Monday, August 26, 2019

Gates Of The (Rocky) Mountains

During my non-driving day in Helena, MT, I spent a very enjoyable afternoon with an old friend, during which we took a delightful boat ride on a lake in the Missouri River. The two-hour excursion included a variety of narrated sights, including geology, wildlife and native history in the area.

A highlight of the trip was passing through the famous Gates of the (Rocky) Mountains:

The Gates of the Mountains were named by Lewis and Clark. Captain Lewis wrote on July 19, 1805:
"This evening we entered the most remarkable clifts that we have yet seen. These clifts rise from the waters edge on either side perpendicularly to the height of 1200 feet. ... the river appears to have forced its way through this immense body of solid rock for the distance of 5-3/4 Miles ... I called it the gates of the rocky mountains."
In 1918, when Holter Dam was built forming Holter Lake, the water level of the Missouri River in the Gates was raised approximately 14 feet (4.3 m).

Another highlight was a close-up view of Mann Gulch, where a 1949 fire claimed the lives of 13 firefighters and which was the subject of Norman Maclean's book Young Men and Fire, which I heartily recommend to one and all!

We will continue east tomorrow, probably pausing at Three Forks, where the Jefferson, Madison and Gallatin rivers converge to form the Missouri River, then continuing on to the Billings, MT, area... Stay tuned!

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