Tues. Jul. 26, 2011: Spokane, WA ~ Missoula, MT (2:50ish am)
We left Spokane and stopped in Post Falls, Idaho at Cabela’s and the Buck Knife factory. I took pictures of the magnificent stuffed game, and I salivated when picking out knives. (Wow, I truly am a different person now, from who I used to be!)
We popped into Historic Wallace, ID for a quick once around the block, and then went on the Silver Dollar Casino, Western Bar and Gift Shop at the Idaho/Montana state line.
50,000 silver dollars, all the shiny belt buckles and antler candle holders you can imagine, but no lassos for the Barrick Bros.
Many more mountains and fields and forest passed, before we drove up a sketchy dirt switchback road to Garnet, Montana – a true Ghost Town, preserved by the state.
All the while, it was a race against the setting sun.
It was scary, but amazing. I was white-knuckled and praying as the truck hopped and bumped up that rough, backcountry single-track logging trail. I couldn’t bear to look out my window at the side of the mountain steeply dropping off, just a few feet beside me. Our GPS showed that we were in the middle of nowhere.
We got to the top…And explored the town alone. One older gent still stays there, keeping watch over the place, but the rest of the settlement belongs to the Dead now. What a beautiful mountain-top home it likely was for this community, once upon a time. (What a pain in the ass it must’ve been to get there, though! No wonder they left!)
A deer greeted us as we returned to our car and we watched it for a while.
I would not dare to repeat that road at dusk, descending, so we took a through-road from the top. Within 10 minutes, we were on paved roads, winding effortlessly down the other side of this mountain, and we were back to our hotel in Missoula in one-third of the time it took to get to Garnet. (In hindsight, we now understand why the guide map so strongly recommends the second road, and not our backcountry route.)
All in all, I think we did these mountains proper, based on our limited time.
Tomorrow, we journey through the rest of Gold West Country, Butte, the Continental Divide and Billings, and then sleep, again.
The push has officially begun.