My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Weekend Adventures, Part I - I'm NOT Lost

June 17

I leaped out of bed when the birds woke me at 4:30 A.M., and rushed to get dressed in my cold trailer.  I added my warm robe over my clothes until I could get my jacket out of my car.  I finished packing and loading the car and was leaving in a bright, dense fog before 6:30 A.M.

I drove our dirt road 25 miles east and made the turns to Hwy 87 and 287 before the fog lifted, stopping to check out campsites along the Madison River. After I found the first waypoint along the  dove survey route,  which I'll do Tuesday on the way home, I reset the GPS to take me to Virginia City.  Since I've been up here, I've reset my GPS to NOT avoid dirt roads, since I live on one and since they are much more interesting to drive. 

The Madison River from one of the Fishing Access/Camping points. 

This tree glowing beside the river made me stop

And these horses, part of a larger herd were lovely in the early light

Another Madison River view along Hwy. 287

So I was happy when my GPS lady told me to turn on a dirt road and then travel 20 miles to Virginia City.  Almost immediately, I found a fishing access camp that has hammock trees right on the Madison River.  I set a waypoint there in case I want to camp there Monday night, since I have to start the survey Tuesday at dawn which comes about 5:43 A.M.

Then I continued across the bridge and into beautiful rolling hills, and with the help of my lady, I managed to make all the correct turns. But the road suddenly deteriorated into muddy ruts.  I successfully navigated the ruts until I came to a spot where it was too muddy to straddle the rut on the best side of the road.  I tried to squeeze by on the other side but the edge was too soft and I fell into a ditch.

Long-billed curlew 

These wheels were part of an oil rig. 

A little history of the ranch which is now a subdivision of Ennis, Montana

The road heads through rolling hills towards Virginia City,  Montana

The hills were studded with boulders.  This was the largest one I saw, about 3X the size of my car

Distant View 

 I spent about 45 minutes trying to work my way out to no avail. Finally I had a brilliant thought that perhaps my phone would work.  It did and I got to  call my AARP Road Service.  The computer lady acted like she couldn't match up my member number and I had a terrible sinking feeling that perhaps I had missed paying a bill.  But seconds later, I got to a dispatcher in India who really needed to know the name of the road I was on.  I told him I had no idea but knew my coordinates.  He couldn't use them but COULD use my phone to figure out where I was, if only his computer was working correctly. 

While I was trying to figure where I was, I discovered I was traveling on Axtotl Lakes Road.  Finally his computer started working again and I was able to agree with him that I was on Axolotl Lakes Road.  He called a tow truck from Bozeman who thought he could reach me in 70 minutes. 

End of this road for me - I took this picture after about 3 hours of drying
Even though I was found to myself, I was still lost to the tow truck driver.  He called when he was on the way but the second time he called, he lost phone service before I could be of any more help to him.  He had to stop at a local house, to get directions.  (So glad a man was willing to ask directions.)  So instead of getting rescued in about an hour and a half, it was over two hours, making me spend a total of about four hours before getting rescued. 

Just before I was rescued, another local came by on an ATV.  He said if I could have navigated the next 100 yards, I was home free. However I'd lost my nerve my this time, so followed the tow truck back to the highway and took the paved way to Virginia City.

I thought there was an Irish Folk Festival there, but saw no evidence of it.  But there were so many people there, I was already claustrophobic before getting out of my car so just turned around and went to find a campsite near where I planned to hike the next day.  I found a campsite on Lake Harrison under the only tree around.  The evening was so warm, I just set my tent  up without the cover. 

Sunset from my campsite

The next morning I was up and had  broken camp, made coffee and eaten a quick breakfast and was taking pictures before the sun made it over a mountain. I was pulling out of the campground just at 6 A.M.  But I had to stop several times to take pictures in the beautiful morning light and to enjoy two different pairs of of short-eared owls hunting over the fields beside the road.

View over lake on my way out

The beautiful moth-like flight of a short-eared owl

Old barn

Within the hour, I was off on my next adventure - a hike to Albro Lake.  But that will be the subject of another blog.

On a personal note, I volunteered to help get cattle fences ready for cattle.  The refuge has four ranchers that run cattle here as part of our management plan. We run cattle on each field one out of four years to help keep invasive species down. We only fence in the areas cattle are on, except we have a few permanent fences. I was working on a permanent fence and yesterday and reired  about 0.7 miles of it.  I was hammering in staples.  I worked from 6:30 A.M. until about noon and then had to take a big nap.  Hopefully, I'll be screwing in clips or putting strands of wire in clips next week on some of the temporary fences, which will be much easier.