Just South of Judith Landing
June 6, 2023

Dear Family & Friends:

This report has been delayed by the complete lack of cell service below Fort Benton.

I took a “zero” day in Great Falls on June 2 because of heavy rain.  I used this day to resupply, meet with an old friend-Greg Smith-and visit the fabulous C.M. Russell Museum. On June 3, Jack, Joan & Lindsay Love portaged my boat and me to Ft. Benton.

I stayed at the beautiful, historic and restored Grand Union Hotel. The hotel was built in 1882 before Montana was a State. It is the oldest  operating hotel in Montana and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places The Grand Union just celebrated its 140th anniversary. The owners, Tony & Colette Longin, are wonderful people who consider themselves caretakers of this historic hotel.

Ft. Benton is an interesting and historic “Wild West” city. It was established in 1846 as the American Fur Company’s headquarters for the lucrative Upper Missouri River fur trade. Ft. Benton was the terminus of steamboat travel up the Missouri River. At one time, 75% of freight for the Northwest was unloaded at Ft. Benton.

The rain has stopped and I’ll be back on the Mighty River tomorrow morning. The weather reports are positive. The River current at Ft. Benton is swift. I can’t wait to get back on the Mighty Mo. This has been a fantastic and eventful trip, and it’s just starting. 😀

On June 4, Tony help me get my canoe down to the boat ramp. Tony and Colette then saw me off at 11:30 AM. This was one of my best days of paddling. The River was running really strong with currents about 5 mph. The scenery was absolutely beautiful. In seven hours, I was able to travel 40 miles. I set up camp at the Virgella Ferry.

On June 5, I travelled another 25-30 miles and set up Camp a little over 1/2 way to Judith Landing. More grand vistas, especially the White Rocks section. The rock formations of the mountains alongside the River are really interesting. The River blew up on me about 1 mile from my campsite. Sudden and gale force winds, turbulent water & pelting rain caught me off guard and almost blew the paddle right out of my hands. I hugged the shoreline the rest of the way to camp.

I crawled into my sleeping bag around 10 pm, which was when the rain began. Lightning bolts filled the sky, followed by the sound of rolling thunder. The pitter patter of rain striking my tent fly finally put me to sleep.

Joan, Bill, Lindsay & Jack

Tony, Colette & Bill