Pre-park artifact in Glacier NP.
I was all set to go down the South Fork of the Flathead this (for me 3-day) weekend. Hiking, boating, fly fishing, and in sharp contrast to last year, warm weather. Work got done last week, we bought a second car Thursday, and Friday afternoon I ran around, bought food, and got all packed up. M was all set to wake up early to drop me off, but it just isn’t what I wanted to do. We slept in, had a leisurely morning, and on Saturday I took the packraft, tenkara rod, and new-to-us car and went fishing.
Bull trout? I caught Cutts and Brookies in the same small, steep stream.
Normally I’m pretty adverse to keep secrets, but with fishing it seems a bit more appropriate. I’ll just say that this creek is hard to fish. This time of year it’s steep, clear, and cold. Its bottom is primarily big, slick, foot grabbing cobbles, and on this late water year there’s still almost enough water to make it packraftable (at a high level of difficulty), thus you can’t wade across just anywhere. The lush hardwood forest along the banks make bushwacking in from the shore tough, and hang over to snag backcasts. I lost a lot of tippet and half a dozen brown elk caddis flies yesterday. The fish are small, strike hard and quickly, and live in tiny mid-stream eddies and under big, complex log piles. I spent two hours fishing up along 100 yards of creek, bringing a couple dozen 4 to 12 inch trout to hand.
It’s my favorite sort of fishing to do. And as a hint, this great creek in in Glacier NP, legal to fish (of course), and you’ll need a boat or a long walk to access it. That’s all I’m saying.
Danni Coffman near Triple Divide Pass. M photo.
I rolled into West Glacier late Saturday afternoon, looking for iced coffee. A fortuitous text from Danni had me attending a trail fundraiser, sitting in the grass under the sun, and drinking lots of beer. An excellent Bavarian Pilsner reaffirmed my opinion that Blackfoot is the best brewery in Montana, at the moment. (Even if they’re located in a river basin on the other side of the divide from their namesake.) One thing led to another, and M and I joined Danni and Angie on a hike in Glacier yesterday. More superlative weather, great company, fat marmots, and prolific wildflowers made for a great day. We walked from Cut Bank to St. Mary via Triple Divide and the Red Eagle Creek trail, and though my feet got sore faster than they should (still not recovered from the classic!) the lovely quasi-tundra meadows in the last few miles were a pleasant surprise which nicely finished a wonderfully varied hike.[vimeo 27443696]
Even though the weather and conditions would have been absolutely ideal, not going into the South Fork was the right thing to do. Beyond being, still, tired from the classic, I just didn’t want to be out alone this weekend. Some times my work makes me want to run away and hide from humanity, but after days like Friday (when a client who had been making profound progress relapsed, spectacularly) when the frailty of human life and the lengths and depths to which interpersonal trauma can run is made to me all too obvious, I need to be around others. And on that count, this weekend was ideal.
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