I’m staring at a photo of a stunning mountain lake taken ten Septembers ago;¬† the sun streams in through a south-facing window here at home, through which I watch Flo-Jo the cat slaying late summer grasshoppers.

The greens, the purples, the high contrast between moisture-laden clouds and cerulean skies, the shadows dancing across the lake and nearby mountains in this image make me want to pack up the car and head north, back to Kintla Lake. Again. Even though we just got back from there two nights ago.

I felt that same powerful pull last week as well-the urge to get outside, now, while the weather is still conducive for warmer weather activities and exploration. The pull grows stronger daily, and more undeniable.

Less than a week after we inner tubed down the Clark Fork River on a hot late summer day, frost coated the tent left out overnight to dry following our somewhat soggy two-day journey to Kintla Lake in Glacier National Park. At the end of that urban float trip, as we waded across a final side channel, golden cottonwood leaves, trapped by underwater branches, shivered and shook, foreshadowing what we would also do once the sun slipped behind the Bitterroot Mountains. An osprey, silhouetted in a towering dead tree, reminded us that he, too, would soon be making  seasonal adjustments, his being to head south for warmer climes.

The weather wasn’t nearly as conducive for taking beautiful landscape photos of Kintla Lake. Rain squalls raced and rumbled across white-capped waters. Snow dusted the mountain tops. Sunlight briefly illuminated shrouded peaks at the head of the lake, and the haunting call of common loons occasionally punctuated the silence.

The companionship and camaraderie were what made this second journey to Kintla especially memorable. I was sharing a special and powerful place in nature with someone most important in my life. Good conversation, comfortable silences, discovering wolf and bear scats, and seeing so many woodpecker species along the 13-mile plus hike made being back in this remote corner of Montana, in the North Fork of the Flathead River Valley, even more magical than on my first journey here in 1999.

“It feels like we’re at the end of the world up here,” I said to Erik, just before we reluctantly turned back toward the trailhead.

“Maybe,” said Erik, “this place is actually the beginning.”

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BACKGROUND NOTES:

Images of “Kintla Lake, Glacier National Park” and “Livingston Range, Montana” can be seen, and also purchased, at http://www.wildharephotos.com

Another one of my favorite Glacier area images is titled “North Fork of Flathead” and can be seen in one of my FaceBook albums. This image is also available for sale as a greeting card or larger print. Be sure to visit The Mercantile when in Polebridge, which is the social and commercial hub of the North Fork, and where my greeting cards can also be purchased.

The North Fork Preservation Association needs supporters from all over the world, especially in regard to ongoing mining and development pressures north of the border in British Columbia, Canada. The association’s mission is “to protect the natural resources that make the North Fork an unparalleled environment for wildlife and people”.

Please learn more and connect with them at www.gravel.org

Thank you!