September 6, 2017
We went back to the ranger station to see what the fire situation is in Alberton, to the south in Montana. Another very nice ranger checked the computers and maps, finding that Fish Creek would be OK, but Rock Creek was closed, defining the border of two fires. Forest roads were closed. There were fires all around it, one being totally uncontained. The biggest fire is the Lolo fire in Missoula County, burning 48,300 acres. More than 1 million acres of Montana have burned this season with over 4,000 firefighters involved in the battle. The total number of fires is 1,687, 938 being started by people. One of the biggest fires was started by a 15 year old boy shooting fireworks. The west is more than 80 days without measurable rain.
We stopped in Columbia Falls to wash the truck and trailer. The further we drove south on Rt. 2, 93 and 90 to Alberton, the smokier it got. We kept the windows closed the entire time. I’m sure this is beautiful country, but it was clouded with smoke. We arrived in Alberton, population 420, and pulled into River’s Edge Campground with our fingers crossed. It only has 17 sites, but we figured the fires would slow business down. Wrong again. Fortunately they had two sites available. As we backed into a small site, our new neighbors watched. On my third attempt to get the trailer straight, I rolled down the window, telling them not to give me any grief. They just smiled and said they were going to sell the video.
We spent an hour and a half cleaning the inside of the trailer, then fixed a drink and went out to a picnic table on a cliff beside Clark’s Fork River. It’s a beautiful spot with a big, rocky cliff across a beautiful river. The smoke had eased up some, and it was a delightful evening at 70 degrees.. We fixed bison burgers, rice and green beans. Kelly had bought a couple of movies, but decided we wouldn’t stay awake long enough to watch. I was quickly asleep. I think Kelly read two pages of his book.