Here’s Debo’s first NF report of the year… I was invited by Amy Robinson of Montana Wilderness Association to bike to Kintla Lake on Saturday with her and two friends, Kate and Nate Stone who were spending the weekend at Wurtz Cabin. We met in Polebridge at 9am and left our vehicles at the Polebridge Ranger Station for the 30-mile roundtrip bike ride.
Biking through Big Prairie is always a pleasure with its spectacular views of the North Fork in all directions from the Rockies on the east to the Whitefish Range on the west. Deer were grazing on the prairie and raptors were hunting for the numerous ground squirrels that have recently emerged from their winter slumber. We were warmed by the sun and cooled by the wind as we rode through the prairie.
After riding 6-7 miles, we reached the locked gate with a sign indicating that the rest of the road was open to only hiking and biking. We climbed steadily toward Kinta Lake through shady forest. Some of the hills were steeper than I remembered from last year, but we eventually made it to the lake. The campground was quiet with the absence of people and the lake sparkled in the bright sun. Kate identified bird calls for us…….some were locals and some were just migrating through. We lounged in the sunshine at the lake’s edge and ate lunch enjoying the perfect weather and the beautiful surroundings.
My riding companions were interesting people. Nate and Kate live in the Bitterroot, but come up to the North Fork several times a year. They were married in the Sondreson Community Hall in October 2008. Nate is an attorney for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Kate is employed as a biologist and wildlife researcher on a large private tract of land in the Bitterroot.
After lunch, we raced down the steep hills the way that we had come. We met Ranger Reggie on the road and shared a delightful conversation. Reggie said that the new North Fork park ranger, Sharon Olson, who took Scott Emmerich’s position, started her job last week and was attending training this week. Reggie also mentioned that the roads to the Bowman and Kintla campgrounds will probably be opened in a few days since the roads are free of snow earlier this year than is usual.
The bike ride back to the vehicles was delightful despite the strong headwinds and our tired muscles. It was around 4pm when we loaded the bikes, hugged good-bye, and went our separate ways carrying memories of new friendships and beautiful scenery.