19-Jun-2003 -- This confluence is located in the Tenderfoot Experimental Forest within the Lewis and Clark National Forest in western Montana. It is on fairly level ground at nearly 7000 ft. altitude. The area primarily consists of lodgepole pine forest with some open meadow. There is a stream with attendant wetlands nearby.
I undertook this journey with my two sons Justin (19) and Zachary (14) from our home in Bozeman, MT. about 175 south and a bit west of the confluence. I had a trip of about 10 hours and 350 miles planned. It ended up taking 16 hours and nearly 500 miles to finish. We began in the late morning heading straight north out of Bozeman on the western side of the Bridger Mountains over dirt roads. These roads led through terrain including open fields, forested hillsides, and steep cliffs. We exchanged the dirt roads for pavement at the small town of Ringling and headed north on Hwy. 89. A couple of miles later I looked in my rearview mirror to see smoke billowing from the back of my 1989 Bronco II. I stopped the car and determined leaking oil was dripping onto a hot exhaust pipe causing the smoke. We turned around disheartened and for the nearest town likely to have oil, Wilsall. After stopping there and evaluating the situation my sons and I decided to continue the trip. I wasn't quite sure if I was leaking oil or transmission fluid but the leak seemed to have stopped. I topped off my oil and we headed back north on Hwy. 89. I determined that if I drove the car under 60 mph I seemed able to avoid the problem. We made it to White Sulphur Springs without further incident. We topped off the gas tank there and headed north on Hwy. 89 again. The highway starts to head up hill steadily out of White Sulphur Springs and we were soon leaking fluid again. This time I determined it to be transmission fluid. We stopped at a small store and purchased two quarts and pressed on. The good news in all this is that we only seemed to be leaking fluid when going up hill, the bad news is we had nothing but up hill to go to reach the confluence. We turned off Hwy 89 onto Logging Creek Road at about N47°08', W110°49' and 5,200ft. in altitude. This road leads through some beautiful country with extensive views of the surrounding country. The road was fairly rocky and somewhat rutted and a bit steep in places though not difficult for a typical 4wd vehicle. Soon the road improved as we traveled through some private holdings within the forest as well as by Logging Creek campground. We poured the last of the transmission fluid into the car a couple of miles after the campground and hoped for the best. The up hill slopes were soon becoming difficult for the car again but we were able to get to our stopping point near the confluence without further incident.
My sons and I tumbled out of the car and headed off through the forest with GPS and camera in hand. We found the spot about 15 minutes later near a short two-track road into the forest. This short stretch of road ended near the confluence in what I believe to be some individual's hunting camp. The evidence of this camp is a plywood outhouse located in the trees about 25 yards from the confluence. It had been raining off and on throughout the day and was dripping a bit while we were locating the confluence and taking pictures. The photograph of the GPS showing our location shows evidence of these conditions. I took pictures of the area as my sons explored the immediate vicinity.
The late hour (1900hrs.) and increasingly cold and wet weather coupled with our crippled vehicle convinced us it was time to think about heading home. After reviewing the situation we decided it would be best to continue north to Great Falls to purchase some transmission fluid for the trip home. Heading south would have meant no stores likely to be open until we reached White Sulphur Springs over 70 miles away. Even though Great Falls was farther away from our home it was a much closer source for the needed transmission fluid. We made Great Falls and then home without further incident arriving home around 0200hrs.
Overall it was a great trip through some beautiful country. We saw eagles, hawks, elk, deer, and snowshoe hares. The automotive troubles gave the trip the air of an adventure and we learned a bit about traveling by GPS.