We go back in warmer weather to report on the year-round splendors of Montana’s green o.
I tap Biscuit, my trusty steed for the afternoon, with my heels. A couple of cows are trying to sneak away from the herd we’re moving from a pasture here at the Resort at Paws Up down to the Blackfoot River, and I’m doing my best to stop them. Biscuit breaks into a slow trot, and we cut a wide arc, intercepting the wayward animals like we’re sweeping up a couple of dust bunnies that have escaped from a dustpan.
My fellow cowhands nod in approval. It takes three hours, but together we manage to nudge 15 Corriente cattle down to the river for a drink, then get them back to their home pasture.
I’m staying at the green o, the newest corner of the already-posh Resort at Paws Up near Missoula, Montana. A stay here feels like spending time at a very exclusive summer camp for adults, one where the “cabins” come with hot tubs, the dining hall serves food that looks (and tastes) like art, and a fishing guide untangles every line that gets wrapped around a rock or bush.
During the summer, it’s all about getting out, and a cattle drive is just one way to do that. Another way? Fly-fishing.
The book A River Runs Through It was set in this corner of Montana. During my four-day stay, I spend a morning fishing the Clearwater River, whose gin-clear waters wind past open meadows and forests of thick trees. Besides learning the finer points of casting from a motorized raft, I get glimpses of bald eagles and Canadian geese, and a busy muskrat nibbling on aquatic plants.
The fishing is great, too, it turns out. I reel in two fat, 16-inch brown trout, which the guide tosses back into the river for me, plus my limit in sticks. I think I could do that all day.
But since I’m on a mission to try new things, I sign up for a morning of shooting sporting clays. A guide walks me through the 10-station course at the top of a hill, pulling levers that launch neon-orange clay targets. Each disc soars through the air at a different angle, simulating the flight pattern of a game bird.
It feels a bit like golf, only with shotguns and flying pottery instead of clubs and egg-size balls. At one station, I stand on an elevated wooden walkway to take aim; at another I get a perfect view of snow-capped mountains in the distance. It takes way too many tries, and lots of coaching, but I finally shatter three of the clays.
Before my stay ends, I ride an ATV past a cluster of gruff-looking buffalo; scramble to the top of a rocky crag called Overlook Rock, where legend has it Meriwether Lewis once stood; and hike, by myself, down deserted trails that crisscross the 37,000 acres of undeveloped land at Paws Up.
That leaves dozens of options—from downhill mountain biking and wagon team driving to hot air ballooning—for my next trip. Assuming, of course, that I can get time off from my next job as a working cowgirl.
Learn more about the green o:
Experiencing the Green O
Green O's Uniquely Artistic Architecture
A Paws Up Holiday
Some Green O Recipes
For more information, visit thegreeno.com.