on March 24, 2017
Missoula, MT; Salmon, ID
First off, I must say there are no hot springs in this post, but this was part of the journey in seeking hot springs.
The next morning, we got up and hiked the M right off of campus. The few times I’ve been to Missoula have always been for Frisbee, so I’d hadn’t seen much of the town more than fields and some bars. On the short trail, there were small groups of other hikers and joggers on the well-trodden switchbacks up. As we went up, I imagined all the UM freshman that must hike up each year, probably with beer in hand, excited about spending the next 4 years of their life on the campus coming into view on their way up.
The hike to the M was only a half mile, so we continued up to Mount Sentinel. There was a pretty cold wind as we got higher, and there were a few icy patches of snow as we neared the top. At one point we crossed a plaque stating the historic edge of the Glacial Lake Missoula that carved out the valley were the city of Missoula now lies. I think this lake was part of the same larger ice sheet that carved out Puget Sound. At the end of the last ice age, the fertile soil from Missoula area washed down into the Willamette Valley, which is why so many good quality crops and wine come from that valley today.
We ate lunch in Missoula and headed south. We stopped at a brewery in Hamilton, and general store in North Fork, ID. The landscape changed drastically between Missoula and our destination Salmon, ID. The drive down Highway 93 had everything from rugged snow-capped mountains to voluptuous rolling hills to jagged red rock walls. One section of the drive was ranch land cradled in a valley. It was a new kind of beauty out there, much different than the big trees and estuaries of the Puget Sound I’m used to seeing.
Salmon reminded me of those old western films: dry air and one straight main street lined with dusty brick buildings. We got a room at the Stagecoach Inn (a little tacky, I know) where Fox News was blaring the lobby. We went to Bertram’s Brewery for dinner. The walls were lined with growlers from breweries mostly around Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and Colorado. I had excellent chili with a Sacajawea Stout. Apparently their specialty drink is one part of their hazelnut ale to one part of the Sacajawea Stout: the NutSac. All pints were $3.75!