A Few Days Up North

We headed to Missoula for laundry and groceries, but more importantly, to meet up with our friends, my college roommate, her husband and their two teenagers. We caravanned to Wayfarers State Park on Flathead Lake for a week of camping! It was a gorgeous drive, and we settled into our two campsites in an absolutely idyllic location. We caught a sunset over the lake at 9:30 at night.

The next day, we were up and raring to go for a river float. Noah knows a lot about rivers and kayaking, and they have two duckies (inflatable kayaks). We inflated three kayaks, and let the kids rotate around in them. We were mostly running class II and III whitewater for the whole 7 miles of the run. We packed a lunch and ate on the bank. It was hilarious and awesome. The water was so cold, and sitting in the front, I got soaked! Seamus was doing a great job steering the new kayak, and Gilbert was having fun in the solo. However, when the two of them got in the new one together, they could not stop fighting. We made a call to switch out, but we were too close to a stretch of whitewater, and Seamus and I got stuck on a rock. Then, Patrick, Gilbert and Porter got stuck on us. Luckily, Harlan was in the boat with Noah and Cora (their golden retriever). They flipped and ended up having a scary and cold swim through the rapid, but everyone did great, no gear was lost, and no injuries sustained. Porter was even ready to go again the next day!

The next day, we ended up having threatening storm clouds all around us, so we had a leisurely morning, putting up some rain shelter and getting ready to go to the lake to play. Noah’s sister, her husband, and their two kids including a ten-week old baby, came up to join us. Delightful! They brought their flat-bottom fishing boat, so we went out for some spins on the lake. It was great to see a new perspective on it, and we ended up seeing some bald eagles (which reminds me that we saw a bald eagle with a fish in its talons in the Missouri headwaters). Harlan was in love with the boat. We quickly wrapped up the lake day so that we could catch a rodeo. The Bigfork rodeo was on its last night, and it was the place to be! I don’t think I’ve ever been to a rodeo, but Amanda’s brother-in-law used to do rodeo as a kid, so he was full of insider knowledge and war stories. Being in a place with locals to guide you give a totally different experience. The rodeo was a true cultural experience between the people watching, the food trucks, and the gender-segregated events. We all liked the little kid sheep riding, the bucking horses, and the barrel races. We were very impressed with the umpires who keep everything in the ring in check. It was pretty late when we got back to camp, but none of the kids wanted to go to bed—too much excitement. We had to send them on, though, because we planned Glacier for the next day.

We aimed for a quick departure, but when you have 10 people going in one car, it’s a bit slow. Our pass wouldn’t let us in to the main entrance, because they’re doing timed-entry to the park. Ugh. But we made the most of it, and drove around to the east side of the park, where we found a great place to picnic, go for a longish hike to a lake and a waterfall, have some ice cream from the general store, and then go for another short hike. We did the Running Eagle falls hike, which is just a river gushing out of a hole in the mountain. It’s quite beautiful. Seamus borrowed my sandals and jumped from the cliff into the swimming hole. Finally, it was 5:00 and we could drive Going-to-the-Sun Road starting from the east side. We saw a black bear and a mountain goat. The kids all jumped out to touch some snow in July. We spread some ashes in the landscape that looked like Middle Earth, with all the hanging valleys and waterfalls trailing down the mountains. The road made us all a little carsick, but it was in the service of the gorgeous peaks, high above the valley. The tunnel bored through the mountain looked miniscule as we passed it. The landscape dwarfs humans, and that must be what draws us to it. Because we returned so late, we ordered some pizzas for the campsite. They really hit the spot. The kids all went off with Amanda’s brother in law to pick some Flathead cherries by the lake. They are so delicious. Showers and bed for the kids (and me). I was absolutely exhausted.

But I’m up early today. I think we’ll take another sort of relaxed day, maybe go into Bigfork, do some baby-holding, play at the lake, make some good campfire cooking tonight. Patrick and Noah may float the Wild Mile, a stretch of Class III and IV whitewater. They want to scout it before taking any kids. Probably wise.



  1. I love traveling along with you. I traveled cross country in a sleeper 8 camper with Cookie, Bruce, their 4 kids and Bruce’s mother for a few weeks when I was 19. But, that was just one trip.
    Reading your recent blog entries reminds me of that trip.
    If you created a book out of your blog and published it, I don’t think anyone would believe it was true. People just don’t pack up and travel so often with their kids…especially 4 kids. You guys are pretty awesome!!

  2. You’re having great adventures! I love following along! Glad everyone is safe from their unexpected swim in the rapids. And Porter was ready to go again, yay!

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