I arrived at Fort Benton the same day that I left Great Falls. The paddle only took a few hours from Carter Ferry. I knew rain was forecasted, so I planned on staying in Fort Benton for a least a couple of days, which I would have done anyway. This post is a photo story post. I hope you enjoy it.
Carter Ferry is one of only six cable ferries in existence. Another cable ferry is in Virgelle, between Fort Benton and Coal Banks Landing. There are also two others in the area, making four out of the six ferries that are functioning located here in northern Montana.
It began raining again on June 2, the afternoon of the day I arrived at Coal Banks Landing. I have some interesting photos of the paddle down to Coal Banks, the paddlers laying over at Coal Banks, the proprietors of the Virgelle Mercantile Store, and my second visit to Fort Benton when I came with Dominique Liboiron, who came to visit me from Saskatchewan during this next rain delay before starting into the Breaks. Dominique paddled from Saskatchewan, Canada, to New Orleans last summer and winter, arriving just before Mardi Gras. We instantly became friends when he stopped over at Cooper’s Landing, my river hangout in Columbia, Missouri. My next post will share with you our visit together and some additional interesting things we discovered in Fort Benton.
Do what you love, and love what you do!
Live slow ~ Paddle fast (notice that is switching around a little. No, a lot.) 🙂
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.
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.
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!
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
Getting a little nervous now, and must work efficiently. Countdown 12 days, YIKES! I am scheduled to substitute teach the next three days. Then, off to St. Charles for the Missouri River Relief clean-up (arrive Fri-leave Sun), plus a crew meeting tonight at 6:30. Next week I will be putting all the puzzle pieces together, practicing packing the boat, and hoping that I get called for a teaching interview which will, ideally, land me a job for the next school year.
On Saturday night, April 13, my daughter, Haley, and my niece and her family, Rene, Kyle, and Sam, and I will be attending the Dance Showcase at the Columbia Performing Arts Center. My cousin, Jen Lee, teaches dancing there (she taught there when Haley was in Junior High) and puts together the grand finale of all the dance classes, the Showcase. Also, several of my students will be performing that night, Lauren, Kaylin and Rachel. They will be happy to see me there. They are such great dancers!
Sunday send-off will be the next day at Cooper’s Landing, April 14, 10:00AM. Wow! Ya, I’m a little nervous. Here is a list I composed between midnight and 2:00 AM last night. I keep paper and pen bedside. Every time I think of a little to-do item, I have to write it down, there are so many. These are just a few of the things that came to mind last night. Oh, and add American flag for the boat onto that list.
I conducted a loosely traditional christening ceremony before dropping Blue Moon in the water for her first voyage with her new name. This was last Sunday, March 31, and a fun time despite the fact I forgot my really cool christening script I found online. Technology prevailed and I was able to access the first paragraph, which I had posted earlier in the week. The rest was improvisation, and seemed perfectly acceptable to all present.
The, the flotilla had a most wonderful paddle under blue skies and mild temperatures. My Eddyline Shasta truly is a dream boat. Blue Moon, Sweet Dream. We bonded. Ya, we got this!
Wednesday evening, March 27, we had a wonderful heart-warming turn out for the Love Your Big Muddy Blues Benefit. Many of the finest musicians in Columbia played Red Hot Blues that night. Heidi Branaugh organized the event, with help from our committee, and things worked out beautifully. $1600 was raised to help with my expenses, and for that I am enormously grateful. Certainly, the evening was incredibly special and a memorable one for all. Much love in our community shined forth that night. And Shane Perrin, The Stand Up Guy, came to the event! What a wonderful supporter and inspiration. He planted a few seeds in my mind while visiting together! 😉
Media interest has picked up, which I suppose is to be expected. Ciera and Megan, journalism students at the University of Missouri, are working for the Columbia Missourian to get a story out soon. Ciera is working on a written article and Megan is working on a corresponding video story.
Loved talking with Elizabeth Labauch, who wrote a blog post about the expedition for Footprint Magazine. Footprint Magazine is produced by Sustain Mizzou, an environmental student group at the University of Missouri. Tina Casagrand does a great job of keeping the magazine vibrant. Liz did a great piece from a somewhat different perspective. You can read her article posted to the Media Coverage Page on this blog.
I met with Simon Rose and Rene on the KFRU Morning Meeting yesterday. Be sure and check out the on-air interview, also posted on the Media Coverage Page at the top of my blog.
Right now I am waiting for Philip White to call. He wants to interview me for The SUP magazine online. Cool. He also writes for Canoe and Kayak. Doubly cool.
Just got off the phone with Philip. Great friendly conversation. I’ll keep you posted.
And finally, Leslie Kolovich and I did a podcast for her SUP radio show, Paddle for the Planet. Most enjoyable conversation with her, on and off air. Leslie is passionate for paddling AND the planet. Check out our podcast interview in the Media Coverage drop down list. And, check out her SUP Radio Show where she interviews, and supports, the paddling communities everywhere!
Well, folks, got another blog post out here, didn’t I? That wasn’t even on my ToDo list. I will strive to keep you faithful followers updated during my trip. I anticipate I will be very busy taking photos, videos, charging up the laptop, writing in my journal, paddling onward, and keeping my hands clean. They don’t call it the Big Muddy for nothing, you know!
Feel free to suggest, inspire, encourage, and entertain by leaving a comment any time. Always appreciated! Cheers!