Until this summer, I could not imagine missing an entire summer on the North Fork. Then it happened. I missed my first Interlocal, even though when I heard about it, there were no surprises.
The Forest Service spent $300,000 to kick the river problems down the road so they can deal with them later when we face a real crisis. The Park finally discovered what many of us have known for years Ė the Inside Road could be made passable at minimum cost.
Apparently, just making it passable will still leave it closed. The Park will only allow bicycles to use it. I am not completely opposed to this and even support it for most of the summer. I do feel that it should be open to vehicles at least one month per year. If it is unsafe for two-way traffic, then open it only one way. My choice would be one-way from north to south. I have never wanted to the Inside Road to be a highway. I want it to be what it has always been, a rough, narrow, bumpy experience so that people can better understand our history and the fact that the early homesteaders really had to struggle to love on the North Fork before good roads, fancy 4X4s, generators and even propane lights. I donít know of anyone today that uses kerosene lights for their primary illumination. Many people (maybe even most) do not even know what a Coleman Lantern is, let alone have ever used one.
Even wood-burning cook stoves are disappearing. Most of us who have one use it in the winter and have a propane stove for summer.
We can hardly remember the stories of winter on the North Fork when roofs leaked, snow blew in the cracks and floors were icy from the snow melting, dripping to the floor and refreezing. Even stoves were less efficient and needed to be fed every hour or so to keep the cabin from freezing.
The first homesteads were very crude. The original homestead on my property is 12 feet-by-15 feet and housed a couple and their two children. Bart Monahanís was even smaller and was heated only with a very small wood cook stove that had to be stoked every hour or so or it would go out.
No wonder that second generation homesteads featured two story log homes. It must have been like heaven. But think how hard it must have been to build.
There were no power tools and not everyone even had horses to pull logs to the building site. Tools were several kinds of axes, hand-powered saws and an assortment of even smaller hand tools.
Unlike today, a trip to town was often a multi-day trip each way, all by horse in the early days, although there are a few storied about dog teams for winter travel. Today, many folks have to go to town every week and most activities are recreational, not a matter of survival. Today, we get to live here just to enjoy the natural beauty.
Larry Wilsonís North Fork Views appears weekly in the Hungry Horse News.