Lake MacDonald is calm and clear as glass. A duck glides effortlessly through the water along the gravel beach. Looking down into the clear water off the boat dock, tall reeds sway in the clear water. A village of rock sculptures decorates the beach. They range in size from 18 - 24 inches high, geometric stacks of flat rocks on top of large vertical blocks, intricately balanced.
    At 8:00 a.m. it is 41 degrees, later warming to the 70s. The drive on Camus Road (also called the Outside North Fork Road) to Polebridge is too long on an unpaved road, but it winds through some beautiful private land of tall, golden grasses and forests bordered by high, jagged mountains. Old farm and ranch buildings still stand, but are in varying states of decay. They are still beautiful.
    Polebridge is like an old trading post. The Mercantile, a dilapidated building of gray wood with an old porch, takes us back in time to the old west. Inside a mixture of groceries and household necessities line the shelves while a coffee pot stands on one end of a counter in front of a round table and chairs. A glass case holds tempting baked goods and in back the walls are plastered with old newspaper articles and pictures telling the history of the North Fork.
    Bowman Lake is at the end of another gravel road, dusty and bumpy and narrow. It takes us up and down hills with some great views of the Flathead River. It brings back more memories of places we saw in Kenai, Alaska. The lake is a hidden treasure and, like Lake MacDonald, surrounded by mountains. There is a short gravel beach that opens up to a small meadow with a picnic area. The campground is shaded with tall, tall lodge pole pines and is almost empty. Bear warnings are posted on the campground bulletin board with a notice that mountain lions have been seen in this area very recently. It's a secluded spot. I would love to camp there.
    The inside North Fork Road is very narrow, rocky and filled with potholes. It runs through the area past Camus Creek where Glacier wolf packs are known to live. Aside from some ptarmigans, juncos, chickadees, mergansers and bluebirds, our wildlife viewing has been low so far, but we are hopeful. This is a very rough road; it is the one time I wish we had rented a jeep instead of our very efficient Subaru.
    It's about 63 degrees tonight. We sit by Lake MacDonald at the lodge while watching stars and listening to the waves lap against the shore. Two shooting stars flash across the blackness. The sky here is just a blanket of tiny sparkling lights every night.

Author - Christine Baleshta
Photography - Tim Springer

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Yellowstone Experiences 2009