Well the day has come. The one I didn’t want to come in many ways. We are leaving the Bitterroot Valley today. I trust that it is not forever but just for now. We have spent the last 3 weeks seeking direction. Matt is concerned the data is right and the winters here are gray and cloudy. People here offer the reasoning, “This is the banana belt of Montana”. Matt reminds me that the emphasis should be on “of Montana” not “banana belt” as most Montanans quote it. The grey, overcast winters would not be good for either of us but especially this solar powered wife. The breath taking views I have awakened to for over 2 months now will hold captive pieces of my heart along with some of the best memories of my life.
The nature trail that starts a block from my home and runs down to the wild Bitterroot River and back through the mixed forest will remain a treasured part, too. Just last Friday, I became one of the first to enjoy the 100 yard completion to this end of that trail. The trail is a labor of love built by 3 local people’s tenacity and perseverance. Two of the three are our own Travellers’ Rest owners, Jim Anderson and Mary Morris. We have heard and seen some of the smaller challenges they have faced which would have made a lot of folks quit but they pressed on through those AND bigger challenges, over an 8 year period, creating a legacy benefiting families for generations to come.
On this trail, I have been blessed to stumble upon a moose quietly grazing in the marsh as I took a resort guest for a walk and had the thrill of watching the ospreys feed on the river and raise their young, including the first flight of the young! The young bucks often are sparring in one of the fields and the ducks of all varieties have come and gone to a neighboring pond. Always when you turn around, right behind you, are the ever changing, but always constant, views of the rugged Bitterroot Mountains and breathtaking glacial canyons with their unique splendor. Currently, they are dressed in a lacey coat of white from the unseasonable first snow storm last night.
We leave behind hikes that have beckoned us, left untraveled; canyons unexplored, rivers and hot springs not experienced but they will remain for hopefully a future chapter of discovery. A piece of my heart will stay here in what is sometimes called, “the last best place”. We decided that with 3.5 million acres of public lands here, we could live here and be over a hundred years old yet never experience all Western Montana offers. The million dollar question is, will we? Only God knows and He is saying, “no, for now”. So we “saddle up”* and move out with the bumper sticker one of our favorite CDT hikers gave us in the window stating, “Keep it Wild”. For Montana is and I rejoice that there is a place in this great land of America that still is. Goodbye, Montana, and thank you for the treasures! Please don’t change.
* We often say that when we get ready to leave and it always triggers an old song in my heart by Steven Curtis Chapman. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVFPjIp6nkk if you care to listen. The chorus says, saddle up your horses, we’ve got a trail to blaze……..this is His Great Adventure! We do and it is…..