Garnet Ghost Town
July 25, 2007 – Picture this:
Dusk, the moon has just appeared above the eastern peaks of the Bear Claw Mountains. The sun is about to disappear, as it sinks into the shadows of the western horizon. George and Kathleen have completed a long day of travel. Their RV is parked beside the Clark Fork River in western Montana.
After treating themselves to an excellent Mexican supper at the Bear Claw Restaurant next to the RV Camp Ground, they have decided to take a little drive. Kathleen spots a small sign. Garnet Ghost Town with an arrow pointing the way. The two decide to find the town and explore a bit before dark. The road winds along the meandering river. Interstate 90 winds west through the deep canyon pass. Semi-trucks speed along as the setting sun illuminates their reds and blues. The two adventurers enjoy the drive. Soon a sign directs the way to the little ghost town.
Turning away from the river, the jeep follows the paved road into another canyon. Kathleen remembers that a couple days earlier she and George notice that the jeep is in need of refueling. She mentions this to George. The gauge indeed is very close to the E mark. They continue their journey thinking their destination was just up ahead. Soon another sign appears: Road turns to gravel soon, one lane only, no motor homes allowed, slippery when wet, watch for wild animals. They continue. Another sign: Garnet Ghost Town – 10 miles. “Oh we can make it, I think,” George says.
“OK,” is Kathleen’s reply. “Do you really think so?”
“Here’s the deal,” George says, “ When the jeep signals us that she’s close to empty, we’ll turn back.”
Kathleen is happy at that and is eager to keep going. The road soon narrows and turns to gravel. The canyon grows darker, as the small trail begins to wind deeper into the mountain. Occasionally a dwelling is spotted among the thick foliage. No life is evident and dust covered pick-up trucks sit abandoned nearby.
George says, "If we hear banjo music, we're outta here."
They drive on. The road narrows yet again. All of a sudden a Mule Deer appears in front of them. George hits the breaks and the doe freezes. Kathleen grabs the camera, as something catches her eye beyond the brush, at the edge of the forest. There two fawns peek out at the strange object on the road. Their big ears straight, listening for danger. Kathleen aims her camera and shoots a few photos before they leap into protective cover. The last sighting of their mother is of her hopping back into the thick foliage to join her twins.
The jeep chugs along. Further and higher they travel. Small signs stating 8 miles to go, 5, 3 are noticed along the trail. The canyon is deep, full of tall conifers and deciduous trees and brush. High jagged, protruding rocks, are ready to break and tumble down onto the winding path. Kathleen imagines what could happen if things did not go in their favor. Could they walk out? Would anyone be at the lonely cabins they had passed? Would the owners of these reclusive homes welcome strangers? Were there wild animals? Bear, Cougar? Big Foot?
George, obviously thinking the same thoughts, quietly says, “I am losing my nerve. I think it would be best if we turned around.”
Kathleen agrees. The jeep does not complain when the brakes call for a halt. At this point, the jeep’s computer dongs. A signal that tells the occupants that fuel is very low. They had made the decision in the nick of time. Only one mile to go to experience one of their most intriguing adventures: A ghost town, at twilight, with real ghosts, and haunting shadows, and lost stories of those who once lived there.
Disappointed, they make the right decision. Go back to civilization, now. The next thing is to get turned around on this narrow path, a jutting, crumbling rock wall on one side and a steep bank, thick with brush on the other. George’s expert skills manage the task and they soon face the way home. George wants to check for damage and exits the jeep. Kathleen follows, curious of their surroundings. All is still but for the soft breeze moving the leaves in the trees. A bubbling brook can be heard. Over the bank a stream is playfully finding its way to the river far below. The jeep is covered with dust, George’s scooter, hanging on for dear life behind the jeep is caked in thick dust. No damage is found and the trip home begins.
Promising that they will indeed return to finish their adventure, the two adventurers follow the winding dirty road back out of the canyon and onto a smoother, brighter highway. Soon they are turning into the campground. The thin gravel road leading to Garnet Ghost Town seems long and far away now that they are home. They remind each other that this is only the beginning. There will be other roads that will lead them to more adventures, they are sure. Kathleen makes a list of supplies to stock the jeep with.
10 gauge shot gun.
Gas can, filled.
When the gas tank is filled the next day, ½ a gallon of gas is in it. What would it have been like to spend the night in a ghost town?