CAMPING — Rich Servatius sent in this report after 12 days of exploring the Route of the Hiawatha and Loop Creek areas along the Montana-Idaho border.
My extended family and friends have been going there for about 15 years for a week or so. Each time we go the wildlife that we see changes.
The first year we saw 13 bears between us, the next year only one and haven’t seen any since.
We normally see about one moose per day; this year we saw one only.
We normally have deer hanging around our camp on Loop Creek; this year we mostly saw them in the old railroad tunnels, but did see some in the Loop Creek valley.
We saw lots of beaver the first five years; one this year.
We saw a few elk tracks this year and heard reports of 22 head near Dominion Peak a couple months ago, but we saw none.
Four years ago my sister saw a wolf near I-90 and close to St. Regis (our first sighting). This year a pack of wolves were howling just a hundred yards from me to the south of the Gold Hill trail, coming from Moon Pass direction (West). That was a little exciting and scary too. No wonder that the couple of ATV riders were carrying pistols. My only weapon was a rock.
As for huckleberries, they were ripe at lower elevations in places with lots of sun and I found one place higher up in an alpine meadow where the berries were 50 to a bush and juicy. It will be another couple of weeks before they start showing up in quantity.
Wild flowers were showing their splendor.
Shefoot mountain was pretty, but someone had left a fire burning at the top and a little trash.
If you go to that area, expect lots of bicycle traffic and dust.
We helped a couple of ATV riders clear the Idaho / Montana state line road for a few miles for ATV use. We didn’t have the equipment and gas and manpower to clear it for truck use. About 100 trees were down between Roland Pass and the paved road from the St. Joe River to St. Regis pass. Someone else had cleared the road before us, so these trees had probably blown down in the last few weeks. If you take that route; bring a chainsaw, help, shovels, and cable.
Spots of snow 2 feet deep were melting slowly. The snow on Shefoot Mtn. was melting fast…none on the road, which was clear.
Lots of flies and those *&%$#@ skeeters to bother people!