Posts Tagged With: wilderness

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!

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Categories: Expedition, The Route | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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.

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

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.

Categories: Missouri River, The Route | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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…

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

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

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

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

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

Very cool.  Enjoy!

Categories: Education, Expedition | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dreaming of days, and nights, on the river

I lay here watching the lightning and listening to the thunder outside.  I have just put down Dave Miller’s “The Complete Paddler.”  I am trying to imagine laying in my bed on the banks of the river, in the midst of wilderness, perhaps a storm outside my tent, and wondering if I’ll be imagining this very night in which I’m dreaming of my 3-month trek down the Missouri River.  I am safe and warm and dry right now.  Will this be something I long for then, just as I am longing for the isolation and adventure now?  (photo by Norm Miller)

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

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Missouri River 2013 - Mississippi River 2016 - Yukon River 2017

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