May 28, 2023
Dear Family & Friends:
First, I apologize that this is my first blog post on my Missouri River (“MR”) trip. This area is very remote with very little cell phone coverage, and it is hard to write a post in my tent when it is pouring rain outside my tent, (plus my daughter who helps me post in remote locations has been traveling). I have been using my Facebook page to post text, photos and videos almost every day.
I drove from California to Three Forks, Montana with my Clipper. Sea One canoe attached to the roof of my Subaru Outback. I launched from Three Forks on May 22. My beloved niece, Rachel, and her friend, Curtis, drove up from Washington state to see me off. Rachel drove my car to her home, where it will be stored until my trip is over.
The first day on the River was great, with a good current and good weather. After a 20 mile journey, I camped at Tustin Dam. The next morning, Norm Miller and Kris helped me portage around the Dam to my first campsite. Norm had lots of good advice for navigating the River. The second day on the River was even better with a really strong current while I paddled down the MR to Canyon Ferry Lake. When I arrived at the Lake, the winds and sandbars pushed me out into the middle of the Lake where there was no current. At that point, I had to paddle furiously to the shoreline where I found a good campsite on the west side of the River. The next morning, I was joined by Jim Emanuel, Bill Kogerman and Jim’s yellow lab, Steve. Our goal was to paddle to the Canyon Ferry Dam, about 24 miles downstream. About 3/4 of the way to the Dam, I decided to make camp because the strong NW headwinds and the lack of current made paddling very difficult. Jim, Bill & Steve continued to the Dam because Jim had dogs and chickens to take care of at home. The next morning, I made it to the Dam despite strong headwinds and constant rain. Jim & Bill portaged me around the Dam and invited me to stay with them at Jim’s house in Helena. I gladly accepted. I took a warm shower, washed my dirty clothes and organized my gear while Jim and Bill trained Jim’s 3 labs. We then traveled to Helena where I shopped for gear at Walmart. Jim took us on a fun home tour in Helena. We then had a great dinner in Helena and I slept well that night.
The next morning, Jim & Bill took me back to the MR for my journey down to Hauser Dam. Those were really long days on the River because of the lack of current, strong NW headwinds and constant rain. Jim and Bill portaged me around the Dam to Holter Lake. Paddling down Holter Lake led me to the “Gates of the Mountains,” the most scenic and beautiful portion of the MR. The views were absolutely stunning. I spent a long day paddling down Holter Lake before I set up Camp on the west side of the MR. I took the opportunity to start a raging bonfire.
Today, I planned to reach the Holder Dam, portage around the Dam and reach my destination at Craig, Montana where my son, grandsons and I have fly fished in the past. But, I was stressed about finding someone who could help me portage around Holter Dam. Norm Miller told me not to worry, I will find someone near the Dam who can help with the portage. He was right. Today, about three miles from the Dam, I saw a guy mowing his lawn in the front of his house on the MR. I pulled in to his dock and asked if he knows someone who can help me portage around the Dam. He replied “sure, I can do that.” So, Trevor and his wife, Candra, portaged me around the Holter Dam and deposited me in Missouri River Paradise. The views on the MR below Holter Dam were spectacular (better, in my view, than the Gates of the Mountains), the skies were clear, the current was strong and the skies were deep blue. I arrived in Craig around 3 pm, set up my camp on the River and had a great lunch at the new brewery in Craig (“Craig’s Taphouse”).
My next destination is Great Falls, Montana.