The road to the Polebridge Mercantile
The snow is falling in northwest Montana, and we’ve wasted no time getting after some deep powder turns. Whitefish Mountain Resort opens this weekend and the incredible local backcountry scene beckons with each inch of snowfall. A few weeks ago, after one of the first snows, our friend, Emily and her dog, Daisy (yep, same name as our dog), made the journey with us to Polebridge and the Polebridge Mercantile.
The word “journey” is no exaggeration. Polebridge is a remote, off-the-grid (literally, electricity-free) town on the western border of Glacier National Park, along the North Fork of the Flathead River. The sleepy town can be accessed through Columbia Falls, toward Glacier, then veering off toward Canada on a windy, gravel road—in our case, snow covered road. One hour and thirty five minutes from Whitefish, it’s a worthwhile investment to go to Polebridge in the summer. In the winter, it’s a darn-near commitment. At some point along the road, your cell phone loses reception completely and at the same time, you can taste the sweet Huckleberry Beer Bread, fresh Meatball sandwiches, and sweet pastries that await at the generator-powered Polebridge Mercantile. It’s become one of our most favorite places in Montana.
After fueling up at the Merc, we fastened on our skins and headed out along the Forest Service road with the dogs (Daisy, Daisy and Ava) for a ski-jour. It’s amazing to experience the beauty of a remote, mountain escape like this one. Sean and I laugh when we refer to Polebridge as our “escape” because generally speaking, Montana is our escape. But sometimes, even when you live in paradise, your mind craves a day away in the mountains in a place like Polebridge. (The lure of a fresh-baked huckleberry bear claw helps, too!)
Along the road to the North Fork, the tips of the baby trees were dotted with tiny snowballs:
During the drive, Emily noticed a wolf in the distance headed to the river. We were lucky enough to pull over in time to snap photos.
The snow covered road proved to be too much for our low-riding veggie-oil VW Golf (free fuel = easy trip). We had to turn back on the first attempt with the Golf because of the deep snow drift in middle of the gravel road. During the short time we drove along it, the VW’s undercarriage surely got a nice snow scrub! We turned around and headed home to get the Durango, and then headed all the way back to make the full trip to Polebridge. That shows you how dedicated we were to accessing this special place!
Fuel for the day (and the coming week!)…
The Mercantile is the heartbeat of this tiny town—featuring not only the baked goods, but necessities and Montana trinkets for tourists and locals alike.
The Merc is well-known for the aforementioned huckleberry bear claws:
Although most of the day was cloudy, we could see the tips of Glacier National Park in the distance on our way out.
In the excitement to warm up after a long tour, Daisy and Ava were slightly tangled in the back of the car. A good laugh for the end of a great day.