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Down the Lakes


6/28/12, Below Earthquake Lake, MT - Tonight, the lads and I have left the National Forest (the Day Use Only one) and are in a roadside camp one mile east of the junction of  MT-87 and US-287. This was a very pleasant day of travel.

I had my ace team of Doc and Bill hitched this morning as we made our way down Hebgen lake.  Even with a late start, the lads starting picking them up and laying them down and the miles passed quickly. All morning long, I met some great folks, including the English lady from the night before and a lot of people on a cross country bicycle trip.

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This picture doesnít do justice to the beauty of Hebgen lake.

Morning breaks all had great views at turnouts next to the lake. By 11:30 I had reached the 100 foot earthen dam across the Madison River, which holds back the water for Lake Hebgen. I continued on for another mile before stopping at a campground for lunch break.

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B.O.B. wants everyone to know he is a very photogenic horse. But, there are many sides to B.O.B.

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Including this one!

In 1959, a very large earthquake with a magnitude of 7.3 on the Richter scale struck the Hebgen Lake area. This cause a large wave of water to wash over the top of the dam, killing 26 people in a campground below the dam. The earthquake caused another event downstream, which Iíll get to in a moment.

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This is the last sign that you expect to see in a National Forest, but it refers to buildings destroyed in the earthquake and resultant wave.

Lunch at the campground was really nice. While the lads munched their oats, I had a Mediterranean lunch of cheese, olives and wine.  Just after I finished eating, I met Linda, the camp attendant. The Forest Service hires companies to manage the campgrounds.  The companies in turn, hire people to live in an RV at the campground and collect money and keep the place tidy. Itís a great job for retired folks.

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Nothing like a good nap after a pan of oats!

After a glass of wine was drank and all the worlds problems solved, I gave Linda a ride up to the next campground.  It was about a mile off the road, but itís not like I have anywhere I have to be.  I enjoy having company aboard the wagon, but what really strikes me is what the ride means to the people that ride along for a bit.  After reaching the other campground, Linda said to me, ďThank You very much.  That just made my whole summerĒ.  Is it really that easy to make someoneís whole summer?

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Linda, my guest for a 45 minute ride up to the next campground.

Below the campgrounds was another long body of water, named Earthquake Lake.  As the name implies, it was formed in the same 1959 earthquake that killed the campers below the Hebgen Dam. The lake was formed when 30 million cubic yards of rock slid down the side of the mountain, forming another dam, about 8 miles below the Hebgen Dam.

In the picture below, the Madison River Canyon is shown below the Bighorn Sheep Crossing sign. The rock scar to the upper left of the sign is the edge of the rock slide that formed the new dam.  I didnít take a picture of the mountainside, but the whole side of a 2000 foot high mountain was displaced by the earthquake.

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Bill is still having issues with signs.  First he has to lookout for cow like things called Bison, now he has to watch our for a bunch of durn sheep.

As Iím sitting on the front porch typing this right now, itís almost dusk. The view in front of me is the one you see above.  The horse are penned behind me and alternately eating grass, then taking a catnap while they digest their food.  Burning as many calories as they do, they will keep grazing and sleeping all night long or at least as long as the grass in their pen lasts.

Iím camped on the edge of a large basin that appears to be completely ringed with mountains. The Madison River runs past 1/4 mile away, but I canít see it as itís channel cuts deeply into the surrounding terrain.

A nice guy named Art offered me to lay up at his place for a day and rest the horses.  So, tomorrow morning, I think Iíll hitch up for a short 3 mile walk down to Artís place.