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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Coming down to Swift Dam, near Dupuyer, Mt. Bob Marshall trail head.

As we came down the trail above Swift Dam, we could see the Dam House, it's that little white dot in the center of this photo. In 1964, Swift Dam was an earthen dam, and it broke. My uncle was the dam keeper at that time. He was haunted after that, thinking he should have known the dam was going to break. Many lives were lost and he felt responsible, even though there are events you can't control. It's a miracle he and his family didn't lose their lives, for it could easily have happened had they been living in the dam house at the time. Luckily, they were at the ranch house working when the dam broke.

In this photo, you can see how the water roared from the gorge, narrowly missing the dam house. My cousin and I were talking, remembering the flood, we're amazed that trees have grown back in that path of destruction for we never thought we'd see that in our lifetimes.

Switching gears a little, from the flood to the Bob Marshall, when you're heading into the Bob Marshall Wilderness from this trail head, the trail goes around the house, and up the ridge. It's a steep trail and it has the respect of all who ride it's face on horseback. In fact, it makes you think a time or two when you hike the cliff face on foot. It's steep and the trail is narrow.
After you climb the face of the cliff, you cross this windswept area above the dam.
My uncle never bothered to take the cliff trail around the dam, he always crossed this rock face you see here. I walked that trail once, but there's no horse alive I'd trust to carry me over the trail he and his horse Chili always traveled.
As you go back around the dam on the south side, you cross those granite ridges of solid rock. I remember the horses scrambling up one side, and sliding down the other. We came out of the Bob in a rain storm and the hills were slick in places. Iron shoes on granite aren't always the best thing.
Once you're behind Swift Dam, the trail evens out until you cross a rock slide above the Gorge. The sight is beautiful, and if you ever see it, you'll not be sorry you took the time to go there. But crossing the rock slide is another place where you'll have to trust your horse to carry you through.

There are times when I think I love this country so much, just because it's where I grew up and it's familiar to me, there are other times when I think any person, anywhere, would love this country for it's sheer beauty.

It's not an easy country for the wind blows hard, and winter's are tough, but it's a wonderful country for those who love it.

Donna Ridgway


More stories about this area. Including some of my own that pop up!

More reading about the Rocky Mountain Front near Dupuyer, Mt.