2013 / Camping / Fall / Food / Mountains / Nature / Travel

Floating the North Fork of the Flathead

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Last weekend Jon and I borrowed a raft and oar frame and took off for an overnight float down the North Fork of the Flathead River. We chose the 11 mile stretch between Ford Creek and Polebridge township – arguably some of the best river scenery in the region. We started around noon on a drizzly Monday morning, and immediately cast a few lines out to see what the fish might be interested in. My little ant didn’t excite them, but the red beetle looking fly of Jon’s was a hit. I took over the oars so he could cast, and immediately we were spinning in circles – turns out I had no clue how to row a boat.

With some impatient coaching from Jon, I finally managed to get a rhythm going, and away we went. Right around the moment our stomachs began to rumble, we hit a shallow stretch of water and got snagged on a rock – perfect spot for lunch. We brought peppered salami, good aged cheddar (the only kind my lactarded stomach will allow me to eat) and soft french bread. I fished, and managed to get about 3 fish hooked, but none in to the boat. Jon caught a few beautiful cutthroat trout over the course of the trip.

We stopped at a rocky open beach to explore it as a potential campsite, but we weren’t sure if it was private or public land, so we continued downstream. Luckily, before too long we spotted the boundary marker that indicated we had entered National Forest land, where we could safely camp. Immediately, we found a lovely little campsite, tucked up on the bank facing some of the prettiest peaks we’d seen yet inside the park. We set up shop and began cooking steaks and potatoes. Not our most creative meal certainly, but boy was it delicious. The sun sank behind us and illuminated the peaks in a flash of beautiful pink before night settled in.

The next day we had a lazy morning, making pancakes and bacon before breaking camp and heading down river again. It was sunny and fall was definitely in the air. It was almost a letdown to see the bridge coming into view and realize the magical, relaxing river trip had come to and end, but Jon and I will definitely be doing this again next year.

jon trout leigh row

leigh fish

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