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Fort Benton to Coal Banks Landing-June 1-4

This trip is so fantastic, every day is a new adventure. However, the journey is so broad in scope that even I have to break it down into chunks, or categories, in order to write in my journal. Otherwise, I think to myself, where do I begin??

Some of the areas that this journey embraces are the wildlife, geology, geography, paddling, challenges, and social interactions (the awesome people I meet along the way).  Because I want to capture all of the various aspects of each and every bend in the river, I have accumulated numerous photos to help document my experiences. Here is just a taste of this short section of my trip.

On June 1, I took off from Fort Benton after an enjoyable stay. I knew it would be an easy paddle to Coal Banks Landing, a launching point into the Upper Missouri Breaks National Monument. As with any day, though, I’m not always sure where will campsite will be for the night.

My camp between Fort Benton and Coal Banks, which is the developed campground right before entering the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument. I had to find a spot in a hurry because it was getting late. A little muddy, on the upriver point of an island, but level.

My camp between Fort Benton and Coal Banks, which is the developed campground right before entering the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument. I had to find a spot in a hurry because it was getting late. A little muddy, on the upriver point of an island, but level.

Tim was surprised, and somewhat startled, to find this, umm, artifact imbedded in the beach.

I found this skull right at the point of the island by my camp. Kind of disturbing. Found out later it is a bison skull, the bison likely finished off with a blow to the head, which was a common tactic among Native Americans back in the day.

I found this skull right at the point of the island by my camp. Kind of disturbing. Found out later it is a bison skull, the bison likely finished off with a blow to the head, which was a common tactic among Native Americans back in the day.

I have fond memories of this campsite, despite the muddy beach, because of the 70’s music they were playing on the radio. Those were the days when the world open wide, and the anticipation of what could be was scintillating.

Further down I stopped at the Virgelle Ferry. An Indian man visiting America happened to be there and wanted to ride the ferry across and back. He asked me if I wanted to go, so I said, “sure”!

The gentleman from India and his son from Kansas City. The Indian man just wanted a ride, and asked me if I wanted to come along. Heck ya!

The gentleman from India and his son from Kansas City. The Indian man just wanted a ride, and asked me if I wanted to come along. Heck ya!

The Virgelle Ferry

The Virgelle Ferry

The cables of the cable ferry, only one of six functioning in the United States.

The cables of the cable ferry, only one of six functioning in the world.

Beautiful mountains and I'm not even in the Breaks, yet.

Beautiful mountains and I’m not even in the Breaks, yet.

I arrived in Coal Banks after just a few hours the next day. Dominique Liboiron was coming to visit me there, since the location was close to his home in Saskatchewan, Canada. Last year, Dominique paddled from Saskatchewan to New Orleans in honor of his uncle who died of heart disease age the early age of 42. Dom carried his ashes to disperse in New Orleans, a city his uncle fell in love with.

So great to see Dominique again. When he was paddling on his expedition, he stopped at Cooper's Landing, where we gained each others' friendship right away.

So great to see Dominique again. When he was paddling on his expedition, he stopped at Cooper’s Landing, where we gained each others’ friendship right away.

It poured rain while he was there. He stayed two nights. One day we worked on a plan to get his canoe in Canada so he could paddle with me in the Breaks. Unfortunately, logistics proved to be too complicated, especially since James Kipp Recreation Area closed down due to flooding. So we went to Virgelle Landing and Fort Benton to have fun.

The Virgelle Mercantile. They also have an extensive antique store and run river shuttle and catering.

The Virgelle Mercantile. They also have an extensive antique store and run river shuttle and catering.

Jim is one of the proprietors of Virgelle Mercantille and Antique and Canoe Service, along with Don/

Jim is one of the proprietors of Virgelle Mercantille and Antique and Canoe Service, along with Don. (Notice the bison skull in back on the shelf.)

Don, partners with Jim, runs the Virgelle machine. We enjoyed talking with them about a lot of things such as river trips, paddling, cameras, BLM (Bureau of Land Management), and river clean-ups.

Don, partners with Jim, runs the Virgelle machine. We enjoyed talking with them about a lot of things such as river trips, paddling, cameras, BLM (Bureau of Land Management), and river clean-ups.

Sandy cooks meals at the store and plays mom to all the men. She participated in a river clean up at Coal Banks, sponsored by Friends of the Breaks and Bureau of Land

Sandy cooks meals at the store and plays mom to all the men. She participated in a river clean up at Coal Banks, sponsored by Friends of the Breaks and Bureau of Land Management (BLM)

Once we determined that it was too difficult to organize a shuttle for Dominique, we decided to play tourist in Fort Benton. Dominique has wanted to go there for many years and, well, I was happy just to go with Dominique. He is such great company. We had a blast!

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Grand Union Hotel

Grand Union Hotel

Mural on the wall at the Grand Union

Mural on the wall at the Grand Union

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We stoped for lunch at the Palace Bar, where we met Sandy bartending. I dropped Dave Miller’s name,(the author of The Complete Paddler) and she remembered him, and apparently took good care of him. “I let him take a shower at my house.” When I mentioned that I hadn’t had a shower in a week, she insisted I go to her house and take one.  Thank you, Sandy! I will never forget your sweet heart.

Sweet Sandy at the Palace Bar

Sweet Sandy at the Palace Bar

After I went to Sandy’s house and took a shower, we stopped at the Missouri Breaks Interpretive Center. Unfortunately, they closed in five minutes, but I think we made the best of the situation.

There it is again. I left my skull in the river where I found it.  Seemed the appropriate thing to do.

There it is again. I left my skull in the river where I found it. Seemed the appropriate thing to do.

Outside the front of the Missouri Breaks Interpretive Center

Outside the front of the Missouri Breaks Interpretive Center

Dominique as Steamship Captain. Keep your eyes on the river, Captain, those snags will sink your ship!

Dominique as Steamship Captain. Keep your eyes on the river, Captain, those snags will sink your ship!

The wing span of a pelican. I have seen pelicans almost every day of my trip. They are a comfort, and good company.

The wing span of a pelican. I have seen pelicans almost every day of my trip. They are a comfort and good company.

Despite the rainy and wet conditions, we made a fire for warmth and comfort. Thanks to the campers next door who helped me haul their leftover wood over, chopped kindling, and wrapped paper up in plastic for me. And, gave me a lighter!  So nice!

Despite the rainy and wet conditions, we made a fire for warmth and comfort. Thanks to the campers next door who helped me haul their leftover wood over, chopped kindling, and wrapped paper up in plastic for me. And, gave me a lighter! So nice!

Before leaving the next morning, Dominique left me with some wisdom and tips for the challenges ahead. He has been a wonderful friend and I will miss him.

Before leaving the next morning, Dominique left me with some wisdom and tips for the challenges ahead. He has been a wonderful friend and I will miss him.

The senior Boy Scouts had come to camp during the rainstorm. The camp hosts, Bub and Tinker Sandy were incredibly accommodating for all of us, letting the boy scouts stay in the visitor’s center, and letting Dominique set up his tent on the porch. By the time the weather let up and we all were ready to launch, we had become friends. Finally, it was time to enter the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument, a moment for which I had been waiting a long time.

Onward! Bub and me in excited anticipation for my journey ahead.

Onward! Bub and me in excited anticipation for my journey ahead.

 

Me and the some of the Boy Scouts, and their dads/leaders, from Colorado Springs, Colorado. Great bunch of kids. They will achieve many things among them.

Me and the some of the Boy Scouts, and their dads/leaders, from Colorado Springs, Colorado. Great bunch of kids. They will achieve many things among them.

 

Lots of excited paddlers ready to get on the water!

Lots of excited paddlers ready to get on the water!

Onward to the White Cliffs on June 4. I will try and have something posted in the next few days. I have a White Cliffs photo album posted on my Facebook Expedition page, if you want to check that out now.

I apologize for the delay in posts. I’m paddling a 178-mile lake right now, Lake Sakakawea, and a 230-mile lake coming up, Lake Oahe. I am currently at Dakota Waters Resort campground taking a refresh day (shower and laundry), and should be at the dam tomorrow or the next day.  Hurray!

Please see my Facebook page, LoveYourBigMuddy Expedition, for current photos and updates. You do not need to have an account to view the page, it is accessible to the public. I can upload straight from my iPhone and it is much easier, however, this blog helps to organize and document the journey. I have not forgotten you!

Live slow ~ Paddle fast

Do what you love, and love what you do.

You CAN do it!

Janet (July 7, 2013)

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The Blog Reality of it All

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

And always, go with the flow.

Theo

Theo

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Updates on Sponsorship, Funding, Promotion, & Preparation

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Shasta-gear_Bob

I have ordered 200 more stickers after giving away the first 100.  The blog address will be larger on the new ones.

L-R, Dave Cornthwaite, Rod Wellington, Dale Sanders

L-R, Dave Cornthwaite, Rod Wellington, Dale Sanders

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.

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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.

This sign points to Red Rock Mountain and Mount Jefferson, situated on the Continental Divide. This sign is visible here at the entrance to Alaska Basin in Montana. Looking east.

This sign points to Red Rock Mountain and Mount Jefferson, situated on the Continental Divide. Sawtelle Peak is behind and to the right and will be our entry into Brower’s Spring.

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.

Pronghorn and calf

Pronghorn and calf at wildlife refuge

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.

Hell Roaring Canyon and Creek, exiting the mountains. (Nemesis Mt. to the left of canyon.)

Hell Roaring Canyon and Creek, exiting the mountains. (Nemesis Mt. to the left of canyon.)  This is where we will come out of the canyon.  Our route heads back and winds way up to the left.

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!

Love Your Big Muddy Expedition

Love Your Big Muddy Expedition

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!

Winter view of the Centennials here. Wind blows frequently to obscure the road completely with snow in February.

Winter view of the Centennials here. Wind blows frequently to obscure the road completely with snow in February (hopefully, not April!).

Categories: Planning, Sponsorship | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Follow up re: Brower’s Spring, stickers, promo video

…Woke up midnight last night and imagined Brower’s Spring with perfect spring corn snow skiing conditions in April, which is when we used to ski peaks on the east side of the Sierra Nevada Mts in the 80’s.  I broke out into a huge smile.  Then, repeating over and over, “pray, believe…pray, believe…”, I drifted back to sleep.

I will be starting at the source.  That’s it.  No more wavering.

HiketoBrowers3D

My stickers are in the mail.  I modified them by changing the color to blue, from black, and the miles to 2600, from 2300.

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Met with Jim Karpowicz today and we are on the move to create a promo video in order to generate some wide-reaching support and, hopefully, funding. It’s going to be great!

If you haven’t already, please “like” my loveyourbigmuddy Facebook page.  I can post little updates there with a bit more spontaneity.

Happy New Year!

Live fast ~ Paddle slow

Categories: Planning, The Route | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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