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Fourth of July in Montana

July 4, 2015
The materials for my research into uncle PFC Carl Ralph Bonde, Jr. includes a 48-star American Flag and a 50-star.

The materials for my research into uncle PFC Carl Ralph Bonde, Jr. includes a 48-star American Flag and a 50-star.

My uncle Carl R. Bonde, Jr. is certainly an American hero, having been killed by Nazis in World War II. Thoughts enter my mind. PFC Bonde was trained to kill Nazis. The men under the command of Uberlieutenant Gerhard Meyer in U-486 were trained to kill the Allied soldiers. Both sides were simply doing what they had been trained to do, so I find it difficult to hate the submariners. They also died perhaps a month later, off the coast of Norway, when U-486 was torpedoed.

The problem is patriotism. That’s what leads to war and the senseless killing of people like my uncle and his Nazi enemies. We need more matriotism. These soldiers and sailors would have come to a different fate if everyone were more matriotic instead of patriotic.

Here is a happier Carl Bonde, probably on a footbridge in Montana.

Here is a happier Carl Bonde, probably on a footbridge in Montana.

July 4, 2015

Yesterday morning Penny and I got up about 7:30 and, since we both had the day off, we agreed to take a long hike up the West Fork of Rock Creek in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness. We missed the road, but we soon found it by asking a local woman.
Anyway, we found the road that led toward the ski area, passed a trailhead with a sign that said “Silver Run.” We decided that was the best hike, but since we couldn’t find a place to turn the car around, we kept going and going until the road turned to dirt and finally we ended up at the end of the road up a damned deep canyon. Rock Creek rushed cheerfully near the car, which I didn’t lock. I think if someone were desperate to get in a car they could get in ours without breaking any windows. I saw lots of cars and a few back packs with yellow sleeping pads protruding. The packs leaned against the concrete posts in the parking lot. A family wearing sandals sprayed each other with something. I used the FS outhouse. Smelled clean. In other words, it didn’t smell. I looked down the hole as I peed. Disgusted to see someone had dropped a can! Can’t they read the sign asking them to please not throw trash in? It is very difficult to remove!
We used walking sticks or, as they are more delicately known, “trekking poles.” We had day packs. Mine had 6 bottles of water, matches, sun screen, insect repellant, bear repellant, toilet paper, two apples, a GPS, LED headlights, extra batteries, and a rain suit. I can walk better longer if I drink lots of water, starting maybe a quarter mile from the trailhead. I try never to drink water from creeks or even springs.
The trail was deluxe and recently maintained. Gradual rise, wide enough for horses, bridges over small creeks, and miles long. We walked about 3 hours, stopping a couple of times to eat, until we got over a saddle to a meadow and the creek widened to a pond.
We saw plenty of wildflowers: Blue thistles, dandelions and kinnikinnik caught my attention at first, but after a few miles we saw lots of huckleberry plants (no berries), alder, lodgepole pines. A fire swept through the area in March so some green grasses had sprung, but of course, even fireweed hadn’t had a chance to grow yet. Other plants caught our attention: yellow columbine, blue bells, grand fir. The last identified because of a sap blister on its trunk that squirted when I pressed on one with my trekking pole. I couldn’t identify many plants because I didn’t have my book and anyway I’ve forgotten what I used to know. I learned that those “miniature huckleberries” we’ve often seen in the Beartooths are really whortleberries, good to eat.



The trail wended close to the creek at times where rushing falls thundered. I saw no fish, but I probably wouldn’t anyway. We saw no large wildlife, although I looked all around. I think we saw death camas and cinquefoil, and sticky geraniums, but I’m not as sure about them. Horses on the trail left manure. I believe horses are most apt to poop after stepping through or over a stream, because that’s where I frequently saw it. I haven’t decided if that’s true. Once we had a llama and we could get him to poop at our convenience by leading him into water up to his knees.
One of the tributaries of the West Fork had enough volume to form a sheet flowing across a flat piece of granite, so it looked like glass. Surprises abound in the wilderness. Across the valley a cliff rose perhaps—a thousand feet? Hard to say, but, part of the cliff was a looming outcrop, like a bay window on a house, as large as a supermarket, but gray and stony. P. and I compared our feelings about that and we both felt threatened. Then resigned to dying if it let go of the mountain because of oh, frost heave, or earthquake Although we were still curious about the rest of the trail, we opted to return. The trek ended up being a 6-hour, 10-mile “death march.” It was good. I was so tired and stiffened up that I could hardly get out of the car when we stopped for ice cream and coffee in Red Lodge. I hobbled painfully at first, then began to limber up and walk. I had drunk almost all of the 6 bottles of water, so the daypack was light, at the last.

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