A chance conversation led us to finding Koocanusa Lake, a lake unfamiliar to both Ed and I. We have traveling friends who thoroughly research their routes and the features along the way. Not Ed and I. We just kind of bumble our way along discovering as we go. We engage in the let it unfold style. You know, no expectations no disappointments. On occasion, of course, we have regrets that our lax style keeps the treasurers hidden and that is almost what happened with Lake Koocanusa. Looking at our road map we clearly see a national forest and a large lake, but there are hundreds of such spots and regretfully, even at our slow pace, we can't explore them all.
We were destined to missing Lake Koocanusa when a grocery resupply saved us. Ed asked a question of the checker about all the Canadian influence in this little Montana town, Eureka. Her answer was that the Canadians come down through the Rooseville border entry for "the lake". Ed and I gave one another a puzzled look, "The lake?"
Leaving the grocery store, I snapped this picture from the parking lot, which hinted at local beauty...
Turning again to the map we see a long lake stretching up into Canada and well down into the US, with scenic highways on both sides, an absence of development, but graphic little tents showing camping possibilities. Needing a campsite for the night we headed to the lake.
We found the perfect little dirt road leading to boondocking paradise. These photos are from our campsite and evening walkabout...
Kootenay River is the source of Koocanusa Lake, which is ninety-three miles of beautiful isolation and peace. In the summer we imagine another reality unfolds when the boaters arrive for summer water play, but for now silence dominates.
The next morning we stopped at Koocanusa Bridge to explore, making a number of very interesting discoveries, including one that surprised us. Caribou live in this lake region. Also present, according to the sign at the bridge, are mountain lion, mountain goat, and grizzly bear. We saw none of these creatures. In fact, we barely saw another human, and only then encased in an automobile.
View of Koocanusa Bridge from the east side...
Koocanusa Bridge from the west side (that little white speck to the right of the bridge is Thistle)...
The bridge was built in 1969 and is Montana's tallest and longest bridge. It is 215 feet above the river. We walked entirely across the bridge being serenaded along the way with a forlorn haunting tune as the wind played the bridge struts. Only about half a dozen cars passed us the entire time we were walking the bridge adding to the forlorn feelings we were experiencing. The reason for this huge engineering feat escaped us.
Each evening as Ed and I sit down to dinner, we pause to say something we are grateful for. This evening I was grateful for discovering Koocanusa Lake and enjoying its peace and quiet and solitude.
"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson