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Day: July 5, 2016

Independence Day

Note: I have coverage here for just a bit. I’m posting yesterday’s update and also the one for June 27. As a reminder, I am doing these posts with a phone which requires cell coverage. This won’t be the last long delay in updates! When I have coverage again I will slowly catch up.

July 4, Day 103

Independence Day! When I woke up last night the stars were startlingly bright. With the short nights I haven’t been seeing stars much.

I was paddling at 5 AM to beat strong winds predicted today. It was another tough day of paddling with unusually nice scenery, rugged badlands with stands of cottonwood near the river and patches of pine and what looks like spruce higher up.

Mule deer bounded away after being startled getting a drink. Bald eagles perched on prominences. A band of bighorns fed on a cliff. It’s hard to understand how they don’t fall to their deaths more often! In many shallows big fish rocketed away from my kayak, leaving wakes marking their flight.

Two kayakers headed towards me, obviously wanting to talk. I landed so we wouldn’t drift for miles. It was Diane and Warren. When they saw an upstream paddler they knew who I was. The are long distance paddlers as well and were heading at least to St Louis so we had a good talk. They gave me a can of soup and another of pineapple. My food supply is tight so it was a nice gift.

A hundred years ago this stretch of river was called the swiftest on the navigable Missouri. Dauphin Rapids was the worst of all, the cause of many steamboat mishaps. I paddled the lower part and then lined the boat to deeper, slower water, something I’ve done plenty the last two days.

The McClellend Ferry was crossing the river ahead of me. It landed just before I got there. The operator said
“No all these years you’re the first upstream paddler I’ve seen. Let me get my camera!” He also brought me some ice tea.

His name was Jack Carr. He was friendly and enthusiastic. I took a ride back and forth across the river with him as he shuttle cars. Swallows had built nests under the eaves of the deck house and continued feeding the little ones as we moved. He asked me if he could give me some food and fetched me 3 cans of beans, another great addition to my larder.

On another rapids I saw a hole in a boulder, perhaps drilled there by a steamboat to winch itself after being hung up.

I spotted a beer can in the river, floating as if it might be sealed. It was. I’m not a big beer drinker but I wasn’t going to pass it up!

The strong winds hit about 3 PM after I’d made about 14 miles. I wanted to do 20 miles but took a very long break in the shade of a magnificent cottonwood hoping to get in some paddling towards evening. I’ve been paddling so hard I have to be careful not to overdo it.

About 6 PM I decided to try to put in some more miles, hoping for an evening calm. The wind had other ideas. I made it a mile when I decided to call it good. Colter

July 4 Camp

Clark:  May 27th Monday 1805. The wind blew hard from the S W. which detained us untill about 10 oClock… This day is verry warm—we only Saw a fiew Small herds of the big horn animals on the hills, and two Elk one of which We killed, we Camped at 2 dead top trees on the Lard Side. The river is Genly about 200 yards wide and Current very Swift

Fort Peck Lake

June 27, Day 96

I felt like I could have used a bit more sleep. The distant sounds of laughter and talking from the Marina Bar kept me up a little later. 

With my kayak carted to the launch I began to pack my 15 days worth of food and 4 gallons of water, my biggest load yet. I didn’t pack neatly enough and barely got everything in. 

It wasn’t as calm as I expected, a bit of a headwind, but still good paddling. The boat seemed a bit heavier. A few fishing boats sped across the giant lake. 
With the predicted light winds and current conditions I could safely cut across the many giant, jagged side bays. I’d pick out a point maybe 3 miles distant and beeline to it. My goal for the day was 40 miles. I wanted to knock this lake out under favorable conditions. 

Most points of land were covered with wildflowers. They smelled unusually strong and sweet as I passed. 
This was Big Sky Country, with the widest views I’ve had since paddling. I could often see for miles up the slopes and mountains on each side, beautiful country covered with grass, sage, cedar and pines. 

My headwind eventually turned to a light tailwind. A giant fish leapt out of the water and landed like a little kid doing a cannonball. 

During one break I was happy to inspect the first true pines of the trip. I also noticed the first short-leafed sagebrush, the type I’m with which I’m most familiar. 

I made my 40 miles, tired but triumphant. I’d looked forward to camping on “pine straw” the whole trip and this evening I enjoyed doing so. Cooked a hot meal of Knorr’s rice. Colter

Fort Peck Lake Camp

Clark: May 9th Thursday 1805… we passed the mouth of a river (or the appearance of a river) on the Lard. Side the bend of which as far as we went up it or could See from a high hill is as large as that of the Missouri at this place which is near half a mile this river did not Contain one drop of running water, about a mile below this river a large Creeke joins the river L. S. which is also Dry-Those dry Streams which are also verry wide, I think is the Conveyance of the melted Snow, & heavy rains which is Probable fall in from the high mountanious Countrey which is Said to be between this river & the Yellow Stone river—I walked on Shore the fore part of this day, & observed Great quantities of the Shining Stone which we view as quarts… saw emunerable herds of buffalow, & goats to day in every derection…

Lewis: May 10th 1805. Set out at sunrise and proceeded but a short distance ere the wind became so violent that we were obliged to come too… we sent out several hunters to scower the country, to this we were induced not so much from the want of provision as to discover the Indians whome we had reasons to believe were in the neighbourhood, from the circumstance of one of their dogs comeing to us this morning shortly after we landed; we still beleive ourselves in the country usually hunted by the Assinniboins, and as they are a vicious illy disposed nation we think it best to be on our guard, accordingly we inspected the arms and accoutrements the party and found them all in good order… saw several deer of the Mule kind of immence size, and also three of the Bighorned anamals. from the appearance of the Mule deer and the bighorned anamals we beleive ourselves fast approaching a hilly or mountainous country; we have rarely found the mule deer in any except a rough country…

Trip overview and route map with position updates:

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