From Lakeside on Hauser to Gates of the Rocky Mountains

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.IMG_1081 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! IMG_1083 IMG_1082Right 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!

Dave and Dan who work for Pennsylvania Power and Light helped with the portage.
Dave and Dan who work for Pennsylvania Power and Light helped with the portage.
Dave  and Dan of PPL.  We had a great time talking to them. Dave's uncle works at the next dam, Holter Dam, and he said he would call ahead and let them know I was coming. Awesome!
Dave (R) and Dan (L) of PPL. We had a great time talking to them. Dave’s uncle works at the next dam, Holter Dam, and he said he would call ahead and let them know I was coming. Awesome!
Will was surprised at the assistance we received from PPL, and, well, Ron was surprised that the portage was complete by the time he showed up.  All good!
Will was surprised at the assistance we received from PPL, and, well, Ron was surprised that the portage was complete by the time he showed up. All good!

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.

My faithful companions the pelicans.
My faithful companions the pelicans.
Approaching the upriver entrance to the Gates of the Mountains.
Approaching the upriver entrance to the Gates of the Mountains.
The Gates of the Mountains is a special place for me because of the Alpine environment. I am very much at home in this type of environment after living 11 years in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California.
The Gates of the Mountains is a special place for me because of the Alpine environment. I am very much at home in this type of environment after living 11 years in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California.

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.

Not unusual in the Gates of the Mountains: the tour boat. People were friendly and waved, as did I.
Not unusual in the Gates of the Mountains: the tour boat.
I ended finding a fantastic campsite in the trees on the left. Right across the river is Fields Gulch where Lewis and his party camped on July 19. 1805.
I ended up finding a fantastic campsite in the trees on the left.
Right across the river is Fields Gulch where Lewis and his party camped on July 19. 1805.
This is the view looking out from my camp. Amazing!
This is the view looking out from my camp. Amazing!
This is a photo I took the next morning with that early morning special light.  It was magical in the canyon.
This is a photo I took the next morning with that early morning special light.
It was magical in the canyon.
During the afternoon, after the rain stopped, I paddled down to Meriwether Rec Area and hiked up the trail to the overlook. What a lovely way to spend the day!, high up into the mountains.
During the afternoon, after the rain stopped, I paddled down to Meriwether Rec Area and hiked up the trail to the overlook. What a lovely way to spend the day, high up into the mountains.
Looking down on the river where I began my hike.
Looking down on the river where I began my hike.
Near the top
Near the top
Some information at the overlook about the Mann Gulch Fire, in which 13 men lost their lives.
Some information at the overlook about the Mann Gulch Fire, in which 13 men lost their lives.
Mann Gulch.
Mann Gulch
Incredible vista where I stopped on the way down and took some photos. This is the reason the area is called Gates of the Mountains. These are some incredible mountains.
Incredible vista where I stopped on the way down and took some photos. This is the reason the area is called Gates of the Mountains. These are some incredible mountains.
After my hike up to the Mann Gulch lookout, I decided to have a fire. I had collected firewood earlier that morning.
After my hike up to the Mann Gulch lookout, I decided to have a fire. I had collected firewood earlier that morning.
 Meriwether Lewis, July 19, 1805 (he camped right across the river): "...this evening we entered much the most remarkable cliffs that we have seen yet. These cliffs rise from the waters edge on either side perpendicularly to the hight of 1200 feet. Every object here wears a dark and gloomy aspect. The towering and projecting rocks in many places seem ready to tumble on us. The river appears to have forced it's way through the immense body of solid rock for the distance of 5 3/4 miles and where it makes it's exit below has thrown on either side vast columns of rocks mountains high."

Meriwether Lewis, July 19, 1805 (he camped right across the river): “…this evening we entered much the most remarkable clifts that we have seen yet. These clifts rise from the waters edge on either side perpendicularly to the hight of 1200 feet. Every object here wears a dark and gloomy aspect. The towering and projecting rocks in many places seem ready to tumble on us. The river appears to have forced it’s way through the immense body of solid rock for the distance of 5 3/4 miles and where it makes it’s exit below has thrown on either side vast columns of rocks mountains high.”

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I loved my stay here in the Gates of the Mountains.
I loved my stay here in the Gates of the Mountains.
On the way out I turned around and took a picture of the Gates on the down river side. Here, the Gate looks open.
On the way out I turned around and took a picture of the Gates on the down river side. Here, the Gate looks open.
But, just a little further down, the Gate looks closed. It is somewhat of an optical illusion, hiding the fact that the river flows right through the magnificent canyon ahead.
But, just a little further down, the Gate looks closed. It is somewhat of an optical illusion, hiding the fact that the river flows right through the magnificent canyon ahead.

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!)

Friday (May 24) night's camp between Cascade and Ulm, on the way to Great Falls. I was camped on a sandy beached island across from a large natural bird sanctuary (lots of tall trees).
Friday (May 24) night’s camp between Cascade and Ulm, on the way to Great Falls. I was camped on a sandy beached island across from a large natural bird sanctuary (lots of tall trees).

See you again soon.  Keeping the hollow side up. Do what you love, and love what you do! Live fast ~ Paddle slow Janet

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!

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!

Biking and, finally, paddling

The base of Hell Roaring Canyon, and on down the creek of the same name.
The base of Hell Roaring Canyon, and on down the creek of the same name.

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!

Long stretches of exquisite beauty. And, a little bit of push.
Long stretches of exquisite beauty. And, a little bit of push, as in stamina.
Starting at the base of Hell Roaring Canyon, and on down Hell Roaring Creek.
Starting at the base of Hell Roaring Canyon, and on down Hell Roaring Creek.
Beautiful vistas
Beautiful vistas
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What an incredible bike ride! Just breathtaking!
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Long gorgeous and gradual downhills.
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Our stop at the end of the first day. Red Rock Creek below the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge.

 

The start of the second day began with a, yes, flat tire out in the middle of NOwhere! We got 'er done, though. Survival of the fittest.
The start of the second day began with a, yes, flat tire out in the middle of NOwhere! We got ‘er done, though. Survival of the fittest.

 

Long stretches of exquisite beauty. And, a little bit of push, as in stamina.
Long stretches of exquisite beauty. And, a little bit of push, as in stamina.
Finally made it to Lima Dam. Still, onward to the town of Lima.
Finally made it to Lima Dam. Still, onward to the town of Lima.
Lima Dam
Lima Dam
The windy, as in lots of turns, Red Rock River.
The windy, as in lots of turns, Red Rock River.
From the town of Lima I followed the old Highway 191 all but seven miles of the 31 mile stretch. Very peaceful. My support crew followed me closely.
From the town of Lima I followed the old Highway 191 all but seven miles of the 31 mile stretch to Clark Canyon Dam. Very peaceful. My support crew followed me closely.
Two bison mommas and their babies. They had their eye on my from afar.
Two bison mommas and their babies. They had their eye on my from afar.
Finally, after 90-somethin' miles, we made it to Clark Canyon Reservoir and Dam.
Finally, after 90-somethin’ miles, we made it to Clark Canyon Reservoir and Dam in 3 days.
Clark Canyon Reservoir
Clark Canyon Reservoir

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.

My first night out. Cozy camp!
My first night out. Cozy camp!
My first rapids. I skipped the upper and paddled through the lower parts of this.
My first rapids. I skipped the upper and paddled through the lower parts of this.
Strainer, Grrrr! They can flip you over, swamp your boat, punch holes in your ship, and twist your hands and arms. I am happy to be through this challenging part of the Beaverhead River.
Strainers, Grrrr! They can flip you over, swamp your boat, punch holes in your ship, and twist your hands and arms. I am happy to be through this challenging part of the Beaverhead River.
My pelican friends followed me all day Saturday, and after many bends, they finally decided I was okay. They stayed put until I got this photo. Then, they split for the day. Good companions they were.
My pelican friends followed me all day Saturday, and after many bends, they finally decided I was okay. They stayed put until I got this photo. Then, they split for the day. Good companions they were.
Good bye, my friends.
Good bye, my friends.
Diversion dams force me to unload, carry stuff to the other side, place my boat on my wheeleez, pull it over, reload stuff, and take off again.  This particular easy portage took me an hour and a half.
Diversion dams force me to unload, carry stuff to the other side, place my boat on my wheeleez, pull it over, reload stuff, and take off again. This particular easy portage took me an hour and a half.
AFter a long day of paddling on Saturday against 25 mph winds, Robert and Donna happen to be cruizing Robert's property adjacent to Beaverhead Rock. After seeing their Private Propertay signs, with notice that the property was patrolled, I was concerned and so immediately set off to do some peace talking. Turned out they invited me up for cocktails, dinner, laundry, shower, couch, and steak and eggs for dinner. What a wonderful find these folks were, however it happened. L-R, Robert, Donna, and Paul.
AFter a long day of paddling on Saturday against 25 mph winds, Robert and Donna happen to be cruizing Robert’s property adjacent to Beaverhead Rock when I found an island to camp on. After seeing their Private Property signs, with notice that the property was patrolled, I was concerned and so immediately set off to do some peace talking. Turned out they invited me up for cocktails, dinner, laundry, shower, couch, and steak and eggs for breakfast. What a wonderful find these folks were, however it happened. L-R, Robert, Donna, and Paul.
View of Beaverhead Rock from Robert's "cabin"
View of Beaverhead Rock from Robert’s “cabin”
And, another view from the cabin.
And, another view from the cabin.
Not sure what's up with this rancher. Makin' life difficult.
Not sure what’s up with this rancher. Makin’ life difficult.
Besides the pelicans, the muskrats, and sometimes beavers, are my favorite companions. The muskrats are the dolphins of the river. They lead you around the bends. I adore them!
Besides the pelicans, the muskrats, and sometimes beavers, are my favorite companions. The muskrats are the dolphins of the river. They lead you around the bends. I adore them!
Onward towards Twin Bridges. Tomorrow, Wednesday, May 8, I head out on the Jefferson River, my long awaited premium stretch of river.
Onward towards Twin Bridges. Tomorrow, Wednesday, May 8, I head out on the Jefferson River, my long awaited premium stretch of river.

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!

My camp at this very cool Bike Park on the waterfront in Twin Bridges, MT. Loved my stay here. Hope to come back. Plus, Mayor Tom is totally laid back, hence the mellow river community of 400 people. Love it!
My camp at this very cool Bike Park on the waterfront in Twin Bridges, MT. Loved my stay here. Hope to come back. Plus, Mayor Tom is totally laid back, hence the mellow river community of 400 people. Love it!

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 Ultimate Source of the Missouri River-Brower’s Spring

Sawtelle Peak FAA Road gate.
Sawtelle Peak FAA Road gate.

The first thing we needed to do to get the Brower’s Spring was to get throught the Federal Aviation Administration gate that guards the road up Sawtelle Peak.  We needed to ske from one of the switchbacks over to Jefferson Peak and up and over the Continental Divide into the Hell Roaring Creek Drainage where the spring is located.

Curt Judy unlocked the gate for us so we could ski over to Jefferson Peak from the road switchback. Thanks, Curt!
Curt Judy unlocked the gate for us so we could ski over to Jefferson Peak from the road switchback. Thanks, Curt!
Mount Jefferson from on top of the bowl.
Mount Jefferson from on top of the bowl.

This is the top of Mount Jefferson which stands at 10,200 ft. We traversed the top of the bowl and dropped into the Hell Roaring Creek drainage off to the left.  This was a spectacular moment in the ski.

You can see the Teton Range from on top.
You can see the Teton Range from on top.
Sometime at the beginning of our ski in to the spring.
Sometime at the beginning of our ski in to the spring.
Your can see the triangle where I am standing and the push pin where the spring coordinates are, almost touching.
Your can see the triangle where I am standing and the push pin where the spring coordinates are, almost touching.

GPS showed me I was soooooo close to the spring.  The surroundings indicated to me that I was likely standing on or near the spring. I could feel it in my heart and soul. My heart was racing and I was excited.

Brower's Spring just inside the trees in center of photo.
Brower’s Spring just inside the trees in center of photo.

I skied out of those trees where I am sure I was on or near the spring. Rod Wellington, who has also been there, confirmed that the area looked familiar to him.

We even got some turns in.
We even got some turns in. Unfortunately, no photos of our figure eights. Darn!

We assumed that the trip would entail an easy seven-mile ski out of Hell Roaring Canyon.  We were mistaken. Because of the snow cover, we needed to be cautious of avalanche danger, and often fell prey to terrain traps, which produced steep drop-offs, false canyons, and unskiable gulleys.  Because of this, we were destined to stay over night, which neither of us prepared for. In fact, we absent-mindedly left the car with no means of fire or sleeping gear. We were both tense until we gave in to the fact we were staying the night.  Then, our priority switched to surviving the night. We never doubted our ability to do so.

We were at the top of that distant ridge at one point. You could see the Sawtoothe Range in Idaho.
We were at the top of that distant ridge at one point. You could see the Sawtoothe Range in Idaho. We had to be vigilant about avalanche danger.
Norm getting water from Hell Roaring Creek.
Norm getting water from Hell Roaring Creek. At this point we knew we were sleeping in the mountains.
Norm building the shelter.
Norm building the shelter. We both took part in this important project.
The PBR Haley threw in our pack. Happy we had the extra calories before a long cold night.
The PBR Haley threw in our pack. Happy we had the extra calories before a long cold night.

I shivered uncontrollably all night. I was only able to sleep for about five minutes. Norm was the same way. Somehow, the hours past and it was time to go. I am thankful to have survived and avoided hypothermia. I had trailmix to eat and a granola bar which we split. I had to eat one of the granola bars for calories just after going to bed. Perhaps, it helped, I could not tell.

Beautiful full moon night, despite the situation.
Beautiful full moon night, despite the situation.
Hell Roaring Creek
Hell Roaring Creek
We skied 12 miles instead of 7 because of terrain traps that forced us to back up and go another way.
We skied 12 miles instead of 7 because of terrain traps that forced us to
back up and go another way.
Grizzly Tracks.  We made ourselves known by talking at the bear for the last couple hours of our ski.
Grizzly tracks. We made ourselves known by talking at the bear for
the last couple hours of our ski.
The end finally in sight.  And, so were the bear tracks, which came up from the valley where Haley and Jeannie were.
The end finally in sight. And, so were the bear tracks, which came up from the valley where Haley and Jeannie were sleeping in the car.
Haley and Jeannie, support crew, waiting patiently for us. We had minimal contact with walkie talkies that we brought, so we were able to notify them of our overnight stay.
Haley and Jeannie, support crew, waiting patiently for us. We had minimal contact with walkie talkies that we brought, so we were able to notify them of our overnight stay.
Here is the grizzly track Haley took a photo of at the base of Hell Roaring Canyon, where we came out.
Here is the grizzly track Haley took a photo of
at the base of Hell Roaring Canyon, where we came out.
Job Well Done-Norm and Me
Oh my God, we did it! Good job!

Next came the bike ride, 90-some miles from the base of Hell Roaring Canyon to Clark Canyon Dam.  The ride took three days. The ride of all rides, the vistas were spectacular.

From the Journals of Lewis and Clark

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White Cliffs in Missouri River Breaks National Monument
(Photo by Norm Miller)

From The Journals of Lewis and Clark -edited by Bernard DeVoto

[Lewis] Friday May 31st 1805

“The hills and river Clifts which we passed today exhibit a most romantic appearance…The earth on the top of these Clifts is a dark rich loam, which forming a graduly ascending plain extends back from ½ a mile to a mile where the hills commence and rise abruptly to a hight of about 300 feet more.

…in other places on a much nearer approach and with the help of less imagination we see the remains or ruins of elegant buildings; some columns standing and almost entire with their pedestals and capitals; others retaining their pedestals but deprived by time or accident of their capitals, some lying prostrate an broken othe[r]s in the form of vast pyramids of conic structure bearing a serees of other pyramids on their tops becoming less as they ascend and finally terminating in a sharp point.

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White Cliffs (Photo by Norm Miller)

Nitches and alcoves of various forms and sizes are seen at different hights as we pass…As we passed on it seemed as if those seens of visionary inchantment would never have and [an] end; for here it is too that nature presents to the view of the traveller vast ranges of walls of tolerable workmanship…These walls rise to the hight in many places of 100 feet, are perpendicular, with two regular faces and are from one to 12 feet thick, each wall retains the same thickness at top which it possesses at bottom.”

(Photos by Norm Miller)
White Cliffs in the Missouri River Breaks National Monument, MT

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White Cliffs (Photo by Norm Miller)

I still have a lot to learn, but I cannot for the life of me think of a reason why anyone would NOT want The Missouri River Breaks National Monument preserved as a wilderness area for future generations.  Nope, cannot think of one reason.

So, You Want to Paddle Down the Missouri River?

By Norm Miller, in his own words…

Norm Miller paddling UP the Missouri River in 2004, retracing the Lewis & Clark Trail: STL to the Pacific.

What does it take to paddle down the Mighty Missouri River from Montana to St. Louis?

I personally don’t think there is a formula as in hind sight, the experiences of others who have taken the challenge are all different. I think it maybe more of a personality type that can just go and take off for weeks or months…especially alone.

I am very comfortable being alone, which is not the same as being lonely. Some people are more secure with themselves than with a group of people. I’ve had friends tell me that they could never paddle and camp for weeks alone. When I hear this I get the sense that they don’t know themselves well enough. For me, it’s always been a way of life. I’ve been very independent all my life. Don’t get me wrong, I had plenty of friends to roam the neighborhood as a child, building forts, playing army, hiking and fishing and just plain escaping from our parents. I also spent many hours alone, comfortable being solo.

Norm’s expedition from St. Louis to Three Forks, MT, over the Rockies, and down to the Pacific Ocean took six months.

I often wondered that if everyone who has gone on a long paddle trip took the same personality profile, if we would all score the same rating? For the most part I am very shy, which some people find hard to believe. As a child I use to hide under my bed when relatives would come over, only to come out after they left. Now that I’m near 50-years old I feel more at ease around people, especially groups. But there are times when I must seek the shelter of my cave and go run off solo somewhere.

I personally feel more at ease when life is simple. I often feel I was born 200-years too late. I love to camp and enjoy the peace that I find along rivers or travelling abroad solo. I’m comfortable being in foreign countries and not knowing the language. I get by easily with sign language and drawing pictures to communicate to people.

To me if you can paddle all day, set up camp, cook your food, clean up your mess, go to bed, get up in the morning and repeat everything, then paddling two-three months is not that big a deal. It becomes far more of an emotional, spiritual, and psychological journey than a physical one. My mind is always at battle wondering about things, my well being, what if’s, do’s and don’ts. In 2004 while paddling up the Missouri I was at a constant battle with myself. The main issue was the slow pace in which I moved. I could have easily walked much faster than I was paddling. In the strong currents of the lower river, 2-mph hour was my tops speed. So, living in the 20th century with all the high-speed fast paced lives we all lived, slowing down to a snail’s pace was very difficult. I had to concentrate on the small picture, never the final destination. My mantra was “one stroke at a time will get you to the ocean.” I had to stay focused on the bend ahead, the distant tree or bridge and never the Pacific! I would have gone insane had I not slowed my mind set. “River Time” is what many paddlers talk about; slowing down the pace of the world, the natural environment and not the speedy rate that most follow.

Being able to adapt to changing conditions is another factor that is helpful. On my first big paddle trip I started off very set in my beliefs as to how the day should go. I didn’t accept change very easy. Well, that only lasted about a week and I knew that nature dictated much more than I ever imagined. The weather was the biggest factor. Wind and storms will tell you when you can and cannot paddle. So get use to watching the sky, feeling the wind, observing the weather. It truly tells a lot. After a week or two you can get much better than the weatherman at determining what the forecast will be for the day. There will be times when you just have to wait it out. I’ve spent days wind-bound to a tent, waiting for a break to proceed onward. Don’t be in a hurry. Enjoy the storms, the hail, the tornados, the flooding, the snow, the lightning and the intense sun. Explore the surrounding shore, the distant hillsides. I’ve spent hours in N. Canada on a remote river on my knees looking at stones. I’ve found some amazing things while wandering around waiting for the wind to abate; from Inuit burial grounds, old buildings, rare animal sightings, hot springs, and even a family gathering with plenty of cold beer. Being stranded in the wind is also a good time to rest, to catch up on that needed sleep. I’ve come to love the wind! It has become my friend. I no longer curse it but enjoy its gifts and wonder.

Wind-bound on Canyon Ferry Reservoir

to be continued…