Self-efficacy: A Blessing or a Burden?

Below Fort Benton. Photo by Norm Miller.

Not a day goes by that I don’t think about my trip down the Missouri River.  Most days, I long for the start day to arrive, even though I still have much preparation left to do.  I think about some of my conversations with Missouri River paddlers, as we visited on their stops at Cooper’s Landing, and the advice to “just go put your kayak in the river and go.”  This simple advice helps me keep the trip in perspective:  just enjoy the paddle and the “country”side.  Of course, there is the challenge, too.  My self-efficacious nature says, “bring it on”!  I absorb every piece of information and all video clips I can find on our Facebook Paddlers pages.  I make note of much advice from Norm Miller, my go-to expert.  I read about paddling expeditions, or expeditions in general, to learn about experiences requiring mental durability, physical stamina, and personal validation for embarking on extraordinary missions.

Thomas Walker, Tyler Ranes and Bob Bellingham passing through Cooper’s and sharing their stories.
Enjoying Mark Kalch’s enthusiasm at Cooper’s during his stop-over.

Expeditions are not for everyone.  But for some, the need to set goals beyond the borders of your box and the zones of your comfort are always within mental range.  In my twenties living in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, my peers and I were always pushing the limits of security by skiing where most people don’t, high up on the mountain tops or across the mountain range.  In my thirties, my peers and I on the coast endeavored to break through windsurfing securities by attempting to sail the uncompromising waves at Ocean Beach and, of course, at the mouth of San Francisco Bay (you DON’T want to break down with an outgoing tide, just sayin’.)  Perhaps it is a matter of insecurity, always striving for the satisfaction of defying your personal limits.  I don’t know.  Perhaps it is growing up with two older brothers and always believing I could do ANYthing they could do.  I once climbed out on a limb of a tree when I was five years old, my brothers watching, undoubtedly on a dare.  The challenge ended with a fall and a mild concussion (maybe that’s it!).  Perhaps it is a love for the wilderness and the need to get access to it.  Part of it HAS to be the challenge.

Mt. Williamson group from Bear Valley in early 80s. Took two days, half of us made it to the summit. Glad we made it safely up, then down.
Chute skiing in Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite (before road opening).
S.F. Bay-sailing with the big dogs.


“People with high assurance in their capabilities approach difficult tasks as challenges to be mastered rather than as threats to be avoided.”
–Albert Bandura

Looking down at the Brower’s Spring drainage (in the middle) from Sawtelle Peak. Photo by Norm Miller.

My mental challenge right now, which I have been confronted with since I committed to this expedition:  where do I start?  Do I make it a river “source” start, which adds 300 miles, two weeks, major expedition conditions (skiing in to Brower’s Spring at 8,800 ft in April?), and access to some incredibly beautiful wilderness, including a wildlife refuge?  Or, do I just put my kayak in the river at the mouth of the Missouri and start paddling?

Hell Roaring Creek below Brower’s Spring. This would be a ski or snowshoe stretch (I think 7 miles in and 7 out), not to be paddled.
Norm Miller (left) and Mark Kalch (right) at Hell Roaring Creek below Brower’s Spring, which is back up in the mountains behind them.

Watch Norm Miller’s video of Mark Kalch sharing his experience as he made his way down the stretch from the “source” to the “headwaters” of the Missouri River.  Much of this section leaves little to be desired…  Click here

Mark heading off just below Three Forks. Plenty of incredible wilderness to behold. Photo by Norm Miller.

I can’t help but think I would regret not starting at the ultimate source at Brower’s Spring, being soooo close.  However, the thought of just putting in at Three Forks gives me a more peaceful easy feeling as well as an assurance of some incredibly beautiful wilderness, without the expedition extremes.  Oh, the burden of a self-efficacious nature!  🙂

4 thoughts on “Self-efficacy: A Blessing or a Burden?

  1. Either way you go, Browers or Three Forks, it will be an amazing journey. I can not help but imagine that an April attempt on Brower’s and Hell roaring Creek, canyon… would be very tough and nothing like hitting the river at Three Forks. That said, I do not know you or your stamina. If you choose to go for it from Brower’s I will be cheering you on through every step and paddle of the journey.

  2. Thanks, Andy! Sometimes, when I’m well rested, I think the source start is a doable and ultimate challenge. Other times, when I’m weary, I think I just want to drop the boat in and paddle. Of course, there will be plenty of challenge with that as well, wouldn’t you say? An April start raises the bar, for sure. Thanks for your support.

  3. What dates are you looking at now Janet? An early April start? Any specifics? Just curious. Browers definitely seems like it would be a bit easier to hike to later in the year, but I have no experience with those kinds of treks! Loved those photos though from Norm and Mark Kalch.

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