Tuesday, April 23, 2024

The future, and past, of the North Fork

by By Larry Wilson
| March 15, 2023 2:00 AM

A relatively new North Forker recently asked me if we are experiencing a “normal” winter. Boy, that is a tough one. I have seen two feet of snow in mid-October and bare ground until almost Christmas. Likewise I remember five feet of snow at Trail Creek in mid-May and bare ground in April so snow is not a good definition of normal. Same with temperatures. Every winter we have cold spells and many winters have a chinook. Coldest I have seen is the minus 30ºF range, but everyone’s thermometer is a little different plus some spots are colder than others.

In the end I think a normal winter means unpredictable. We always have snow, below zero and odd thaws. You just can’t predict when they will occur and that is normal.

Humans are more predictable but less normal than the weather. People always worry about the snow pack hoping the snow will reduce the next summer’s fire danger. Then, if there is a lot of winter snow, folks worry about spring floods. This happens every year even though spring floods are really rare and big fires tend to be decades apart. The only sure thing is the ongoing cycle of life.

Renewal in the spring, growth and birth in the summer with rest and sleep in the fall and winter.

The cycle seems slow when applied to trees and fast when applied to moths and butterflies. Humans fall somewhere in the middle.

If you want to think about abnormal it seems we have lost more elderly North Forkers this winter than normal. Latest are Joe Lang and Mid Connally.

Joe was a retired senior master sergeant from the U.S. Air Force. After retirement he moved to Montana and spent years on the North Fork and Columbia Falls. He spent several years as the customs agent at the Border and he and his wife Joan were active in the Landowners Association. After Joan became ill Joe returned to Omaha to be near children but revisited the North Fork where his daughter Maggie has a cabin.

Also passing over the Great Divide was Mid Conally the daughter of Austin Weikert who was a well known cabin builder in Glacier Park and the North Fork. His North Fork homestead is now owned by the Hoiland family on Trail Creek and Mid had a cabin overlooking Polebridge and was an annual visitor to the North Fork.

The homesteaders are all gone and only a few of their family members still own North Fork land. The current landowners tend to be part time residents who are wealthier and have different lifestyles. We will see what they do with the land.

What do you think?