From Holter Lake to Just Before Great Falls

Once back on the river, I continued to be amazed by the rock cliffs and mountains.
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.
The watering hole.
My buddies with whom I shared, sort of, my camp.
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.
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.
This sign was hanging at the Holter Dam portage take out.
My best friends forever!
My best friends forever!
WOW! A PBR hanging from a bridge! Somebody pinch my. I must be dreaming! I got! I got it!
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!
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!
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. Thank again, Courtney!
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.
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."
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.”

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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!
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!
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 ;).
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 ;).

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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.
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.
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.
Beautiful glassy waters were a much appreciated condition on the river.
Not sure if these are cormorants or cranes. I think the former.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
And, as the sun begins to set, the sky becomes painted with brush stroked of color.
Stunningly gorgeous evening.
Stunningly gorgeous evening.
The natural bird sanctuary across the way.
The natural bird sanctuary across the way.
Friday (May 24) night's camp, and the grand finale of photo opportunities. Breathtaking sunset.
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.
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.
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 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

Paddling the Jefferson River

Heading down the beautiful Jefferson River
Heading down the beautiful Jefferson River

On Wednesday, May 8, I left my very public, yet cozy, camp at Twin Bridges. It was a little strange camping right on the river in a town park, but the park was designed for bik deners, so worked well for this paddler, too.  I took my time packing so I would be rested, and well prepared, for this stretch on the Jefferson River. I grabbed a tomato, apple and three avocados, along with some cinnamon raisin English muffins, before I left. I also charged all of my electronic devices.

Leaving Twin Bridges after a pleasant two-day layover.
Leaving Twin Bridges after a pleasant two-day layover.
Couple of local Twin Bridges fisher guys. They said fishing is just an excuse to get out on the river. I could totally relate. Really nice guys, kindred river spirits.
Couple of local Twin Bridges fisher guys. They said fishing is just an excuse to get out on the river. I could totally relate. Really nice guys, kindred river spirits.

Danger of further harm to Blue Moon has diminished because of the much higher volume of water. The Ruby River empties in just upriver from Twin Bridges, and the Big Hole River just downstream.  Now we are talking gorgeous and pleasurable paddling from here to Three Forks, which is where I anticipate arriving on Saturday. I have been looking forward to this stretch of river since I first decided to do a source start. I did not want to miss out on paddling the Jefferson River. I think you will see why:

Really fun river to paddle, the Jefferson.
Really fun river to paddle, the Jefferson.
Thunderstorm brewing
Thunderstorm brewing
Montana mountains
Montana mountains
Teepee on the Jefferson River
Teepee on the Jefferson River
Took this after applying suntan lotion to my face. As you can see, without a mirror I am kind of a mess.
Took this after applying suntan lotion to my face. As you can see,
without a mirror I am kind of a mess.
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Eagle’s Nest
A beaver has just about nailed this tree.
A beaver has just about nailed this tree.
A beaver dam
A beaver den
A beaver
A beaver
I saw a lot of deer, but was never able to get my camera out in time. This one sure is pretty.
I saw a lot of deer, but was never able to get my camera out in time. This one sure is pretty.
Gorgeous scenery abounds!
Gorgeous scenery abounds!
I thought these birds were snow geese, but it turns out (after we researched a little) they are Trumpeter Swans. Fantastic!
I thought these birds were snow geese, but it turns out (after we researched a little) they are Trumpeter Swans. Fantastic!
A crane sitting in its nest high above in the trees.
A Great Blue Heron sitting in its nest high above in the trees.
Nice man on the Jefferson, Jim Hicks, invited me up to his custom cabin once he found out I was headed for St. Louis. That about floored him.
Nice man on the Jefferson, Jim Hicks, invited me up to his custom cabin once he found out I was headed for St. Louis. That about floored him.
Jim Hicks' custom cabin on the Jefferson River.
Jim Hicks’ custom cabin on the Jefferson River.
Jim Hicks' rescue dogs. Jim has 800 yards of Jefferson River frontage, three cabins, some horses, and is ex-military and currently employed as Ted Turner's horticulturalist. Cool guy.
Jim Hicks’ rescue dogs. Jim has 800 yards of Jefferson River frontage, three cabins, some horses, and is ex-military and currently employed as Ted Turner’s horticulturalist. Cool guy.
Camped on a huge rock bar, I decided to take a walk before heading out for the day.
Camped on a huge rock bar, I decided to take a walk before heading out for the day.
Flock of pelicans sitting in the water.
Flock of pelicans sitting in the water.
I love this bald eagle photo. He is looking right into your eyes, it seems!
I love this bald eagle photo. He is looking right into your eyes, it seems!
This is where I camped Friday night, at the diversion dam. Camping here made the portage around the rocks much easier. Plus, it was spectacularly gorgeous.
This is where I camped Friday night, at the diversion dam. Camping here made the portage around the rocks much easier. Plus, it was spectacularly gorgeous.
This beaver came to greet me as I pulled into my diversion dam camp Friday night.
This beaver came to greet me as I pulled into my diversion dam camp Friday night.
Sun peaking out from behind the rock at my diversion dam camp. Everything is always better with a little sunshine.
Sun peaking out from behind the rock at my diversion dam camp. Everything is always better with a little sunshine.

At 2:00 Norm and I met, miraculously within 4 minutes of each other, at Drouillard Bridge. Drouillard was a civil interpreter for Lewis and Clark. He was also half French and half Shawneed Indian from his mother’s side. There is a lot of history surrounding him in this area. Norm and I had about a 2 1/2 hour paddle together before we met Kristin at Three Forks, the headwaters of the Missouri River where the Jefferson, Madison, and Gallatin Rivers converge.

My pelicans even took to Norm and did not mind his photographing them.
My pelicans even took to Norm and did not mind his photographing them.
As a result, Norm got this beautiful photo of a pelican lifting off.
As a result, Norm got this beautiful photo of a pelican lifting off.

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Norm and I at Three Forks, the headwaters of the Missouri River, after paddling together for about three hours.
Norm and I at Three Forks, the headwaters of the Missouri River, after paddling together for about three hours.
The lovely Kristin Walker, Norm's girlfriend.
The lovely Kristin Walker, Norm’s girlfriend.
Norm and girlfriend Kristin. I LOVE these guys!! Founders of the wonderful Base Camp International in Livingston, MT.
Norm and girlfriend Kristin. I LOVE these guys!! Founders of the wonderful Base Camp International in Livingston, MT.
Me and Norm. This moment we have been envisioning since last July.
Me and Norm. This moment we have been envisioning since last July.
This sign at Three Forks claims you can reach the Mississippi in 2.5 months by inner tube. Umm, really?
This sign at Three Forks claims you can reach the Mississippi in 2.5 months by inner tube. Umm, really?
A glance at the first part of my paddle tomorrow, Wednesday, May 15.
A glance at the first part of my paddle tomorrow, Wednesday, May 15.

I’ll be leaving tomorrow from Three Forks to head down the Big Muddy!  I am not sure when I will be able to update with photos again. Please visit my Facebook Page, LoveYourBigMuddy Expedition, to stay tuned in.

Life is Good.

Live fast ~ Paddle slow.

Keep the round side down, and the hollow side up.

If you can dream it, live it!

Think outside the boat!

Teach Your Children Well

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Yesterday, I passed out some expedition stickers to my 8th grade science students. Well, they are not mine literally, but I spent an entire semester at Jefferson Junior High School with many of them, ten weeks as a student teacher of 8th-grade social studies, and six weeks of 8th-grade science. I kind of consider them mine, at least figuratively.

jjhs
Jefferson Junior High School. Columbia, Missouri’s first high school in 1911.

I was substitute teaching yesterday for my science students and we watched a marvelous Planet Earth video called “Fresh Water.” I watched the movie five times as I had five classes to teach. Never was I bored with it, but with each viewing became totally immersed in the photography of the wildlife and the waterways highlighted in the movie.

GrandCanyon
Grand Canyon’s Colorado River

One river highlighted was the Amazon River in South America. The Amazon carries more water than the next top-ten biggest rivers combined. It empties into the Atlantic Ocean after meandering 4,000 miles eastward from its source in the Peruvian Andes.

The Amazon River
The Amazon River

The students enjoyed the video, too. We saw grizzly bears feeding on salmon in British Columbia, a team of smooth-coated otters harassing a 13-foot crocodile in an Indian River, eight-foot fresh water dolphins, Botos,

Fresh water dolphins of the Amazon River.
Fresh water dolphins of the Amazon River.

navigating by sonar in the murky waters of the Amazon River, the falling waters of Venezuela’s Angel Falls, the highest in the world, mating lake flies producing smoke-like columns extending hundreds of yards up in the sky on one of the world’s largest lakes in the East African Rift Valley, and a red-bellied piranha feeding frenzy in the underwater forests of Brazil’s Pantanal – the world’s largest wetland.

Angel Falls
Angel Falls
Lake Flies mating before dropping eggs on water and dying.
Lake Flies mating before dropping eggs on water and dying.

Honestly, I had not planned to give away my stickers and tell them about my expedition, but the opportunity presented itself perfectly after watching “Fresh Water.”

“Ladies and Gentlemen (the line I use to get their attention), I don’t know when I will be back in this classroom, so I have a small announcement to make:  I have been planning an expedition since last June. I will be leaving in 2 ½ months, on April 14th, to solo kayak the entire length of the Missouri River, which starts in Montana.  The Missouri River is the longest river in North America and the fourth longest in the world, and flows about 2600 miles from its ‘source’ in the Centennial Mountains to St. Louis.”

Missouririvermap

Their response:

WHAT are you doing? What’s a kayak? Where are you going to sleep? What will you do for food? Who is going with you? How long will it take you? You’ll have a motor, won’t you? Won’t you be scared? The river is dangerous. That’s crazy. I could never do that!  Good luck.

My response:

“This is one of my objectives: I want you, and kids like you, to know that “you can do anything”, if you have the desire, a positive attitude, and support to help you. I want to model that for you by doing this trip.”

Now, I would like to add:

So listen up:  chase negatives away, just like the smooth-coated otters did with the crocodile, and “Make It Happen,” no matter what the “It” may be. Got it, guys?

Teach Your Children Well

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Riches Much Finer Than Gold

The most wonderful thing happened to me at the Missouri Environmental Education Association (MEEA) mini-conference yesterday.  I walked away from the event with the most amazing book; it is a compilation of educational lessons and activities about the Upper Mississippi River. Erin Hilligoss-Volkmann of the Army Corps of Engineers gave a presentation, and I was one of the lucky ones to receive one of three copies she brought along.  I asked her if I could post some things about the book on my blog, and she said, “Yes.”

Cover

This book is the manifestation in the physical realm of what I have been envisioning in my mind as it relates the Missouri River.  Only it goes way beyond what I imagined possible.  It is complete, thorough, comprehensive, beautifully illustrated, and bursting with amazing science and social studies lessons and activities.  I’d say the book is somewhat like a dream-come-true, and gives my trip a rich new perspective.

Well deserved kudos go out to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP) Cultural Resources and Stewardship Mitigation Team in La Crosse, WI, and design team led by Formations.

specialthanksto

Standards

This book is given to facilitators at a workshop in which they are trained to train teachers to teach students about the upper Mississippi River.  Here are the titles to the units:

Unit 1 Introduction to the Upper Mississippi River Watershed

Unit 2 Introduction to Upper Mississippi River Ecosystems

Unit 3 Introduction to Mississippi River History and Culture

Unit 4 Introduction to the Mississippi River at Work

Unit 5 Introduction to A Shared Resource – Our Mississippi River

Here’s a peak at some of the activities:

Watershed

RiverBirds

AncientCivilizations

BlancheLeathers

Navigate

SteamboatEra

ControllingtheRiver

WellRiverCheckUp

Content includes activities relating to river habitats, glacial history, plants, animals, and habitats of the Upper Miss, bird migration, endangered species, Mississippi’s ancient civilizations, Native Americans, settlement and transportation, Underground Railroad, watershed occupations, steam power, Mark Twain, Lewis and Clark, floods, locks, dams, water safety, and caring for the river, among many other subjects.  The book even includes profiles of people important to the river today, such as Michael Clark and his Big Muddy Adventures.

MichaelClark

Sustainability

To be honest, I am quite speechless as I look through this treasure chest of river education tools.  Seems reasonable and logical to have a complimentary Missouri River resource such as this, full of  riches much finer than gold.

Ahhh, the possibilities!

Approaching a Major Confluence

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Often in life we start new chapters.  These milestones are times of exhilaration and anticipation of experiences in which we are not necessarily in control.  “Positive believing equals positive receiving” has always been my mantra.

In two days I will have achieved a milestone in my life.  A goal always present, always on hold, since the day I dropped out of college at Humboldt State University in 1974.  It was the first day of my third quarter of college when I called my mom and told her I was moving to Montana with three of my friends.  As it turned out, we decided if we could move to Montana, we might as well move to Hawaii! So we did!  My mother let me keep the $250 check she mailed to me for books a few days before.  I told her, “Experience is the best teacher,  I will finish college later.”  In two days I will fulfill that promise to my mother, and to myself.

I have been busy student teaching as part of my internship for the last 16 weeks.  For ten weeks I taught 8th grade Social Studies, and for six weeks I have been teaching 8th grade Science.  This coming Friday is my last day.  I have been an apprentice working with masters of the trade at Jefferson Junior High School:  Mrs. Tracy Worthington (Social Studies) and Mrs. Jennifer Szydlowski (Science).  To these two women I am forever grateful for their expertise, patience, graciousness, and support.  This experience is one I will never forget.  I love teaching, and they have contributed to this passion.

I share all of this here because I have had to suspend much of my expedition planning.  I contacted a few potential sponsors over Thanksgiving break (I had five days off) only to be informed by one that, “Once you get this initial trip under your belt and begin to cultivate a sizable following on your blog, social media pages (you would need to have your own), aggregate additional sponsors, and generate significant media attention (both for yourself and your cause), we would be more than happy to revisit a sponsorship with you for future expeditions or projects of this type.”  This response was from DeLorme inReach with regard to their satellite tracking and communication device and sponsorship I requested from them.  I know that I need to start small and local, but I was thinking more “priority first.”  A satellite tracking and navigation device is high priority for my trip.

Fair enough.  I have not had time to promote myself, which does not come naturally to me anyway.  However,  after Friday I am free from school and work obligations until January 2.

I have reached a major confluence in life where my life lived thus far will join with my future, bright and mysterious.

Saturday I am attending a Missouri Environmental Education Association conference held at the University of Missouri.  I hope to get ideas and network with potential innovators regarding education.  I was honored to attend Missouri River Relief’s Education Committee meeting the other night.  Great things are happening with their organization’s  river education component.  I am proud to know them and help promote their mission and vision.

One other thing:  my expedition story will be published any day on the University of Missouri’s home page as a banner story, written by Nancy Moen, who is retired from MU Publications and now a free-lance writer.  I will be posting on this blog when that happens.  MU’s chief photographer, Shane Epping, shot some photos of me on the river a while back to accompany the story.  We were blessed with phenomenal lighting just before sunset.  Shane is also best friends with our beloved river rat Beatriz Jean Wallace who has begun a new chapter in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania recently.  The Missouri River is all about relationships and community and family.

Anyway, I write this because I can’t sleep at night knowing about all of the things I have to do, people I have to contact, knowledge I must learn, and information I want to share as I begin some serious planning for this epic journey down the Big Muddy.  I feel I have reached a confluence if life, the merging of my life thus far and the bright and mysterious future ahead.  I have so many things racing through my head.

(Oh, and I also talked to journalism student, Tina Casagrand, and ex-President of Sustain Mizzou, a student environmental org, and she has offered to produce a Kick-Start video for me and help me include a PayPal link on this blog site.)

With all that said, life is good.  Thanks for listening.  Sweet sleep to all, and to all a good night.  (Oh, and I can’t wait to finally make it to Montana!) 🙂

Wilderness Classroom…can you say, “Totally Awesome!”

Dave and Amy are on a three year kayak/canoe/dog-sledding expedition around North America, bringing the wilderness into the classrooms of 65,000 school children and 1900 teachers.

Currently delayed on their North American Odyssey, which they began on Earth Day in 2010, they were scheduled to present at the New Jersey Kayak shop right before Hurricane Sandy hit.  They presented to a small audience, and then got outta there.  The shop suffered damage, but their kayaks were waiting for them, tied up in front, when they returned from evacuation.  They are staying in New Jersey for awhile to assist with the hurricane relief before heading down the east coast to Key West.

Check out their introductory video here, their blog, and their Facebook page to see exactly what they are doing.

Very cool.  Enjoy!