Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Road Babe Dispatch From Borderlands

My purse, journal and camera had been looted, plus my cherry lip-gloss eaten, by a bear. This may sound predictable to a seasoned bear-country-camper, but it surprised the hell out of me. So did the doe with felt-nubbed youngsters nibbling foliage at the perimeter of our campsite. Bucks wandered into our midst to snatch banana pieces out of Shakespeare's doggie bowl.

We were in Jewel Basin Montana near Hungry Horse. Snowy peaks and lanky pines ringed a perfectly transparent lake called Lid Creek. Such an ugly name for a glorious stone beach to watch sunsets or sunrises or do nothing. A perfect place to practice yoga, breathe in cold clean air, and try not to think about my stolen bag (or what I would or wouldn't do to that sneaky bear, if I should find him.)

A pale full moon rose above the peaks in the East. Back at camp, mule deer were everywhere, as we gathered twigs to make a fire with leftover fruit tree logs that wouldn't burn the night before. Black cutout trees stood against the clear sky as tranquil day eased into tranquil night.

The next morning we cruised into West Glacier National Park. Logon pass was closed, leaving disconnected halves of glacial rivers. Sixteen miles of thick forest lay beneath a freeze which looked like a spilt glass of milk. We circled past Two Medicine River into St. Mary's East entrance. Stone peaks sprang up around every corner, each one different, some crags of grey rock, some lush and green, some beige with crumbling sediment highlighted by the sun. Goose Island was five trees and no space to walk unless you’re a gander. Jackson Glacier was a receding slant of machete-blade ice-ridge.

At a riverside stop, we spotted a grey wolf as large as a Rhodesian ridgeback inspecting the car. It darted into the meadow and surveyed us. Too bad for pint-sized Shakespeare; he probably looked like the perfect off-leash meal. We went and played in the icy glacial runoff anyway, admiring the reflection of infinite mountains upon still water. “I feel so small,” I told Eddie.

“I feel so hungry,” Eddie retorted.

So, we ate a hummus wrap at Mike's: a little diner in the park. Our waiter told us his life story after Eddie recognized his Russian-Armenian ears. His adopted dad had always said, “Never trust a Russian Armenian. You can spot them by the ears.” Eddie disagreed and tipped thirty percent on principle.

When we got back to camp, I cooked up a simple dinner while Eddie gathered kindling and chopped wood. We sat around the fire for several hours in a flame-lit trance until Shakespeare started snoring. It was time for us to do the same.

As morning sun lit the terrain through the trees, a fully-equipped Raptor Key Performance trailer pulled up, startling the deer, drowning the birdsong and disturbing the general peace. It took the assholes thirty minutes just to maneuver into a campsite. Why go camping at all? Why not just watch Animal Planet from your living room? “I'm gonna shit by their campsite,” I told Eddie.


Mittie Babette Roger is from Louisiana but lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. She received an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Naropa University and authored the book It's Better to Visit the Shaman Without Questions to Ask. She travels the world volunteering to help disadvantaged children and promoting Blue Iguana Tequila to empower serious drinkers.


  1. Gorgeous pictures!

    You chould have challenged the bear to an epic duel of rock paper scissors to regain your honour and your purse.

  2. Good point William! I'll keep that in mind for next time ;) Besides ...As you can imagine, I could have really used that purse for the rest of the trip ...

  3. Road babe, you may have some questionable luck, bt maintain the best attitude and appreciation through out. Such picturesque setting, and what incredible fortune to see all this wildlife! Lucky Shakespeare had the rugged road-babe close at hand, or paw, to fend off the one-wolf pack.

    Keep the awesome stories coming :)

  4. What would the stark, craggy Montana landscape be without The Road Babe's kinder, gentler form? Happy birthday Mittie!

  5. Awesome post! I love the pictures as well :)