Once back on the river, I continued to be amazed by the rock cliffs and mountains.
I think this post will be more of a photo post. I have captioned all of my photos and they will walk you through this stretch and phase of my adventure. Enjoy!
The Gates of the Rocky Mountains are on Holter Lake. I left the Gates and paddled almost to the dam. I camped before entering the last big stretch so I would not be exposed to potential storm winds. Rain fell that night, but enough sun shone the next morning that I could dry things out. My camp was on a pretty point, but the real estate was owned by a heard of black cows. It seemed I was camping in their watering hole. Luckily, I found a big enough patch of grass free of, well, you know, to pitch my tent. Some camps are better than others.
The watering hole.
My buddies with whom I shared, sort of, my camp.
Tim works for Pennsylvania Power and Light (PPL), and was more than happy to help me portage around Holter Dam. Dave’s (Dave from Hauser Dam) uncle was off work that day.
This sign was hanging at the Holter Dam portage take out.
My best friends forever!
WOW! A PBR hanging from a bridge! Somebody pinch me. I must be dreaming! I got! I got it!
Sometimes a beer tastes really, really good. This was one of those times!
PBRs don’t hang from bridges without a support crew. These two, Will and Ron, are likely suspects. They told me they were going fishing. They say they’re just a couple of local dudes trolling for chicks. PBR was good bait,and they got me!
I paddled hard just to get to the Dearborn Country Inn that Dave Miller wrote, in The Compete Paddler, is a must stop. Well, it is now a private fishing lodge: The Lodge at Eagle Rock. However, Courtney, who is appropriately charged with lodge hospitality, took very good care of me. She is a river, lakes, mountain loving gal. Thanks again, Courtney!
Courtney and 5-star chef Jeffrey took great care of me while I was camped down by the river under the willow tree. The BEST corn chowder, buttered bread and Montana beers! I will never forget their kindness.
The Corps of Discovery camped just upstream from the Lodge, and Lewis wrote this entry in his journal on Thursday, July 18, 1805: “previous to our departure saw a large her of the Bighorned anamals on the immensely high and nearly perpendicular clift opposite to us; on the fase of this clift they walked about and bounded from rock to rock with apparent unconcern where it appared to me that no quadruped could have stood, and from which had they made one false step they must have precipitated at least 500 feet. This anamal appears to frequent such precipes and clifts where in fact they are perfectly secure from the pursuit of the wolf, bear, or even man himself.”
I was so grateful for the opportunity to take a shower at the Lodge. And what beats all is the fact that it was the most wonderful outdoor shower with steamy hot water. What a blessing this magical place was!
Then, sweet Courtney brought me breakfast the next morning. I wish you the best, dear. I hope your life brings you great joy! Do what you love, and love what you do!
The next morning at the Lodge, I had the pleasure of meeting more staff: Monica (I hope that is correct), Heli, and Kat, shown here. Kat was enthusiastically interested in my adventure and had only been working at the Lodge for 13 days. She is from the Midwest ;).
Kat showed me this monument that they had found buried in the river when renovating the Lodge. They dug it out of the sand and placed it above their fireplace. It has the same journal entry that I had posted on Facebook earlier that day.
Before I left the lodge, a couple of Great Falls paddlers stopped by to say hi. Bob (r) and Mark. Nice kayaks, guys!
Beautiful glassy waters were a much appreciated condition on the river.
Not sure if these are cormorants or cranes. I think the former.
This little white calf caught my attention because all of the others were black. Makes one think about genetics and chromosomes, a little middle-school science.
Weather is always something to keep an eye on.
As evening came on, that special light appeared. Taking photos was pure joy. I like starting later in the morning and paddling later in the evening.
This is one of my favorites from that ‘special light’ evening.
And, as the sun begins to set, the sky becomes painted with brush stroked of color.
Stunningly gorgeous evening.
The natural bird sanctuary across the way.
Friday (May 24) night’s camp, and the grand finale of photo opportunities. Breathtaking sunset.
John from Great Falls happened to call me on the phone as I came out of the canyon and there were ample cell towers. He and a couple of paddlers wanted to meet up and paddle with me. Great! I always welcome paddle companions. L-R: Sherri, John and Bob and, they DID find me thanks to my SPOT Tracker.
That night I tried to paddle to the Corp of Discovery Canoe Camp. Turns out it was covered with homes. That is okay, I found a spot at dark and slept on a bed of mint. Soggy but no Mosquitos, and rather fragrant.
I will leave you with one of my favorite photos. In the midst of premier fishing country, I realized fishing is definitely a family affair.
I hope you enjoyed this stretch of my journey as much as I did. Great Falls is deserving of its own post. I was able to paddle from there to Fort Benton in just a few hours, and here I sit in the Grand Union Hotel trying to finish this post. I feel good about this accomplishment and so, if the rain stops tomorrow, I will hit the river again. Fair warning, it may be awhile before I can post again as I am heading into some incredible wilderness area, including the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument. Be patient, and be sure and visit my Facebook page if you are able.
See you again soon!
Love your Big Muddy!
Warm regards, Janet