It’s a Big Dam Country — Day 2

There were no dams today. There’s a fab­u­lous one on tap for first thing tomor­row but my plans to shoot at sun­set were over­whelmed by my need for din­ner, a show­er, and sleep.

What there was today was US 12 which fol­lows the Clear­wa­ter Riv­er between Lewis­ton ID and Hele­na MT. Total­ly won­der­ful. Except for the 60 miles that are also I‑90 between Mis­soula and Gar­ri­son. But even that was pret­ty.

First thing got my morn­ing lat­te and then amazed a cou­ple of  lit­tle boys with the robo-car top down thing. Start­ed from Clark­ston and got hap­pi­ly lost in Lewis­ton — end­ed up dri­ving along the riv­er side park. Found my way back to 12 and start­ed up to Lolo Pass. Had a ter­ri­bly blond morn­ing and for­got to get gas in Lewis­ton. Saved by the Thun­der­bird II Trad­ing Post — which is *not* list­ed in the GPS.

At about Mile Post 12 I was dive bombed again. This time by cliff swal­lows. One of the cool things about dri­ving with the top down and not hav­ing to wear a hel­met is that I get to hear birds sing and water splash, etc. On the down side  I spent a cou­ple of slight­ly nau­se­at­ing miles smelling the greasy her­bi­cide that the Ida­ho DOT was spray­ing on the shoul­ders.

At first the Clear­wa­ter is a broad flat riv­er.

clearwater river
clear­wa­ter riv­er

Across the riv­er the rail­road tracks run just above the water line.

railroad tracks on the clearwater river
rail­road tracks on the clear­wa­ter riv­er

Some­where ear­ly on I saw a sign that said Wind­ing Road Next 99 Miles. I assume that 99 is the largest num­ber that they can get to fit on the sign… No I did not stop to take a pic­ture. Every­one already has a pic­ture.

At Kami­ah you cross the riv­er and run along it’s east bank. There was  a lot of road work here. Replace­ments of under-road cul­verts and build­ing riv­er bank. They were using an inter­est­ing fill in place rip-rap sys­tem. My request to take pics was met with blank stares and a mum­bled but we can’t let you stop here.

For many miles on either side of the apt­ly named Syringa most of the yards were filled with lilacs all bloom­ing their fool heads off.

There is also this remote barn and house on the oth­er side of the riv­er.

barn on the other side of the river
barn on the oth­er side of the riv­er

So how do you get there? Um, like this?

this is how you get there
this is how you get there

Well, maybe it’s how some peo­ple get there. Not me. I’m afraid of heights *and* I hate water.

Here are a cou­ple more beau­ty shots from the run up to Lolo.

The riv­er gets con­sid­er­ably rougher as you climb.

rough water on the clearwater river
rough water on the clear­wa­ter riv­er

These are next year’s fox­gloves.

first year fox glove rosettes
first year fox glove rosettes

At the sum­mit it was 53 degrees and there was still alot of dirty snow lay­ing about.

lolo pass visitors' center
lolo pass vis­i­tors’ cen­ter

There’s anoth­er sud­den state line change when you leave the pass and head into Mon­tana. Instead of being in deep canyons you’re in high shal­low basins. Big Sky indeed. Lots of cows. Just scross the bor­der I saw a kid (15?) ona big red quad with a dog perched on the back and black calf on his lap. He start­ed to wave but set­tled for a nod when he real­ized he’d run out of hands.

By the time I made it to Mis­soula I was pret­ty wind blown and beat. The Not Ter­ri­bly Attrac­tive ™ floopy hat that was keep­ing the sun off of my face had bat­tered against my right ear for so long that it hurt as bad­ly as it would have it I had for­gone the hat and got­ten the sun­burn.  I put the top up, set the cruise for 80, head­ed in for the night.

Today’s Route:

View It’s a Dam Big World Day 2 in a larg­er map

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