“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” The Road Not Taken (Robert Frost)
Ruth and I often find reason to veer off interstate highways in our road trip travels. Consulting road maps, weather conditions and GPS routing plans, we elect to drive scenic backroads for obtaining a closeup glimpse of natural beauty/small town America. So our most recent route plan from Missoula to Boise Idaho would unsurprisingly take us along the twisting Lochsa River, titled Highway 12 or the historic Lewis and Clark Highway.
Highway 12 for us provided an eye opening scenery of rushing river headwaters carved by a steep canyon for over one hundred miles. Yet I could only imagine the mindset of Lewis and Clark as they traveled west along this isolated route in 1805. How could they have navigated these rock strewn rapids downhill by canoe successfully? What strategies existed for riding horseback along vertical cliffs for more overland passage? How did they cope with the high snowdrifts and food shortages faced along this weatherbeaten Lolo Pass Trail? How would they avoid hostile Indian attacks to end their mission?
Feeling the rich wilderness of land seemingly unchanged from 200 years in the past, our minds were also filled with freedom-filled aloneness in this quiet region. With no vehicles present. we would pull off to the narrow road embankment at will. At bridge viewpoints, we would sit idly to photograph intimate scenes of a river gone wild. Taking a short rest at Lolo Point Rest Stop, we threw snowballs instead for sheer fun.
The Lewis and Clark Trail was a most difficult passage for these famous American explorers. While long ago they became ominously preoccupied in this region amidst thick timber and a raging river to haul their canoes and rations over steep mountain ridges, we could more relaxingly appreciate the breathtaking scenery that amazed these early explorers. As we would later learn that Route 12 earned the title as the most scenic road in Idaho, we felt very fortunate that we had chosen to take the slower road today.