Sixteen Swan Rangers celebrated the Rangers' 300th outing with a hike to Elk Springs on August 27, 2011, where they enjoyed a bit of champagne, non-alcoholic sparkling apple cider, Pam's Morning Glory muffins, and each others' fine company!
The Swan Rangers' first outing was also to Elk Springs and took place on November 12, 2005. "The Saturday Swan Ranger outings are a great way to meet interesting and diverse people," says Pam Willison, a Bigfork High School teacher. "They are as good for my mental health as they are for my physical health."
Chris Gotschalk, an oceanographer working out of his home near Bigfork, concurs. "The Swan Range is an incredibly beautiful place and always offers up something different for every hike," Gotschalk exclaims.
Bob Muth, a 72 year-old retired junior high school teacher and regular on the Swan Ranger outings, sums up their importance. "On occasions when I am unable to hike with the Swan Rangers, I notice life seems a little bumpier," Muth says. "Saturday in the wild Swans has become my compass to navigate the distractions and clamor of the rest of the week."
The Swan Rangers currently meet at Echo Lake Cafe on the Swan Highway for breakfast at 7:30, leaving at 8:30 for a partial day outing in the Swan Range within a few minutes drive. Those not wishing to join the group for breakfast can join them by 8:30 to carpool to the trailhead from the Swan River School parking lot next door. More information can be found on the "hiking" page at www.swanrange.org.
Over the years, the Swan Rangers have packed plenty of trash out of the woods, doused a half-dozen abandoned campfires, helped each other learn about native plants and animals, and practiced safe travel in bear country - by hiking in groups, carrying bear spray, and avoiding the hours of dawn, dusk and darkness.
The Swan Rangers continued their 300th outing celebration with burgers, pie and ice cream at the Mountain Brook Homestead Foundationâ€™s Pie Social that evening. A number of Swan Rangers performed music for the Pie Social as the Swan Range Jammers!