Thursday, October 18, 2007

A walk along the Clark Fork to the confluence of the Bitterroot River.

I don't know what my thing is with berries lately - but I found a few to photograph on the trail. The only ones that I could identify were rosehips. The others are familiar - but I don't know their names.


Come for a walk with us...


We walked to the confluence of the Bitterroot and the Clark Fork. Two very different rivers with two distinct personalities...At this junction the Bitterroot ends and the Clark Fork continues to Lake Pend Oreille in northern Idaho.

The Clark Fork runs for roughly 360 miles and is the largest river in Montana, by volume. The Clark Fork begins at the confluence of Basin and Blacktail Creek near downtown Butte. This alone is the reason I feel that the Clark Fork's reputation is doomed from its beginnings. Butte has the largest pit lake in the United States (Berkeley Pit), and is the country's largest Superfund site. Because of copper mine tailings it is not a river that I catch fish out of (to eat). It is a gorgeous river, though, and I remember that drive from Butte to Missoula when I drove here after our road trip and planning on making Missoula home. The sun was rising (as we drove all night from just north of Denver area)...and my eye caught a reflection in the shape of a snake to the right of the interstate. It was the Clark Fork...

The Clark Fork Dam above Missoula is another whole story, but the good news is that they are removing all the sediment and poisons from behind the dam and removing the dam completely!

The Bitterroot on the other hand is a much shorter river (Just 75 miles) flowing north from the Bitterroot Valley, and into Missoula. It is one of the three main tributaries of the Clark Fork. It seems every river has its issues, and one that I hear almost every year regarding the Bitterroot is water-rights issues. There are lots of ranchers along the Bitterroot that have taken water out of the river over the years for their cattle lands (and some let their cattle have access to the river, etc). There is a huge problem since the dry Montana summers cause the fish to be stressed and way too hot, especially when the river gets extremely LOW!

Today, the two rivers looked happy when they came together. The confluence is a pretty private place, really. I think I will take Jeff for a picnic there.

3 comments:

Art said...

I thinking that something happened at the junction of the Clark and Bitterroot - maybe something Lewis and Clark did. Do you know? They separated around there somewhere - perhaps they met there?

I bet you've floated that many times - I would love to someday.

ebeth said...

They had separated and the Lewis party crossed the Clark Fork 2 miles downstream of the confluence with the Bitterroot (on July 4th, 1806). This was a cool site to check out and see the crossing, etc.
http://www.lewis-clark.org/content/content-article.asp?ArticleID=2259

I have boated both rivers plenty of times over the last 10 years, and seen the confluence many times from the river. But it was neat to stand on that V on solid ground and imagine...

Katie said...

i love these pictures...and those white berries are awesome!