Sunday, August 19, 2018

In Search of a Mountain Man

"We have 9 months of winter, and 3 months of visitors", declared a long-time resident of  the Flathead Valley, as we chatted one day in early May.  The implications?  Make necessary reservations 6 months in advance (oops, too late).  Prep the guest room(s).  Bake the huckleberry pie.  Arrange for wildlife sightings.  And then, enjoy a steady stream of superlatives as newbies to the region absorb the glory of our stunning state.  It may be 'work', but it is work with plentiful rewards.  In several chapters over the next few months, you can ride along with our summer visitors as they get a taste of northwest Montana.
Home-made huckleberry pie

CHAPTER ONE: The morning sun slanted through the back windows of the 4Runner as we headed west on Highway 2.  Within 10 miles of our house, Spousal Unit braked suddenly.  Deer, I thought.  But in this case, "visitor's luck" was on our side - yes, Day 3 and my in-laws witness not only a cow moose, but also her baby, grazing peacefully in the marsh just to the left of the road (see video below).  A jealous resident would cry out "Not fair!", but as a perfectionist tour guide, you smile knowingly and take credit for putting your visitors together with the wildlife in real time.

We journeyed on uneventfully to our first destination of the day - Kootenai Falls.  The falls is one of the few large waterfalls along a major northwest river that has not been harnessed for electrical power.  Nestled in the Cabinet Mountains, the falls drop around 200 feet in an almost unspoiled setting.  The site is also famous since it was used to film sections of "The River Wild", starring Meryl Streep and Kevin Bacon.  How ironic that we should arrive at the rocky outcropping near the falls, and find a film crew equipped with a large drone!  Chatting with the crew, we learned that they were filming background reels for an upcoming live action Disney movie.  They had also been on location in Hawaii, and were headed to South America next.  They would not reveal the name of the movie, but we saw "Jungle Cruise" printed on the placard near the drone.  How exciting!

An adventurous hiker can go down the left fork of the trail to the Kootenai River Gorge and walk across a swinging bridge.  As we approached the bridge, bighorn sheep were resting in the shade of sparse trees, high on the opposite bank.  Only their occasional shifting of position revealed their location, so well do they blend into their surroundings.

Following a picnic at the trailhead, we drove south to the Ross Creek Cedars.  This grove of western red cedars features some trees that are more than 8 feet in diameter and more than 400 years old.  Looming 175 feet above Ross Creek, many of the trees still growing in the grove today were here before Columbus set sail for the new world.  The nature trail follows the banks of Ross Creek, which often runs hidden beneath the rocky stream bottom.

Yaak Falls
"Do you know Yaak?" asked my father-in-law, some months ago on a Skype call. Stunned, Spousal Unit and I exchanged a glance before answering in the affirmative, and we immediately asked how HE could know Yaak.  "Well, I am watching this show called Mountain Men …" Turns out that Mountain Man Tom Oar is from Yaak.  Isn't it a small world, that my father-in-law, from a small coal mining village in the northeast of England would be familiar with a town of 250 people in the remote northwest corner of Montana?

So Yaak was on the must-visit list.

As we went north from Ross Creek to Yaak, the roads narrowed and the trees leaned in.  The region, referred to as "The Yaak", is isolated and rugged, with no cell service for miles.  The Yaak River (an Indian name meaning 'arrow') is known for its excellent fishing.

Eventually, we pulled into the village of Yaak, denoted by the Yaak River Tavern on one side of the road, and the Dirty Shame Saloon on the other.

"Do you know Tom Oar, the Mountain Man?" queried my father-in-law, to the waitress in the Tavern.  Not the least bit surprised by the question, she responded, "Oh, sure, he comes in regular.  He only lives a few miles off the main road."
We didn't find the Mountain Man, but my father -in-law toasted
 him all the same

Only in Montana would "main road" signify that Tom and Nancy Oar live nestled on 6 acres surrounded by the Yaak National Forest in a cabin they built themselves!  Tom sums up his life in this simple statement: "I feel good about where I'm at and what I do."  

Wouldn't it be paradise if we could all say the same?

Linking to:

All Seasons

Wednesday Around the World

Mosaic Monday

Nature Notes

Saturday's Critters

Sharon's Photo Souvenirs

Skywatch Friday


  1. ...beautiful, but planning 6 month ahead isn't my thing.

  2. Hello, I can see your place being very popular with visitors, friends and relatives. You live in a beautiful area filled with awesome wildlife. Cool sighting of the cow moose and the bighorn sheep. The scenic views of the mountains and rivers are gorgeous. Great post and beautiful photos. Thanks so much for linking up and sharing your post. Have a happy day and new week ahead.

  3. Oh I absolutely adored this post! Loved every minute of your travels. The scenery was beautiful, and your "visitors luck" at seeing the film crew was so wonderful. Also, we are huge fans of "Mountain Men" and Tom Oar is one of our favorite people on the show. To get to see "The Yaak" from your perspective was awesome too! Wow!

  4. Yummy captures . Please tell something about my captures on my blog .

  5. I am not surprised at all that that visitors keep coming to your beautiful neck of the woods. Your father-in-law sounds fabulous. How fun and amazing for your visitors to see and experience the splendour where you live. I so loved your post on your gorgeous landscapes and your humorous commentary. How fun to see a movie crew filming.

  6. The rapids in the Meryl Streep movie were impressive. I wondered if she did the actual steering. Your photos are stunning, Angie. The bridge photos have me shuddering.

  7. I too am enjoying your lovely photos and I also enjoy watching "Mountain Men" and would love to meet Tom & Nancy, it's one of our favourite shows here in Australia. Your in-laws are so lucky to have you show them around your beautiful part of your country.

  8. we had a fantastic time with u both in montana.and all the beautiful wow places we visited.yaak was a bonus for dad.l u l.xx.

  9. Hi Angie. Your region does rather rejoice in some splendid names. We are left to imagine how the Dirty Shame Saloon came about.

    Meanwhile you should really open up your hose as a tourist stop and charge good dollars for both your expertise and the huckleberry pie.

    It's a beautiful part of the world for sure but I don't know how my grandkids could cope with no signal.

  10. Hi Angie,
    You picturesque such of nature, I love them.

  11. You really live in a beautiful part of the country and it has it's own beauty year round. The summer months are when we discourage people from visiting Florida! Love those beautiful waterfalls and flowers!

  12. Wow! Your in-laws certainly got a vip tour of all Montana has to offer. Amazing pictures. Those trees! So sad that so many fires continue to burn in so much of the States and Canada.

    Another blog friend alerted me by email to the fact that my blog was diverting to an ad. Turns out it was only happening in certain browsers, but thankfully it was just an old widget in my sidebar that was no longer working properly so I was able to remove it and all is good now. There's been lots of setting changes with blogspot and google and gmail. They think they are improving things but often just cause problems on our side.

  13. What a coincidence about Yaak! And what amazing scenery (and that pie!)

  14. Great and nice pictures!

    Ps: Info: (Original there are three artwork.)
    Brother Hjorth made the altarpiece. The altarpiece is a triptych, cut into teak wood. In the middle there is a Kristusgestalt and on the side paintings you get to meet some of the priest Lars Levi Laestadius life. Before the inauguration of the altarpiece wanted brother deer to have a baptismal font in the church. Jukkasjärvibon Vilhelm Isaksson was given the task of producing one. He only had to use axe as a tool according to Brother Deer.
    The organ was inaugurated by Bishop Gunnar W. In 1997 and is built by the green Lund Orgelbyggeri in Gammelstad. The artistic decoration of the organ façade was performed by the artist Lars-Levi Sunna. The façade has the sun and the Christian cross in the center. The organ is made of birch, reindeerhorn and rågarvat skins. Also the keyboard is performed in Birch and Reindeerhorn. The register is adorned with various characters taken from the Sami mythology.
    To the right of the church hangs a Votivskepp in the form of a forsbåt. These were used on the Torne River to transport passengers over the water. The 1 metre long sculpture is performed by Thomas Qvarsebo 2006. It was purchased on the occasion of the Church's 400 anniversary.

  15. What a stunning part of the world! Gosh, I always wanted to visit that area but never did, so I appreciate your photos a lot.

    It's truly a small world, isn't it!

  16. Dearest Angie; Wow, I really wished to feel cooler visiting the Kootenai Falls p;-) And all the picturesque places to visit, animals and flowers to enjoy♡♡♡ Yes, How wonderful if we can say the same thing like the Mountain Man♧♧♧ 
    I really appreciate your sweet visits.
    Have a marvelous rest of the week.
    Sending Lots of Love and Hugs from Japan to my Dear friend, xoxo Miyako*

  17. Your in laws must have been "gobsmacked" by all the amazing things that you "arranged" for them to see on their trip, especially FIL for the visit to Yaak. I saw the comment from your MILwhich proves what a great job you did.
    Have a great week.

  18. The state certainly has many glorious scenic and wildlife opportunities and I hope that your in-laws take (took?) the time to explore them in some depth. On of my favourite science writers of all time, David Quammen, lives in Montana so it must be a good spot!

  19. I hope you are surviving all this smoke! We had a lovely day of rain yesterday, and I could feel Fall in the air. I am glad your family enjoyed our wonderful state. :) Kit

  20. Haha! 9 months of winter and 3 months of visitors! Ain't it great. What a small world we live in. Glad your father-in-law could toast the Mountain Man. I'm going to have to see if I can find that show. Dear's brother and SIL are moving to Kalispell the end of this month joining their daughter who already lives there. Woohoo for spotting the moose and baby. Dirty Shame name. Amazing tour you gave your inlaws...and us. :) Blessings!

  21. it is a beautiful area, perhaps you are lucky to have 9 months of winter and not 9 months of visitors!! your pictures are beautiful, it looks like you went all out for your company!!

    it is a stunning state...and i'll have 1 piece of pie please!!!

  22. Beautiful place and lovely nature photos ~ fun time ~

    Happy Day to you,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

    ps. love the show Longmire ~ shows beautiful Montana!

  23. Love your post and the Yaak story. What a beautiful place to live! Must be "culture shock" to go from Ohio to Montana! I'm sure you'll have a beautiful week!

  24. What gorgeous photos you took. I glad your family got to visit and you took them on a beautiful tour of your state. Great memories!

  25. What a beautiful place to live!
    Love it

  26. It is so nice that family near and far are able to visit you. Seeing a moose from a distance is always a thrill! They are such giant beasts and their faces make me laugh.
    I am so so sad to hear about the fires in Glacier NP! I have a friend who is there now and she told me half of Going To the Sun Road has been closed? When we were there a couple years ago we saw a former burn area near St Mary's Lake, and it made me sad. I hope the fires will be fully contained soon.

    I am looking forward to hearing more about your trip to Colorado.

  27. Hi Angie what a beautiful post,love your amazing pics,such lovely places to visit,thankyou for sharing with us my friend xx

  28. There seems to be a LOT to take your visitors to see - and all spectacular - no wonder they come. I am reading a book about a family in Provence and they have a barrage of visitors every summer too. Enjoy summer. We are waiting for winter to end here. And thank you for visiting my blog this week.

  29. Nice to meet you on MAGIC MONDAY... Great captures.

  30. That really is an amazing place with gorgeous scenery and your photos are terrific. Thanks for taking us along!

  31. You are a great tour guide, Angie, especially to arrange the moose cow and calf in just the right spot (wink). We truly live in a global village when someone like your FIL who lives in the UK knows about a man in a tiny town in Montana. I've never heard of Mountain Man. We don't watch much television, and what we do watch is mostly British shows!
    There are a lot of visitors that come to our neck of the woods, too. I'm sure you have smoke, as we do. Take care.

  32. Wow what beautiful country. Those trees are amazing. I'd like to walk across the bridge.

  33. It is certainly a beautiful area. I love mountains, and my city gets an incredible number of visitors, usually in the summer.

  34. Splendid post. During my trip to Yellowstone, I found out that there are miles and miles of road without cell service, and were not in the park. The park has almost no cell service.

  35. The gorge is lovely! Thanks for sharing and that piece of pie has me drooling.

  36. Beautiful place! I like Mountain Men, although I know the producers leave out the parts of realty that don’t suit their fantasies.

  37. I think visiting your wonderful area would bring me the peace in nature I need. I would leave the TV and the phone and just soak it all in. Amazing...Michelle

  38. You really showed your in-laws a great time. Moose, Mountain sheep, beautiful scenery, and the chance to see films being made and to visit the site of one of your dad's favorite shows! Fantastic --- I need not imagine how much they must have loved their visit! I'm glad you gave your readers the ability to live the visit vicariously. I loved it.

  39. You are having adventures!
    I haven't seen a moose in 7 years!
    Beautiful flora and fauna!

  40. Dearest Angie; What a wonderful Chapter 6 of your summer series♡♡♡
    Stunning pictures of Nature which I've never seen and thank very much letting me feel eastern Vacation and enjoy Scenery♪ I really wished to experience staying "caboose" ;-)
    Your first phrase"just sealed the envelope on the last of my Christmas cards" reminded me I have to write "New Year cards" soon. It sure is time consuming job but wonderful tradition we both have.
    Thank you SO much for hosting; to my dear friend from Japan.


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