Thank You, John and Keely Schukei, for taking such good care of me the couple days I stayed in Great Falls. Your hospitality was heart warming. My stay with you, unforgettable. (I am loving my gloves and my pink crocs!)
When John, Sherri, and Bob came to paddle with me, John had offered me a place to stay and a ride around the dams. I phoned him shortly before I arrived and told him I would love to take him up on his offer. He said, “Great, I’ll be right there to pick you up.” Then, when I told him I could not get a clear visual in my mind about the Great Falls and what they look like, he drove straight over to the first two falls to take a look. This was a tremendous help. Plus, we saw some other really cool things, too, like Giant Spring and Great Horned Owl babies.
We enjoyed a fun evening eating pizza (YUM!) and Bob came over and joined us. He, along with John, gave me a lot of tips on paddling, particularly how to power stroke. “Why do you hold your paddle with you hands so close together? You look like you are dog paddling.” I don’t know. I’m just holding it. Well, they showed me how to hold my elbows at 90 degrees before grabbing the paddle, and then how to use your whole body to stroke strong and efficiently. WOW! (This was incredibly useful for me on Fort Peck Lake, a couple weeks later.) Bob also showed me some stretches. I told them my back was having a bit of difficulty, and he explained that it was more likely my hamstrings from sitting in the kayak. His doctor told him the same thing.
I was able to hang out at the house and update my blog while Keely and John went about their business. That was really nice, since blog posts take lots of time. I couldn’t help but notice, and love, this backyard spa (chuckle).
During the afternoon, John took me to get some “must have” synthetic golfing gloves for paddling. We went to Meadow Lark Country Club where Michael very graciously gave me a pro deal on the gloves. They are great, both the Country Club and the gloves! John had so much great advice for me. Then we went to his store, Bighorn Outdoor Specialists, that he owned for 38 years. The staff there were friendly and willing to offer a pro deal for the supplies I needed. If you are EVER in Great Falls, be sure to stop at this awesome sports store.
I headed to the put in the next day. It was quite a drive, and John was so nice to take care of me. Unfortunately, the road became so muddy we had to turn back and go all the way around town to Carter Ferry. This is often the case, but we thought we could make it. The area had seen a lot of rain recently.
Before we got to far, though, John stopped and let me photograph these historical information signs telling about the Corps of Discovery’s portage around the Great Falls.
And finally, John has such great ideas. He thought this would make a great photo opportunity. He was right. Enjoy:
We were getting tired by the afternoon and frustrated with the terrain traps we encountered, which kept adding miles on to our trip. Here is a short clip Norm took after my, umm, classic faceplant.
Shortly after the faceplant, we realized we were not going to make it out. Fortunately, our walkie-talkies were able to reach Haley and Jeannie just for a moment, and we notified them we would be staying overnight. We tried not to seem alarmed so they would not worry. That worked. We did the same for ourselves, and just tried to make the best of the situation.
I left Lakeside on Hauser on Tuesday morning, May 21. I said good bye to Conrad and Cheryl Hale, and their restaurant and bar. What a wonderful layover. Turns out the night before Kelley’s video piece was aired on NBC’s Beartooth Affiliate in Helena. You can view the Weather Wise segment by clicking on the link below: http://www.beartoothnbc.com/weather/weather-wise/35309-weather-wise-paddling-the-missouri-river.html I had a lot of fun paddling down Hauser Lake because I had a tailwind for the first time and was able to break out my sail. Oh boy, was that fun! Right around here a man in a boat hollered out to me, “Hey!” I waved and said Hi. He asked, “Are you paddling to St. Louis?” I said, “Yes, how did you know?” He answered, “I think I just saw you on television last night.” Oh. My. Word. I couldn’t help but laugh. Kelley had interviewed me on her cell phone and, apparently, had written up a story that was aired on their Weather Wise segment of the news. Funny. Good job, Kelley. I made it to Hauser Dam in no time. Will Garvin was waiting for me there. He had told be that he would help me with my portage. Ron Lukenbill would be there as well, but could not make it until 2:30. I believe I pulled in at around 1:45. As it turned out, I saw a Pennsylvania Power and Light employee in a truck and thought, what the heck, I will ask him if he wouldn’t mind throwing my gear on the back of his truck and driving it down to the put in. He said, “Of course I will.” Then Dave drove up and they loaded my boat into his truck. Turns out the PPL offers portage service, you just have to call ahead if you need it. We had no idea!
I had a fun time floating on down with some current, but it was a only a short time before the river soon became Holter Lake. I was excited about proceeding on because the Gates of the Rocky Mountains was just ahead. Plus, seeing my pelicans made me feel at home and in good company.
I paddled through the gate and immediately felt as though I was in an enchanted land. I knew where Lewis’ camp was so I paddled ahead to check it out. Perhaps, I would camp at the very same spot? I felt somewhat like a kid in a candy story. Until, of course, the tour boat passed by. Seemed rather odd in such a magical place, but tours have frequented this area for many years. I am happy that lots of people get to experience such a special place on the river.
The fact that I was at the Gates of the Mountains only one week ago is hard to believe. I have traveled through Holter Reservoir and portaged around its dam. I then paddled down the river through what is referred to as Mid-Canyon. I have many photos of this stretch all the way to Great Falls. My next stop is Fort Benton today. I have a portage ride around the Great Falls dams today by John. You will get to meet some wonderful river friends that I have met in the last week. I hope to be able to put up another post before I leave Fort Benton. I want to stay there a couple of days and absorb some of its history, which is vast. I will leave you here with a sunset photo from Friday night, an extraordinary evening of paddling with lots of special light, and one of my favorite camp spots (there are a lot of them!)
See you again soon. Keeping the hollow side up. Do what you love, and love what you do! Live fast ~ Paddle slow Janet
Canyon Ferry is my first major lake of the journey. The lake approximately 25 miles long. Winds can kick up in minutes producing large and dangerous swells, so caution must be adhered to at all times. I entered into the lake under calm conditions with a low pressure blanketing the area. The entrance into the lake takes you through a channelized section that resembles a slow gradual sloping lazy waterway with waterfowl all around standing in shallow waters and singing songs and chattering amongst each other across this watered plains area. In the distance it seems as though you are looking down towards the lake. Then, before you know it, you are IN the lake and the three-mile paddle towards the western shore begins.
When paddling big lakes, you have to pick a point on the distant horizon, which is often miles away. Then you point your boat at that spot and just paddle, stroke after stroke after stroke. I fell in love with my Swift paddle even greater as its light weight and easy entry into the water made my paddling seem effortless. My paddle literally became my best friend.
Waiting for me at the dam was Ron Lukenbill, who generously had donated $100 to the expedition, paid for 30 triple-A batteries, bought me lunch, and helped with my portage around the dam. Ron is an educator and, as it turns out, grew up in Sacramento, CA, my home town! I swear there is an uncanny bond amongst Californians, strange as that may seem. Also helping me with the portage were Will Garvin and his lovely wife, Felomina. They have been so helpful in many ways, including feeding me dinner and allowing me to shower at their house last night (May 19).
Onward down Hauser Lake, leaving sunny skies that turned into a thunderhead with lightning and wind, forcing me to stop at Lakeview on Hauser Lake. What a fantastic stopover this has been! Conrad and Cheryl Hale own this very cool lakeside resort with a beautiful beach, cozy lawn to camp on, great bar overlooking the lake, and a lovely restaurant with great food and good people hanging around.
Conrad and Cheryl Hanes are the owners of Lakeside on Hauser. They are very hands on owners and run a very successful seasonal business as a result. Things are busy for them as they command this retirement project of theirs, but they have October to look forward to when they return to Billings for the winter.
I am so grateful for the Hale’s hospitality the last couple of days. They are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, big have invited me in for coffee and to work on this blog. Cheryl just fixed me yogurt, blueberries and toast, contributing to a very memorable layover and making it difficult to leave! Actually, the rain is also making it difficult to leave, and it has started raining again as I write this blog post. Perhaps there will be a break in the weather later today. In the meantime, I have a very comfortable place to hang out with great folks!
Finally, Will and some of his friends came to pick me up and take me into Helena so I could shower at Will and Felomina’s home. Because they are doing some remodeling, their washing machine is out of commission, so Joanne and Philip volunteered to do a load of laundry for me. How great is that!? I very much enjoyed their company during our brief time together. Joanne is a kayaking instructor and works on ski patrol. Philip is a singer songwriter guitar-playing blues musician. Wow, we sure have a lot in common!
Thanks to all of you great Helena folks, and your generous hospitality. Remember Robert, Donna and Paul from Beaverhead Rock? They are also from Helena. A great city providing quality Montanans.
I am finally caught up on my posts. This makes me feel good about moving ahead on my next leg of this journey. This adventure has been nothing short of phenomenal! And, who knows what the future will hold? Can it get any better than this? Wow, three more months can produce incredible experiences.
I hope you enjoy the ride!
Empowerment, education, and environmental stewardship. Think outside the boat!
I am sitting in the Shack in Twin Bridges on Tuesday, May 7, a layover day for me after 6 days on the Beaverhead River. I really want to post some photos for my blog followers before I head down the Jefferson River tomorrow. I am running short on time so I will do the best I can here. Of course, my Facebook page contains much more frequent updates. Please like the page if you can. Thanks, all! I appreciate your interest in my adventure!
Finally, on Wednesday, May 1st, I started paddling. The Beaverhead River was quite a challenge. It is shallow with tight turns and lots of brush producing strainers in which to get entangled if not careful. I came close to dumping my first day, but was saved by the wheel of my wheeleez, my portaging device. I may have sprained my hand in the entanglement, but still paddling. I was worn out for the first three days trying to save Blue Moon from sheer destruction. I have two holes from the second day just above waterline. Duct tape is the miracle cure!
After 3 days of hard paddling, on Saturday I had 25 mph headwinds challenging me. I stayed strong and true to course, though, and after a 9 and a half hour paddle, and close to Beaverhead Rock, I finally found an island to camp on. Turns out that Robert and Donna were out cruizing around on Robert’s property and they ended up inviting me up for cocktails and chicken dinner. And, a shower, laundry, and place to sleep on their couch! What a wonderful miracle! Strangers are TRULY an opportunity to make friends. What a great visit we had, which included Paul, too. The three of them are long-time friends from Helena.
Finally, I have successfully updated this blog. You are a concern of mine, and I want to keep you posted. It is getting dark now. I have finished most of my pizza, a couple of glasses of wine, had a shower earlier today, and have a nice cozy tent to sleep in tonight. I look forward to resuming paddling on the Jefferson River tomorrow. Twin Bridges is an awesome small town of 400. Come and stay if you ever have the chance. I understand the fishing cannot be beat!
I hope you are enjoying my adventure. I am comforted knowing you are following me and interested in my journey. It has truly turned out to be an epic adventure, and it has only just begun.
Live fast ~ Paddle slow. Be safe and cherish the moment!
We practiced packing the boat yesterday. Thanks to Norm Miller, I’ll be running a pretty tight ship. At least it looks pretty trim.
we are heading to Sawtelle Peak for the ski in to the Missouri River’s ultimate source, Brower’s Spring. We will be skiing, and not paddling. The spring is just below the Continental Divide.
Our visit with Norm and his girlfriend, Kris Walker, has been heartwarming and incredibly fun. We will take away some very memorable moments lasting a lifetime!
Please be patient with me as I transition my computer tool from a laptop with Vista Business to an iPad. It is my first Mac experience aside from an iPhone I’ve only owned for two months. I hope to be able to keep you better updated.
The blog reality is: I wanted to post a page about River Relief clean ups before I leave, and I did that today. The page is all about the St. Charles clean up last weekend. But, holy smokes, Batman, blog pages/posts take a lot of time and tender loving care, hours in fact.
To my blog followers: check my FaceBook Expedition Page often because blog posts will be more brief and less frequent once I’m on the water. I will be updating, but not blogging so much. Just wanted to get that out there.
Yikes! 3 days to go!! Tribune interview on Saturday. Send off at Cooper’s on Sunday!
Live fast ~ Paddle slow
Enjoying four days off from substitute teaching this week-end. Friday was a teacher work day and Monday is Presidents’ Day, a holiday. Lots to do, lots to do. First thing to tend to is my boat.
The old keel strip has been removed. I just need to wipe it down and get all the goo off of it. Eddyline Kayaks will walk me through applying the new strip. It is a protective strip that keeps the bottom from getting too banged up when exiting the water onto shore. Hopefully, rocks will not be too big an issue on the trip.
I will also get the rudder hooked up with the cables, remove the old name, “Barbara May” and change to “Blue Moon.” I mean, how often does a trip like this cross your path? You got it: once in a blue moon. The next blue moon is in 2015, I believe. Anyway, I will also remove Bob Bellingham’s web site address, steadypaddling.com, and apply my own, http://www.loveyourbigmuddy.com. I think I will be ready for my maiden cruise after that.
The video is ready except for one last little edit. I may be able to post it here by the time I’m finished writing this post. Facebook is very easy to post things on quickly, but my blog is like home base. We’ve been together for quite a while now, growing together, so I’d like to post the video here first. It is short and sweet.
I will be starting a fundraising page with GoFundMe. I have been fighting the idea in my mind, whether or not to go “commercial.” I guess I will go for it, since I really do need the financial support. Substitute teaching is wonderful, but the pay is meager. I love the fact that many of my friends are donating on my “Donation Opportunities” blog page. Warms my heart and builds me up.
I will soon start my food supply list, get detailed on what clothing items I will bring, and take another day to invite companies to donate items. I feel as though the bigger companies are not interested since this is my first expedition. I am trying not to depend on their support. If fundraising goes well, I will purchase the items I need such as a tent, down sleeping bag, stove, GPS device, etc.
I visited with our local sport shop businesses in Columbia last week. The effort is proving to be beneficial. Walt’s Bicycle Fitness Wilderness will be donating a couple of items from my wish list. And, I am pretty sure Klunk Bicycles is donating a used mountain bike for the portion of my trip requiring a bike ride due to frozen waterways. Once officially donated, I will make an announcement. I really want to help promote our local businesses if I can.
I am watching the snow depth level at Lakeview very closely now. The first stretch of my trip will be determined by the winter conditions such as snow and ice-covered lakes and rivers. This link gives historic as well as daily snow levels and water input into the Red Rock River.
I am determined to get to Brower’s Spring no matter how much snow has fallen. I will have to rely on my ski mountaineering experience from my years living in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Staying strong and healthy until April is very important. I am running two miles every other day, rowing on the rowing machine, taking walks, and will soon start riding my mountain bike substantial distances. I always try to eat good and wholesome foods. Basically, high fiber and low fat is my norm. I have made the switch to 100% whole wheat breads and pasta, and I eat a green salad just about every night. I will miss having a glass of Chardonnay with dinner while on my trip. Maybe I can stowaway a bottle now and then.
I have topped the 200 “likes” number on my Facebook page. YaY! If you have not liked the page, please do so. As I mentioned before, I am able to post to FB much more than I do blog posts. These posts take time and careful consideration, which I am finding harder to do now that I am substitute teaching most days.
The Columbia Missourian, University of Missouri’s Journalism School newspaper, interviewed me last week and we will meet soon for a photo shoot. The Missourian produced the first piece of media about my trip way back last August (or September?), with Bob Bellingham’s paddle down the Missouri River being the main feature. You can find that article on my “Media” page. Now, my trip will be a feature article. I am happy about having our local press support my trip. Here is Ciera, the journalism student who interviewed me. She is just delightful.
I started a Twitter account, @MoRivExpedition, so that I can utilize all the social media tools. I really don’t know much about Twitter. I am learning as I go. I am following a lot of cool adventure people, but only have two followers. That’s okay, though. I have no idea how to accumulate followers. I will just tweet little tweets now and then, and see how things progress. Once I get started on my trip, I cannot imagine having time to keep up with all the social media anyway. I will have to save my writing for the rainy days…or, snowy days…or, windy days.
Or, maybe on an occasional lovely day, I will take a break and hang out.
I spent nearly all day on the computer yesterday. I find that easy to do these days. Writing a single letter of request for a donation takes a lot of time. I try and carefully consider what I am writing to each company. Much time is taken just to research company websites, find a product that best meets my needs, search out a place to apply for sponsorship/product donation for that company, and/or find a marketing manager’s name to address on a letter. Then, a clear and concise letter of request is composed (and they are all different) to personally address that company and their product.
These days gear companies are pretty organized with their online sponsorship request systems (sign of the times). Some companies will let you know that if your purpose does not fall into their provided categories, don’t even bother to apply (like REI and North Face). Others will let you know that they will try and respond within 48 hours, five to ten business days, or within four months. I realize that it is important to apply to several companies, however, you have to plan for many hours in order to search for sponsorships.
I found out pretty early on that some companies won’t bother with you if you are not a “celebrity” athlete. I understand that. That is why the companies that have chosen to help me out are incredibly special and I hope to reward them with ample promotion. I am determined that my partnership with them will be a win-win situation. Thanks again to big company in-kind donations from Eddyline Kayaks/Swift Paddles, SPOT, title nine, and Patagonia for supporting my expedition.
So, yesterday I requested donations from Katadyn Group (Optimus stove and freeze-dried/dehydrated foods), Sea to Summit (sleeping bag and dry sacks), GoPro (camera), and Smith Optics (sunglasses). I spent quite a bit of time trying to find a Marketing Manager for Apple to request a Mac Book Pro. I know, what are the chances? But, if you don’t ask, you don’t even get a shot. I will have to send them a snail mail letter, pretty sure, and that doesn’t mean it will get read. I will also ask Sprint if they will give me six months of all-data service for an I-Phone that I can’t buy yet. A long-shot but, again, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Think BIG!
Other companies I have sent requests to are Garmin (GPS), Marmot (sleeping bag), InReach (denied because I’m not a celebrity adventurer), Cascade Designs (tent, stove, Thermarest pad), PowerFilm, Inc. (solar-powered roll-up panel), Kokatat (paddling clothes), and KC Paddlers. Still waiting for a response from these folks. Others yet to contact are Seal Line (dry bags, PFD (life jacket)), Teva (sandals), other tent and sleeping bag companies, and a backpack company. I will need to find more paddling companies to research for gear.
I have not asked any companies for money. I think they like to see some successful accomplishments before they sponsor an expedition with cash. Hopefully, someone will connect with what I am doing and jump on board…soon.
Even more special are some of my dear friends who have donated financially. Thank you Bill and Anne Diehl, and Karen and Ric McCann – good friends from Bear Valley days. Also, my dear friend Deb Miller and best friend, Dave Bandy. You are the first. Thank you so much!!!
I am beginning to try some foods to bring along. I have a few Knorr side dishes to try at $1 a pop, which include mashed potatoes, rice dishes, and pasta, of course. I want to make sure I have plenty of comfort foods. I will try and contact some companies for food donations. Not sure who yet.
So, this is the bulk of the work I have to do. Hopefully, I will not have to purchase a tent and sleeping bag. After five months of not working due to student teaching, and substituting part time for $70/day, I will soon need to take out a loan, or launch into a fundraising campaign, or both. I’d like to avoid another loan. My student loans are enough to keep me occupied.
My boat is all set except to remove the old keel protection strip and apply a new one, which Eddyline has provided. I need to sand some scratches and fill them up. And, I need to set up my rudder. Oh, I have to rechristen the boat with the new name: Blue Moon.
I have ordered 200 more stickers after giving away the first 100. The blog address will be larger on the new ones.
I also designed a new business card last night because the first batch did not turn out visually as nice as it appeared on the computer screen. No surprise. You get what you pay for and they were cheap. Here is a picture (a little fuzzy) of my new design I created with MOO. They should arrive in about a week.
The promo video will be ready in a week or so. Thank you Jim Karpowicz and Tom Newcomb of Black Truck Pictures. I hope to start an organized fundraising campaign then, perhaps with GoFundMe, or something of that nature. You can visit my Donation Opportunities page, which I have set up with tier-level rewards for financial donations. Please consider donating financially to help with the success of the expedition.
Norm Miller will be skiing into Brower’s Spring with me and has tracked down a pair of skis and boots from his friend who is loaning them to me. I am thankful for that. I may try and find a bike donation, or just bring my own. It is nothing special, and pretty heavy, but it is a comfortable ride. Someone may have to talk some sense into me to try and get a good bike to ride the sixty or more miles from the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge to Clark Canyon Reservoir where I am planning to put in a boat.
The Red Rock River on that stretch is complicated by private land with barbed-wire fences crossing through the river, electrical fencing doing the same, corrugated sheet-metal dams, and snag piles forcing numerous portages and body submerges. The road follows that stretch on which I will ride my bike.
Finally, I spend a fair amount of time on my blog posts. I try to make them interesting with good visual accompaniments. They take much longer, sometimes hours, than my more spontaneous updates on my Facebook page: Love Your Big Muddy Expedition. If you have not, please like my FB page. Sponsors like to see lots of page “likes.” Of course, I like to see the support. You actually are supporting my expedition indirectly by liking and following my pages and blog. THANK YOU!
So, if you are wondering when this epic adventure begins, it already has. I will be leaving for Montana with my daughter and a friend on the morning of April 14, the day after my Science Teacher Certification Exam. I hope to start the trek with my ski into Brower’s Spring on or near April 20th. Maybe I will find myself at Three Forks on May 1st. That would be ideal. I cannot wait to see the mountains and begin the adventure of my lifetime. Or, perhaps the first of many. Cheers!