Saturday, June 27, 2009

Part 3

Tuesday morning we waved a fond farewell to our campsite and hit the river for 22 miles of paddling and sightseeing. We had a brisk wind in our faces most of the day (which kept the bugs away, hooray!), but since we were traveling down river, and it was flowing at about 7 miles per hour, it wasn't much work at all. Towards the end of the day, we even hooked the canoes together and floated along side by side.
Oops, I almost forgot to mention this: The night before, my trusty husband and brother were able to break in the shotgun, firing it off a few times to scare away whatever creature was snarling and growling just beyond our tents in the dark. Never again will I scoff at bringing such a thing on such a trip.

We stopped at Hole in the Wall, thinking we might stay for the night, but Sara spotted a snake and Jan Michael discovered a trillion fire ants marching all around, so Sara and I said, "Back to boats, boys!"

These glimpses certainly don't do the actual landscape justice. For a true picture, you'll have to get out there yourself :)
One neat thing about the Upper Missouri is that Lewis and Clark used it on their trek out west. Quite a thing to think about as we sallied forth.

We stopped for the night at Dark Butte, a most excellent campsite with one of the funniest toilets ever. More on that in the next post...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Montana, Part 2

Holland Lake was so charming, we decided Sunday night before we went to bed that we'd stay an extra day. When we woke up, though, to the the wind screaming through the trees and whipping around all over the place, we changed our minds again and decided to move along. But first, an adventure was in order.....

We'd discovered a lodge on the other side of the lake with a cute little dining room, and Jan Michael, Derek and I were keen on paddling to it for a cozy breakfast. Nevermind a lake with white caps and class 2 or 3 rapids - we are intrepid explorers! The best way to describe such a hair-raising, nail-biting trip is to include an excerpt from our official adventure journal as recorded by my husband, so here we go:

"8:30 a.m.: Jan Michael suggests a last canoe of Holland Lake [emphasis, as it would turn out, on last.] Sara [wisely, as it would turn out] says, 'No thank you.' Derek, Jan and Hil launch the canoe. Derek is first on board and is instantly soaked. He continues to take waves in the face while Jan and Hil ponder how to get in the canoe without getting wet. Derek grinds teeth. Heavy oaring, canoe takes on water, all are thankful that gear is in waterproof bag. In the middle of lake, Derek suggests we turn back as he notices we are oaring in place. Canoe comes within an inch of taking on 4 gallons of water every time we crest a wave. Execute awesome turn and get closer to shore. Notice that back of canoe is heavier than front, so aren't able to keep boat straight. Derek suggests Hil bail out to get rid of unnecessary weight, Hil respectfully declines. As we get closer to shore, waves die down, strength returns, and we resume trek to lodge near shoreline. 9:30 a.m.: Arrive at lodge, Hil kisses ground, eat excellent breakfast."

Exhilarated by our near brush with the bottom of Holland Lake, we packed up camp...

...and hit the road again for Fort Benton and the Upper Missouri River.

Part 2 continued or We Meet the Upper Missouri

I don't think our introduction to paddling down the river could have been any better. The water was like glass, the sun was setting and the sky was exploding into a riot of color, beavers were splashing around and a eagle was keeping an eye on the whole deal. Since we didn't launch until later in the evening, we traveled only 5 or so miles and then stopped for the night.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Montana adventure, Part 1

We spent our first night at Holland Lake, which is where Jan Michael and Derek camped as tiny things when the family lived in Missoula. The place is perfect in every way, and we will be back.