Author Archives: Bill Walker

Le Grizz donates proceeds to Flathead Special Olympics and North Fork Trails

Le Grizz donates to Flathead Special Olympics and North Fork Trails, Oct. 12, 2019

Le Grizz donates to Flathead Special Olympics and North Fork Trails, Oct. 12, 2019

The North Fork Trails Association is very grateful to the Polebridge Mercantile for its kind and generous donations from the Le Grizz race proceeds to both us and to the Flathead Special Olympics.

Here’s the press  release and a photo. (You may recognize the old guy on the right.) . . .

On Saturday, October 12th, 100 participants started and finished the Le Grizz Ultramarathon and Relay in Polebridge, Montana. The day was greeted with crispy cold temperatures and ended with a full moon and a visit from the local Grizzly Bear. The proceeds of the race were kindly donated by the Polebridge Mercantile to the Flathead Special Olympics and The North Fork Trails Association. The Special Olympics will use the $500 donation to attend their swimming competition in Butte in a few weeks. The NF Trails crew will use their $500 to continue to maintain trails in the North Fork for all users. It is only the second time in the 38 years Le Grizz has been happening that all racers finished. The Merc and Le Grizz staff thank all volunteers who helped as well as local residents for tolerating the crazy folks who ran this race.

Glacier Gateway Project seeks backing

Map showing proposed Glacier Gateway land acquisition

Map showing proposed Glacier Gateway Project land acquisition

In case you haven’t heard about it already, the Vital Ground Foundation and the US Forest Service are working on something called the “Glacier Gateway Project.”

They are proposing to acquire two properties totaling about 23 acres using Land and Water Conservation Funds (LWCF). The parcels are along the section of the Polebridge Loop Road between the Polebridge Mercantile and the entrance to Glacier National Park. The acquisition would connect adjacent public lands managed by the Flathead National Forest along the designated Wild and Scenic corridor of the North Fork Flathead River.

The owners of both properties are willing sellers who wish to protect their lands from further development. (There are rumors that one potential buyer wanted to build an RV park.)

What’s the trails connection? The Pacific Northwest Trail runs along the Polebridge Loop Road after the trail emerges from Glacier Park. Sharing the road with motorized traffic, especially during tourist season, is less than ideal. Acquiring the Glacier Gateway parcels makes it easier for the Forest Service to achieve its eventual goal of a separate trail parallel to the road.

Here’s the deal: Vital Ground and the Forest Service are hoping to get individuals and organizations to send in letters of support for this proposal *by the end of the month.*

Want to read more? Here are the project documents:

Glacier Gateway Project Fact Sheet
Glacier Gateway Project Pictures
Glacier Gateway Project Sample Support Letter (Word format; also see note below)

NOTE: Even though the sample letter is addressed to Leanne Marten, the USFS Regional Forester, please send letters of support (by email preferably) to Mitch Doherty at the Vital Ground Foundation so that he can scan them and include them with the application submission. Here is Mitch’s contact information:

Mitch Doherty
Conservation Program Manager
Vital Ground Foundation
20 Fort Missoula Rd 59804-7202
Missoula, MT
(406) 549-8650
MDoherty@VitalGround.org

 

E-Bikes welcome on ‘motorized use’ Forest Service trails, roads only

Short version: The Forest Service has decided not to allow e-bikes in non-motorized areas. Here’s the meat of the official press release on the matter . . .

E-bikeMissoula, Mont. – Electric bicycles (e-bikes) have grown in popularity for both recreational use and hunting on public lands and are currently welcome on more than 52,000 miles of roads and 7,700 miles of trails throughout the Northern Region’s nine National Forests and Dakota Prairie Grasslands where motorized vehicle travel is authorized.

The Flathead National Forest currently has 1,427 miles of road and 226 miles of trails available for e-bike use.

The USDA Forest Service considers e-bikes as motorized vehicles and therefore does not allow their use on non-motorized National Forest System roads and trails.

The Service encourages e-bike riders to consult their local National Forest or Grassland’s Motor Vehicle Use Map to ensure they’re riding on an approved, motorized use road or trail, and to exercise caution when traveling among other motor vehicles.

Trail condition reports for September 17 posted

Fireweed below Nasukoin Lake, Aug 12, 2017 - W. K. Walker

Fireweed below Nasukoin Lake, Aug 12, 2017 – W. K. Walker

The September 17, 2019 Forest Service Trail Condition Reports for the Glacier View and Hungry Horse Ranger Districts have been posted to the website Trail Conditions page.

The lack of major wind events and below average snowfall last winter left trails in remarkably decent condition this year. So, trail crews are making really good progress.

These reports contain a fair amount of useful information. Besides trail conditions, they include trail numbers, their official names and end-to-end mileages. The reports may also list information on trail and area closures, especially during fire season.

Trail condition reports for September 10 posted

View East from Coal Ridge

View East from Coal Ridge

The September 10, 2019 Forest Service Trail Condition Reports for the Glacier View and Hungry Horse Ranger Districts have been posted to the website Trail Conditions page.

The lack of major wind events and below average snowfall last winter left trails in remarkably decent condition this year. So, trail crews are making really good progress.

These reports contain a fair amount of useful information. Besides trail conditions, they include trail numbers, their official names and end-to-end mileages. The reports may also list information on trail and area closures, especially during fire season.

Bear Fair on Saturday, Aug 24 at noon!

2019 Bear Fair PosterAs an answer to two Grizzly bear cubs being euthanized last fall, Polebridge is hosting a Bear Fair next Saturday, August 24th, from noon-3pm behind the Northern Lights Saloon. If persuasion of proximity to a delicious watering hole (and bakery) isn’t enough, there will be opportunities to practice your shot with inert bear spray cans, meet Karelian Bear Dogs, sample products for living with bears, enjoy presentations by a few local bear experts and games and prizes for the entire family! Join us in Polebridge, Saturday, August 24th from noon-3pm.

Trail condition reports for August 13 posted

Inuya Creek Trail No. 79, Flathead NF, July 23, 2018 - W. K. Walker

Inuya Creek Trail No. 79, Flathead NF, July 23, 2018 – W. K. Walker

The August 13, 2019 Forest Service Trail Condition Reports for the Glacier View and Hungry Horse Ranger Districts have been posted to the website Trail Conditions page.

The lack of major wind events and below average snowfall last winter left trails in remarkably decent condition this year. So, trail crews are making really good progress.

These reports contain a fair amount of useful information. Besides trail conditions, they include trail numbers, their official names and end-to-end mileages. The reports may also list information on trail and area closures, especially during fire season.

Please note that the fire danger is now “Very High”!

Smokey - Fire Danger Very High

Cutting the switchbacks: Bitterroot Forest trail crew’s work undermined by errant hikers

Coal Ridge, July 21, 2018 - W. K. Walker

Coal Ridge, July 21, 2018 – W. K. Walker

Hikers and bikers cutting switchbacks is a problem just about anywhere trails climb steep terrain. Here’s a timely reminder, originally posted to the Ravalli Republic, of why it is a bad idea . . .

A hiker’s decision to save a few steps by cutting between switchbacks may be endangering the future of some of the Bitterroot National Forest’s most scenic trails.

Last summer, the Bitterroot Forest’s five-person trail crew spent a day and a half building a rock wall and hauling in forest debris to cover the user-created trails between switchbacks on the popular Blodgett Overlook Trail west of Hamilton.

Nearly all of that work has been undone by new trails created this summer by hikers who opt to head straight down the mountain rather than staying on the trail designed to keep erosion in check with a walkway that’s safe for public travel.

Read more . . .

Trail condition reports for August 9 posted

Pearly everlasting blooms along Antley Tepee Cr Trail No. 106, Aug 4, 2019 - W. K. Walker

Pearly everlasting blooms along Antley Tepee Cr Trail No. 106, Aug 4, 2019 – W. K. Walker

The August 9, 2019 Forest Service Trail Condition Reports for the Glacier View and Hungry Horse Ranger Districts have been posted to the website Trail Conditions page.

The lack of major wind events and below average snowfall last winter left trails in remarkably decent condition this year. So, trail crews are making really good progress.

These reports contain a fair amount of useful information. Besides trail conditions, they include trail numbers, their official names and end-to-end mileages. The reports may also list information on trail and area closures, especially during fire season.

Please note that the fire danger is now “Very High”!

Smokey - Fire Danger Very High

Trail condition reports for August 2 posted

Waterfall along trail to Thompson-Seton, Sep 10, 2017 - photo by Dick Leigh

Waterfall along trail to Thompson-Seton, Sep 10, 2017 – photo by Dick Leigh

The August 2, 2019 Forest Service Trail Condition Reports for the Glacier View and Hungry Horse Ranger Districts have been posted to the website Trail Conditions page.

The lack of major wind events and below average snowfall last winter left trails in remarkably decent condition this year. So, trail crews are making really good progress.

These reports contain a fair amount of useful information. Besides trail conditions, they include trail numbers, their official names and end-to-end mileages. The reports may also list information on trail and area closures, especially during fire season.