Traveler's Rest just east of Lolo, Mt is the only archaeologically verified campsite of the Corp of Discovery along the entire 8,000 miles of the trail. Once, a month throughout the summer and fall, they hold "Discover the Seasons" events at the site. Yesterday's event highlighted the food of the trail, and of the local indians through the years.
We weren't sure what to expect when we saw the visitor center, a yurt in the middle of what appears to be an unused field at the edge of the highway, and nearby huddle of makeshift tents and tepees, that made up the event. However, the volunteers manning the tents were friendly, knowledgeable, and generous with their time, and samples of food, and fun.
We were treated to a fire making demonstration, using flint found in the Philipsburg area, with cottonwood fluff for tender (cottonwood is highly incendiary - making for a good show). Then we were given a sampling of dried fruits and meats, hardtack, salt pork, and some very interesting wild wheat and berry cookies. There was a flintlock demonstration, and each of the children received a deerskin bracelet, braided with a mystery braid, while they watched.
Despite the somewhat humble look of the place, we were on information overload within an hour. So, to clear our heads a bit, we continued west on the highway toward Lolo Pass, following the Lewis and Clark trail. As it turns out we were also retracing (only backwards) the Nez Perce trail. They used this route to enter the Bitterroot Valley, not long before their battle with US troops in the Big Hole area (that's a road trip for another day).
At the top of the pass, we stopped off at the rest stop, and wandered into the visitor center, only to discover another small museum, packed with information and tactile displays. There was more information about Lewis and Clark, the Nez Perce Indians, and local geology. Outside was a self guided tour of the two trails along beautifully maintained walking trails. And, let's not forget that we were in the Rocky Mountains - the scenery was breathtaking.
We turned around just beyond the pass. Like the Nez Perce we snuck quietly by Fort Fizzle (another historic site along the highway), and reentered the Bitterroot without incident. What had started out to be a leisurely Saturday drive, had turned into a busy educational outing - and a lieserly Saturday drive.
It's great to be a homeschooler.