This is big boat country, but it’s early enough that they’re not out yet. I pull my kayak off the car roof, gather my gear, park the car, and hop in, sliding into the water which is already becoming slightly choppy. The first mile or so is a paddle along the lake shore, past some homes, and across small bays. At the tip of Finley Point, however, waves crash into rocks and the wind picks up. I can see the island from here and guess it’s not much more than a mile, but that’s a mile of open water in a deep, deep lake. The paddle, however, is simple enough, and in less than a half-hour I’m jumping through the cold water and into the sun-warmed sand. There’s two coves to explore here, and even smaller islands to the east and south, but mostly I just want to sit back, have a beer, and then paddle back the way I came.
We churn on in low range, skirting rockfall and downed branches, before hitting a 5-foot high drift. Because of grizzlies Laura wants to sleep in the back of the truck, but that means we have to unload everything; most of it goes on the roof. In the morning we are up with the sun, and after a long breakfast we hike over the drift and up the road. Some skiers have come this way, and someone on an ATV, but we are the first today and perhaps the first in a while. After about a mile we reach what looks like the end of the road – but it’s hard to tell for sure as everything is buried under feet and feet of snow. We split – Laura, on snowshoes, follows the hint of a summer trail, while on skis I skin a more direct line up the ridge. The snow gives out near treeline and I hike on, skis on my pack, to the summit. The Swans stretch away north and south, while the Great Bear and Glacier hunker to the north; Flathead lake shimmers in the early summer morning air. Push off: suncups and elk tracks, buried trees, old avalanche debris. Some 60 turns later I’m back down, and miraculously Laura walks up at the same time. Another day in the mountains.
It was windy but storms were coming to an end and the day was drawing. We ambled along Main Street south, dodging gusts and kids dressed for prom, and walked into Kalispell Brewing. If the city outside was largely empty on a Saturday afternoon in March, inside was not. A guy was playing guitar, kids were running around, tables were full, and a lot of beer was being served. I think IPA's are the standard to gauge a brewer by, so I had that, and Laura had a pale ale; Cooper had some free popcorn. Verdict: good, but we'll have to come back for more.