Monday, September 22, 2008

Part 7: In the Wake of Discovery: Great Falls to Three Forks
July 19-22, 2004
The two fawns stood looking intent to my approaching canoe. One hand was paddling while the other held the camera up to my eye ready for the perfect photo. I came within a boat length and clicked away exposure after exposure. The fawns did not know what to make of the strange creature at the waters edge. I'm sure mom or dad never explained to them what a canoe was. The mother deer had bolted minutes before as it was obvious she knew what I was while the fawns could care less. The kept looking back for mother and then looking forward at me, then taking a drink of water from the river. I watched them for several minutes before they too bolted for cover.
I am fast approaching the mountains. Even though the river is extremely crooked, the high hills get bigger and bigger. The river is also not as wide as it has been in the past. I can even throw a stone across it in several places while most of it is just out of my reach. Lewis and Clark left Great Falls in 8 heavily loaded canoes which they built out of cottonwood trees. I can't imagine paddling a 33 foot dugout canoe that weighed close to 8000 pounds! That is about 7700 more pounds than I have the pleasure of pulling through the current. (Lucky me!) Today I was actually forced to camp early due to the heavy headwinds which slowed my progress to almost a standstill. It has been a long time since I have been wind bound. I am hoping to make it to Gates of the Rocky Mountains in about 5 days. Three Forks by the last weekend of the month. From there I get to trade in my paddle for a pair of hiking boots for about a month. I am looking forward to resting my tired body for awhile.

Photo: Junked cars near Great Falls. Used as a form of bank stablization.

Photo above: My laptop and satallite phone used to send updates to my website. I am probably the first and only person ever to canoe across the country with such equipement.

July 15, 1805 "We arose very early this morning, assigned the canoes their loads and had it put on boars. We now found our vessels eight in number all heavily laden…" M. Lewis
"The sunflower is in bloom and abundant in the river bottoms. The indians of the Missouri particularly those who do not cultivate maze make great uce of the seed of this plant for bread, or use it in thickening their soope." M.Lewis
""the emence high precipces oblige all the pary to pass & repass the river from one point to another the river confined in maney places in a verry narrow chanel from 70 to 120 yards wide bottoms narrow without timber and maney places the mountain approach on both sides…" Wm Clark
July 18, 1805"this handsome bold and clear stream we named in honour of the Secretary of war calling it Dearborn's river" M. Lewis
July 19, 1805"this evening we entered much the most remarkable clifts that we have yet seen. These clifts rise from the waters edge on either side perpendicularly to the hight of about 1200 feet. The towering and projecting rocks in many places seem ready to tumble on us. From the singular appearance of this place I called it the gates of the rocky mountains." M. Lewis"my feet is verry much brused & cut walking over the flint, & constantly stuck full Prickly pear thorns, I pulled out 17 by the light of the fire tonight." Wm. Clark Ju

Pine Island Rapids: named by Lewis and Clark. It was one of the most difficult up to that point to get around. I too had to wade up to my waist in the water and pull my boat around the next bend. The cold water felt great in the 90`degree heat.

Camp for the night. Believe it or not the highway and many summer cabins are just our of sight of this photo. The river runs right next to the road for most of it.

Dearborn River: Named by Lewis & Clark. The river empties directly right under the interstate highway overpass. I wonder what L&C would think if they could see this area now. I used the overpass as a momentary resting place with shade.

July 23-30, 2004

Sunday- Hauser Reservoir Montana The constant hum of jet skis, speed boats, and the smell of exhaust for two days has taken away a lot of the beauty and solitude from the area and given me a headache. Holter and Hauser Reservoirs are popular motor boat destinations especially on the weekends. For two days I have been bombarded my huge wakes from all directions. I have encountered over 500 boats and not one dropped their speed as they approached me. A few were so close that I could read the writing of the drivers t-shirts.

I arrived at the first of these two reservoirs Friday evening after three challenging days in which the current was the strongest I have encountered on the entire Missouri River. After passing the small town of Cascade, the river enters the mountains for the first time. Steep volcanic cliffs raise high above often dropping directly into the water. The scenery has been spectacular but not as remote as the previous weeks. Many summer cottages line the river and instead of canoes and kayaks the crystal clear waters are used by drift boats and trout fisherman.

The water is so clear one can easily see the stones 10 feet below the surface. The clarity has helped my navigation tremendously because I can actually see when it's getting too shallow. As with before I would either run aground or hit the blade of my paddle on the river bottom. When I saw that I was getting too close to shore I would steer further out into the deeper water. Although the navigation is easier, the clear water makes me feel uneasy. I personally don't like to see how deep the water is because I have a strange sense that it is calling me to its depths. In fact I am afraid of water which surprises most people. At times the river bordered on Class II whitewater while the majority remained very swift with intermittent pools of slack water for a 100 yards only to be followed by another section of fast moving current. Lewis and Clark had a difficult time hauling their heavy loads through Pine Island Rapids and so did I. The river makes a quick "s" turn with over a few hundred yards of standing waves. At times I was up to my waist hauling my boat through the slowest of current I could find.

I often wonder how I am able to paddle 10 hour days in water that I am unsure I can even walk through. I think I have reached a point in the journey where I've realized I can do it as long as I stay positive and focused on the situation at hand. I more or less tell myself "I've walked, dragged, or paddled hundreds of sections like this I can it one more time". Some days I am even surprised at the miles I have covered which are often more that I estimated for that particular day. I'm sure the members of the Lewis and Clark expedition had similar thoughts. The constant toil, slow pace and relentlessness became a daily routine in which one tries not to think about too much. I feel as if I am in some sort of mental trance at times making the hours speed my. The entire river I've discovered is basically like life itself. Whatever obstacle you are faced with can only be solved if you tell yourself you can do it. "One day at a time; one step at a time; one paddle stroke at a time will get you to the ocean." I've learned I can only do so much in one day. There are days when I don't feel like getting out of the tent or pressing on any further but I somehow manage to do it. Everyday. When the conditions seem hopeless one just has to dive right into it and keep pressing forward.

I hope this journey will inspire at least one person to step outside of the box, to see life like a river, as one bend at a time. We must remember that Lewis and Clark were not "super-heroes". They didn't do anything that today's man or woman is not capable of doing. People in this century have done far greater things than Lewis and Clark and will continue to do so. People I have talked to on the trail seem as though they could never do what I am doing when in fact practically everyone could if they had the desire and the determination.

I was pressed for time reaching the public campground at Holter Dam on Friday to meet Dr. Braun and his family. I had not only 15 miles to paddle but also a dam portage. Since I sent my (Stan's) portage wheels home to save on weight and space, I had to do the portage the old fashioned way, by hand . The portage was about 1/4 mile up a steep incline to the top of the dam. What usually takes me 6 trips to carry everything including my boat only took me three. Thanks to a young man named Tom from Helena who helped haul half of the load. (So I cheated)

I paddled up to the campground as Dr. Braun was walking up to greet me. He was joined by his two daughters Ruth and Abbey, as well as two grandkids. He was determined to grill me a steak dinner and give me a spinal adjustment. He is my chiropractor from my hometown and was the one who arranged other chiropractors along the route to help out. The steaks were great but my hip was about 1 inch higher on one side than but was soon put back in place. The only camping space available for us was in the parking lot on black asphalt. I was able to erect my free standing tent there as well. It was without a doubt the flattest camping place I have had the entire journey.

The entrance to the Gates of the Rocky Mountains, named by Meriwether Lewis.

View from camp inside the "Gates".

By Saturday afternoon I paddled into the "Gates of the Rocky Mountains" named by Meriweather Lewis in 1805. The huge limestone and quartz cliffs rise above the water for over 1100 feet providing a spectacular backdrop for the jet skis and speedboats who's wakes pounded off the sides of the massive cliff walls. I have been here before during the off season with DeeDee and we were the only ones around. It would be nice if they made this canyone a "no wake zone". The noise from the jet skis gave the place an amusement park feel.

There was a small tent camp situated in the middle of the canyon in which I pulled in at the same time as Van Goodwin and his wife Honey and children Thomas and Cat in their red canoe. There were very irritated with the lack of respect they received from the jet skis as well. Van is an ex Ranger and has spent time in Iraq fighting in the war. He is also part Nez Perce Indian which is the same tribe that helped Lewis and Clark during there difficult struggle over the mountains. He invited me to a grilled chicken dinner which I gladly accepted. I was also glad that Van didn't serve any military MRE"S (Meals ready to eat) but would have gladly eaten them as well. As I end this update the mass of boats and watercraft are speeding to the marinas as a fast approaching lightning storm is about to descend upon the area. I plan to make Townsend, Montana on Monday and Three Forks by Friday.

The following day was just a busy with motor boat traffic. No respect with boat wakes. Some speed boats would travel at high speeds within 20 feet creating a wake 4 times the height of my kayak. Now imagine being in a motoboat and having another boat create a wake 4 times the height of their boat? This would be equal to over 15 feet! I'm certain that if they experience a taste of their own medicine they would have a lot more repect with other boats.Several days later Van and his family were waiting for me at Canyon Ferry Resv. and offered to drive me around the dam which saved me a lot more time. Van broke out the tobacco along with the rest of the family and said a prayer and made and offering as I departed across the wind blown body of water.

Exiting the Gates and looking back north.

July 31, 1805"we have a lame crew just now, tow with tumers or bad boils on various parts of them, one with a bad stone bruise, one with his arm accedently dislocated but fortunately well replaced, and a fifth has streigned his back by sliping and falling backwards on the gunwall of the canoe." M. Lewis
Aug 1, 1805"the mountains are extremely bare of timber and out rout lay through the steep valleys exposed to the heat of the sun without shade and scarcely a breath of air…" M Lewis
Aug 5, 1805"the river today they found streighter and more rapid even than yesterday, and the labour and difficulty of the navigation was proportionably increased, they therefore proceeded but slowly and with great pain as the men had become very languid from working in the water and many of their feet swolen and so painful that they could scarcely walk." M Lewis
Self portrait. I hate this photo of me.

The Goodwin Family of Helena, Montana. Thanks for the help around the dam and dinner!

Windbound on Canyon Ferry Reservour. A great place to camp too. One of my favorites of the whole trip.

The rattlesnake made very little sound as I stood near it while pulling my boat to shore. A faint clicking sound was all it made but was enough to get my attention. As I looked down by my ankle I could see the small snake coiled up in striking position. They say you should move slowly away but my initial reaction was to jump. My leap proved to be effective. After realizing the area was probably crawling with snakes I pushed by boat back into the water only to paddle a few more minutes to a small island where I set up camp in the twilight.I slowed my pace the last two days to Three Forks since all my friends would not arrive there until Friday evening. I was looking forward to finishing my upstream travel on this long river. The journey has seemed very long and St. Louis seems like another lifetime ago. The last day or so had been similar to the week's prior. I would paddle a short distance and walk my boat through the shallow waters along the edge into the deeper water and repeat this again and again the entire day. Typically I would walk through the water about 3-4 miles each day while paddling 10-12 miles. I have been wearing sandals, which have rubbed the skin off of my ankles due to my walking in the water.

I am concerned now that I have to wear heavy hiking boots for the next month and what the constant rubbing on these sores may cause. My arrival to Three Forks was somewhat uneventful. Since it was Friday morning there was no one to greet me at the boat ramp. A couple was loading their canoe for a day of fishing as I paddled my last stroke on the Missouri. They asked me where I had started and congratulated me with a cold beer from their cooler. As they handed me the ice cold Budweiser, I thought it was very fitting to have a beer brewed in St. Louis where I started 17-weeks ago.

Above Toston Dam which you can see in the background. It was so peaceful paddling in the slack water above the dam that evening.

Quiet evening just before my rattlesnake encounter.

Photo: Above and below, my last camp before arriving at Three Forks.

Photo :Cheers! My arrival to Three Forks..the start of the Missouri River. It took me 17-weeks to reach this place. A young couple gave me a Budweiser Beer to congratulate me. I thought how ironic since Budweiser is brewed in St. Louis where I started.

The large rock face overlooking the confluence of the Gallitin, Madison, and Jefferson Rivers was where Lewis climbed to get a view of the surrounding valley and ponder which river to ascend to reach the far off Pacific. I was tempted to climb the 200-foot cliff myself but my desire soon disappeared at the thought of lunch and the fact the rocks were probably home to many rattlesnakes. After locking my boat and belongings to the boat ramp sign, I was offered a ride into town by the park ranger, which was much appreciated. The small town of Three Forks radiated in the high ninety degree temperatures as I located a small cafe on Main Street to grab a bite to eat. I was offered the option to sit outdoors on the patio but declined it for the dark air-conditioned inside. Since I have been outside for 4 months I have grown to appreciate the indoors what few times I have encountered it.Several of my friends from Livingston, Missoula, West Yellowstone, Bozeman, Gardner, and Yellowstone National Park stopped by over the weekend to visit and welcome me to Three Forks. Several of us camped for two nights at the nearby campground.

It was really great to see them all and very much appreciated. Thanks to Hillary Johnson for the 20 pieces of Sushi which I inhaled without even knowing if it was all for me. It was great to see her. I can still remember going to her web design business (Star Web Services) a few years ago with the idea to do an ongoing web site during the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial. My chiropractor Dr. Braun and family camped as well and provided so much, such as a 10 lb. smoked salmon, yummy deserts, and plenty of firewood to last the entire weekend. Thanks for another spinal adjustment too! I was glad to see that my hip was not out of place this time. It was great to see Dave and Christie Meuer, Curt & Chery Loeffler, Jen Heath, Tom Porter, Tom & Katie Woods, Paula Clawson, Terri Nightingale, Jason Lehmann, Dennis & Billy Glick, Bev Dawson, Dave Hahn, Derek Poinsette, Dawn Drottos, Richie Doyle, and DeeDee Fite. (I hope I didn't forget anyone.)

Our camp happened to be where I've encountered the most mosquitoes of the entire journey. Having spent the last few months without the need to wear long pants and shirts at night to avoid the bugs, I had to cover up or be eaten by all the flying pests that seemed to congregate near our camp. Lewis and Clark were troubled by mosquitoes their entire journey, and wrote about them often in their journals. I have found it very strange that I have not encountered very many considering I have camped near the water the entire journey. During the next 30 days I will be backpacking over the continental divide through the Bitterroot Mountains that border Montana and Idaho. It was through this area that the Corp of Discovery nearly starved. They were fortunate enough to obtain horses from the nearby Indians and also be guided over the mountains along the trails that the Indians have used for hundreds of years. When I hike the Lolo Trail, I will be joined by author and historian Gene Eastman and his wife Mollie. Gene wrote the book entitled "Bitterroot Crossing- Lewis & Clark across the LoLo Trail". Gene has spent over 20 years researching the real route that Lewis and Clark took over the mountains. His understanding of William Clarks maps, journal descriptions, compass bearings, and terminology has resulted in locating the original trail. The Indians have not used the trail since the 1860's when Chief Joseph passed through while heading to Canada. The current Forest Service Trail that crosses over the mountains is actually not the original trail, as many people believe. The "presumed" Lolo Trail was constructed to accommodate horse packers and hikers over the years and is basically a compilation of an 1860's military road, CCC, and Forest Service Trails that are close to the original Indian trail. Gene says the original trail is still visible in many locations and matches up precisely with where William Clark recorded them to be.

Gene and I will be carrying small packs with minimal amount of supplies. The bulk of our supplies (tent & food) will be located at various camps that Mollie Eastman will set up while Gene and I hike the trail. Each evening we will walk off the original trail to the camp, which will be, located close by. The forest if very thick and overgrown with vegetation since it was last traveled by Native Americans. We will be unable to use horses because of this and all our walking will be in difficult terrain. I hope to send an update once I am camped with Gene and Mollie since she will be able to haul my laptop in their truck to each of our nightly camps. I am looking forward to walking and traveling the "real" route and not the supposed route that was constructed by the US Forest Service.

Friend at Three Forks, Montana

Photo: Me with my friend Hillary Johnson who designed my entire website. Thanks Hillary you are the best. The large cliff in the background is the one Meriwether Lewis climbed to the top to get a view of the three rivers that merge at this location.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Part 6: In the Wake of Discovery: North Dakota to Great Falls Montana.
Photo above: Montana geology near Culbertson.
April 12, 1805"...the country is extreamly broken about the mouth of this river, and as far up on both sides, as we could observe it from the tops of some elivated hills, which stand between the two rivers, about 3 miles from their junction." M. Lewis (Mouth of Little Missouri River)
April 13, 1805"...about 2 in the afternoon when a suddon squall of wind struck us and turned the perogue so much on the side as to allarm Sharbono who was steering at the time, in this state of alarm he threw the perogue with her side to the wind, when the spritsail gibing was as near overseting the perogue as it was possible to have missed. The wind however abating for an instant I ordered Drewey to the helm and the sails to be taken in, which was instantly executed and the perogue being steered before the wind was agin plased in a state of security..." M. Lewis
April 18, 1805"found a spcies of pea bearing a yellow flower, and now in blume; it seldom rises more than 6 inches high, the leaf & stalk resembles that of a common garden pea, the root is perenial." M. Lewis (Near Lake Jesse N.D.)
April 19, 1805"The wind blew so hard this morning from N.W> that we dared not to venture our canoes on the river." M. Lewis
April 23, 1805"The wind of this countrey which blow with some violence almost every day, has become a serious obstruction in our progression onward, as we cant move when the wind is high without great risque, and if there was no risque the winds in generally a head and often too violent to proceed." Wm Clark
April 25, 1805"we encamped on the bank of the yellow stone river, 2 miles south of it's confluence with the Missouri." M. Lewis
April 26, 1805"in order to add in some measure to the general pleasure which seemed to pervade our little community, we ordered a dram to be issued to each person; this soon produced the fiddle, and they spent the evening with much hilarity, singing & dancing, and seemed as perfectly to forget their past toils, as they appeared regardless of those to come." M. Lewis
April 27, 1805"for several days past we have observed a great number of buffaloe lying dead on the shore, some of them entire and others partly devoured by the wolves and bear." M. Lewis
May 2, 1805"every thing which is incomprehensible to the indians they call big medicine, and is the operation of the presnts and power of the great sperit." M Lewis
May3, 1805"we saw an unusual number of Porcupines from which we determined to call the river after that anamal, and accordingly denominated it Porcupine river. This stream discharges itself into the Missouri on the Stard side 2000 miles about the mouth of the latter..." M. Lewis (Now the Poplar River, MT)
May 5, 1805"Capt Clark and Drewyer killed the largest brown bear this evening which we have yet seen. It was a most tremendious looking anamak, and extreemly hard to kill not withstanding he had five balls through his lungs and five others in various parts he swam more than half the distance acros the river to a sandbar, & it was at least twenty minutes before he died..." M Lewis (Near Wolf Point, MT)
May 8, 1805"The river we passed today we call Milk River from the peculiar whiteness of it's water, which precisely resembles tea with a considerable mixture of milk." Wm Clark

Photo above: Pelican take flight near the confluence with the Yellowstone River.

Sunday: Wolf Point, Montana I was surprised to hear the voice say "are you Norm?" At first I thought the two fellow paddlers were someone from my hometown of Livingston. They introduced themselves as Wolfman and Freight Train, each paddling solo canoes and headed for New Orleans. Freight Train had to share his space with a rather large black dog who didn't like the water. He had found the dog while backpacking the Appalachian Trail and it has become his traveling buddy. They had read my web site prior to their departure from Three Forks, Montana and were surprised to see me as I was of them. We exchanged a half hour's worth of river stories and departed our separate ways, they downstream, me up stream into steady current.I feel much closer to home now that I have crossed the border into Montana.

The days prior I had spent with farmers Stan and Jan Anderson on their wheat and sugar beat farm along the Missouri River. They had been kind enough to let me camp on their property and to give me the grand tour of the beautiful area. They live close to the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers which was the meeting place for Lewis and Clark on their return journey in 1806. Clark had returned by way of the Yellowstone and Lewis and went north along the Marias River and back down the Missouri. Clark arrived only a few days before Lewis where these two rivers meet. The landscape has become harsher since arriving in Montana. Large arid bluffs rise above the rivers edge like eroding sand castles providing me with a colorful array of white, pink, yellow and gray. I know have to pay close attention to the river to find the proper channel, current and sandbars. It is rather challenging since the water levels are continuously dropping. I feel I have mastered this skill and have gone many miles without having to push myself off any sandbars.

I made it to Culberston by noon on Friday and was greeted by Texan Craig Swanson who is kayaking solo to St. Louis. The day before he had been beaten up bad by three young men on the Reservation in Wolf Point. They had first tried to take his kayak but when he interfered they switched their aggression on him. He was very disturbed and upset by the situation which has now taken away a lot of the fun out of his journey. I tried to boost his spirits and told him he should not camp on the "north" side which is the reservation and to be thankful nothing worse happened. He now has to paddle to Williston, N.D. for some dental work due to the incident. We spent the day camped together and made numerous trips to town to eat ice cream and pizza which we both don't get to eat while paddling. He is sort of a minimalist and eats canned soup right of the can without heating and only has a bar of granola for breakfast while I consume about 4000 calories of food just to keep me going.The nights have been cold but are now starting to warm up and slowly bringing out the mosquitoes. I have talked to several people who have had the West Nile Virus and it really affected them. Lewis and Clark were plagued by mosquitoes but they didn't have to worry about this new 21st century disease.

On July 2nd my friend Terri will meet me at Ft. Peck to help transport me around the reservoir where I will put back in at James Kipp Bridge to start my way through the Wild and Scenic Missouri Breaks to Ft. Benton which I hope to arrive on around the 14th-17th where I hope to see my sister Gail and brother-in-law Barry. This next section of the river will be the most wild and has changed very little since Lewis and Clark passed through. It is also a popular canoeing and floating destination. Me? Glad to be "home". I have reached the 1/2 way point after three long months of some very challenging situations and conditions. I have a better appreciation for what Lewis and Clark went through and their journey I feel I have begun to understand a lot of what they mentally went through. Constant extreme weather and very uncomfortable living conditions. The last few days have been the first in three months that my feet have been dry. Dirty? Yes, they are still dirty but they are dry.

Photo above: Stan Anderson at his farm along the river. I camped on his property for a couple of nights and he and his wife Jan were very helpful. Thanks!

Photo above: Fort Union. This was the site of the American Fur Trade Company's empire in the late 1800's, many years after Lewis and Clark passed by.

The two spotted fawns were unaware of me as I approached the shore of the river. The mother sensed my presence and quickly bolted into the nearby woods with one of the fawns right behind. The second fawn did not know the other two had left but quickly realized it when it became aware of "the big blue boat" paddling towards shore. It pranced wildly up and down the shore looking for its mother who was probably now too far away. The young deer finally found a trail leading into the thick brush and it too disappeared from site. I knew this would be a good area to camp since animals bring me good luck and safety.

I pulled my boat to shore after a long 23 miles which included three sets of rapids in which I had to pull my boat through the knee deep water since the current was too strong to even consider paddling. The standing wave in the center of the river bounced off rocks as the waters headed downstream. I am camped directly across from the Milk River, which William Clark named because of its appearance. It looks like tea which one has added a hearty portion of milk to. This was the river that the Indians had told them about the previous winter while living at Fort Mandan. They called it "the river that scolds all others". It is the most northern river that empties into the Missouri and was a major trade route for the trappers and Native Americans for many years. I am within 8 miles of Ft. Peck dam, which is one of the largest earth dams ever built. The wind is at my back that should help push me through the strong current to Ft. Peck.

During the boom days when the dam was being constructed there was close to 13,000 people living here. Now only a small handful of about 300 residents live here. I am glad to have reached this area, as it is sort of another milestone. I usually try to paddle the distance on one of my maps, which is equal to about 15-20 miles. It is very rewarding to me when I cover such distance and very upsetting when my day is cut short due to winds. It has been very lonely the last several days. I have not seen or talked to anyone except myself. At times this entire project seems worthless and that I am typing these words that no one will read but only to have a message relayed to me from a long lost college roomate, high school teacher, or stranger who I have never met sending me words of encouragement and praise. Its days like these that keeps me going while other times I have all I can do to even get out of my tent in the morning.

The cottonwood trees are in full bloom the last few days. The seeds dropped by these giant trees each have a tuft of cotton like fiber, which floats in the air depositing the seed downwind. The air is so thick with cotton that is looks as is it is snowing out. Yesterday I was hit in the face with so much of it that it would stick to my whiskers like Velcro, which I then had to wipe off. I constantly felt like I was getting hit it the face with cobwebs.The technology I use to send photos and text data is far beyond anything used by Lewis and Clark except for the occasional pen to write a rough draft. I'm sure I am the first ever to paddle the Missouri River while carrying a Dell Inspiron 300M laptop, Satellite Phone, Iowa Thin Film Solar Panels, and a Nikion Cool Pics 5400 digital camera. Sending data from the field is very challenging. Not only must you keep out dirt, water and other debris but you must also set it up in rather obscure places while extremely fatigued from having paddled all day.

I begin by downloading all my photos onto my laptop photo program. I then open WordPad and type the text for that particular update. This is all saved where it will be attached to an outgoing email. I then decide which photo's I would like to send along to give you a feel for the trail or the mood of the day. I then open up a jpeg file compression program which reduces the 50K-350K photo's down to around 10k. This procedure saves battery life on my laptop and satellite phone. Since my Telestial Iridium Phone only transmits data at a rate of about 2k per second it is important that the size be reduced to save time and battery life. I usually send two updates per battery before they need to be recharged or replaced with a new one.I use two solar panels from Iowa Thin Films. These panels are lightweight and roll up like a map and easily stored in a dry bag. As I approach more remote areas I will be using these panels more and more. The first part of my journey I had access to electrical outlets but they are now few and far between. When the sun is out and I am wind bound or taking a break I pull out these panels and attach either my satellite phone or computer to them to recharge. They work really good and I highly recommend a set of these for anyone who ventures away from a power source.

When I send an update, I create an email in Outlook Express, then I attach the text file and the jpeg photos to the email before sending. The phone is then attached to the laptop using a USB to Port Adapter cable. When using a satellite phone you must have the phone outside with an unobstructed view of the sky. Trees and buildings will cause you to lose your satellite connection so I have to make sure I have a clear shot of the sky. I then open up my email connection and the phone is automatically dialed to my account with Stratosnet. Once connected it takes about 5-10 minutes to send the email. This is usually done inside my tent while the phone it outside pearched on a nearby log. Confused? You should be, it is a lengthy process with many precautions along the way. Imagine doing an update after paddling 10 hours into a headwind during 80 degree temperatures while sitting in a small tent crammed with equipment and clothing. All of my high tech equipment is stored in Pelican Water Proof Cases (which also float). In each case I have added desiccant tablets which help remove moisture from the equipment. These tablets are the small packages you find in medication and sometimes food. As you can imagine I don't even dare open any of my Pelican Cases if it is raining for fear of ruining the equipment.
The data that Jamie Robinson at CoreComm receives is then cut and pasted to the web site for you to view.In the days of Lewis and Clark the fastest way information traveled was by horse or by boat. It would take days, weeks and even months for some people to receive information. When the Corp.of Discovery returned to St. Louis in 1806 many people thought they had all died since there was no way for anyone to receive information from them while they were gone. Imagine if Lewis and Clark had a laptop and satellite phone to send data back to President Jefferson.

Photo above: The Yellowstone River at the confluence with the Missouri

Photo above: Somewhere along the river.

Photo above: Craig Swanson heading off towards New Orleans, his final destination. Craig was assulted in Wolf Point by several Indian youth.

Photo above: A nice peaceful evening near Wolf Point.

Photo above: A calm mornings paddle up the mighty Missouri.

Photo above: The Milk River where it meets the Missouri River.

Photo above: July 4th weekend at Ft. Peck Dam. Oh it was so crazy with exhaust and noise. I was glad to get away from here.

The tiny 2-horse powered Honda motor seemed too small for the large Grumman aluminum freight canoe tied up on shore. Two people moved about setting up an early camp as I inched along the shore. I pulled my boat up next to the large canoe and was greeted by Kathleen West a BLM Ranger who along with co-worker Chris Noyes were on their last night out of a week long patrol of the Missouri Breaks Wild and Scenic section between Ft. Benton and James Kipp Recreation Area. This beautiful section of the river is the most scenic, isolated, and most unchanged on the entire Missouri River. Little has changed since the days of Lewis and Clark except for the number of visitors to the area. The two rangers help maintain the designated campsites along the way as well as remove trash they happen to find. I tied my boat up to theirs, retrieved my lunch bag from my boat and joined them on shore.This was Kathleens first year on patrol. She is a photographer and lives the rest of the year in Arizona. Chris has worked several summers on the river and will return to college in Ashland, Oregon when the season is over. They had some of the camping comforts that I miss such as a folding table and a cooler. I was hoping they had some ice cream stored somewhere within the cooler.

I encountered many groups of canoeist the last two days. Some canoes were so full of gear they reminded me of my own departure from St. Louis three months ago. This past Sunday I managed to eliminate a few more items which I have not used as well as swap my heavy sleeping bag for a lighter one now that the nights are warm. My friend Terri arrived at Ft. Peck about noon on Saturday to help shuttle me around the reservoir. The area was busy with motorboats, jet skis, pontoons and screaming children all there for the July 4th weekend. I was glad to leave the chaos behind and get back to the solitude the river has offered me.The river is lined with high bluffs consisting of sand and limestone. Erosion is playing a key role in the every changing vista. Gullies are carved by water giving the bluffs the appearance of giant sand castles that a child transforms when a bucket of water is dumped overtop.The current is now the strongest I have yet encountered. I frequently must get out and pull my boat through the fast knee-deep rapids. This provides a much-needed break by allowing me to stretch my legs and cool down in the water. I've realized that walking in water is much slower that when I paddle. I have managed to cover 13 miles each of the last two days. I am looking forward to reaching Ft. Benton, which will be another milestone in this long arduous journey. My sister Gail and her husband Barry are planning on meeting me there from Michigan. The next 125 miles consist of more rapids, beautiful cliffs and bluffs, no towns, plenty of mud, bugs and heat. I am camped below the hills this evening that Meriwether Lewis climbed in 1805 to get his first view of the Rocky Mountains. It was a joyous occasion and milestone for their expedition to finally reach the source of the Missouri River. I hope to climb the bluffs myself to get a view of the mountains that I have missed these last three months. I dedicate this weeks paddling to my Uncle Richard Miller who passed away this past weekend. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family. He will be missed.

Photo Above: BLM river patrol rangers checking in with me.

Photo above: One of the few actual locations marked of the Lewis and Clark Expeditions campsite.

Photo above: The evening lighting can really be great along the White Cliffs.

Photo above: Loading gear into the boat along the White Cliffs.

Photo above: A typical scene in which I have to drag my boat up through the faster and shallow current. I would have to do this about every few hundred yards the entire way through the upper portion of the river.

Photo above: An old homestead in rapid decay along the river. It was interesting to explore this old house.

Photo above: A large cottonwood tree watches over my camp for the night.

July 8th,2004: "We have ice cream", said the lady behind the counter of the tiny store. My eyes opened wide at her comment. I ordered 2 fruit Popsicles to go along with a cold bottle of Gatorade, Doritos and a Rolo Candy Bar. The small store carried the least amount of supplies for boaters but plenty for my quick lunch break at Judith Landing. The store is located about 50 miles from anywhere only by dirt road. It provides a quick re-supply for anyone going further down river, or upriver in my case. It is also the only store or building along the 150 mile section between Ft. Benton and James Kipp Recreation area except for the occasional old homestead. Dozens of canoeist were ending their trip at the bridge as I paused for a brief stop. A nice couple from Corvallus, Montana gave me 4 gallons of fresh drinking water, which I was about out of. They had just completed their first canoe trip through the Wild and Scenic Section of the White Cliffs region and enjoyed it despite the woman becoming ill on the last day.
I had made fair distances the last few days even though the river is very fast with numerous rapids. I probably dragged my boat upstream at least 4 miles in the last 4 days. Every time I would encounter a section where the river narrowed, the current became fast and shallow. Too fast for any forward progress and too shallow to plant a canoe paddle in without breaking it. When the boat started to hit bottom, I would quickly jump out, grab the bowline and start walking through the calf to knee deep warm water with the boat in tow.Usually after a hundred yards or so I would climb back in only to do all over again after about a mile. It is hard for me to imagine Lewis and Clark and their men pulling huge pirogues using rope made of elk skins. I think the river was much deeper in 1805 when they passed through since there is no way they could do it in the low water conditions the river is in today. As I departed Judith Landing I passed the mouth of the Judith River, which William Clark named after the women he would eventually marry. The wind was hard and steady into my face as I covered the next five miles in 3 1/2 hours where I set up my tent on a small 5-acre island with several large cottonwood trees to help break the wind.

Photo above: Judith's River named by William Clark after Julia Hancock whom he would marry upon his return to St. Louis.

Photo above: Evening sun upstream from the Judith River.

Photos above: Scenes of visionary enchantment that seemed to never end.

July 18-21, 2004
I have finally arrived at Great Falls, Montana where Lewis and Clark spent over a month hauling tons of equipment around the 18 miles of rapids that are now drowned out by 4 hydro dams. It is hard to imagine the beauty of the falls as the Corp saw them in 1805. The dams are an eye soar to the beautiful landscape along the river. Days ago I passed the Marias River where Lewis and Clark had to make a difficult descision. They were unsure if they should follow the Marias or the Missouri since they both contained about the same volume of water. They spent over a week camped along the Marias while Lewis walked the great distance south to discover the "Great Falls" of the Missouri which was the correct route to the Pacific. The weather has been extremely hot and humid and the waters swift and shallow. I made it to Fort Benton on Tuesday afternoon where my sister Gail greeted me with her husband Barry who drove out from Michigan to spend a few days with me. The visit was short ( I cant figure out how to turn off this font style, sorry) but a nice change from the hectic pace of the river. Gail suprised me with a quilt she had made in honor of my Lewis and Clark journey. I know nothing about quilting, but the work she put into it is amazing. We ended up mailing it to my home since it would not last on the river. I was met by my girl friend DeeDee below the dams where she aided in hauling my boat the 20 miles around the dams here in Great Falls. The photos I am sending with this are of the dams that have wiped out the falls that Lewis and Clark mention in the journals as well as some of the large freshwater spring they discovered along the river. This spring is huge and pumps out over 135,000 gallons of water each minute. The water was crystal clear and was very tempting to jump in and cool off in the hot humid temperature. I have been spending the day with DeeDee since I have not seen her since I departed in March. She has helped out so much on the home front by answering my phone messages and sending food shipments to me along the trail to various post offices. If it wasn't for her this journey would be very difficult to pull off.

May 31, 1805 The hills and river Clifts which we passed today exhibit a most romantic appearance. The bluffs of the river rise to the hight of from 2 to 300 feet and in most places nearly perpendicular; they are formed of remarkable white sandstone which is sufficiently soft to give way readily to the impression of water; two or thre thin horizontal stratas of white free-stone, on which the rains or water make no impression as we passed on it Seemed as if those Seens of Visionary enchantment would never have an end; for here it is too that nature presents to the view of the traveler vast ranges of walls of tolerable workmanship, So perfect indeed are those walls that I Should have thought that nature had attempted here to rival the human art of Masonry had I not recollected that She had first began her work. These walls rise to the hight in many places of 100 feet, are perpindicular, with two regular faces, and are from one to 12 feet thick, each wall retains the Same thickess to the top which it possesses at bottomWm. Clark (Missouri Breaks National Monument,MT)

June 3rd Monday 1805we formed a Camp on the point in the junction of the two rivers, and dispatched a Canoe & three men up each river to examine and find if possible which is the most probable branch, the left fork which is the largest we are doubtfull of, the Indians do not mention any river falling in on the right in this part of the Missouri, The Scolding river, if there is Such a one Should have fallen in below agreeable to their accts. we also dispatched men in different dircts. by land, to a mountain Covered with Snow to the South & other up each river- Capt Lewis and my Self walked out & assended the hill in the point observed a leavel open Counrey to the foot of the mountains which lye South of this, also a River which falls into the Right hand fork about 1½ miles above its mouth on the Lard. Side this little river discharges a great deal of water & contains as much Cotton timber in its bottoms as either of the others we saw Buffalow & antelopes &c. wild Cheries, red & yellow burries, Goose berries &c. abound in the river bottoms, prickley pares on the high plains, we had a meridian altitude and the Lattd. produced was 47° 24' 12" N. Wm Clark (Junction of the Marias and Missouri River)

Saturday June 8th 1805"The whole of my party to a man except myself were fully peswaided that this river was the Missouri, but being fully of opinion that it was neither the main stream or that which it would be advisable for us to take, I determined to give it a name and in honour of Miss Maria W-d. called it Maria's River. it is true that the hue of the waters of this turbulent and troubled stream but illy comport with the pure celestial virtues and amiable qualifications of that lovely fair one; but on the other hand it is a noble river; one destined to become in my opinion an object of contention between the two great powers of America and Great Britin with rispect to the adjustment of the North westwardly boundary of the former; and that it will become one of the most interesting brances of the Missouri in a commercial point of view, I have but little doubt, as it abounds with anamals of the fur kind, and most probably furnishes a safe and direct communication to that productive country of valuable furs exclusively enjoyed at present by the subjects of his Britanic Majesty; in adition to which it passes through a rich fertile and one of the most beatifully picteresque countries that I ever beheld, through the wide expance of which, innumerable herds of living anamals are seen, it's borders garished with one continued garden of roses, while it's lofty and open forrests, are the habitation of miriads of the feathered tribes who salute the ear of the passing traveler with their wild and simple, yet s[w]eet and cheerfull melody." M. Lewis

Photo above: Citidel Rock made famous by the Bodmer painting.

Photo above: Working my way upstream.
Photo above: White Cliffs of the Missouri. Near Eagle Creek. One very hot day, close to 100`degrees!

Photo above: Birds eye view of Maria's River
Photo above: Maria's River named by Lewis. The Corp. camped near here and explored this river to determine which was the main channel and route to the Pacific.
Photo above: Just upstream from Maria's River.
Photo above: River high above Ft. Benton.

Photo above: Old Church near Loma Montana. Close to where Maria's River dumps into the Missouri.

Photo above: Camp downstream from Great Falls.

Photo: DeeDee my girlfriend (at the time of the trip). She was a huge help in the success of this journey. I owe so much to her for all she did. This was taken at Big Spring in Great Falls.

Photo above: Big Sping. Encountered by the expedition. This spring pours out thousands of gallons of water a minute.

Photo: Dam built in Great Falls which has destroyed the orginal falls encountered by the explorers.

Thursday June 20th 1805. "This morning we had but little to do; waiting the return of Capt. Clark; I am apprehensive from his stay that the portage is longer than we had calculated on. I sent out 4 hunters this morning on the opposite side of the river to kill buffaloe; the country being more broken on that side and cut with ravenes they can get within shoot of the buffaloe with more ease and certainty than on this side of the river. my object is if possible while we have now but little to do, to lay in a large stock of dryed meat at this end of the portage to subsist the party while engaged in the transportation of our baggage &c, to the end, that they may not be taken from this duty when once commenced in order to surch for the necessary subsistence. The Indian woman is qute free from pain and fever this morning and appears to be in a fair way for recovery, she has been walking about and fishing. In the evening 2 of the hunters returned and informed me that they had killed eleven buffaloe eight of which were in very fine order, I sent off all hands immediately to bring in the meat they soon returned with about half of the best meat leaving three men to remain all night in order to secure the ballance." M. Lewis

Saturday June 22cd 1805. "This morning early Capt Clark and myself with all the party except Sergt. Ordway Sharbono, Goodrich, york and the Indian woman, set out to pass the portage with the canoe and baggage to the Whitebear Islands, where we intend that this portage shall end. Capt. Clarke piloted us through the plains. about noon we reached a little stream about 8 miles on the portage where we halted and dined" M Lewis

June 25, 1805"Capt. C. somewhat unwell today. he made Charbono kook for the party against their return. it is worthy of remark that the winds are sometimes so strong in these plains that the men informed me that they hoisted a sail in the canoe and it had driven her along on the truck wheels. this is really sailing on dry land." Lewis

Photo: Dam at Great Falls. Can you just imagine what it looked like before this thing was built?