Started At:
Clark Fork, Idaho

Clark Fork Ill-fated journey

Yeti and I set out for Clark Fork, Idaho with the plan to scout a new route for the IBT from Clark Fork to Darling Lake.  Supposedly, there was a new trail that would avoid using Lightning Creek Road.  When we were about 100 miles short of our destination, we were traveling NW on MT Route 200 and a deer that was mostly hidden in high grass at the side of the road jumped out in front of the car. Keep in mind that many straight back roads of Montana have high speed limits so we were going pretty fast. I was driving and jammed on the brakes once I saw it and realized the deer was coming my way. At first, it feinted right as if it was going to run into the field.  Unfortunately, there was no way to avoid hitting the deer: it would have caused a catastrophic accident had I swerved into oncoming traffic or into the ditch on the right.

Needless to say, the deer came onto the hood cracking the windshield and damaging the front bumper and hood. The poor animal ended up in the ditch on the opposite, left side of the road. Poor thing. The worst in terms of damage to people and car was that the stupid air bags deployed. We didn’t even need them; we came to a controlled stop and had our seat belts on, so our bodies were not flung forward.

The air bags are a mixed bag – no pun intended. They are made with lethal chemicals (look it up!) and while these chemicals “degrade” as the bag is deployed, we were sprayed with noxious, toxic dust. Yeti, whose heart and lungs are already compromised, was having terrible trouble breathing. The bags blind you too, so for a while I couldn’t see anything out of the windshield! A scary feeling. I just kept the steering wheel straight!  The bags on the side of the car obscured the door handle and both of us had trouble getting out at first. Apparently, Yeti climbed into the back seat and got out the back door and immediately collapsed just gasping for breath. It was a traumatic event for people and animal both. Of course, the deer was killed. I hate to think of it. Too bad, they have not learned to avoid these weird metal objects careening down roads.

Several cars and a DOT truck stopped and wanted to call an ambulance, but we didn’t need one. They called highway patrol, but in the end we left after waiting for about 45 minutes with no patrol car in sight.  The engine seemed fine and after first heading towards Missoula we decided to stick to our trip plans and went on to Clark Fork. What a drama! 

We got to the motel (we had called to tell them about the accident) and settled into our room. Yeti called State Farm to get our insurance claim going…they felt because the air bags went off the car was probably a total wreck. Of course, we were driving the new car. Those airbags did us no good! Kind of ironic – as they are meant to save you.

Yeti and I went to the Squeeze Inn for dinner, which we’d been looking forward to. The owner came and talked to us; she is quite a character—kind of a latter day hippie, new age, foodie, artistic type. Very social and friendly, too. We had a nice time sitting on the outdoor deck for our meal. On the way back, we stopped at the Clark Fork Pantry to get sandwiches for tomorrow’s lunch. Better than hiker food!

Up early in the morning to begin the hike.