©Bert Gildart: Though the weather man has been consistently predicting inclement weather for the past few days, even saying that Glacier National Park would receive between two to three feet of snow today, just 30 miles away, the view this morning from our back porch was anything but threatening. Fog was spiraling upward, the sun appeared to be breaking over the horizon, and the combination conspired to create a spectacular sunrise over the Swan Front.
Landmark mountain in the middle (the upside down strawberry) is known as Strawberry Mountain. Then just over the crest is Jewel Basin, one of our favorite hiking areas. However, the area is still clogged with snow so it will be weeks before we can visit that area. And who knows what this morning’s surging clouds really portend. Here we just take things day by day and sometimes even hour by hour.
MONTANA’S DINOSAUR TRAIL
As an outdoor journalist, I receive a lot of press notifications. Right now I’m receiving e-mails almost daily reminding me of all the spectacles to be provided by driving or visiting some aspect of Montana’s Dinosaur Trail. That’s something that always seems to surprise friends and family members when we tell them that paleontologists have unearthed from “The Treasure State” some of the world’s most spectacular fossils.
Montana has a wealth of dinosaurs because of its many geological formations associated with ancient seas and rivers. One area not too far from Bigfork, where we live, is known as The Two Medicine Formation, and it was created about 74 million years ago by rivers and streams.
Today, the formation is confined to the state’s southwestern quadrant where it is particularly accessible near Choteau, and is not too far from Bozeman where I graduated from college. In 1978, the formation yielded North America’s first egg-laying dinosaur fossils from what is now known as “Egg Mountain.”
Janie and I have driven the 1000-mile long trail several times, and it’s perfect for RVers. In fact, next week we’ll be driving a portion of it as we pull our Airstream to Bismarck and to another convention for Outdoor Writers, but this time the national one.
One museum you’ll enjoy if you make the drive is the one at Fort Peck, a tiny settlement made famous by Margaret Bourke White who photographed construction of the Fort Peck Dam, and in doing so created Life Magazine’s first cover.
Today, that history is shared at the museum in Fort Peck but so are some of the fossils unearthed from the area, such as the one shown here-taken from my files on Fort Peck.
In other parts of the state, arrow leaf balsam route is now rearing its head along the east slopes of Glacier National Park.
One hour later, the gorgeous sunrise of this morning has been replaced by thick clouds, hard rains-and a temperature drop of almost 10 degrees. It’s now 37 degrees and WHOOPS, AS I LOOK OUTSIDE–IT IS SNOWING!!!!
Shortly now, I expect a phone call from one of my critics saying, “And you call this global warming?”
Once again, I’ll have to inform this flat-earth, Cro-Magnon, troglodyte that Al Gore (my hero) predicted such erratic weather behavior as one of the associated manifestations. In using such terms I just hope my daughter and granddaughter don’t hear me, for they love this man.
AND NOW, THE COMMERCIAL
If you’re interested in exploring the Flathead Valley and Glacier National park, here are two books produced by Falcon Press, one part of their Exploring Series, the other one of a new series of “Pocket Guides.” Janie and I, of course, are the authors and you can obtain both from us, or directly from Falcon. Look for them, too, in bookstores and in Glacier.