Big Hole, Montana

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touristOn Sunday Dale and I left Kathy and Terry to head for Big Hole Montana. Since we had never been down this road before, there was no napping for me. I didn’t want to miss a thing. In Missoula we got in some heavy traffic. We were wondering how come people are not at home or at the park on a Sunday afternoon! No answer was forthcoming. 🙂

We were entertained by the trapperspeakBitterroot Mountains as we drove. What a magnificent mountain range. We even stopped to get a photo of Trappers Peak at 10,000 + feet. It looked like some of these high mountains had glaciers on them.

bitteroot1cd1As we started up the road to Chief Joseph Pass which tops out at 7200 feet, we had some ominous and serious storm clouds in front of us. Sheet lightening was flashing. Then the skies opened up and a vicious hailstrom hit us. Hail was jumping off the truck and splatting the windshield like little snowballs. We both were concerned about the solar panels but I knew my angel was up there with his wings spread wide protecting those panels for us. Sure enough, no damage.

May Campground

We pulled into the May Campground. Yahoo! Only $3.50 a night for us “seniors.” We parked in the group parking which was a big field of grasses. We were all by ourselves out there. More sun that way. We buttoned down for the night and it kept right on raining and storming! It also got very cold. Like 35 degrees the second night!.Burr!

The battlefield off in the background where the Indians camped.

bighole2The next day we were up and raring to go see Big Hole. Big Hole is an actual battlefield where Gibbon commanding the army tracked on the Nez Perce tribe that did not sign the treaty. They were called non-treaty Indians. We got to the visitor center and immediately sat down to watch a short film on the history of this event back 1877. I am glad we were able to see this film because our next stop was to hike to the Howitzer brought in by Gibbon and then the seige ground where the army had to retreat to and dig in due to Indian snipers in the trees. The next area we hiked to was the encampment where the teepee’s were standing along Big Hole Creek.

Simulation of teepee's in the background
Dale reading the history as we walk - you know those by the number things!

We were standing on the place where the army attacked the sleeping Nez Perce. They shot into the teepee’s killing women and children. They burned teepee’s burning all inside them. In the end, 90 Nez Perce died, mostly women and children. When the Army retreated, the snipers kept them pinned down so the rest of the tribe could escape. Gibbon wrote that he and his men had a great victory that day – August 9, 1877. We were standing on the ground that became a burial ground for those people because they could not be taken with the fleeing Indians. Families of those who survived this battle have erected skeleton teepee’s. Originally, there were 89 teepee’s erected for the Nez Perce on August 8, 1877. They had thought they were far enough away from the Army to actually feel safe and get some rest. The head chief, Looking Glass, didn’t want to post sentries. If he would have maybe things would have been different for them. In the end, only Chief Joseph of the Wallowa Tribe of the Nez Perce was alive and he surrendered at the Battle of Bear Paw at the end of September. Please read about this part of our American history here.

cdAfter a somber day we aimed Big Blue toward Wisdom. Our Georgia friends told us not to miss going there. We ate lunch at The Big Hole Crossing. They have great food at good prices. My hamburger was every bit as good as the ones I made at Howard Prairie!!!! We mossied through the gift store there but their prices were way, way out of our price range. I guess there are many California celebrities who have ranches in the area so they can afford a coat or dress at $1500.

Now, to answer a question from a friend about why Wisdom is called Wisdom. Are you listening, Jack! William Clark of the famous Lewis and Clark team came through this area and named the Big Hole River  the Wisdom River because thought Jefferson used much wisdom when buying Lousiana from the French. So the town became Wisdom. Years later fur trappers and mountain men changed the name of the river back to Big Hole, but Wisdom the town remains.

We found a great little campsite off the highway about 17 miles before Challis on Tuesday. We are right on the Salmon River and we enjoyed the setting so much we stayed an extra day. Yesterday all I could do was nap in my chair as the water rushed by. Today was a little better. We both needed a rest. Tomorrow we leave for Stanley and will report back on that.

Cottonwood Campground
Cottonwood Campground


I pray everyone is happy and safe. Life is good!


2 thoughts on “Big Hole, Montana

    Lynn said:
    September 2, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    Can I say I am jealous!!!!!! Nah, not jealous just envious. Well sweetie, I will just have to settle right now in what you see, and tell us about and I love it. Great write-ups.
    Love and hugs Lynn

      Gwen said:
      September 3, 2009 at 6:12 am

      Thanks my most avid fan! Hope you don’t have much smoke today. We are off for Stanley today!

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