James Kipp Recreation Area
June 9, 2023
Dear Family & Friends:
On June 6, I broke camp early and was on the River at 8:30 am. This was one of the most successful yet disappointing stretches of the River.
I paddled for 8-1/2 hours and gained at least 40 miles. The River was running really fast and I had the added benefit of a tailwind. I ran through over 15 rapids, but only 3 were mildly challenging. The disappointment came from the fires in Canada that filled the sky with smoke. This destroyed all the views. It also left me with a deep and persistent pain and blurred vision in my left eye. By the end of the day, the skies cleared of smoke and my eye felt a lot better.
June 7. Today was a milestone day on the River as I have now paddled over 400 miles-17% of the total journey. Every day is a grand adventure, full of total surprises and fresh challenges. The sky was clear of smoke, the current was swift and I arrived at the James Kipp Recreation Area (“Kipp”) around 5 pm-a 7 hour day of paddling. I met a man in his late 60’s paddling up River in a canoe loaded with gear and barrels. His name is Jim Kurz. He paddled up the Missouri River from Wisconsin to Three Forks and wrote a book titled “Out My Backyard.”He was moving up River against the current, inches at a time. I felt sorry for him but admire his drive and determination. When I told him I need to resupply at Kipp, he said the nearest city is miles away. Then, he told me his car is parked at Kipp and handed me a spare key. These are the kind of people I am meeting on the Missouri River–just like the Mississippi River. Everyone is kind, supportive and helpful.
About an hour away from Kipp, I heard the thunder behind me and looked to see deep, dark clouds closing in on me. I pulled into Kipp as fast as I could. Two kind gentlemen helped me unload my canoe and move my canoe and gear to the tent area of the Park. That’s when I was hit with a torrent of rain, lightening strikes and thunder like none I have ever experienced. The thunder followed the lightening in just seconds, so I knew it was close. I set my tent up in the pounding rain and entered the tent soaking wet.
I found Jim’s car, just a few feet from my tent. On June 8, I drove Jim’s car to Zortman, which is about 25 miles from Kipp. I had a wonderful breakfast at the Miner’s Cafe and purchased the supplies I need at Buckhorn Store. With cell and internet connections, I was able to connect with home and catch up with my emails. Once I get back on the River, I will not have these connections for many days.
When I arrived back at Kipp, I met several families vacationing and fishing. Two of the fishermen-Dave and Jamie-took me out on their flat-bottomed fishing boat and showed me how they catch catfish. They drive stakes into the ground at various locations along the shoreline. They attach a long fishing line to each stake. The fishing line has 3-4 hooks and is weighted at the end. They attach minnows to each hook. They throw the line into the water and the weight drags the baited hooks to the bottom of the River. They leave and return to camp. At the end of the day, they check each stake to see if they caught any catfish. When we ran the lines, they caught 11 catfish, three of which weighed over 17 pounds.
The forecast was for more rain and thunderstorms so I decided to take another zero day on June 9. I drove 55 miles to Malta where I laundered my filthy clothes and got a shave and haircut.
Thanks Jim for the use of your car!
In a future post, I will offer my reflections after paddling 400 miles on the Mighty Mo.