DNA X #4 Montana Bound!
It’s always hard to leave Jackson Hole, WY but as this adventure was a last minute plan, the search for accommodations has now left us out in the cold. Never mind, we are heading for points north. The great state of Montana is “Big Sky” country and the “Treasure State” where the grizzly bear is the state animal. Good thing we have our trusty bear spray. We really did want to see a grizzly, however now we were more concerned about where we put the spray than using it. The spray’s directions announced in large letters- “Do not leave spray in hot car…” well this is August and every car is an inferno when parked! The back seat, piled high with gear, was a diabolical quagmire sucking in anything added to the heap. The vision of hitting a bump and being blasted by the exploding bear spray had us feeling a little nervous. So where did we put it…?!
We aim “G” north and keep the A.C. on “full gale” setting after Jay wrapped the spray in an insulating towel. This must be the Polar Express! Luckily we had to drive through Yellowstone National Park to get to our destination. A stop at the numerous hot springs and geysers warmed us up. No bears were sighted but a large herd of elk grazed along the northern border of the park.
We exited the park at Mammoth Hot Springs and entered Montana. We descended into Paradise Valley and found the Yellowstone River coursing its way northeast. Thunderstorms rumbled along the valley and the sky grew dark. We had the address of Hubbard’s Yellowstone Lodge and turned off on a dirt road near the small town of Emigrant. A few ranches dotted the vast valley and the road snaked its way up and up the valley’s flank. Where is this place, the sun is going down and we are in the middle of…? Finally at the end of the steep road, we found the lodge perched on a knoll with a stunning view down the length of the valley. The friendly staff greeted us but before we could go the cabin we had some paperwork to do. Several pages of disclaimers warned us that yes, this is wild country and wild animals abound. So if you get eaten, gored, drowned etc. it’s your fault! The lodge was surrounded by open land with few trees so at least you could see trouble coming! It was another last minute reservation and we were lucky to get it. We wanted to fly fish and hopefully survive to tell the story.
The all-inclusive lodge arranged a guide for us for the next 2 days. We requested a guide with a sense of humor for our own safety. Our fledgling fly-fishing skills would be put to the test and we hoped we wouldn’t be all thumbs! A casual perusal of the other
guests revealed some seasoned fly guys, complete with all the proper gear and duds. Oops, hope the fish don’t mind our un-officio shirts and no-wade shorts. All we want to do is have some fun not beat the state record. The next morning we meet our guide who sported a weathered cowboy hat and big mustache. Drew offered us a 10-mile float down the Yellowstone River, one of Montana’s “blue ribbon” trout fishing rivers. It is also the longest, un-dammed, free flowing river in the lower 48 states. We had seen the drift boats (oars only) floating down the Snake River and wanted to experience the ride so we were excited!
The day was warm and clear. The fishing was great after a few lessons from Drew. Hot springs tumbled into this part of the river and the many rapids attracted rafters as well as fishermen. For a combination of rafting, fishing and relaxing with no noisy motors groaning, I totally recommend it. We were the ones who got hooked!