Saturday, August 16, 2008

I could live in the Bitterroot! (Please don't make us leave!)

August 15, 2008
Today was the best day yet. Perhaps it’s because we’ve stayed in camp longer so we’re more rested, or perhaps it’s because this truly is a fantastic place. The temperatures have been much higher than I expected for a mountain forest (in the 90s every day), but the rivers are welcoming – not too cold, not too swift, not too deep.

Today we slept in a little bit, then unhooked Tawny from Junior and headed out to explore while V wiggled free a very loose tooth.

We found our way to the Powell Ranger Station where the girls picked up their Junior Ranger booklets. We tried fishing at the kids’ fishing pond near White Sands Campground. No dice on the fishing (V’s spinner broke after half a dozen casts so now it spins freely in either direction – it’s tough to keep it from tying in knots), but we watched an osprey circle for awhile before it swooped down and snatched a fish from the pond about 15 feet from us!

We opted for lunch at Powell Lodge (the Lochsa Lodge burned down in 2001) merely because we’d left most of our lunch makings in the trailer. (We’ve gotten used to having it with us, I suppose.) It was nothing to write home about, but it was nice to be served, not have to worry about cleanup in a tiny sink, to enjoy the air conditioning and relax while the girls did their junior ranger paperwork wrap-up.

After picking up their Junior Ranger badges back at the ranger station, we headed out for a late afternoon hike up Warm Springs Creek toward storied hot springs.

Well, we should have left earlier, should have brought books, should have brought towels and maybe even a washcloth or two. This was the most spectacular part of our trip so far! We didn’t even make it to the big springs at the end (where we heard there were already half a dozen people soaking). We found a beautiful spring boiling out of the side of the hill just below the trail and running into the river into some pools people had spent quite a bit of time establishing. There were three dammed pools, one with a fantastically flat rock I’d call “bathtub rock.” We enjoyed soaking for more than an hour before we opted to hit the trail rather than face an after-dark hike with no good flashlight between us.

The girls would like to spend a whole day at the springs, but tomorrow is Saturday, so I know it’ll be busy, and while I’m sure I could stay here another two weeks (easy) exploring the area, we have a long way to go still. Tomorrow – toward Glacier!

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