Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Nez Perce’

Our second day out we made some serious tracks. After experiencing the Lewis and Clark Scenic Highway we turned south to follow the Bitterroot River flowing north. We continued south past Sula then turned east to cross over Chief Joseph Pass at 7200 feet elevation. We were at the northern edge of the Bitterroot Mountain range where the Corps of Discovery suffered. I let Charlize out at the sign that marked the continental divide and I believe she peed on both sides… good dog! We pressed on to the Big Hole National Battlefield site. This is where the Nez Perce tribe fought the 7th Infantry Regiment led by General Oliver O. Howard on August 9 and 10, 1877.  This was the largest battle fought during the five month-long so-called Nez Perce War.

The tribe had made treaties with the U.S. government in 1855 and again in 1863 that ensured they could stay on a small portion of their original lands located in parts of three states. The much smaller parcel of land they were promised was in the Wallowa Valley on the Grande Ronde River in northeastern Oregon. In 1877 General Oliver was instructed to attack the tribe if they did not relocate to an even smaller reservation in Idaho. Chief Joseph reluctantly agreed but three young braves, enraged by this action of the U.S. government, massacred a band of white settlers who were moving into what was the tribe’s original homeland.

Chief Joseph decided to move the tribe to Canada to avoid further problems but they were intercepted at Big Hole and fought a day and a half delaying action allowing as many women and children to escape as possible. By some accounts at least ninety of the tribe, mostly women and children, were killed. The U.S. forces lost twenty-eight dead and forty serious casualties. The action allowed many of the tribe’s members to escape and continue their trek but they were caught again in October, only forty miles from the Canadian border and safety. They were starving and exhausted and Chief Joseph surrendered to save those who had survived the terrible ordeal. About one hundred and fifty tribal members did make it to Canada prior to the surrender.

This history lesson was the depressing culmination of our full day. We found an RV park in Wisdom, Montana, not far from the battlefield. There was nobody in the office. There were two trailers parked, but no occupants and as long as Charlize and I were around we didn’t see another person in or around the place. A sign instructed prospective patrons to fill out the form on one of the envelopes provided, leave $30 and enjoy the facilities. There was an electric service box and we plugged in, but the water was turned off. No Wi-Fi, no cell phone service, no cable TV, and the door to the restroom/laundry was locked. The good news was that less than two hundred yards away was Letty’s bar/restaurant that did have a few patrons, a good sign considering the lack of human activity in the town otherwise. Two glasses of drinkable, not memorable, red Zinfandel washed my meal of salad, a chewy steak, baked potato and a roll down, but I left half of everything but the Zinfandel for Charlize. I cut up leftovers and mixed them with a cup of her kibble and she again abandoned her normally dainty eating habits.

Gave up and went to bed early so was up at 4:30 and we were on the road by 5:00. The sky was starting to lighten casting a red-tinged gray light on the mountains to the east. As we drove mostly east the increasing light reflected off the rock-induced waves and ripples of the fast running Big Hole River that we were following. Just as sun peeked over the mountaintops and I started to lower Old Blue’s visor a cow moose loped across the road in front of us. I touched the brakes but she was safely distant and unconcerned. She made an effortless hop over a four-strand barbed wire fence heading toward the river. Charlize, riding in her new home in the bed of Old Blue, protected by the canopy, was very excited when she saw the moose hop the fence and barked her appreciation of the effortless feat.

It was before noon when we arrived at a very nice, full service RV park in Ennis, Montana. I shelled out another $30 a night for two nights stay but everything was provided and the restrooms and showers were new and immaculate. After setting up Frog and detaching her from Old Blue I checked in with the Madison River Fishing Company where I met Matt, the fishing guide I had reserved for the next day’s adventure. I told Matt that since it was so early in the day I might want to do some bank or wade fishing. He told me where to go and sold me some flies he thought might be productive.

Charlize was a pill. She considered my attempts at casting as playing retrieve with her. She followed the line into the water, barking her excitement. After repeated stern warnings to cease and desist she completely ignored me increasing my irritation by snapping at the line or my fly rod. I gave up and put her in Old Blue. She obviously didn’t understand the reason for her imprisonment but considered it unfair.

I tried all the flies Matt sold me, plus some of my own tying but only managed to snag some twigs on trees and in the water, and a few rocks. The water was moving fast and the rocks were slippery, so after a half-hearted attempt with my bum ankle I gave up wading and walked, actually limped, the bank with equal non-success.

With the nonsensical optimism of a true amateur I decided I would do better the next day, with Matt’s tutoring and guidance. You’ll have to await my next post to find out what transpired.

Read Full Post »

As we pulled out of my driveway I caught a glimpse of the sound and the sun glistening off the brilliant white snow topping off the Olympics. I waved goodbye for however long it would be until Charlize and I returned home.

We travelled the roads previously on our trip to Lake Lenice, catching the 405 then I-90 going east. Not much traffic at seven on Sunday morning. After crossing the Columbia River we found highway 26 and were in interesting new territory, lots of irrigated farmland, sprinklers moving sedately in huge half circles blowing mist on green fields and fruit orchards already past the bloom, greening up. The traffic going west was heavy on the two-lane road, parents returning to the Seattle area from their offspring’s graduation at WSU. Most appeared to be happy, smiling faces, a few frowns, maybe too much celebrating? What was in store for those graduates?

Made a bad choice for lunch in Colfax. I chose a breakfast scramble with potatoes, sausage, ham, onions, green pepper, cheese, and some other stuff I couldn’t identify. There was too much quantity, too many different ingredients, and way too much grease. I choked down as much as I could and took the large amount that remained in a take home Styrofoam container out to Charlize in the back of Old Blue. My normally dainty eating dog wolfed the stuff down, fast.  What was that about?

I had planned to stop in Lewiston, Idaho but the weather was beautiful, the roads were mostly ours and it was early. We pressed on to Winchester Lake State Park arriving about four in the afternoon. The lady at the gatehouse was very pleasant, gentile, apologetic. She explained the fee system. Since I didn’t have an “Annual Motor Vehicle Entrance Fee Sticker” for Idaho, the one I have for Washington didn’t count, that would be $40, even though I was only going to stay one night, but… “it will be good if I decide to return to any Idaho State Park during 2013”, she explained. There was also a $10 surcharge and $23.32 for a site with water and electricity but nothing else. The place was nice, but not almost $75 nice. I decided to press on. The nice lady said she completely understood. We drove to Grangeville, ID and found another RV Resort.  That night I sat in Frog’s little dinette and looked west at a series of green pastures stretching to the mountains. Two horses were grazing in the nearest pasture, a healthy looking paint and an emaciated sorrel, bony hips, ribs showing, who appeared to be very old. Charlize, sitting next to me on the bench, and I watched the sun set beyond the mountains backlighting them into a dark purple. A rose hue framed the stark peaks in silhouette. Charlize leaned against me then lay down and put her muzzle in my lap, expecting to be petted. She manages to mirror my mood.

The next morning we made our way to the Lewis and Clark Highway travelling northeast following the Clearwater River through what my map declares to be a “wild and scenic river corridor”. It is all of that and much more with the addition of numerous historical markers describing events from the Lewis and Clark expedition. There were also landmarks of the Nez Perce tribe who claimed the environs then and now and provided so much aid and comfort to the explorers and mountain men who followed, only to be repaid by horrendous crimes perpetrated against them, more of the effects of Manifest Destiny that I wrote about in my book MAN HUNT.

DSCN0456Charlize is not happy. I just called her back from taking a dip in the Clearwater River. I didn’t think she could handle that fast water.

 

Read Full Post »