The Darby Adult Education (DAE) program is offering Bitterroot Valley residents and visitors a unique opportunity to not just learn about the history and the flora and fauna of the area, but to actually walk through it. Program director Dawn Ringer worked through an agreement with the forest service to permit DAE to offer weekly Lewis and Clark field trips to the Descent Trail to go down the “Trail that remembers” with local instructors Ted Hall and Blaine Furniss. The class is called “The Mystery of Lost Trail Pass.”
Ted Hall, authored “The Trail Between the Rivers” in 2003 which chronicles the 1805 westward travel of the Corps of Discovery over the 407 miles of land between Camp Fortunate (near Dillon, Montana) and Canoe Camp (in Orofino, Idaho) where they went back to using watercraft on their journey to the Pacific.
This was followed by “Lost Trail 1805”, a detailed “ground-truth based” look at the September 3rd and 4th, 1805 days of travel of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, when the Corps of Discovery crossed arguably the hardest part of the Rocky Mountains over “the worst roads that ever horses passed,” according to an original journal entry.
Participants will not only learn a lot about the Corps of Discovery and their descent into the valley, they will get a chance to walk in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark at the same time. Participants could, if so inclined, even hug a “witness tree”, a tree growing along the Descent Trail that was a living witness to the passage of the expedition.
If you have any interest in flora and fauna, from wildflowers to fungi and moss, you will delight in the knowledge and experience of local retired botanist Blaine Furniss who has the ability to connect all that knowledge to the living things themselves. He does not just show you a sample, or an example of a certain kind of plant, he introduces you to a new acquaintance. They may not have seen Lewis and Clark walk by, but they’ve seen their share of people walking by and stand as witness to that no doubt.
The first class was held June 1st. The schedule, set for every other Wednesday and Saturday, may be accessed on the Darby School District website click Adult Ed.
“It should be interesting for people who want to go on a rare instructor led hike in the Bitterroots to a historic place,” said Hall.