posted: November 30th, 2009 | by:Bert
©Bert Gildart: Once again, we’re on the road, heading at the moment for Taos, New Mexico. I have a series of stories for which I’m gathering materials. The first is on Taos pueblo, elevation of almost 7,000 feet. Last year we tried to access Taos, but snow set in so we decided we’d tried at a later time. That time is now.
Heading south from our home near Bigfork, Montana, the first place we always stay is Dillion, Montana, which we did last night. Invariably, the next point of interest is Monida (Mon, for Montana and Ida for Idaho). Previously, I’ve written about Monida and what follows regarding the area’s history is extracted from some of the material from last year’s posting, made in January ‘09. However, the photographs are different and they show a different environment.
Monida Pass is always a spot that has captured our interest. Located at the junction between Montana and Idaho it is a lofty pass located on the Continental Divide at an elevation of 6,820 feet. The setting is gorgeous, but this is one of the first times we’ve passed through this part of southwestern Montana that we have not had to contend with brutal storms. This year, in fact, there was little snow and the skies were clear.
One time we camped in this small, almost deserted settlement and awoke next morning to a foot of fresh snow and howling wind. The conditions caught the weather man by surprise–and, consequently, us too. We had to stay until conditions moderated
ONCE A STAGE COACH STOP
Years ago I wrote a story about the mailman who worked out of this tiny settlement. The man’s name escapes me but he claimed that his route, which in winter was all covered on snowmobile, was the most remote route in the Lower 48.
In the late 1800s stagecoaches ferried tourists from the railroad at Monida Pass to Yellowstone Park until Union Pacific built a branch line to the park. Little seems to have changed.
Last year — and this year too — when we detoured off Interstate 15 for a stop at this empty settlement, again the weather pleasant. Though not warm or snow free, at least the wind wasn’t howling. But the houses all seemed deserted and if anyone was living in them, residents certainly didn’t broadcast their presence.
Songwriter Jimmy Buffet wrote a song about one such Montana town, and rather than “Ringling, Ringling, it’s a dying little town…” he could also have written about Monida, for it, too, is pretty darn bleak.
Windswept barn, Mondia Pass
An old barn, back dropped by the Pioneer Mountains, captivated my interest. Unused and unattended the barn has been shaped by wind and snow. (From previous posts, some will recall I enjoy photographing old structures). We parked for a few minutes on the single road that passes thorough the settlement and, then, on to several of the ranch families that live in the area.
We spent about an hour here then moved on, for we want to take advantage of the good weather while it lasts.
Next big stop will probably be Chaco Canyon, a national historic park. We intend to rendezvous with Sue and Eric Hansen. We’ve known them for years and first met them through OWAA, the Outdoor Writer’s Association of America. They’re always good company and we look forward to seeing them.
THIS TIME TWO YEARS AGO:
ADS FROM GOOGLE AND AMAZON AUGMENT OUR TRAVELS: