Montana Road Trip 2010, Chapter Twenty-Six

This time.  Definitely heading makai.  Toward the ocean. Of course, I could also say we’re heading mauka, since we’re also heading towards mountains, but that’s ‘way too confusing.  So makai it is.

Homestake Pass.

Homestake Pass is a mountain pass in the Rocky Mountains of Montana. It sits on the Continental Divide on the border between Jefferson County and Silver Bow County, six miles south-southeast of Butte in Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest at an elevation of 6,329 feet.

By now, we were very familiar with it.  Just think…on the Bozeman side of the pass, water runs one way, and on the Butte side of it, water runs makai.  During this trip and our previous one to Montana, we’d cross back and forth over the Continental Divide time after time in a fraction of the time it took early pioneers to cross it.  It was actually pretty cool to think that we were on the backbone of the US.

Here we are, heading up to the summit.


Look how nani the clouds look!


Try look the trail (a game trail? Hiking trail?) going up into the rocks.


It was interesting how, on the south side of the freeway, there were tons of trees, but on the right side, it was much different.


We were right in the middle of the Beaverhead Deer Lodge National Forest.


Still climbing! In Part Seventeen of this trip, we drove along this freeway heading in the other direction in the pitch black and pouring rain and visibility was scary awful. But today, today, everything was clear as could be. Of course, it helped that it was daylight, too.  LOL.


I knew that Izzie would love the photo of the rock formations here. She has given me a real appreciation for them, and so now I don’t just take photos of them, I ponder them, and how they were formed. I mean, just look at these huge boulders!  Look at the way they’re arranged, some straight, some at angles.  I contemplated how they ended up that way, and how they stay in position year after year.


We reached the summit. The ridge of the Continental Divide. 6393′ in elevation. It was 12:45 p.m., and 39°.


It’s too soon to see the town, but Butte is at the bottom of the pass.


I learned something about a National Heritage Area when we got back home. It’s not a National Forest.

National Heritage Areas (NHA) are a grassroots, community-driven approach to heritage conservation and economic development. Through public-private partnerships, NHA entities support historic preservation, natural resource conservation, recreation, heritage tourism, and educational projects. Leveraging funds and long-term support for projects, NHA partnerships foster pride of place and an enduring stewardship ethic. Locally owned and controlled Captures a way of life – a cultural heritage reflected in a larger landscape.

And there’s Butte, waiting for us to arrive. The first time we ever saw Butte, we met a wonderful woman named Susie, who, if you remember, was one of the friendliest people we’ve ever met.


This reminded me of the flumes back home in Hawaiʻi that used to run near watermelon and sugar cane fields.



I noticed the aspen trees beginning to green up beneath the rock formations and loved the contrast between the softness of the leaves and the unyielding rocks.


Down from the  mountains, the temperature climbed to an almost balmy 43°.  We were just a few miles from Butte, and ready for a stretch!


Here’s a view of Butte from the freeway between the greening leaves of the trees.


And a much clearer one, showing a train passing through. I don’t know what that big white tower is…I’ve tried to find out but haven’t been able to yet.

I guess the M stands for Montana.  Why Mokihana, how clever of you!


We’re going to be heading straight to Missoula, but every time I see a road sign pointing to a town where we’ve never been, I am so tempted to swerve off in that direction!  There are so many places to explore in Montana!  We’ve been to Idaho Falls, but not from up this way.


The landscape here looks kinda sparse.



Exit 211, right near the Gregson Fairmont Hot Springs exit.  And try look the rain coming down ova dea!  That reminded me of back home…one time I was on the Honolulu bus, down in the Waikīkī area.  I got off the bus and walked from sunshine right into a rain shower!  I have never forgotten that.

Exit 211 - Gregson, Fairmont, Hot Springs 1 mile

I had Nolemana take lots of photos of the rain because I thought it looked so neat.


See what I mean?  How cool is this?  There’s no rain, and then there’s rain coming down in sheets.


There’s the turnoff for the hot springs.  So you can see that we’ve only gone a mile; and look how the rain is moving in.


We’re heading right into it. Kinda exciting, really, though I’m not sure if I can explain why.


Okay, I think I know why. Because when I was growing up in Mānoa Valley, I would frequently see the rain moving down the sides of the valley walls along Waʻahila Ridge.


AFK, the pīpī paid the rain no mind. There was new green grass to munch on, so why bother?


It was so fascinating, seeing how the sheets of rain had breaks in them, with no rain in between them.


Okay, one of the other reasons is because I love nature in all its variations and subtleties. I love seeing how clouds and rain and sun and storms can move and change within moments. They’re never stagnant and have a life of their own. And I get to participate in those changes, to watch them, and yes, to rejoice that I can take notice of them. Lots of times I wonder if I’m the only one who notices stuff like this while driving.  Am I?  Dunno.

This is coming up on the Anaconda and Opportunity exit. Opportunity, Montana. How’d you like to live there?  See the green over to the left?  That’s Opportunity.  I guess there’s also the Anaconda Golf Course, too.


On we drove; it was as if we were chasing the rain. So far, our windshield wipers didn’t have anything to do.


The rain was like a flock of birds, always eluding us, except in our gazes.


The pavement stayed dry.  And there wasn’t even a drop of liquid on our windshield.   We turned north awhile ago, and could head straight to Canada if we wanted to.

Now this is interesting.  About Galen. There used to be a State Tuberculosis Sanitarium here.

The State Tuberculosis Sanitarium at Galen was built on 40 donated acres next to the Montana State Hospital and admitted its first patient in 1913. Twenty months later, it had 115. Treatment emphasized clean, fresh air and high altitudes, so patients slept outdoors no matter what the temperature. They could come into the reception room during storms, but otherwise, they were only allowed in closed rooms while dressing. The sanitarium started admitting children in 1924. Direct sunlight was an important part of their therapy, so they started out with five minutes of direct sunlight and worked up to an hour. They napped from 1 to 3 p.m. everyday and went to bed at 9 p.m. The number of patients at Galen rose during the 1920s and 1930s, but chemical cures and other factors led to the sanitarium’s decline. The sanitarium finally closed July 1, 1993.

That’s really interesting. Patients sleeping outdoors, in winter, in Montana? Wow. Makes me cold just to think about it.

Cute…this creek is called “Modesty Creek”.   Hard to see, but there are cows for AFK in the background.


And still no rain on the windshield.  How weird, to see all that rain ahead of us, and we never got wet.  I thought of how plenny places people are desperate for rain to fall on them, and it does exactly what we’d just experienced.


I wonder what it’d be like to live on a ranch out here.  Ho da quiet, except for hum of tires on the freeway. And trains. Oh yeah, da trains! And probably the wind, too.


I expect it could be a kind of lonely life, yet some people relish that. Maybe not the loneliness, but the isolation.  And the wide-open spaces, and the changing seasons, and snow on the mountains.  I wouldn’t want to do it. But for a summer?  Maybe. Just maybe.

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4 Responses to Montana Road Trip 2010, Chapter Twenty-Six

  1. Izzie Kikue says:

    Yes, yes, yes! Those are the wonderful boulders I am so attracted to. I love hiking in and out of them, and I especially love to draw them as well. I also love seeing those rolling hills you captured. So much grand land all spread out like that. It is hard to believe that many places, like cities and even suburbs, are running out of room. How can that be? It seems like we have land stretching out in all directions. I guess it takes developing the land to make it livable. We’re so spoiled these days and dependent on automation to make life easier. I give those people coming from out east credit for blazing trails and making do with so little, and then surviving! Anyway, another batch of awesome photos! I’m enjoying the ride! Thank you for taking me along! 😀

    • Mokihana says:

      I’m so happy you’re riding shotgun with us, Izzie. I knew you’d love the boulders. I would love to see some of your boulder drawings; I know they are wonderful even without seeing them.

      Yes, it’s a grand land, isn’t it! Hard for me to stay away!

  2. AFK says:

    Moki-chan, thank you for always thinking of me when you see cows! And taking photos for me!

    I bet that rain falls in those odd patterns everywhere, but it’s only in wide open spaces that you can see it. I can see that happening occasionally from my vantage point at work (I work in a highrise), and I especially love seeing rain come across Puget Sound.

    Hey – I solve the mystery of your white tower. It’s part of a Catholic parish.
    If you look on Google Maps’ streetview for the corner of Western and Caledonia Streets, you’ll see it.

    And the “M” on the hillside does stand for Montana, but as part of Montana Tech, which is just below the hillside. I always love those letters cut into hills above towns – Castle High used to have a “C” in Kane`ohe. I don’t know that they carry on that tradition any more.

    • Mokihana says:

      Mahalo for finding out what the white tower is. I finished posting last night so late and had only done a cursory search about it, so I really appreciate that you figured it out.

      Did you by chance see the huge statue of Mary (Our Lady of the Rockies) up on the top of the hill? It’s the third largest statue in the US. I can’t believe we didn’t see it, and am disappointed that we didn’t. I’m gonna check my photos again, though.

      It’s wonderful that you can see rain coming in over the Sound… I bet you can see hail and snow coming, too.

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