Saturday, March 4, 2017

Off The Beaten Path 2

   The eclectic community of Polebridge,Montana stands at the Northwestern boundary of Glacier National Park.  If you are lucky enough to travel to Glacier (which I wrote about last year during S.O.L.) consider yourself already off the beaten path. However, you really do have to be willing to get a little lost to find Polebridge.

    At the western entrance to the park in West Glacier, you take a long, winding, gravel road north for 45 miles. You won't see any other towns or people, but you'll pass many mountain streams and wildflower meadows, with the opportunity to spot deer, elk, moose, or bear. The first time I went to Polebridge, I nearly missed it entirely. The community consists of around 100 residents, and only about half live there year-round. There is a small sign for the village off the gravel road that I zoomed past. If it wasn't for my buddy Ben riding shotgun, I likely would have kept going onward for miles before I realized my mistake.

     As soon as you pull into Polebridge, you'll see the famous Polebridge Mercantile, a seasonal general store and the only place where you can find general sundries, shopping, and necessary goods for people doing their best to purposefully get lost. They bake amazing and gigantic cinnamon rolls in the morning. Don't expect wifi or phone service while you're in Polebridge, it ain't happening. The entire place is off the grid and runs solely on solar power or gas generators. There is one restaurant, the Northern Lights Saloon and Cafe, which is run by some of the friendliest people I've ever met. The night we ate there, they shut the place down early to watch the Perseid Meteor Showers, which just happened to coincide with our visit. The staff and local residents invited us to a bonfire to watch the meteor shower with them and swap                                                                                           campfire stories.

Looking into the rugged and undeveloped Northwest section the park from Polebridge
A view of the entire town and its solar panels
     If you like watching stars, I can't think of a better place to visit than Polebridge. Since it's completely off the grid, with no other artificial lighting around for dozens of miles, the stargazing is simply beyond compare. I met a professor of astronomy who drove from Mississippi to watch the Perseids because he claimed it was the darkest spot in the lower 48 states. If you're staying the night, check out the North Fork Hostel. It's the only place in town to rent a bed for the night, and mainly hosts backpackers heading into the North Fork section of Glacier. It's owned by park ranger, Oliver, who is an eccentric German fellow who has many stories to share if you have the time. If you're a fan of flushing toilets, electricity, or central air conditioning, I'd advise you to head back towards the park, but if you don't mind it, the hostel is a great place to rent a bunk for the night. In the morning, you'll wake up to the sounds of the North Fork of the Flathead river running directly behind the hostel. Follow the road into the rugged northwest corner of Glacier for incredible views and solitude.

1 comment:

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