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Posts Tagged ‘Bitterroot National Forest’

“There is an eagle in me that wants to soar, and there is a hippopotamus in me that wants to wallow in the mud.” — Carl Sandburg

Although I saw no bear or fish, this majestic sculpture I left behind in Salmon, Idaho, was a fair representation of the wild and mostly secluded landscape my journey took me on this day. -- Photo by Pat Bean

My drive the next day was awesome. Not only did it take me through spectacular scenery it treated me to the sight of two bald eagles soaring against a cliff backdrop that heightened the details of their flight. Two adults, white heads glistening in the sunlight, flew before me, their magnificent wings stretched out gathering in the wind.

I understand the reasoning of Ben Franklin, who wanted the turkey to be this country’s national emblem because the bald eagle is a scavenging thief. But had he, I wondered, ever seen their majesty as I had this day. Not even the day I counted 149 bald eagles sitting around on the ice and in trees at Farmington Bay in Utah a half dozen years ago could compare.

The sighting came outside of Missoula, Montana, on Highway 90 through the Lolo National Forest.

Earlier in the day, I had driven for a ways along the Salmon River, bringing to the forefront grand memories of a raft trip I had taken down it through the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area. While I’m always reminding myself to live in the present and not the past, these memories, I decided, were part of this day and it was right to acknowledge them.

Leaving the Salmon River behind, I entered the Bitterroot National Forest and its poetic inspiring landscape.  Winding rivers, snow-capped mountains, roadside deer, purple, blue and yellow wildflowers. The entire 140-miles from Salmon to Missoula on Highway 93 were designated scenic byways.

Normally I would have stopped in Missoula, but storms were predicted for the next day and so I drove on, intending to reach my destination at Farragut State Park in the Idaho Panhandle, still almost 200 miles away by mid-afternoon. While it was indeed a long day’s drive for me, the sight of the eagles had vanished any weariness. It was as if I had a pair of bald eagles cheering me on the entire rest of the journey.

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