Words and photograph by Daniel Wakefield Pasley.
You have a half-built tent pole in your hand and a tumescent tent flapping at your feet. You are in small remote, primitive campground at the end of a 14-mile, one hour-long fire road through which you passed Big Prairie and Round Prairie and along which you followed the North Fork Flathead River. The road dead-ends at an alpine lake surrounded by mountains and forest. You are pitching a tent on the edge of that very same lake in the middle of those very same mountains and forests. The afternoon was sunny, hot, dusty, lazy, etc., and but now it's windy and considerably cooler, darker and foreboding. Currently canoers and kayakers are expediently retreating from the now choppy lake in search of, it would appear, proper headwear and moorings. Meanwhile the other campers appear to be collecting, securing and batoning-down myriad miniature dogs, children, laundry and nylon DWR-coated whatnots. You reckon you have five maybe ten minutes before it begins to rain or hail or whatever it does this high-up and this close to the real North, when Lyle,1an old guy in a Forest Service get-up, walks up, introduces himself and his role in relationship to the campground, and delivers a PSA-type announcement about a Naughty Bear and the bullhorn he gave Linda and Tom.2
"In 22 years I've never had a bear problem with food but lately a little Black Bear has been coming around. This morning it treed right here in camp. I just wanted to let you know that I gave a bullhorn-type siren deal to the Campground Hosts, Linda and Tom. So if sometime tomorrow morning maybe even before you're up about and you hear an air-raid siren, don't be alarmed, it's just a Black Bear in camp. What I'd like to do is put rubber bullets in my shotgun and shoot a few rounds at the bear's feet and educate it that way but that's not allowed anymore. So I reckon I will try hazing it this way instead." - Lyle Ruterbories
- At 93 years old, Glacier National Park Ranger Lyle Ruterbories is contemplating retirement from his seasonal position at Kintla Lake Campground, but isn't ready to make it official just yet. Ruterbories has worked as the Kintla Lake Campground seasonal park ranger for the past 20 years and prior to that he was a volunteer campground host with his late wife Marge Ruterbories since the late 1980s. Kintla Lake Campground is the most remote frontcountry campground in Glacier National Park. Located in the northwest section of the park known as the North Fork, only a few miles from the Canadian border, visitors often come to Kintla Lake seeking solitude and recreational opportunities such as fishing or canoeing.Each week Ruterbories travels the rough and bumpy Inside North Fork Road from Polebridge to Kintla carrying food, water, and propane to the remote Kintla Ranger Station where there is no electricity, running water, or telephone available. The park ranger at Kintla Lake Campground must be skilled at rustic living, able to live and work independently, and possess a wide-range of skills to accommodate various resource and visitor needs. Daily duties include managing campground facilities, collecting fees, educating visitors on resource and park history topics, and conducting trail or lake patrol as time allows.-National Park Service (nps.gov/glac) [↩]
- Linda and Tom are from Evantston, Wyoming. As a child Linda wanted nothing more than to visit Glacier National park. Though her father, a Beekeeper by trade, promised Linda he would take her to Glacier one day, that day never came. Eventually, as an adult, Linda made it to Glacier—and it was everything she imagined it to be. Linda and her husband Tom have been the Kintla Lake Campground hosts for the last ten years. [↩]