Day 30 July 1 Kellogg, Wallace, Lookout Pass, and “Big Blowup”

Some internet work started my day in the Trail Motel with black clouds and drizzle outside, but about 10 am I left and took another slow tour of the Kellogg, Wallace, and Mullin area: places I explored pretty thoroughly last year. This is the heart of the historical mining district, with a history also of a 1910 forest fire, "The Big Blowup", the largest and most destructive fire in US history.

I then visited the ski resort up on Lookout Pass, a place I missed on previous trips, just to check it out. It’s an outstanding ski area, straddling the Continental Divide, with a ton of runs for skiers and snowboarders and a great chalet with everything you need. There I met Donna, who seemed to be in charge, and she was taking photos of a crane unloading new steel ski-lift components. We had a great chat…she’s originally from Dubuque, IA, a place I know well as it is only 90 miles from my home.

The next stop was the I-90 Rest Area on the summit, where the weather turned pleasant, and everyone was in a good mood and talkative, so I promoted the YT like crazy. One of the volunteers, serving free coffee and cookies, suggested that I stop at the Historic Savenac Tree Nursery and their displays. This is where the US Forest Service raised saplings to re-forest the Bitterroot Range after the “big burn” of 1910.

Savenac is another place I skipped on previous trips, I suppose I was “saving” it for today. Good thing, as today Susi was working. She and her husband are teachers for the US Gov’t in Stuttgart, Germany and are spending the summer working here.

Her first words were: “we were just talking about the Yellowstone Trail yesterday, we want to travel it coast to coast in two years when we retire”. Well, that started an almost hour-long conversation that left us both happy: I shared maps with her, gave her some brochures, she now can explore the YT and I might have a new correspondent for the Arrow newsletter.

From there it was an easy roll into Missoula, by far the biggest city in western Montana, with 60,000 people, and home to the U of M.

I checked into a somewhat upscale hotel using a rewards certificate for a big discount…”King Suite” no less…for two nights of luxury lodging. A buffalo burger, onion rings, and a beer at a place down the road set me up for the night.

R & R tomorrow.