Campers, everywhere

| August 19, 2020 6:58 AM

I am not sure how much we can blame the coronavirus but it is getting much more difficult to drive to or from the North Fork. Starting at Canyon Creek, the road is rougher and dustier every day. It ranges from rough and dusty to worse than awful from there to the Camas Junction.

Normally this really terrible stretch can be avoided by entering Glacier Park and driving to the North Fork via the Camas Road. That still works if you are leaving the North Fork. It only works if you are coming north very early in the morning or late in the evening. At 10 a.m. you are likely to sit in line for 30 minutes or more. The last two times I was there cars were lined up clear back to the Middle Fork Bridge.

I guess the Going-to-the-Sun Road is as popular as ever despite the fact you have only the option of going to Rising Sun and then turning around and coming back over the Pass to Lake McDonald. Of course, you also have the option of turning around anywhere from the West Entrance to Rising Sun. I will pass on anything to do with Logan Pass and only use the Camas Road to get to the North Fork unless I come to the North Fork in the night.

Of course, I do like to at least visit Bowman and Kintla Lakes at least once every summer and that is still possible but I can’t understand how Glacier Park is managing them this season. They (the Park) say it is because of the virus but it makes no sense to me.

Ranger Jim Dahlstrom told us that Polebridge Ranger District is fully staffed this summer because they have adequate housing so that employees do not have to share sleeping quarters. Nevertheless, Kintla and Bowman campgrounds are closed and no kayaks or other boats are allowed on either lake. Day visitors only.

It would seem these campgrounds could be set up for adequate provision made for sanitizing toilet facilities. At least the Forest Service seems to think so. Toilets at the Border, Ford Station, Polebridge, Great Northern Flats and even Tuchuck are open and crowded.

Crowding is increased with Park campgrounds closed and I have seen campers up and down the west side where I have never seen them before. There were even two tents at the Devil’s Pee Pot where there is no water and plenty of road dust. At least campers at the turnout at Hell Roaring Falls have water nearby.

In addition to the shortage of camping spots, there is the growing problem of human waste. I stopped at one of the turnouts on Camas Road this week and noticed a well packed trail leading into the woods. Following it for a few yards into the woods, it ended at a down tree that provided a convenient bench seat. Behind the log were multiple piles of brown stained white paper.

Maybe we need a commercial public campground on the North Fork at that. What do you think?

Larry Wilson’s North Fork Views appears weekly in the Hungry Horse News.