Montana, 15th September - 10th October 2015

Bighorn River

First stop in Montana was the Bighorn, where Phil mastered the art of paddling himself solo down the river. Fishing was slower than usual but when the hatch was on, they were biting like crazy.

Christine amused herself with a bike ride to an abandoned property that was begging to be photographed. On the return trip she was joined by a friendly dog for about a mile, later chased by four not so friendly dogs which, fortunately, were too lazy to finish the chase and require the deployment of the bear spray! Back at the river, it was time for a soothing pedicure by baby trout!

We made new friends in the campground, Rick and Judi from Colorado and had fun exchanging fish tales (and others!).

Pedicure Montana style!

Six days on the Bighorn and we were off to Billings. First shopping stop in sales-tax- free Montana was at the Honda dealer, to purchase a replacement generator for the one which we'd shipped home with 'Anju'. Then on to Bozeman, where we treated ourselves to a healthy dinner at the local Co-op.

Next morning we were bound for Holter Dam on the Missouri River at Wolf Creek.

Missouri River below Holter Dam

Holter Dam locals

Again fishing was tougher than usual but eventually Phil landed a large Rainbow just as Christine cycled by and was tasked with delivering his catch to the RV. Wasn't there some saying about a fish on a bicycle?

We enjoyed our dinner of fresh fish, watching the impressive 'supermoon'.


Supermoon entertainment

The moon was on our minds later that week on the Madison River, with the blood moon and lunar eclipse to enjoy in the crystal clear Big Sky.

Once more, the fishing was relatively poor on the river but we took a day trip to nearby stunning Wade Lake, which was worth the bumpy trip, just for the view.

Blood Moon

Wade Lake

Lunar Eclipse.

Georgetown Lake proved difficult too, and pretty chilly, although the bike ride around the lake was as fantastic as ever. We encountered Moose and kept well away as they got frisky!

When a cold and miserable snap of weather came along, we found the ideal spot to hang out. Fairmont Hot Springs resort boasted two Olympic sized pools, one indoor, one outdoor and even hotter! We'd thought to swim some laps but in the hot water it was more fun just to lounge around!

He's right behind me, isn't he?

Georgetown Lake

Near Anaconda we stopped at the Warm Springs Wildlife Management Area, primarily because camping was free and fished in pond three. The evening brought little success but the following morning, Phil was towed around in the canoe by a monster trout for around half an hour before finally managing to release it. It wasn't easy because it was too big for the landing net!

We took an excursion to Butte until things warmed up, visiting the 'World Museum of Mining'. Here we found a reconstruction of Old Butte and took a tour of a disused mine.

Until recent times the whole area was so polluted from mining that trees wouldn't grow and even now, drinking water had to be piped in from elsewhere.

Butte Old Town

Heading down the mine.

There's a cure?

From Butte we headed along the Big Hole River, a drive we had often made before but never stopped to explore.

We checked out several fishing access points before settling on a campground high on the mountain. Though peaceful and beautiful, by the early morning it was a chilly 22 degrees Fahrenheit, well below freezing. Our first real taste of winter.

Scenes from the Bighole.

Finally we reached Christine's favourite spot on the West Fork of the Bitterroot River. Here we explored a little further than before and discovered that the road we'd travelled 27 miles along to reach the campground, which we'd always assumed led to nowhere, actually took us to some inhabited communities beyond the lake.

Phil also fished at the lake, after seeing small fish rising. Christine, meanwhile was happy to recover 'Wilson' for Tom Hanks.

West Fork of the Bitterroot


There were advantages to camping outside of the season. Firstly the campground was free of charge and available to use, provided you took your rubbish away with you.

Secondly, young hunky forest workers were busy taking down trees and delivered us a mountain of free firewood.

Pyromaniac's delight!

On our way to Missoula, given a choice between camping at Walmart or in a fishing access named Chief Looking Glass, there really was no competition.

After a spot of overdue shoe shopping next morning, we headed east a little way, to explore Rock Creek. As this was a new spot for us, we stopped at “Trout Bums” to take local advice. Deb gave us great pointers on where to fish and also made the best raspberry jam we'd ever tasted. We had to stop by the next day for two more jars.

Beyond a point 23 miles down the gravel road, the switchbacks became too tight for Rvs and we set up camp and took to our bikes to explore. The area was gorgeous, peaceful and will be explored further in the future.

Cycling along Rock Creek, enjoying the Fall colours.

We left after only one day, as rain was forecast and we feared that the unsurfaced road may turn into a mud bath. Again avoiding Walmart, we headed to a fishing access called Fish Creek, only four miles off the Interstate, yet which felt like it was at the end of the Earth. Its claim to fame was that it contained Montana's largest Ponderosa Pine, only 20 feet short of the National record.

From here we were only a couple of hours from our friends in Kellogg, Idaho. As always we were sad to leave our beloved Montana.

Big Pine

He's out there somewhere.

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