North Fork Views
By Larry Wilson
Without a doubt, summer is the busiest time of the year on the North Fork—at least for the human animals. Before the Fourth of July we have already had a history tour in Glacier Park conducted by the McFarland and Walsh descendants and hosted by Jim and Lorna Rittenburg, a presentation at Sondreson Hall by Tris Hoffman, Forest Service weed specialist, game night, well attended and hosted by Gary and Karen McDonough, a firewise meeting conducted by Allen Chrisman and Gary Mahugh and those are just the social/informational activities.
Commercial activity is also booming. The Northern Lights Saloon, the Polebridge Merc and Home Ranch Cafe and Bar are all open as well as the new Sasquatch food truck located between the Merc and the Northern Lights. The last two times I drove into Polebridge there were thirty plus cars parked out front and the line for baked goods stretched out the front door and into the parking lot. Too long for me!
My traffic counting is not scientific but does tell me how things are trending. Four years ago the average number of vehicles I counted from Blankenship Road to Trail Creek Road was 31. This year, so far, the average is over 100 with a high of 163 and a low of 62.
Kintla and Bowman Lakes parking seems to be full by 10 a.m. most days, closing those roads and the Border River access had twenty-five vehicles parked there on a midweek day. I don’t know if there are more there on weekends but the vast majority were local Montana vehicles. Same thing at Great Northern Flats but a larger number of out of state plates and most days several big Tin Tepees. I have been afraid to check the condition of the sweet smelling toilets at the Border, Ford, Polebridge, or Great Northern Flats but hopefully the Forest Service has gotten a handle on their sanitation facilities.
The only campground that seems lightly used is Tuchuck and several locals enjoyed a Father’s Day picnic there and had their choice of campsites.
There have been a ton of cyclists. Some on their way to Mexico and some just making a local trip. Haven’t seen many ATV’s or side-by-sides but the few I have seen seem to go too fast and bounce sideways on the corners.
Now, with hot weather in the forecast, I will just sit in the shade with a cold drink and a good book. Sometimes it is good to be old.