There are two more stops we want to make in Montana and Wyoming. One is the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument and the other is Devils Tower (remember Close Counters of the Third Kind). Regardless of what you think of Custer, or how Native Americans were treated, Little Bighorn is part of US history. I mention both of these because we generally don’t have set places we are trying to get to (other than Maine), only a general direction dictated by what we decide want to see. This is how we ended up in the rather out-of-the-way Crystal Lake Campground in the Lewis and Clark National Forest. Before I say more about Crystal Lake, I want you to know that Montana puts itself in jeopardy for our security. The photo below was taken at a rest stop on Interstate 15 at 47.924867N, 111.734935W.
According to Wikipedia, Lewis and Clark NF sits in 13 different counties. I presume these are all in Montana. What is interesting about the little bit of the NF that Crystal Lake Campground is in, is that it is in a higher elevation (~ 6,000 ft) island in a sea of wheat and alfalfa. At least those are the crops that Cathie and I could identify. When we left the next day we saw a number of signs pointing to rather distant FS campsites much like the one we were at. We could see the ‘islands’ in the distance. Perhaps Google Earth could corroborate my island idea.
Getting to the campsite involved a 30 mile detour of sorts. It was raining, 20 miles was unpaved, and the last 10 were in fog with about 200-300ft visibility – all very exciting and adventurous. Three campsites, including ours, were all that were taken of the 29 available. Perhaps it is getting a little late in the season. I think at least one of the campsites was occupied by hunters. I should mention that while we were driving up, but still free of the fog, we saw a couple of young fellows walking out. One of them had a compound bow.
So, there was rain. Not hard, but continuous until after we went to bed. It was cold. On the drive out, after the sun had been up for an hour it was 32OF. Not sure what it was during the night, but all five of us survived. I woke at one point to relieve myself, and the sky was clear and full of stars. This bode well for the drive out, and we were able to take a number of pictures. These include some beautiful ranch settings. While one of these may be summer only, the other had two large houses on it suggesting year round occupation. There was even a sign announcing a school bus stop. I commented to Cathie that someone must have a lot of influence (or money). Miles of power and telephone line, not to mention bus service, for a couple of residences. I hope I am not jumping to conclusions. Regardless, it is all quite lovely as I hope the photos show. The sequence below is on the way out. I am trying to provide a sense of how the terrain and ecosystem is changing. This all takes place over 10 miles give or take.