It was a simple idea that prompted Stormy Good Monod to compile a list of hikes 20 years ago.
She had left a career in the legal field to go to work at Rocky Mountain Outfitter in downtown Kalispell.
Among other duties at the outdoor equipment store, Monod was the “map doctor” and she was always looking for hikes outside of Glacier National Park where she could take her dogs. She wasn’t alone, either.
“Customers were looking for places where they could take their dogs and avoid some of the heavy traffic on the trails inside the park,” Monod said.
She’d look at topographic maps the store carried and see trails she wanted to hike. When others sought similar experiences, she began highlighting trails on the maps so people knew where to go.
“I realized there was no one-stop guidebook for hikes outside Glacier National Park, particularly hikes that are friendly for families and hikers with dogs,” Monod said.
The idea for a pamphlet was born and the first hand-copied edition of “Day Hikes Around the Flathead” featured 19 hikes and sold for $3 in early 1999.
“I was a little surprised at how many we sold at first. We sold a few hundred and I just kept adding to it as I did more hikes,” she said. “I never imagined it’d get to this point.”
In 2004, things had progressed to the point where the decision was made to turn the pamphlet into a book and Monod decided to launch Flathead Guidebooks. She has also published “Nordic Dreams,” a guide to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the Flathead Valley and Glacier National Park, and “Summits & Ridge Walks Around the Flathead.”
The book was first published in 2005 and the response to it was very enthusiastic.
“When I walked into Bookworks in Whitefish with it, Cheryl (Watkins) grabbed it and said ‘Finally!’” Monod recalled.
Today, “Day Hikes Around the Flathead” features 120 hikes, including 40 new ones. It also has a chapter on the region’s unique geology by Lex Blood and Judith Pressmar.
“There is an enormous appetite for reliable, easy-to-understand information about the wealth of hiking opportunities to be found in and around the Flathead Valley,” Rocky Mountain Outfitter owner Jandy Cox said. “‘Day Hikes Around the Flathead’ helps satisfy that hunger.”
Monod hasn’t stopped hiking, and she along with her husband, Phillip Monod, have been hitting the trails hard since they both made the decision to retire in 2011.
“We now have a lot more time to spend hiking and exploring and I’ve been able to spend more time updating the book for the 20th anniversary,” Monod said.
She dedicated the anniversary edition to her longtime supporters, Ben Long and Karen Nichols and their son Aidan.
Ben Long is a veteran journalist who used to write for the Daily Inter Lake. He opened the first field office for Resource Media in 2001, focusing on public land conservation, water and wildlife habitat in the western United States and Canada. Karen Nichols is a former photographer for the Inter Lake.
“They’ve been so encouraging to me and such strong supporters of mine over the years as I’ve progressed in this effort. I just wanted to let them know how important they are to me,” Monod said.
“Day Hikes” is focused on trails that are open in the spring, summer and fall. Featured trails in “Day Hikes” include Jewel Basin, Ten Lakes, Whitefish Range, Glacier National Park, Salish Mountains, Northern Swan Crest, Flathead Valley, Great Bear Wilderness and the Mission Mountains.
“I wanted people to connect with the land, fall helplessly in love with these natural areas and become advocates for conservation,” she said. “Millions of people love Glacier Park, which has plenty of advocates, but areas outside of it need supporters, too.”
She feels privileged to be able to share what the region has to offer.
“It’s pretty amazing what we have here,” she said. “It’s an inexpensive way to recreate and enjoy yourself and I’m proud to be a part of it.”
“Day Hikes Around the Flathead” and other Flathead Guidebook titles are available at Montana Coffee Traders in Columbia Falls; Glacier National Park Conservancy in West Glacier; Bookworks, Montana Coffee Traders and The Toggery in Whitefish; and Rocky Mountain Outfitter, Sportsman & Ski Haus, The Bookshelf, The Toggery and Flathead National Forest office in Kalispell.
Reporter Scott Shindledecker may be reached at 406-758-4441 or firstname.lastname@example.org