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Tag: Fort Benton

Hawks and Eagles

July 13, Day 112

A calf was loudly bawling nearby, long before dawn.

A mule deer buck watched from the edge of the willows as I rounded the first bend.

At first the current was fairly mild, but then it became more consistently strong, and I spent more and more time out of the kayak pulling upstream.

Something was floating in the water. Some dark foam? No, a young hawk, so freshly drowned I wondered if he might revive when I pulled him out. Just ahead were some high, dark bluffs. He likely died attempting his first flight.

Missouri River Bluffs

Four eagles, and some lurking magpies, fed on something at the edge of the water. They were reluctant to fly. It was a mule deer fawn.

Eagles feeding on fawn

I took a chance paddling up a side channel, enjoying an escape from the current. After a half mile it dead-ended completely. I got out to scout but there was no easy portage as I’d hoped. I retreated and had to fight my way up that same half mile in the main channel.

During breaks I’d check my progress and be surprised at how few miles I’d made, the result of the strong current, including passing some rapids, but also of a more relaxed pace.

I saw some fossils today, and some large thin slabs of slate.

Several thunder cells moved through. Most missed me but at least two didn’t. One pounded me with hard rain. I’d just put on my rain jacket and watched the driving rain bounce off the river. I thought about the photos I’ve been taking. I’m much more likely to take shots of reflections in calm water rather than dragging my kayak through tough current, or of s sunny day rather than s stormy day, mostly due to ease of photography.

It will be something like 31 miles from Fort Benton to the start of my portage, normally two easy days. It was clear, though, that it would be tough to make half of distance today, and the toughest miles of all would be the rapids just below Morony Dam. I’d want to start the long portage fairly refreshed and early in the day, so I’d shoot for three shorter days instead of two tough ones. Despite nearly 12 hours on the river, I only made about 14 miles.

I made camp next to the river and used my alcohol stove to cook up a hot meal of “Steak and Fajita” flavored rice.

Clark: June 13th Thursday 1805 a fair morning, Some dew this morning the Indian woman Verry sick I gave her a doste of Salts. … numbers of gees & goslings, the gees cannot fly at this Season—goose berries are ripe and in great abundance, the yellow Current is also Common, not yet ripe Killed a buffalow & Campd on the Lard Side near an old Indian fortified campy one man Sick & 3 with Swellings, the Indian woman verry Sick. Killed a goat & fraser 2 Buffalow The river verry rapid maney Sholes great nos of large Stones passed Some bluffs or low cliffts of Slate to day

Trip overview and route map with position updates:

Rest and Repair in Ft. Benton

July 12, Day 111

It was a pleasant mild day. I walked the 1.5 miles or so to the cafe for another big breakfast where I got partially caught up posting some of my journal days.

A barber pole was spinning a few blocks away so I stopped for a haircut and beard trim. The haircut made a big difference but the beard trim is hardly noticeable.

A book store sign drew me to browse and I bought a book about the Indians before Lewis and Clark.

Back at camp I used a special fiberglass/resin repair kit to reinforce the edges of my paddle blades. It will definitely work dramatically better than duct tape but beyond that I’m not sure.

I replaced a duct tape patch on my pants with a clear patch, and made a quality duct tape repair to my shoes which should last until I get new shoes in Great Falls.

In the afternoon I walked to the library and looked at an atlas of Lewis and Clark maps. Later I ate a big meal of Surf and Turf, followed up a few blocks away by a banana split at the ice cream place.

There are dozens of interesting historical signs and statues and whatnot here. This was the highest point of steamboat traffic, accessible only during the highest water. It was a wild town and the hub of the region at one time.

Fort Benton Corps of Discovery Statue

There are less than 250 miles left to Three Forks, the start of the Missouri River proper. I will probably start hiking again there.

My morale and health is good. The next big challenges will be the fast water between here and Great Falls and the big portage there. Colter

Trip overview and route map with position updates:

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