September 21: I could probably make today’s drive in my sleep

Because I’ve driven it at least a dozen times in the last seventeen years. But it’s really the only logical route from Yellowstone to Missoula, so that’s okay. And it is pretty.

Up along Earthquake Lake, which is the only lake I’m familiar with that was created by natural forces in my lifetime [g]. The Hebgen Lake earthquake, which happened on August 17, 1959, caused a landslide that dammed the Madison River, killed over 25 people, and, incidentally and not at all disrespectfully, was part of what sent Charley McManis back in time to 1877.

The natural dam is at the V of the mountains, and the landslide to its left.
The natural dam is at the V of the mountains, and the landslide to its left.

Over the natural dam and down the river to the long, wide valley west of the Gallatin Mountains, which weren’t terribly visible today due to the weather – I’d harbored thoughts of going back down to the park and spending a second day, then camping at Baker’s Hole again tonight, but when I saw the rain coming down I changed my mind. I have spent time tromping around the Upper Geyser Basin in the rain, but I have to say the thought wasn’t all that appealing this morning.

The valley south of Ennis.
The valley south of Ennis.

So on I went, down the valley through the town of Ennis, which is a fly-fishing hub on the Madison River, where I discovered, much to my delight, that the local Town Pump (Montana’s answer to the usual convenience store/gas station combo) sold unsweetened iced tea. No lemon, but that’s what the juice in my cooler is for [g].

North of Ennis.
North of Ennis.
An interesting landform north of Ennis.
An interesting landform north of Ennis.
Almost to I-90.
Almost to I-90.
Homestake Pass, just west of Butte, Montana.
Homestake Pass, just east of Butte, Montana.  A bit lower than Monarch Pass, elevation 11, 312 feet, where I crossed the Continental Divide in the other direction a couple of months ago.

I got back to I-90 about 11:30, and reached Butte about noon. I had my mouth set for another pasty (Butte used to have a lot of Cornish miners the way Michigan’s Upper Peninsula did, and I’ve eaten them here before), but I couldn’t find anywhere to sell me one, so I ended up with a hamburger, alas.

And so on northwestward to Missoula, where I am for the night. In the rain. Which is okay, since I’m indoors.

On the way to Missoula.
On the way to Missoula.

I had an idea this afternoon, too. I haven’t driven over Lolo Pass (about which more tomorrow) in a long, long time. Not since I was researching Repeating History and went to the Nez Perce National Historic Site in Idaho at least ten years ago. So I’m going to do that again, probably spend tomorrow night somewhere around Walla Walla or the Tri-Cities, and drive on in to Tacoma from there. Why not, right? One more day won’t hurt…