July 19, 2014

7/9/14 - Libby Dam / Yaak Loop, MT

We stayed at a little RV park just outside Libby, MT, with the Thiemans, some friends from Cottonwood, AZ, who are staying at Libby Dam Campground for the whole month.  While we were there, we went for a couple of drives with them--one was to Libby Dam on the Kootenai River.

It looks different than a lot of dams because there's no curve.  It's goes across the river in a straight line.

Like most dams, it's a Corp of Engineers project, so there's a nice Visitor Center to explore.  No real Passport stamps, but George managed to finagle something from them.

I thought George's size 15 foot was a big one...here it is in comparison to a grizzly bear paw.  I really want to see one, but I'm really scared of them.  I think that zoos have very definite advantages over the wild, wild west.
We missed the dam tour, but watched the movie about building the dam.  I always like it when I learn something, and today we all learned about how they regulate the temperature in the river to keep it cool for the trout.  Basically, they pull water from the lake at different levels (lower = colder) to release downstream.  Isn't that clever?  Apparently the fish like it too because Montana has designated the Kootenai as a "Blue Ribbon" trout stream.  If you're a fly fisherman, you probably know what that means. EVERYONE fishes in the Kootenai; our friend Denny fishes right out here every morning.
The lake formed by Libby Dam is called Lake Koocanusa, with half of it in Montana, and the rest stretching up into Canada.  I thought it was an Indian name, but it was made-up for a contest during the building of the dam.  The lady who won combined the first three letters from KOOtenai River, CANada, and added USA. It's pronounced Koo-kuh-NOO'-suh.   Lots of times that would just sound hokey, but this time it worked.
A couple of days later Denny & Ellen took us on the Yaak River Loop--campground to Yaak to Troy and back to Libby.  First stop was the little "town" of Yaak.  This is the Yaak Mercantile and Tavern (the poppies are on the other side).
And across the street is the Dirty Shame Saloon.  That's it!  That's Yaak!

We drove west along the Yaak River, then south to Yaak Falls.  Not as dramatic as, say, Niagara, but a pretty little cascade down a series of rock steps.
There's a big sign warning you that bears live here, showing ways to identify both grizzly and black bears.  I'm not really sure if it matters which kind it is if it wants to eat me.  There's nothing on the sign that suggests that one prefers female tourists to male, but George and I have this deal that he'll sacrifice himself for me.  We disagree on the details occasionally, but I'm pretty sure the bears would prefer the Big Meal Deal.
I took a picture of our friends, Denny and Ellen.
Then Ellen took a picture of George and me.  Isn't friendship wonderful???
Once we got back to Libby, Denny wanted to explore a little road we'd been told about the night before at the campground Happy Hour.  We took the road next to the boat store, looking for the end of the road. Before we got there, we saw a herd of bighorn sheep, just sort of hanging out by the side of the road.  
Then they left...

...and so did we.

More pictures of Libby Dam 
and more pictures of the Yaak River Loop 

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