Simple map of The International Selkirk Loop. Photo courtesy of selkirkloop.org
By Moira Blazi
The International Selkirk Loop is a 280 mile/450 km scenic byway, encircling the Selkirk Mountains of Washington, Idaho and British Columbia. Billed as “North America’s only international scenic drive,” this well-chosen route takes the traveler through Creston BC, Bonners Ferry and Sandpoint, Idaho, and Metaline Falls Wash., by spectacular rivers, lakes and mountain ranges. One of the “Super side trips,” promoted by the group in its 80 page guide, is the Lake Pend Oreille Kootenai River Loop, which takes lucky travelers through part of our neck of the woods east on highway 200, up Bull Lake Road, through Troy, and back to Bonners Ferry. It features biking, hiking, and driving routes.
Although mentioned in their literature, Libby and its attractions have not, until now, been a featured inclusion in the comprehensive guide. Stephanie Sims, Executive Director of the International Selkirk Loop, recently came to Libby and met with local civic leaders, including Port Authority Director, Tina Oliphant and Suzie Rice of the Lincoln County Outdoor recreation association.
“I thought it was a bike loop, and attended the meeting primarily to promote the urban biking opportunities in our area,” Rice told The Montanian. Like most tourist guides, the Selkirk publication is primarily ad driven, and while in Libby, Sims was able to garner advertising support from the Venture Inn and Country Inn while collecting more information on our area for her group’s revised guidebook.
“Suzie and others at the meeting suggested adding some of Libby’s many attractions and seasonal events to our guide, things like Kootenai Falls, Lake Koocanusa, and Libby Dam, Turner Mountain, and seasonal events like Ignite the Nites and the Kootenai Chainsaw Competition,” Sims said.
Previously, Libby had only one page in the 80 page booklet. The Pend Oreille-Kootenai River side trip loop suggested that travelers come up Bull Lake Road to Highway 2 and turn left, back to Troy and Bonners Ferry.
The guide will now suggest that folks instead turn right and explore Libby. This should bring more adventurous folks into our area to discover, enjoy, and spend money.
“It’s a win-win,” Sims added.
The new 80 page guide is currently being printed, and will be available sometime in February. Copies will be available at locations including the Libby Chamber of Commerce and the Venture Inn.
For more information, visit Selkirkloop.org or call (208) 267-0822. The 80 page guide is available free of charge to anyone who requests it.
Zero to Five Lincoln County gives back this holiday season
By McKenzie Williams
Zero to Five Lincoln County, in association with the Libby Logger Basketball team, Lincoln County Health Department, CARD Clinic, Venture Inn, and other amazing volunteers gathered to cut, load, and deliver wood to five local families in need on Monday, Dec. 23.
The wood was donated to Zero to Five by Venture Inn owner, Paul Bunn, who originally won it at the CPMC Festival Gala.
Zero to Five helps caring Montanans make a lasting difference through local and statewide work, giving children a great start in life and a promising future. They believe that every child deserves a great start, and that when we improve a child’s first five years, we improve their whole life.
Zero to Five Lincoln County, local collaborating coordinator, Dory Rowland told the Montanain, “Zero to Five partners with local agencies, at this point we do not provide a direct service, as we are a fairly new corporative.”
Through community partnerships, advocacy, and research, Zero to Five’s goal is to establish and coordinate local collaboratives throughout Lincoln County to help people make positive changes for children.
Zero to Five Lincoln County has already started to make an impact this year; they have helped distribute Hopa Mountain Books through various groups including the Lincoln County Libraries, Farmers Market and more.
Hopa Mountain’s Story Makers program provides parents of children ages 0-5 with high-quality books and early learning resources to support them as they read, sing, and talk positively with their children every day.
Rowland added,” We are working to establish surveys, empathy interviews, and participation that is the first step.”
The surveys they develop will provide much needed information from the public that will help determine what people need.
For more information contact Dory at 283-2448 or find them on Facebook.
Lincoln County SnoKat Club gears up for winter fun
By Brian Baxter
For many of us here in Kootenai Country Montana, as the last shafts of sunlight are beamed off our favorite snow covered hunting territory mountain on the last day of that season, we begin to look forward. We start to envision ourselves participating in other winter recreational pursuits in our beautiful corner of the Big Sky state.
The Lincoln County SnoKat Club was formed in the mid 1960’s with a mission to develop and improve safe snowmobiling activities in the Lincoln County area. The club now has close to 100 members. Officers include Lenny Pauley, President; Darren short, Vice President; Jennifer Culpepper, Treasurer; Secretary is currently vacant, and Jerry Regh is the Head Groomer. The group is always open to and looking for like minded people to join.
Together with the Troy Snowmobile Club, a major network of quality trails has been developed providing excellent access for snowmobiling in south Lincoln County. In concert with the Kootenai National Forest (KNF), the two clubs maintain a spiderweb of trails on the KNF. The hub of the web is at the Seventeen Mile Road and Pipe Creek intersection. There, a central parking lot serves as a take off point to access all four major trails.
The trails include Big Creek Baldy, which runs onto the famous mountain with a fire lookout tower, and more recently a snowmobile riders warming hut, with terrific scenery and even a view across at Turner Mountain. Also the East Fork of Pipe Creek trail, which is a 30 mile marked and groomed loop trail with fantastic views of the Yaak and the Kootenai River. The Purcell Mountains snowmobile trail is a 70 mile loop with primary and secondary routes. The reservoir trip of this trail is a long, but very scenic view experience. The Quartz Creek trail is another 30 mile loop, that is also marked and groomed, with rugged country views and wildlife viewing potential. Another great advantage of these routes is that three of the four major trails loop together, allowing riders the options to vary their routes while still bringing them back to the center of the web so to speak, and a common start or finish point.
In speaking with The Montanian, President Pauley said, “What I feel for the sport is that you are able to reach more areas and see spectacular views of our hometown mountains. A lot of these views are unseen during the off season.”
He continued, “We have access to many trails, seven groomed roads to explore and have fun. With the machines today, you can get there faster, easier, and in a lot less time.”
Joe and Cyndi Miller are avid snowmobilers and longtime members of the SnoKats Club. Cyndi, shared a tale of becoming hooked on the steep and deep for life at age 28. “On only my second ride, I pinned the throttle and climbed a steep hill that gave me such a surge of adrenaline that I was shaking and crying because I made it,” she said, “That day I felt a sense of accomplishment that I still can’t put into words.”
The club is excited for their upcoming fundraising events. Cabinet Mountain Brewery will be hosting Brews for Benefits events for the club every Thursday throughout the month of January. In addition, the club’s main fundraiser and membership drive will be held on Saturday, Feb. 1 and the day will begin with a family friendly fun run on the Purcell trail system and a free lunch served at the warming hut from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. The fun run will be followed by an evening of dinner, raffles, and a live auction that will be held at the VFW in Libby. For more information on the club and its activities, check out their website at ksnokatclub.com or follow Lincoln County SnoKats on Facebook.
“Getting atop a mountain, above the fog keeps the winter blues away. I like to call it throttle therapy,” said Cyndi Miller. “Thanks to snowmobiling I’ve met great people that I consider my family. I hope to continue sharing my passion for snowmobiling with other riders down the trail.”
Lincoln County SnoKats Club members beat the winter blues. Left To Right: Joe Miller, Kelly Salvhus, Cyndi Miller, Chris Noble, and Bob Drake. Photo courtesy of Joe and Cyndi Miller.