On July 27th we left the house at 7:00 a.m. Destination? Yaak, Montana. Why? My husband wanted to return to the place where he’d spent the summer 49 years prior. What could possibly lure him back to the middle of no where, that many years later? Stay with me; it won’t disappoint.
Fast forward to this summer. We arranged to stay in Yaak–there are very few options–but we were not disappointed in our lodging. In fact, the area has quite the history. More on that; stay tuned (it won’t disappoint, either).
Day #1: Arrival at the Yaak River Lodge, 10 hours from home. After a snack we moseyed down to the river behind the lodge. This is the first sign I saw. Suddenly it was hard to swallow. That’s when I heard: “Be aware, Karen, not scared!” OK, “I can do this,” I thought. Wait…are those bullet holes in that sign?! “Don’t ask!” I heard. Breathe. And again….
Who said that?!
We saw no bears, but it was breath-taking and serene and calming and quiet and amazing. It was still. I felt peace. It refreshed me and as I stood along the bank, I felt inwardly energized and uplifted. I am forever amazed how nature and all its creations can be so empowering (if not a little scary). I guess they know how tempting it is to stay right there in that spot; other than the ground, there was no place to sit.
A short walk along the river, watching the deer dart away, standing in the cool breeze…it was the perfect treat to end a long day in the car.
Day #2: We set out to find the Yaak River Falls and the Kootenai River Falls. It’s really hard to describe this area, to find accurately descriptive words. It was so still and serene that as I stood right here, below, the tears flowed. I was mesmerized. I didn’t want to move.
Here’s what it looked like in 1968 when my husband caught sight of mama moose and her calf:
What was fun was watching my husband take it all in, to see this wondrous place once again.
Yaak River Falls, then and now:
Up the road we found the Kootenai Falls. What we didn’t know was what we’d have to do in order to get there.
The trail led to this walkway that crossed over train tracks below. As we approached, so did a train. I froze as it zoomed below. I could not bring myself to stand directly above a moving train; I stood to the side (I’m guessing that’s when my legs locked). We bounced to the rumble below, and I clung to the fence wall. Others stood directly above effortlessly taking photos. I stood aside, trying not to throw up. I blurted out, “This thing is bouncing!” and the lady next to me said, “Wait till you see the other one. ”
Once the train passed and I could unlock my legs, we continued along the “trail.” Once over and down the other side, this is what we saw:
Take a look at those stairs. I heard, “Don’t look down!” Right. I just finished BoUnCiNg up there and they say ‘don’t look down’? Are they ballerinas? You can see the ground…not good for the
weenies faint of heart. Oh, well; onward. At least I had the sense to wear good shoes. Sensible shoes. With my brand new inserts. As the mother of two Eagle Scouts and the wife of a former Scout Master, I was prepared. On second thought, for females (who have given birth) who dare cross, Burlington Northern should provide a box of Depends. There should be warning signs. I might have to write them a letter.
Finally, the Falls. We could go left, or left. Got it.
Huh? Left or left? Right. I mean left. We veered left.
And, what’s this about a Swinging Bridge? I just bounced and now they want me to swing? Someone around here has been smoking funny cigarettes. As one with a healthy fear of heights, I was feeling pretty darned proud of myself for having just
crossed bounced over a moving train. I was beginning to feel a little bit invincible….
…until I saw the teenage boy who, on his way back, began jumping up and down, right in the middle. That’s him, below. I’d considered crossing until his antics blew that to H E double match sticks (God BLESS you, young man!).
But, oh, what a view. I took this shot from 20 feet out. It took me 30 minutes to get there, but, whatev. I pivoted left and snapped a shot; I pivoted right and snapped another. I quickly turned and
knocked over the lady behind me headed for the entrance.
Backtracking along the same trail (are you confused? You should be), we veered left (or was that right?) and found a better view of the Falls.
Gorgeous, fabulous, peaceful, beautiful, amazing, breath-taking…none of which adequately describe this area. Maybe they all do. Either way, guests stood silent, watching, studying, taking it all in. It was a little slice of heaven.
Given it was in the low 90s, we headed back to the trail head for a cool one:
And that was the end of our first full day in our little slice of heaven.
Next post I’ll show you our lodging, the “area” where we stayed for three nights, and share a bit of local history. There’s a reason they don’t tell you BEFORE you arrive…but, when in Rome…I mean, Yaak.
What do you think of the scenery?