Day 5 continued
On our way out of Glacier we stopped in town for a couple of delicious almond milk lattes and some local advice on where to grab breakfast. We were only on the road for another 10 mins before we arrived at our breakfast stop: a small, family-owned restaurant that happened to be attached to a gas station. I know this may sound like a precarious choice but it was delicious and if you’re in the mood for elk burgers like we were, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better option right outside the park gates. After our meal we headed on the road and arrived at Hungry Horse dam less than an hour later. We stopped to check out this massive feat of human ingenuity, went inside the visitor center and learned a little bit about the history before we packed up to head on down the road.
We drove the narrow two lane road halfway around the lake with only a few mile marker posts and random forest roads to guide us, after 30 minutes we finally found our campground turnoff and made our way down the windy dirt road wondering what we had in store as I had just randomly picked this campground on the map due to its proximity to Glacier. We pulled past the camp hosts and around the one way loop slowly checking out each site as we passed. Ours ended up being the last spot on the loop right across from the bathroom – score!
As we pulled closer we noticed there were 3 deer just hanging out at our campsite licking the fire ring grill, as we pulled into our spot – we were shocked to see they hadn’t moved an inch upon seeing us. Once we hopped out of the car they started moving – but slowly towards the woods, we were able to get a couple photos before they moseyed on. I suppose they had better things to do and clearly were not too impressed with us, haha!
We started on setting up camp, since it was raining all week, our camp setup process started with tying the tarps up high to create protection from the persistent rain, then the tent and the rest of the supplies. After that we just sat in front of the tent quietly enjoying the birds chirping, the light sound of intermittent rain on the tarp and watched as the forest creatures came out to give us a show. That was one of the most relaxing afternoons I’ve had in sometime. If you get the chance to just sit and observe nature, do it!
Day 6 + 7
The next couple days were spent exploring the reservoir, one day we drove the entire 100 mile dirt road around the reservoir exploring trails and forest roads along the way, we even found our way up a fire lookout road to explore. There we dozens of campgrounds and picnic spots to stop at and far too many beautiful things to see. We stopped at a small lake I had pointed out on a map our hosts had left for us, we got there just as it started to rain. We walked down a short trail to the shoreline and stood there in awe listening to the most beautiful song birds singing away to the beat of the rain, there is something so purely wild about Montana it is like nowhere else I’ve ever been. I could have stood here all day, but we had many things to see.
After a long day driving and exploring we headed into town as we did each afternoon, the very small town of Hungry Horse had just what you needed a gas station, a small grocery store, a thrift shop and one really great family owned deli. This Deli had the best baked beans – Im telling you, I’ve never had better! We got a container of these beans and an elk burger almost every day for lunch the week we stayed here.
We grabbed some beers from the friendly gas station owner and headed back to camp, we parked and walked on over to Sandy and Jims, the camp hosts we’d become fast friends with even though they were about 40 years older than us, they were just some of the best people we’ve met and we got along so well. We would shoot the shit and play games all the while sipping some tasty beverages and enjoying the sporadic weather while watching the sun set over the lake. Jim and Sandy gave us some great local tips over the week we stayed there, don’t be afraid to converse with your neighbors you never know who you might meet. We plan to meet up with Jim + Sandy down the road when our paths cross again probably in Arizona where they stay the majority of the year.
Day 8 + 9
We finally had one nice day, we woke up to blue skies, happy bird songs and .. THE SUN! For it being nearly July we were so stoked to go spend the day down by the lake and possibly go swimming. We made breakfast and coffee as we did each morning, grabbed our fishing supplies, the dog and a few other items and headed down to the lake about a 1 min walk down a trail between the campsites to the lake shore where we set up our ground blanket a couple chairs and spent the rest of the day fishing and getting sun burnt.
This is the evening we were cooking dinner over the fire and I looked up to see a deer walking through camp as they usually had however, this deer was not just walking through. He walked over to my hammock to lick it, I guess it was delicious, when he noticed he had our attention he meandered over to us, Ryan reached out and he licked his hand and we were both shocked in disbelief. The dog had gotten a whiff of this encounter by now and was starting to bark from inside the tent so mr.deer took off. We weren’t too sad about it we knew he and his friends would be back as soon as we turned the lights off to lick our table cloth as they did most nights.
On our last day we decided to drive into Whitefish to do some shopping and touristy things. We drove about 20 – 30 mins into the quaint little town for some lunch at a restaurant and then walked around the main street full of shops and outposts. The sidewalks made of wooden boardwalks and a slow street with angled parking made for a quiet stroll through town, hand in hand browsing and finally purchasing some souvenirs to take home.
After shopping we leisurely drove back to camp stopping one last time at the deli we loved so much to grab some baked beans and potato salad to go with dinner. It was a quiet night around the fire, enjoying our meal and reminiscing on the time that had come to end so quickly. It was our last night at camp in this beautiful place and we hardly knew how to part ways. But it was still just the beginning of summer and we had so many adventures left to have, so we left the campfire for bed with happy minds and content hearts after a full 10 days in the wild of Montana.