Trekking Tales: International Selkirk Loop: Part 1

This year's plan was for a cross-border car-camping trip through Alberta's Waterton Lakes and Montana's Glacier National Park

A group of eight or so ladies, Girl Guiders all (once referred to as “… the oldest Girl Scouts I’ve ever seen!”) usually get together following August long weekend to hike and camp. This year’s plan was for a cross-border car-camping trip through Alberta’s Waterton Lakes and Montana’s Glacier National Park. As the date approached, the number had dwindled to two – our friend Mary from Creston and me. Well, who better to replace six ladies than John? We chose the International Selkirk Loop, leaving B.C. for Idaho, a short loop into Montana, back through Idaho to Washington, ending once more in B.C. Campgrounds switched to motels. We’ve done this before, with various friends, buying one meal per day, and carrying groceries for the others. With Mary and me on board, an ice cream or milkshake is the usual snack for “afternoon tea”.

After picking her up, we found a gravel road beside flourishing fields to take us much of the way from Creston to Bonners Ferry, ID, our first overnight stop. A running joke about accommodation began that evening.

“You did give us a room with two beds, didn’t you?” asked Mary as the cheerful man gave us a key.

The following night once again saw the three of us standing at the desk in a nice-looking place at Priest Lake.

“Would you like a room with a king-sized bed or two queens?” the gal asked. At our hoots of laughter she assured us she was just ascertaining whether we wanted one room or two.

In Chewelah, we were confronted with No Vacancy signs on the decent-looking places. The last one on the strip looked hopeful.

“Just one room left,” said the motel’s owner, and it has one only queen bed.”

“Here we go,” quipped Mary, “all in one bed, finally!” Fortunately, a comfortable cot resolved this situation.

Before we left Creston, Mary’s family had warned us: “Don’t have big expectations for Kootenai Falls! It’s no more than a series of rapids.”

Wrong… We loved it. At the end of the trail down to the Kootenai River (US spelling), water dropped over one ledge after another after another, splashing in bright sunshine. A faint rainbow appeared at the foot of the tallest part right beside us. On a different part of the trail, a swinging bridge across the river challenges the hardy to wobble their way across, high above the fast-flowing river.

Since Mary and John let me drive, any brown or blue sign had us turning away from the main route. “Super Loops” have been added to the map and we checked out all those in the USA.

We also added a few extras of our own, avoiding busy roads and highways wherever possible. Going down one gravel road that was getting narrower and bumpier, we weren’t sure where we were headed, although it was supposed to be Bull River.

To our great surprise we discovered a road crew sweeping the crevices (I kid you not) in a wooden bridge across a small creek. At least they had a forestry map and could give us directions and suggestions. We turned back.

“The scenery looks different each way, even though we’re on the same road,” we said – often.

 

With the car programmed to stop at all historical markers, it slowed down as soon as a neat pillar of rocks cemented together was spotted. The sight of the modern mailbox encased within caused the car to speed up again – passengers and driver much amused.

 

 

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