Posts Tagged With: Montana

Fort Peck Reservoir-Finally We Meet

Plenty of beavers in the refuge. And, they are BIG! They pretty much own that refuge.

Plenty of beavers in the refuge. And, they are BIG! They pretty much own that refuge.

 

A beaver swimming out to size me up. I'm ready for their water slaps these days. I've seen and heard many of them trying to warn me not to mess with them or their dens.

A beaver swimming out to size me up. I’m ready for their water slaps these days. I’ve seen and heard many of them trying to warn me not to mess with them or their dens.

I hated to leave the Roundup boys without saying good bye, but I had to get on the water early in order to make it through UL Bend on Fort Peck Reservoir, approximately 48 miles away. UL Bend is the river-to-lake transition area, and not without its challenges. I was packed and in my boat at 7:00 AM. As I was pushing off, Eli appeared on the shore. I was so happy because I got to say good bye. I also let him know that I left my card on the ice chest for him. It is always bittersweet leaving new friends and river brothers. These boys, young men, are my river brothers.

I packed up early and was on the water at 7:00. The air was still, but the banks were muddy for miles. I was extra thankful I had found the RoundUp Boys.

I packed up early and was on the water at 7:00. The air was still, but the banks were muddy for miles. I was extra thankful I had found the RoundUp Boys last night.

 

Nowhere to pull over for miles and miles.

Nowhere to pull over for miles and miles.

 

This was a typical site for many miles of the river below the Breaks, and in the refuge. There was nowhere to land the boat, let alone camp. Thankfully, the glassy conditions helped me to paddle 10.5 hours and 48 miles this day.

This was a typical site for many miles of the river below the Breaks, and in the refuge. There was nowhere to land the boat, let alone camp. Thankfully, the glassy conditions helped me to paddle 10.5 hours and 48 miles this day.

 

The relentless rain in the previous weeks had saturated the land. This big landslide had occured recently.

The relentless rain in the previous weeks had saturated the land. This big landslide had occured recently.

 

On the approach to the lake their were numerous springs flowing into the river.

On the approach to the lake their were numerous springs flowing into the river.

The Fort Peck Reservoir is 245,000 acres in size.  Extending up 125 miles from the Fort Peck Dam is the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife, which encompasses 1,100,000 acres and all of the Fort Peck Reservoir. The refuge contains a multitude of habitats which include native prairie, wooded coulees, wetlands, river bottoms and badlands.  “Given the size and remoteness of the Refuge, the area has changed very little from the historic voyage of the Lewis and Clark expedition…” [http://www.fws.gov/refuges/profiles/index.cfm?id=61520]

I enjoyed a warm and beautiful day with glassy waters all day.

I enjoyed a warm and beautiful day with glassy waters all day.

This is a gorgeous Pronghorn deer buck, also known as an antelope (but there is some controversy about that). He had a herd of six females with him.

This is a gorgeous Pronghorn deer buck, also known as an antelope (but there is some controversy about that). He had a herd of six females with him. He was not comfortable with my presence.

 

Here is the buck's females (I assume they were all females). The buck was very protective of them and they were very obedient to his signals to stay clear of me. I was so happy to get pictures of these beautiful animals.

Here is the buck’s females (I assume they were all females). The buck was very protective of them and they were very obedient to his signals to stay clear of me. I was so happy to get pictures of these beautiful animals.

 

This smooth oval rock struck me as peculiar sitting at the base of a dark muddy-looking hillside.

This smooth oval rock struck me as peculiar sitting at the base of a dark muddy-looking hillside.

These river-to-lake transition areas are kind of spooky because the river shoreline slowly disappears into the water and before you know it, you are out in the middle of a lake. This can be daunting if the wind is blowing. Fort Peck Reservoir’s transition section also has shallow sand bars and mud to deal with. Thankfully, I was somewhat unaware of these things or else I would have been intimidated and  stressed. They say ignorance is bliss. In this case, this was true. It did not take long, however, before I realized I had to pay close attention so I would not get stuck on a sand/mud bar.

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These gulls were a good indication of shallow waters around me.

These pelicans were a good indication of shallow waters around me.

 

Pelican sitting on a sandbar that was just barely showing.

Pelican sitting on a sandbar that was just barely showing.

Once the shoreline has disappeared, it can be very difficult following the channel of the river, especially when the current is slowing down and spreading out, and the river transforms into a lake.  This pelican, I believed, helped to show me the way and I made it around the daunting UL Bend to a campsite.

This was my river angel. Once the shoreline disappeared, this guy led the way for me when I found myself in the middle of a lake with shallow sand/mud bars all around me. He was a guiding white light for me.

This was my river angel. Once the shoreline disappeared, this guy led the way for me when I found myself in the middle of a lake with shallow sand/mud bars all around me. He was a guiding white light for me, and one of the reasons I hold pelicans dear to my heart.

I made it to Fort Peck Reservoir!  I paddled 48 miles for 10.5 hours. This was a really productive paddling day and, boy, was I tired, but very very happy. I was especially joyful because my campsite was not muddy. Well, not too bad, anyway.

My first campsite on Fort Peck Reservoir, photo taken from my tent. I took a sponge bath here and washed some clothes. I was feeling really good.

My first campsite on Fort Peck Reservoir, photo taken from my tent. I took a sponge bath here and washed some clothes. I was feeling really good.

Later this evening I witnessed the power of a northerly squall line coming across the lake. I had been warned about sudden fierce winds coming out of nowhere. Thankfully, I was safe on shore with my tent and Blue Moon secure. At first it sounded like a motor boat across the lake, then it grew louder like a truck, then a train, and finally a jet plane. It was awesome to watch the wind line move rapidly over the water toward me. I knew what was happening, so I was intrigued, rather than fearful. Seeing this occur helped me to be cautious, aware, and respectful of the wind and water while on this lake.

A northerly wind appeared suddenly and engulfed the entire lake near me. Paddlers must keep one eye looking toward the north at all times.

A northerly wind appeared suddenly and engulfed the entire lake near me. Paddlers must keep one eye looking toward the north at all times.

I left the RoundUp boys on June 9 and made camp the same evening on the Fort Peck Reservoir 10.5 hours later. I would journey across this 135-mile lake for the next eight days. A lot can happen in eight days. I was immersed in wilderness and forced to use my own judgment and decision-making skills in order to progress safely to the dam. High winds, snakes, electrical storms, wildlife, zero cell service, hours of waiting out the wind, picturesque scenery, and the giving hearts of the few people I met would make this one of my most memorable experiences of my life. Stay tuned for part two, the next eight days to Fort Peck Dam, through some awesome and incredible wilderness.

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Do what you love, and love what you do.

You CAN do it.

Categories: Expedition, Missouri River | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Snapshots of LoveYourBigMuddy Expedition

My dear friend, supporter and river brother from Columbia, Missouri, Jonathan Lauten, produced this slide show of my trip thus far. It is very special to me as the memories provoked are fond and special. I think it is kind of funny that the slideshow brings back so many memories of a trip of which I am still in the midst.

Please take a moment to enjoy these very unique and special moments from LoveYourBigMuddy Expedition 2013.

I will try to continue my documentation of my expedition on this blog as soon as I am able, likely as soon as I get across Lake Oahe, of which I am over half way on this 230 mile lake (as of July 25, 2013).

Click on the photo below to access the slideshow.  Thanks for your support!  -Janet

RAINBOWCAMP

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=619718804729649

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Videos: Paddling on the Beaverhead River

This video was taken before I put my boat in the water at Clark Canyon Dam. It is fun to look at this one. I had no idea what was in store for me.

A few days into my trip I had paddled pretty hard after leaving Beaverhead Rock. I slept real hard as a result. The weather had been cloudy and threatening every day, until this day:

Categories: Expedition | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Paddling from Canyon Ferry Lake to Lakeside on Hauser

Rainy weather is included in the expedition package. I am so happy I am outfitted with Kokatat gear. Warm and comfortable always.

Rainy weather is included in the expedition package. I am so happy To be outfitted with Kokatat gear. Warm and comfortable always.

Love my pelicans

Love my pelicans

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.

Channelized entrance inti Canyon Ferry Lake.

Channelized entrance into Canyon Ferry Lake.

I encountered some rollers due to a light wind in the afternoon, but nothing dangerous. I kept a very close eye out for whitecaps and stayed close to shore.

I encountered some rollers due to a light wind in the afternoon, but nothing dangerous. I kept a very close eye out for whitecaps and stayed close to shore.

Like being in "paradise."

Like being in “paradise.”

Love, love, love this place!

Love, love, love this place!

Good morning, World! A break in the clouds helped produce this view from my bed.

Good morning, World! A break in the clouds helped produce this view from my bed.

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.

I love my Shasta kayak and especially my Swift paddles.

I love my Shasta kayak and especially my Swift paddles.

Ron Lukenbill and me below the dam.

Ron Lukenbill and me below the dam.

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).

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Will and Felomina Garvin. Wonderful folks with lots of interesting life stories. Will paddled from Helena, MT, to Helena, AR.

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.

Lakeside on Hauser. Great place to camp. All I had to do was buy dinner and a glass of wine and camping was free!

Lakeside on Hauser. Great place to camp. All I had to do was buy dinner and a glass of wine and camping was free!

Beautiful spot on the lake. Can you hear Jimmy Buffet singing?

Beautiful spot on the lake. Can you hear Jimmy Buffet singing?

I met Lena and her dog, Ole, who is a Newfoundland, the same breed the Corps of Discovery took along on their expedition. Beautiful dog. And, Lena is pretty cute, too.

I met Lena and her dog, Ole, who is a Newfoundland, the same breed the Corps of Discovery took along on their expedition. Beautiful dog. And, Lena is pretty cute, too.

And, local Helena band, Quarry Road, delighted the crowd Saturday night with great music. See what I mean, great place to layover!

And, local Helena band, Quarry Road, delighted the crowd Saturday night with great music. See what I mean, great place to layover

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.

Conrad and Cheryl Hale owners of Lakeside on Hauser.

Conrad and Cheryl Hale owners of Lakeside on Hauser.

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!

This is where I hung out most of yesterday while it rained. So lovely!

This is where I hung out most of yesterday while it rained. So lovely!

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!

Philip and Joanne from Helena, MT.

Philip and Joanne from Helena, MT.

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!

Categories: Expedition, Missouri River | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Time to Rock and Roll. It is April 14.

The day has finally arrived.  I have been losing sleep for nine months since I made the decision to paddle down the Missouri.  Once I decided to take on this challenge, it was another month, or two or three, before I made the decision to start at the source.  I knew I would regret not making the extra 298 miles if I started at Three Forks instead of Brower’s Spring.

The base of the mountains Norm and I will be coming out of after our ski into Brower's Spring.  (Photo by Norm Miller)

The base of the mountains Norm and I will be coming out of
after our ski into Brower’s Spring.
(Photo by Norm Miller)

The time is 3:23 AM.  My alarm is set for 4:30 AM.  I feel like I have an extra hour so I’m trying to get in one last “quick” blog post before we take off.  Now, THAT’s a challenge!

The Columbia Daily Tribune, our local newspaper, is supposed to publish a story this morning.  I just checked on it.  Yep, it’s there.  Here is the link for “PRIMED TO PADDLE: Kayaker ready to tackle river’s entire length.”  I will post the story under my Media page once the article becomes NOT available online, unless you have a subscription.

Yesterday was a very busy day packing.  I actually spent two days hard at it.  Three and one half months requires thinking through all of your needs, and wants, then trying to downsize the load.  I’m not very good at that.  Thankfully, Haley arrived after lunch and really helped me accomplish this daunting task.  She is very organized and more rational than me when it comes to, “Is it really a need, or merely a want.”

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We took a moment to take a picture with our matching “Say YES More” T-shirts.  ‘Say Yes More’ is Dave Cornthwaite’s campaign, of which I am an ambassador.  The first medium T-shirt was itty-bitty,  so I gave it to Haley and he sent me a larger one.  Find out more about Dave’s exciting adventures on his Website.

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T-shirts for Dave Cornthwaite’s “Say Yes More” ambassador program.

Last night we enjoyed spending time with my niece, Rene Freels, and her husband, Kyle, and son, Sam.  We enjoyed fabulous food (as usual) at El Maguey, not to mention their $1.25 margaritas.  This is my favorite restaurant in town.

We then enjoyed going down to the river to meet a lot of my river friends who were enjoying a campfire, pot luck barbeque, and acoustic guitar music.  We have access to a spot right next to Cooper’s Landing where we have get-togethers sometimes.  We also stopped by Cooper’s and I was able to introduce them to many more wonderful people in our river community.  We had a great evening.  I was happy to introduce them to a little slice of my world.  Unfortunately, no photos.

Once home again, I began to round up all of the little loose-end items such as dental floss, water bottles, hairbrush, shampoo and other things that I actually use until I leave.  I started a batch of strawberry/banana fruit roll-ups in the dehydrator, too.

This morning I will do one last batch of laundry, gather all of my food and try to sort some of it out into portions.  I need to make my custom trail mix as well.  Then, once light starts dawning on this part of the earth, the kayaks will go on the car, and I’ll pack the car with all of my stuff.  We just left everything on the porch since the weather is good and we have Minnie, our wonderful, and loud, watchdog.  No one can approach the house without her approval.

Minnie

Minnie

The weather looks rough for the next few days in this area, and on our drive up north.  It is my understanding that snow has been falling in Montana.  I try not to let the weather reports get me emotionally stirred up.  I am taking things one step at a time, and making decisions as opportunities present themselves.  You might say I am “Going with the Flow.”  Yes, I like the sound of that. Here is my awesome road crew, Haley, Jeannie Kuntz, and me.

Haley, Jeannie, and Me:  Hittin' the road this morning at 10:00.

Haley, Jeannie, and Me: Hittin’ the road this morning at 10:00.

My extra hour has turned into two after posting photos.  Still, not bad.  But, gotta go!

Cheers!  See you on the water!  Montana here we come!  YeeHaw!

Pelicans Dancing  (Photo by Norm Miller)

Pelicans Dancing (Photo by Norm Miller)

(One hour, 30-minute blog post!  That is a new personal record.  That is good, real good.)  🙂

Categories: Expedition, Missouri River | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Approaching a Major Confluence

meandwingdike

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!) 🙂

Categories: Planning, Reflection | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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