Monday, August 23, 2010

The Gates of the Mountains

The Photograph

The Story

Recently, I took a short road trip to Montana (helping a friend move). I managed to get one nice picture out of the handful I took before my camera battery died. My back up battery turned out to be for my other camera...oops...

I didn't know much about the area before the trip. Here are a few tid-bits I learned. First, huckleberries are awesome. Nothing beats fresh made fruit smoothies for breakfast (except, maybe huckleberry pie). Lightning can happen out of a clear blue sky. Rain can drop buckets when it's 82ยบ outside. Technically, it's considered high desert, so maybe that's normal. For years there was no upper speed limit in Montana. They just expected you to drive reasonably... whatever you decided that was. That had to change with the increasing size and power of most engines. Even so, most of the big roads are still 75 MPH, way higher than most of California. Also, a big chunk of Montana has names calling to mind the travels of Lewis and Clark and the expedition they undertook, led much of the way by Sacajawea. The photo above is a scene they named "The Gates of the Mountains". We took a cruise tour starting from Upper Holter Lake, puttering up Wolf Creek entering a long canyon, and exiting 6 miles up stream. At the far end, the boat spun slowly around so all could get a good view while our tour guide recited a line from the journal of Meriwether Lewis: "from the singular appearance of this place I called it the gates of the rocky mountains". Indeed, we watched as the gates seemed to open, then close before our eyes.

Next time, I will try to see with my own eyes some of the abundant Native American petroglyphs and pictographs there, including the learning center at First Peoples Buffalo Jump. Yes, that is what it sounds like. People herding buffalo towards the edge of a huge cliff, forcing them to jump into the mass meat harvest at ground level below....dun dun duuuunnnn