Every Campsite Should Have a Predator View

I read once that the ideal home base for a family of predators (I think it was lions, in this example) is on a high plateau, with a wide-ranging view so they can keep an eye on grazing prey below. Plus the location should have drinking water nearby and some kind of cover where the lions can eat in private. This seems obvious in the animal kingdom, but, apply it to human’s real estate preferences, and you can see why we like “the house on the hill”; our preference may be as much a function of evolutionary biology as social status.

Clearly, I’m not a scientist, but I’m finding these criteria to be important for our favorite camping spots, too. Can you see the Airstream in the photo at the top, way in the distance?

We’re camped near Eureka, Montana, less than ten miles from the Canadian border. It’s a small town, population 1,000, and it seems to be teetering on another border: of being a booming tourist town and being a depressed, failing town, like so many small towns we’ve passed through all over the U.S.

We spent our first morning there, dumping the trailer waste tanks at the local park, getting maps at the Kootenai National Forest ranger station, and grabbing take-out lunch at the only restaurant open on a Monday. It was priced for tourists but filled with locals, as you can see from the terrier waiting in the ATV outside the restaurant, above.

It’s a small town with a bingo night, a poker night, and a rodeo. It’s been passed over as the gateway town to Glacier National Park (that’s Whitefish or the larger Kalispell to the south). We’ll get a better feel for the town when we go in later this week for groceries and beer. Breweries are so popular across the country (I don’t have to tell you that) that there are a few even up here.

Thanks once again to Tracy’s map-reading skills and careful bravery driving down gravel roads, we found this camping spot off the Tobacco River, which feeds into the Kootenay, which itself has been damned to create the Koocanusa reservoir, a joint effort between Canada (can) and the U.S. (usa). The original inhabitants, the Kootenai Indians and the Salish, have a fascinating (and of course tragic) history.

Back to this theme of a view. Here’s where we backed the trailer down a steep and curved gravel decline to get situated perfectly on this level spot, right where the Tobacco River winds through a valley and meet the Kootenai.

The view from the trailer is pretty danged nice, with anglers walking through the river, deer swimming across, and lots of water fowl. We’re right on a curve of the river.

Which means, right on the other side of the trailer is a path to the other side of the river’s curve, where we’ve put the tent, and the view from the tent is spectacular. We’re looking down the Kootenai to Canada.

Can you see the two ladies there on their paddle boards, fishing and enjoying the evening (below)? I was reading and missed what Tracy also saw: a bald eagle swoop down and catch a fish right in front of us. There are osprey, ducks, herons, and who knows what else; we plan to get the kayaks down there today.

There’s also a Rails to Trails bike trail that runs basically from where we’re camped back to Eureka.

If we can bike, kayak, fish, and hang out with our perfect predator view, we may not want to leave this place for quite a while. The trick though is that Tracy doesn’t want to pull the trailer out to dump our waste tanks, then try to get back in the spot; that would be pushing our luck too much.; it was hard enough getting in this spot the first time.

So, we’re conserving everything to stay here as long as we can. I’ll keep you posted.

6 thoughts to “Every Campsite Should Have a Predator View”

  1. One thing you quickly realise as an archaeologist is that people want to live in similar spots, no matter when or who. People who want to build their house often find that someone was there well before them and left a site behind. Or several sites! A view, for aesthetic or safety reasons, easy access to water and different ecological niches to exploit seem to appeal to us like they did our ancestors