Abide Culture Day Trip Chronicles: Kootenai Falls

Pulling out and taking a left, then crossing intersections, we stop to fill up. Tank full. We exit the gas station and follow asphalt with a force to stop on RED. Signal indicating another left turn. Light change allows us to turn and drive up the highway. Miles tick along the road and up the tachometer. The curvy highway etches across landscape. Long Bridge comes to view. Crossing Lake Pend Oreille; Selkirks reflect off glassy water. Off the bridge and over the mountain lake beach town of Sandpoint.

Continuing north, blue-gray smoke spirals from burning slash piles in the distance. BNSF rail cars decorated in graffiti and spray paint. Cutting through Bonners Ferry, a small town right before the United States and Canada touch, and turn east. Idaho—a Rocky Mountain state—boasts the Selkirks, known for Schweitzer, and Cabinet Mountains located in the panhandle of North Idaho. The fresh water Kootenai River—known as Flatbow and Kootenay in Canada—begins its journey from the headwaters of the Kootenay Ranges of the Canadian Rockies, cuts through the Cabinets, back through the West Kootenay region in British Columbia and meets the Columbia River which then empties into the salty waters of the Pacific Ocean.

Our destination: Kootenai Falls. Montana. Lincoln County. U.S. Route 2. Kootenai Falls is the largest undammed waterfall in the state of Montana, which drops 300 feet in elevation traveling a few hundred yards down river. Beautiful.

As the parking lot approaches off the highway, we exit off and quickly find a spot to park. The lot is full of out-of-state travelers; license plated vehicles declare origins including Idaho, Wisconsin, Missouri, Utah, California, and Washington. Unload and change shoes. Grab packs and gear. Up the trail and through sky-scraping cedars. The sound of pounding water is unmistakable. Through chain-linked tunnel—adorned with locks of love—and down metal stairs, a walking overpass above twin train tracks. Still waters sleep in pools; raging waters growl as hard rock directs the river's path. Turbulent turquoise waters.

We climb up to the falls: nature's steps guide our feet granting us access upriver. Downriver, we hike in muddy trails, puddles refuse to seep into the well traveled path. Ferns grow in rock. Forest floor grows. Swinging Bridge—a 210 foot bridge—hangs 100 feet above the river. Crossing the footbridge and stop for the views. Down to the rocky beach below.

Exploring. Teaching. Learning. Looking at the wonders of God's universe in this globe of creation. "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." [Genesis 1:1] Examining life in the cracks of rock. Plants finding a foothold in solid mass and growing forth. The Kootenai brings an abundance of nourishment. The day grows long. We re-trace our steps and make our way back to the parking lot. Engine turns. Reverse. Drive. Wheels rotate. Taking the loop and left. Past tiny towns and back into Idaho. The sky becomes dark. Sandpoint. Dinner. We talk and listen. Music fills the cabin. Day trip. Family.

1 comment

  • Beautiful photos of God’s beautiful creation. I like hiking up there. So peaceful. So strong. So unpredictable.

    debbie granat

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