Chchchchanges: Autumn Comes to the Other Side of the Mountain


Just as we can predict that there will be changes in the weather in Missoula each fall, we can also know that life on the other side of the mountain will be in cycles of change for years to come.

Amidst the changes are annual events. Each year, the bears come on down from Bonner Mountain and Woody Mountain, visiting neighborhoods and becoming pesky. I was none too happy this autumn to learn that our apple tree, that we have nursed back to health over the last two years, and was heavily pregnant with ripe fruit, was raided by Mr. (or Ms.) Bear the day before I headed out to the back garden to pick fruit. The stinker left some pie, but not the type I needed to make into apple pie.

I recently saw Jamie Jonkel from FWP and he confirmed what we all need to remember: This is BEAR season. It is important to keep trash secure, apples picked up (I didn’t get to that one in time), and be bear aware. For other tips on living with bears, check out the Fish, Wildlife, and Parks bear safety page.

Jen’s friendly neighborhood black bear. Photo by Anna Hoppe.

Aside from bears coming down into neighborhoods, the potential for mudslides slipping down the mountains has increased due to the West Riverside Fire. Officials are keeping a close eye on the area near Tremper Drive and other areas of West Riverside since the fire wiped out so much of the vegetation in the area.

Speaking of washed out, it appears that another old building in Milltown will now shut its doors. The Milltown Market, right on Highway 200, has been a stopping point and neighborhood grocery store and gas station for years, changing hands and ownership. Many locals still call it by its old name: Finky’s.

I am sorry to see it go, yet another death in the old Company Town. But for anyone looking for a deal, they have their merchandise 50% off until they sell most of their inventory. So the silver lining for me is a grocery trip locally (something I have been wanting for years) to pick up staples for actually CHEAPER than the cost of going to town.

In the midst of loss and change, there are some bright lights shining here on this gloomy day. It has not gone through yet, but Western Montana Development Company is looking to buy the old site for mixed-use development. It would bring much needed revenue back into our neighborhood and school system, hopefully creating some new jobs.

Stay tuned for more from the Other Side of the Mountain….and happy, ever-changing Autumn, Missoula!


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Jen Slayden is a Missoulian who makes her home on the outskirts of town with three outdoorsy kids, a fly-fishing guide husband, and an outdoors-loving black lab named Cody. She juggles her time teaching music, life coaching, playing music in her family bluegrass band, and taking in all the great recreational and cultural activities that Missoula has to offer.  Then, she writes about it all on her own website:  Find Your Harmony.