastically as we entered mountain sides of burned trees. They haven’t recently burned but stand as a witness to a forest fire in the past. It was a strange landscape of charred trees & mountain wildflowers. Somewhere in the charred forest, we began our descent to the valley floor.
Along the way, we stopped to pick some huckleberries and met some other travelers coming in the opposite direction. This is when the teardrop effect of the jPod took hold again. I gave a tour of the jPod to them & Carl claimed to have sold it to them. In fact, I have had several interests in the trailer. I am almost motivated to build another one for someone.
The Lolo Motorway gave way to a wide dirt road and finally we reached pavement at Powell Junction (see map). We stopped to take stock & to eat some lunch at the Ranger’s Station & then we went in search of Carl’s promise.
On day one, Carl had mentioned a “secret” hot-spring off of highway 12. No fee was required. Senior Management & Erin (who are both naturally cold blooded) perked up & made the decision on day one that we would visit this “secret” hot-springs.
Off we drove in search of these hot-springs. Carl has sworn us all to secrecy about the exact location of these pools. Yet I will say that any conventional GPS will have it clearly labeled on its map. We hiked in to these springs and sat in the pool. The girls really soaked up the heat. I was good for about 10 minutes and then had to get out. I was hot before getting in so the hot water didn’t help. What I really enjoyed was the mountain stream that flows below the hot-spring. It takes the breath away at first but was exactly what I needed after three days of travel.
As we were leaving our little “secret” oasis in the woods, we came to find that clothing was optional at this hot-spring when another hot-spring seeker stripped to his pores and waded into the water. I still laugh about this part of our story because, in my mind, I can still see everyone else’s reactions to the realization that they were suddenly in the presence of a nudist. Thankfully, in my mind, I cannot see our nudist friend. Life has simple pleasures and seeing stifled shock on one’s friend’s faces must be one of the most rewarding of these simple pleasures.
As we drove home, I glanced at one of the pamphlets I picked up at the ranger’s station. It offered a brief description of the various trails in the Nez Perce National forest and spent some time describing the Lolo motorway. At the end of the pamphlet there is a quote from Frank Andrews (a Nez Perce descendant).
“We, the surviving Nez Perces, want to leave our hearts, memories, hollowed presence as a never-ending revelation to the story of the event of 1877. These trails will live in our hearts.
We want to thank all who visit these sacred trails, that they will share our innermost feelings. Because their journey makes this an important time for the present, past and future.”
I couldn’t agree more.