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Horseback over Lolo Trail 200 Years Later Carol A. Grende You are Here

My husband David and I arrived at the Lolo Hot Springs on the 11th of September, 2006 just in time to partake in a Birthday party for Bud Clark ( great great great grandson of Captain William Clark). They mixed up merriment for all with the traditional Mint Julep and passed the draft. Song around the campfire lasted well into the night with stories and laughter from all. 


The goal of our adventure was to do some riding at the same time as the Discovery Expedition of St. Charles over the Lolo Trail. Some men rode and a some walked the route starting at Lolo Hot Springs on the 12th of September.  We all were excited to ride some of the historic trail.  The Corps covered about 14 miles that day to the top of the Lolo Pass on the Montana-Idaho border. Captain Lewis passed the riders on foot. The day was pleasant with a few light rain showers after a chilly night in camp. We reached the top with Lewis walking in the lead caring the Espontoon across his shoulders around 3:30 PM. The men proceeded to make camp at the new Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. They began sharing history with all the visitors over the next two days. On September 14th there was a dramatic ceremony to pass the Espontoon from Montana to Idaho with the landing of a Black Hawk helicopter.


On September 15th the ascent of Wendover Ridge was made on horseback.  This is a rugged trail up to the high ridges North of the Lochsa River Drainage. Within 8 miles, one covers 3500 feet in elevation. On this day I followed an hour behind and caught-up with the riders within 7 miles. The ascent was beautiful and uneventful, all arrived in camp with little more than saddle sores after a total of about 14 miles. The men joined in traditional song of old as they rode along the trail through the woods. The distant mountains and high peaks were in every direction.  It is easy to see how the Corps of 1805 would have been in awe of this country and worried about crossing it with any success. The camp that night was at Cayuse Junction where we shared in food and drink. I brought a bottle of Plum Wine from the Lolo Peak Winery in Missoula, Montana. Bud Clark and John Fisher (ironically a good friend of Bud's and my Biology teacher at Lewiston High School) both partook of the spirits with David and me.


On the 16th of September the day would be long with a 29 mile ride to Castle Butte.  I left an hour or so behind them and never caught them this day as they moved along quickly to try to beat the night fall. We traveled mostly on the primitive road this day past the Indian Post Office named for the mounds of rocks believed to have held messages long ago by the Ni Mii Poo or Nez Perce Indians. Only a small part of the ride this day was on the original trail, a cut off past the Smoking Place. I highly recommend a hike over this area of the trail.  It is a small sample of the dramatic landscape and the rough trail of which I can only imagine in its entirety. Steep granite rocks lay on the trail in a narrow treacherous line up the face of the mountain dressed in fall colors, fantastic vistas. In many areas where one travels over the hogs' back the landscape goes on forever on both sides in deep valleys to the north and to the south. Large formations of boulders intermingle in the forest - some look as if the hand of God placed them methodically as sculptures of nature. Riding all day,  the sunset before reaching camp and I told my horse Jaunty as we rode along, "We are up so high that the sun seems as if it will never set."  This evening brought a new challenge to find a camp in the dark.


On the morning of September 17th we arose to a light rain and an overcast sky.  My horse Jaunty had sustained a small injury to her leg and it was too swollen to proceed on. At about 8:30 AM Captain Clark and the men came by our camp and we said our goodbyes until another time down the trail. David and I feel lucky to have been part of this wonderful history and guests of Bud Clark who officiated at the tribute of the monument I did of Lewis and Clark for the Falls of the Ohio State Park in Clarksville, Indiana. It is an honor and privilege to be in the company of such gentlemen.


                                    Your Friend, C.A.Grende

To see the monuments in progress and bronzes by Carol, please go to


Coming soon is a monument for the Missouri River Basin Interpretive Trail Center: Nebraska City, Nebraska titled "Thomas Jefferson The Naturalist"


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