Well, it’s been a while since I had time to post. The summer train hit a steep downhill grade soon after the last post, and I’ve had barely a chance to look out the window. But in August, I took a little time to slow down a little, and for the first time, I joined the Washington Trails Association’s Hike-A-Thon. I spend so much time in our state parks and on our trails, that I thought it would be good to support their maintenance, and work on my physical fitness as well.
I get so much inspiration when I’m out among the trees, and the themes from nature turn up in my work often. I came to Montana at the end of July to visit my family, and we’ve had a wonderful few days. Today, I finally got my first hike in, on the historic Old Highway 2. Highway 2 comes in from Idaho, and we have traveled it frequently from my grandfather’s house in Libby, MT to my aunt’s house in Troy, MT. It follows the beautiful Kootenai River for a span, and The River Wild was filmed here. I have many fond memories of fishing this river, and walking the old swinging bridge over the gorge below Kootenai Falls. Today, I got a much different viewpoint from far above.
Old Highway 2 was built around 1915, and was meant to be a passage for the new-fangled Model T. It was hand-hewn from the rock face in these mountains, high above the river, and was both incredibly beautiful and incredibly dangerous. In 1930, they replaced it with the much lower highway, which was improved, as I remember, in the late ’80s. Today, it is a lovely, 6-foot wide track for walking, lined with wildflowers and understory typical of western forests. I can’t even begin to count the times I’ve passed the sign for the trailhead and never stopped. I think I will have to add it to my list of must-do walks when I am here – right up with the walk amongst the giant cedars near our lake, and that old mule-train bridge across the beautiful Kootenai River, which used to be a locals-only secret, and now is a busy pull-out landmark.
When I walk, I always look for things to inspire my work. Today, it was this lovely little waterfall cascading from a creek that was used to pipe water down to the workers when the new highway was built. The wet, mossy rock face really brings out the shapes in the vine maple, devil’s club, and ferns growing there.
It was a short hike – 2.65 miles and about 650 feet in elevation gain. Perhaps I will take a walk amongst the cedars this evening, if that lightning storm doesn’t come.
If you are interested in supporting Washington’s trail systems, you can make a pledge through my Hike-A-Thon page. Every little bit helps, and donations are tax deductible. Donations of $40 or more will get you a membership in the Washington Trails Association, which includes a subscription to Washington Trails Magazine.