Tuesday, June 19, 2012

6/18/12         A sprinkle of rain ushered us northward for a lazy morning start. Rolling hills covered with green vegetation pleased my eyes. We proceeded to Coeur d' Alene through intermittent rain to meet with Dr. Bobo's brother, before crossing into Montana east of Bonner's Ferry. A gravel road fifteen miles beyond the border led us down towards the Kootenai River, but a metal gate blocked the road. A posted sign suggested, NO TRESSPASSING.

         Dr. Bobo hesitated. "I don't know about this."

         Primate said, "Go anyway. Drove long way."

         We stood in silence a few moments.

         "Go anyway."

         I caved to Primate's insistence. "Well, sometimes it's easier to beg forgiveness than to get permission."

         We walked around the gate. The gravel road led us to a dilapidated bridge where Christopher stopped. Dr. Bobo, Primate and I continued along a crude trail. We dodged and trampled wet grass and brush. The path led us up and down the steep slope on the east side of the river. We stopped at the river's edge.

         Dr. Bobo consulted his GPS device for bearings. "It's farther down river."

         The steeply sloped river bank was choked with vegetation. Continuing down river at the water's edge was impossible, so we climbed up two hundred feet to flatter ground, then made our way another 250 hundred yards down stream.

         Dr. Bobo rechecked our position. "It's down there." He pointed directly down the steep bank from our position.

         We slipped on wet, rotted vegetation and loose rock as we eased ourselves towards the river's edge.

         I pictured the granite talus of Mt. Whitney's slopes and the scree on Mt. Williamson. "This reminds me of climbing in the Sierra Mountains."

         When we reached the river again, Dr. Bobo said, "My GPS indicates the low point is 200 feet over there." He pointed to a spot yards out in the swift flowing river.

         "No go," Primate said.

         "Well, this will have to do," I replied.

         We considered this the low point for Montana, clawed our way back up the steep slope and followed the gravel road to the car. Two elk lounged near the road and watched us as we photographed them. Primate drove us another 310 miles south through more intermittent rain. When we stopped for the evening some sixty miles farther on, we felt chilled by the cool air and were ready for warm showers and another hot meal of canned chili and instant rice.

         Low points - four; high points - zero.

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