Yellowstone River to the Mississippi River 2016

Yellowstone River to the Missouri River to the Mississippi River to Baton Rouge

This trip lasted 86 days and plus or minus 3000 miles...


Yellowstone Journal 1

Yellowstone River from Gardner, MT., to the Missouri River, Williston, ND., to the Mississippi, River St. Louis, MO. down to Baton Rouge, LA.

APRIL 6- WENS – Left Bend, Oregon at 8 PM and drove as far as Stinking Water Pass East of Burns.

DAY 2 APRIL 7- THURS
– Up early on the road and drove to Big Sky, MT, arriving at approximately 5PM. I spent the night there in Big Sky in a Mt. Roads Dept Gravel Pit.


DAY 3 APRIL 8 FRI – Left as the sun was coming up and headed to Gardnier, MT, arriving about 8AM. My original plan was to ask one of the outfitters/river raft companies to let me put my kayak together at their location/leave my gear with the kayak and head to Williston, ND to park/store the Camper Van and then hitchhike back to Gardnier. As I was driving to Gardiner, I spotted a boat put in and across the river was the Dome Mountain Lodge and stopped there and got to speak to the owner and she said I could tie up behind the lodge.

I went to the ramp/put in and started to put the kayak together. The wind was howling, it was about 9:30AM when I started the assembly. Two hours later, a couple of cuts and bruises and very sore thumbs I had it together. I had watched the DVD several times, read the printed instructions several times so that helped. Next time it will be a breeze. These guys who came up with this “break down kayak” are Geniuses, because this kayak is amazing considering how simple and few pieces there are.


I loaded up the kayak, got it all in except a backpack of extra food and paddled across the river and staked/tied up the kayak.

I grabbed a subway veggie in Livingston and head to Williston, ND leaving about 5:30 or so.


DAY 4 APRIL 9 SAT
– I drove about 50 miles on the other side of Billings, MT and spent the night in a rest stop. The rest stops are few and far between in MT so one doesn’t want to pass one up when one can’t keep their eyes open. I could just pull off, but wanted a bathroom close by in the AM.

I left that rest stop about 3:30AM, couldn’t sleep, and stressed out with the pending hitchhiking challenge coming up. I got to the Interpretive Center when the Confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers is. Once again, my original intention was to drive to Williston, find a place to store my Camper Van and hopefully when I got there my kayak and gear, but changed my plans when I saw the Interpretive Center.

I went in and told the folks what I was doing, and the Director let me park my Van in the parking lot and I will be able to tie my kayak up in a slough right in front of the center when I get there. This couldn’t have worked out any better.

I had to walk about 3 miles to get to where I could start hitchhiking.

I got the 1st ride as far as “can’t remember the name of the little town”, two guys in a Van.

Then my 2nd ride was with a guy who happened to be from New Orleans, black guy, he just could not for the life of him figure out or understand how I was going to get there by kayaking. In fact I don’t think he even knew what a kayak was. He took me to the far side of Sidney, Mt.

My 3rd ride was from a really nice guy driving a brand new Ford Super Duty pickup on his way to Billings from Ray, ND. Great guy, lots of good conversation. It is never a problem for me to carry on a conversation or have something in common with anybody because of all of the places I have been and the things I have done. He dropped me off about in the middle of Billings. I went down to the end of on ramp, but it became very obvious, very quickly that was not the place to get a ride. I walked back up the ramp, and went to a hotel and called a cab and had them take me to the farthest West truck stop there was.

My 4th ride was just a fluke. It was getting late in the day, I was beat and was realizing I wasn’t going to make it back to Livingston in one day. I talked to numerous truckers and these days truckers don’t pick up hitchhikers. Never. So I gave up, went into the restaurant to get something to eat and was going to walk across the street and get a room for the night. As I sat down and was about to order, a guy behind me struck up a conversation and I told what I was doing, and he said he could take me as far as Big Timber, which is about 40 miles or so from Livingston. I said let’s go, he was just paying his bill.

The State of Montana as just recently changed their Freeway Speed Limit from 65/70 to 80 MPH. I don’t drive the Camper Van over 55 or 60. So obviously 80MPH is covering a lot of ground. It became apparent that I might have about 1 to 1½ hrs to still make it to Livingston before dark. He took me to the last truck stop in Big Timber; now grant it Big Timber is not that big.

My 5th ride was a stroke of luck. Once again, I was just about ready to give up, and was actually walking across the road to a motel and a nice truck pulling a cattle trailer pulled into the gas pump. I went back and asked if they were going west, they said yes and I told them what I was doing and they said, get in. I couldn’t believe it.

Less than 40 minutes later I am having something to eat in an Arby’s, got a room in the Comfort Inn and was asleep by 10.

DAY 5 APRIL 10TH SUN – Launch day. I was up early, had a quick breakfast in the lobby and was walking out of Livingston 6:30AM. I walked about 3 miles, not realizing how early it was and forgot it was Sunday.

My 6th and final ride. A gentleman picked me up who was on his way to Gardnier to take his daughter her Volleyball Jersey which she had forgotten to a volleyball tournament there in Gardnier. He worked for the Park Service and had been there in the Yellowstone Park for 30 years and was retiring in less than 6 months. He was a very pleasant person, as all of those guys who have picked me up have been. No women, no young guys/gals and for sure no truckers pick up hitchhikers.. As everyone I happen to tell them the trip I am embarking on, they are somewhat awed and find it motivating to meet someone who takes these kinds of challenges on. I am starting to realize an awful lot of people lead a very mundane life.

I was at my kayak by 9AM, on the water by 10 and paddled until about 3 in the afternoon and set up my first camp for the trip. I went thru my gear once again, trying to eliminate anything I could, finding hardly anything.

It is absolutely essential to me, to make this trip work right; I have to eat well, be prepared for any and all kinds of weather and for sure be warm and safe and sleep well on the bank. That takes a certain amount of gear and I am not going to compromise.

DAY 6 APRIL 11TH MON – How could this possibly be, two absolutely sunny, beautiful, 70 plus degrees days in a row to start this trip. Yesterday the wind blew up river about 15 to 25MPH but it never was so much I couldn’t make headway. Since arriving on Thursday, the river has raised a good 1 to 2 feet which is making all the difference. Don’t let anybody tell you there are not “some smaller rapids” on the Yellowstone River. There is and they are enough if you are in a kayak you are going to get wet one way or the other. But I am learning real quick how to read the water, handle the kayak and anticipate plenty of time in advance to hit the seams of water I want to. So far I have not got hung up on a gravel bar. I would not be saying that if the water had not come up as it has.

I stopped about 2:00 in the afternoon, even though there was plenty of daylight left, the wind was blowing down river, but I have covered a lot of miles for the first two days of this trip. A lot, so I decided to set up a good camp, go thru my gear again, fish a little bit,,, although that is fruitless because the water is muddy.
This is a good opportunity to start the Journal. Tomorrow I plan on stopping in Big Timber and walk up and get a few things, charge the lap top, get some ice and work on my web site a little bit. I can keep the Cell Phone charge with the Solar Charger it works very well.

DAY 7 APRIL 12TH TUES – Another unbelievable morning. No frost last night or dew. I was up before the sun came up. Packed up, breakfast and on the river at exactly 8 AM. My goal today was to get to Big Timber, MT to go up and charge up the computer battery, make sure that my phone and camera will up load to the lap top and get caught up on the journal. Unbelievable day again for weather. I say this for the last time, if anybody tells you that there are no “minor rapids” on the Yellowstone, they are full of shit. I was wet a good part of the morning. Got hung up on one rock in some “minor rapids”, the back of the kayak got hooked up, almost turned over and almost filled up with water, it took all I had to get off that rock. Don’t know what I could have done to prevent it. I have done an excellent job so far of reading the river. It was difficult this morning because I was head right into the sun. I can deflect the sun in the sky with sun glasses, a wide brimmed hat and my hand for shading my eyes. There is nothing I have come up with so far to deflect the glare off of the water. It makes it almost impossible to see the river ahead. Keep in mind; it is different reading the water/river form a river raft sitting up high, than it is trying to gage what is right up ahead of you, sitting on the water in Kayak. You cannot lollygag around, nor can you hesitate to make a decision. One has to commit and go with that commitment, no changing your mind, doesn’t work that way.

Typical Montana Guest House


I am in Big Timber and will accomplish everything that I intended to. Probably won’t get back to my kayak until around 6, hope the rancher is home so I can ask him if I can stay where I tied up for the night, if not I will have to re pack and head down the river a ways, hoping I can get things set up before dark. It is supposed to rain, we shall see, I am prepared for it.


Yellowstone Journal 2

  APR 13 WENS (DAY 4 ON THE WATER) I went to the ranch house where I had tied up my kayak, after I got back from town and the folks let me stay there on their property. I appreciated it, because it was late and I was very tired from going into town and coming back, plus the 3rd day in a row of nothing but 75 degree weather plus and all the sun right off the get go.

I didn’t eat much last night. I was going to stop at the Frosty Freeze but I was weighted down with ice/water/and some food and was struggling. Fortunately 2 different rides stopped at the same time and one of them gave me a ride back to where I was tied up, wasn’t far but it really helped.

What a beautiful sunrise/morning. Up once again before the sun came up and it took about an hour to pack things up which appears that is going to be the norm. I had English muffins with gravy, a banana and orange juice.

I went down river just a ways and tied up again, walked into town and got a few more things, some money out of the bank and a tea mug. I had forgotten to put one in the gear. I stopped at a bakery and got a tea and two blackberry scones. They had to be the best I have ever tasted, almost went back and got a couple more to take with me.

I have just spent 7 hours in the kayak today… from 9 to 4, which is a long time. I did stop once to put my rain gear on because the weather is changing for the next couple of days. I have managed to figure out how to take a pee in the boat which helps, because it is not that easy to get in and out of the boat at this stage of the age. About 11 the wind came up and blew some rain in and it blew all day long to my back. It has stopped for now, but it is also raining which from the looks of the weather is going to be case for the next couple of days. I am prepared for it both in the kayak and on the bank.

One of the first things I do once I have the camp set up is to get any water that is in the kayak out utilizing a towel and then put the covers on the copings/seats and the two front and back small openings.

It is hoped that since the river is close to I-90 the traffic noise is somewhat subdued, don’t think that is going to be the case tonight. I just couldn’t go any further. Problem is, it never subsides on this Freeway, and it is 24 hours a day, 80 MPH, no let up.

00

I am not speculating at all, but I have paddled a lot of miles for 4 days. If the current stays as it is or close to it and I have another day of the wind behind me, I am thinking I might be on the other side of Billings in 3 days plus or minus.

There was one time today I picked river right when it should have been left and got hung up in the middle of the river, but got out and pushed it down to deeper water and got back in. Probably a little like getting in a bobsled as it is moving.

It is never any problem to find a good camp site, there are so many of them. I try to pick a spot where it isn’t too difficult to pack things up the bank into the trees/bushes so I am out of the wind. There are some additional benefits also, normally soft, a million years of leaves and grass. Plus the birds roost in the trees so about a half an hour before dark they are singing and then when I wake up they are singing to begin their day. Can’t think of a better way to end a day or start one. Has to be a lesson for all of us in that.

No question after a good dinner I will sleep very well.

DAY 9 THUR APRIL 14- 5th Day on the River- Day started out great, a little later than normal. I am getting better at packing the kayak. With mailing what little bit of stuff I did back to Cam’s place from Big Timber and eating food every day it is slowing getting more manageable.

I normally check the camp area for anything left once I have loaded the kayak. I also try to go for a little walk before getting in the kayak and taking off, just think, call it meditation if you want, but it gives me a time to reflect and prepare.

I got a mile down the river and suddenly realized that I had left my good gloves, ear band and my face mask which I had worn the day before and was prepared again this morning for colder weather and rain than it was. In fact for a couple of hours first thing this morning it was sunny and very mild. I pulled over and had to walk up and over a pretty good ridge on a game trail to get back to where I had camped. It was a good walk. I walked a lot going into Big Timber but it was nice to get out and walk in the woods.

Once back on the river, I got hung up one time, river right again, rather than river left. I got to Columbus about noon, tied up and walked to the IGA Store got some more water, ice, a banana, box of cheez-its and two cokes. After stocking up in Big Timber I didn’t need much.

Back in the water I misjudged again and actually got sucked into an overhanging tree, the back end of the kayak got hung up on the rope I have looped in the handle and it was one hell of a chore to get unhooked. I was not happy. Wasn’t worried because it wasn’t deep but the water was moving fast and it is cold. Plus I hate to admit it I haven’t been wearing my life jacket, but I am going to start tomorrow for a while until I get out of the currents and mild rapids.

Then I got hung up again right after the tree snag, so I said that’s it, I am off the river. It was raining mildly, little wind but very nice.

I am at a great spot, fish jumping, eagles flying, crows squawking and birds singing. I have built a fire to get things dried out and just relax. I don’t build fires often, I don’t like everything smelling like smoke, but the tent is back up off the bank in the trees and the fire is on the bank, just unbelievably peaceful and tranquil.

My plan is to cook a pot of chili tonight, I brought some containers to put it in and it will be enough for several meals.

A good 5th day in spite of the snags, getting in the swing of things and tomorrow making a run for on the other side of Billings, if not I will be a good day on the other side of Billings on Saturday and camp just this side of Billings so I can just go right on by. Fortunately tonight I am away from the I-90 traffic noise and all I hear is the river and all of the birds.




Yellowstone Journal 3


 FRI APRIL 15-6TH DAY ON THE RIVER – Beautiful morning once again to start out on the river. Slept great last night, up once again just a little bit later, not cloud in the sky to begin with. It takes just what it takes for me to break camp down and get it ready to pack in and on top of the kayak. There are no short cuts, none so far as I can see.As the day progressed the wind came up to my back, down river and then it got cold and I stopped and put my rain gear on which really helps to keep me warm. I got wet, once again had to jump out of the kayak to get off of a shallow area and it was a little deeper than I thought. I am beginning to think that a pair of hip waders might be the way to go. There is no way I would ever get hung up where it would be deeper than above my knees, impossible unless it was on a rock in the middle of the river. With the hip waders I would never have wet/cold/damp feet.


About noon it got cloudy and has remained so the rest of the day. I made it to Billings, in fact probably about the middle of Billings, so tomorrow obviously I am on the other side of Billings. I am being told and read that there is a diversion dam at Huntley which is about 20 miles downriver. I will be careful and make sure I stop and take a good look. It might be a portage, or line the kayak or just go thru it, but won’t compromise any safety concerns.



The Writer for The Outlaw Magazine out of Bozeman has called me and left a message. Looks like they are going to be doing a story/article for next spring on my trip. Cam is good friends with Brian Ladd whose brother Eric owns the magazine. It will be fun and hopefully will give me a platform to launch the selling of my book I hope to finish on this trip.

Some dogs are barking behind the tree line, I hope I haven’t camped/stopped next to the dog pound. There is some of the freeway noise going thru Billings but that is to be expected. Don’t have it all the time, but it is fairly persistent throughout the day most of the time.

I sure don’t see anybody on the river. I did see a guy using some equipment looking for Gold. Two guys working on water pump getting ready for the irrigation season. That’s it. You would think such a beautiful resource like this would get more use, but I have for years been committing that I just don’t see people on the river. Evidently they are all on the freeway going 80 MPH.

Eating good and sleeping good and maintaining vigilance on the safety aspect of the trip and I would have to once again comment that with this being the 6th day on the river, things are going very well and I am probably covering a good 30 to 40% more river miles a day than I expected to. I believe that is a combination of good current, wind to my back some of the time, being in good shape which allows me to paddle more often than not, using the umbrella when it is appropriate and the kayak is sleek and fast, regardless of the weight it is carrying.



APRIL 16 SAT DAY 7 ON THE WATER – What a great day all the way around. I woke up a little earlier, couldn’t tell what time it was because it was cloudy and raining a little bit. Got camp broke down, kayak packed up and ate a half of banana and had a hot cup of tea. I just wasn’t hungry. Probably had something to do with the dozen cookies I ate sometime between 10 and 2 last night.

It didn’t take me long to get thru the rest of Billings and cross under the I-90 Freeway Bridge. I spotted a Little Lil’s casino and truck stop so I pulled over; tied up and walked up to charge the phone which was dead. Got a hot cup of tea and decided to get something to eat in Arby’s. Arby’s isn’t my favorite place but settled on a chicken sandwich. While I was waiting for the order, a nice guy at the drink coolers in the C Store started talking to me and I told him what I was doing. Then I asked him how far Cabela’s was because I wanted to get some new socks, a map and a pair of waders.


He said he would take me and bring me back. Once again baffled on how well things are working out. I wanted the waders because the river boots only come up to half calf, they have no heels or arch support and I am constantly getting my feet wet and uncomfortable all day long. So that worked out perfectly.

Once back on the water, it finally started to clear up and absolutely no wind, not even a breeze. It was only a matter of another couple of hours and I got to the first of what I think are two diversion dams, this one being the Huntley Diversion Dam. I looked at the dam from both sides of the river. No way was I going to go over this, nor did I want to have to portage and then carry the kayak around.



So I went river left, tied up on an island and walked the circumference of the entire island and surmised that I could get around the dam without portaging by going river left and that is what I did. 10 minutes later I was in the main channel again.

The rest of the paddle for the day was just gorgeous. Sometime during the afternoon I suddenly realized something was different. It was eerily quiet. I mean dead quiet, except for the sound of the river and the birds. It was two things. First I was away from I-90 and the railroad. Second, there were no geese. The geese have been prolific since getting on the water. Thousands of them squawking, fighting and carrying on day and night. Of course they are getting ready to nest and are starting to do so. No geese. It was like somebody drew of line across the river and said no geese down the river from here on. Silence. It was almost sacrilegious for me to dip my paddle in the water and make a sound that didn’t belong.


I have seen a few people fishing today and two boats. That’s it. Of course it is Saturday so there are a few people out on the water.

I also stopped at Pompey’s Pillar where Lewis engraved his name in the Sand Stone. It is the only visible remains of anything left on Lewis and Clark’s trip over 200 years ago.

Once again I have found a good camp spot up off the bank in case the wind comes up. Weather says it is supposed to rain, but sure doesn’t look like it, but I am always prepared.

I think I am going to put together another “mail a box back to Cam’s”. I have too many clothes and too much incidental stuff.

So far so good I am making incredible time. It also looks like the river is smoothing out, probably won’t be as much current, we shall see.


Yellowstone Journal 4

Yellowstone Journal 4

APRIL 17 SUN DAY 8 ON THE RIVER
–What another great day on the Yellowstone. It was very cold last night, but I didn’t notice it with this sleeping bag and blanket insert I have in it. Everything froze, including the towel I have wet in the ice chest covering everything. I had water bottles that froze solid. Once the sun came up, which was a little later because of a cloud bank on the eastern horizon and got packed up, quick bowl of hot oatmeal, cup of tea and my Greens 123.

A quick paragraph on the animals, birds and water fowl. The geese this morning evidently forgot about the line in the river, because when I woke up it sounded like they were all at a football game. In between all of their squawking, I heard coyotes, pheasant, wild turkeys, Bald Eagles talking, Mallard ducks, song birds and a squirrel that I spotted up in one of the bigger trees. Also, a beaver that swatted his tail all night long because I had pulled in and tied up right next to his house, he was not happy with me.

The beaver are prolific and have been so since putting on the water. Every 3 or 4 miles there is a pair of Bald Eagles nesting and it is easy to pick out their nests, for the trees have yet to leaf here and they are the largest nests in any tree. There are rookeries of cranes every so often. There are pairs of Whooping Cranes every so often. There are lots of deer, both White Tail and Mule deer. I have seen no elk, but did see some sign that day I had to walk back and get the stuff I left on the bank. I expect to not see any.

I am surprised I haven’t seen at least one coyote, no river otter or other type animals such as mink, musk rat or fox.

There were a lot of guys fishing for cat fish today, being Sunday and getting further down the river I am sure is one of the reasons, plus the weather is descent. Speaking of weather it looks like it is going to get sunny and warm up again in a few days.

There are a total of 5 Diversion Dams on this stretch of the river, below Billings and down to Forsyth. The Huntley Dam, the one I just got to go around River Left and you can on the Huntley Dam. There is one coming up just below where the Big Fork River comes in; I have been told the guys run their boats up and down that one so I should be able to go thru it. The one at Hysham I am told I will have to portage. The one in the town of Forsyth I will also have to portage, so we will get that all accomplished in the next 3 or 4 days and then it should be clear paddling on the Miles City, then to Glendive then on to the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri. I don’t think the Yellowstone is going to take any longer than 20 days plus or minus.

APRIL 18TH MON DAY 9 ON THE RIVER – Another good day on the river, in spite of it raining all night and raining most of the day and up until about noon the wind blew up river quite strongly. I am not a strong paddler, but I am a consistent paddler, I call it “feather paddling” gentle strokes without exerting a lot of energy and I find I go just as far. It also leaves a lot of energy in reserve when it is needed and that is often throughout the day.

I stopped at Custer, a little town I have driven by numerous times and actually spent a night there on one of my trips to or from North Dakota. Went into the little Casino where the side of the building said “great hamburgers” and the sign was true to its meaning. Had a hot cup of tea, plugged my phone in and let it charge about half. Also bought next door at the little gas station a gallon of water, some pastries, a bag of ice and a couple of pastries.

About 2 I finally passed where the Big Fork River comes into the Yellowstone and about 2 miles down further was the 3rd of 5 Diversion Dams I one has to contend with. This one had a bypass river right, where I had to push/line the kayak thru a small area, no big deal. Once again I think the next two have to be portaged, we shall see. I should be at the 4th one tomorrow afternoon and the 5th one that is at Forsyth the next day. I hope to spend a day or so in Forsyth working on my website, send out the 2nd Journal and getting the rudder worked on. I also would like to find some place to take a shower and change clothes so I can start out the 2nd half of the Yellowstone squared away.

0444500

It is still raining, it is about 6 found a great spot up off the river, no more camping in the sand, took me ½ an hour to clean the tent up. Built a nice big fire, got a few things dry, everything is damp, gloves/ect are wet but got them close to dry. From what I could tell from looking at the local newspaper at the casino, Wens it is supposed to start turning nice again, in the 70’s so everything will dry out.

It will be nice to get some sunshine again and get things dried out; it has been going on 4/5 days.

0-63500APRIL 19 TUES/20 WENS/21 THUR/22 FRI - DAY 10/11/12/13 ON THE RIVER – I am going to run these 4 days together. My new battery on the laptop didn’t last as long as I would like it to. Every day is kind of running together, which is to be expected on a trip like this. I am anxious to always get around the next bend, but find that what is around the next bend is what was around the last bend.

The wild life has continued to be a combination of deer, pheasant, and wild turkeys, the geese by the hundreds, mallard ducks, and beaver and of course the Bald Eagles are everywhere. I have not seen one single Osprey. That is not to say they are not on the Yellowstone, I have just not seen any.

The last of the 5 Diversion Dams was one that I had to portage. As I was approaching the boat ramp just 100 yards up from the dam, a guy across the river started talking to me, then crossed over the bridge and showed up at the boat ramp and asked if he could help me. Unbelievable. 30 minutes later he was back with his car hauler trailer, we had my gear in the back of his truck, the kayak on the trailer and he took me up around the dam, to a camp ground, waited for me the change my clothes and brought me back to the town of Forsyth so I could get a few things and go to the library, get things charged up and get caught up. Unfortunately I had forgotten the plug in for the computer, so got a few things, called him and he gave me a ride back to the camp ground. What a great guy and what a blessing to be able to get around the last and remaining Diversion Dam on the Yellowstone River.

12382541275000I am presently in Miles City, Mt. Took about a 1 mile walk to get into town. Had a good veggie sandwich and am at the library to get things charged and get caught up on a bunch of stuff.

Already texted all of the kids and Debbie. Will talk to Cam later on this afternoon or this evening. Also have another conversation with the writer for the article in the Outlaw Magazine this afternoon.

I was very tired last night, it has warmed up again. The sun and the sun on the water take a toll on me. It is supposed to be 84 degrees today, but won’t spend a lot of the day on the water, but will probably get back to the kayak at the heat of the day, but won’t go far.

I camped in the sun at the end of the day yesterday; I will not do that again in the end of the heat of the day, it will have to be in the shade. It is only a matter of time until I am dealing with very hot weather.

I went into a hat store here to buy a broad brimmed hat for the sun and he told me the cheapest hat he had was $350. I asked him how many of those he sold a day, he didn’t smile. He just looked at me and said Wal Mart, which I was planning on going to.

I expect to be at the Confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers on Wens which is a few days earlier than I had expected, but the weather has been perfect.


Yellowstone Journal 5

APRIL 22 FRI DAY 13 ON THE RIVER – Because of the way the website software works, it is difficult to put more than 2MB on at a time, that is the reason for Journal #2-1 … #2-2…#2-3, It is just the way I am going to have to do it. It is the pictures and then I have to resize them. But I am getting on to it.

It has been a very long day for me today. I was up before the sun was up on the water, in anticipation of getting into Miles City and accomplishing what I wanted to. I got to the bridge/boat ramp at about 9:30 and was in having a quick vegie sandwich at a deli by 10:30; it was about a 1 mile walk.

Then I went to the library and got frustrated on trying to “figure out” the website, something I should have done before leaving Bend and spent more time with Kathy. But I didn’t. I did what I could do, went out and walked around town trying to find somebody. That endeavor was not successful. I went back to the library ready to call it quits and asked some of the young kids at the computers if they knew this “software”, can’t think of the name of it now, that Kathy used to re-do the website. Sure enough one of the girls did. A couple of hours later, she had at least clued me in and I gave her $40 for helping me, she was thrilled.

Then I walked another 1 mile or more to go to Wal Mart and get a few things. I had lost the first hat a couple of days ago, didn’t have it under my chin and a gust of wind blew it off and it sunk before I could get to it. Had a subway sandwich about 5:00 and called a taxi to take me back to where I had the kayak. I don’t worry about leaving during the day, I try to pick spots where there are a lot of people, and that makes it fairly safe. In all of the trips I have done I have never had my gear molested.

Once back on the river I only paddled about an hour and have found a great spot. Once again, like last night I am really tired. It is not the paddling or being on the water in the sun, it is the going to town. I hate it, I always have and once I get to Havasu Landing I swear I am only going to go to town once a month, if then. I can pretty much get everything I need right there without going to Needles or around to Havasu City.077978000

The weather is changing once again. It was mid 80’s today, I think tomorrow or the next day it is going to be in the 40’s. I have approximately 2 days to Glen Dive, then another 2 days to Sidney, then it is just another day to the Confluence, depending on weather, but I think that is what will take place.

When one thinks about it, to do the entire Yellowstone River, what can be done since you can’t paddle in the Yellowstone Park, in less than 3 weeks is almost anti-climactic. If I could figure out a way to get my kayak and gear back I would just do it again but not this time.

APRIL 23 SAT DAY 14 ON THE RIVER –I wore out today. Wind was blowing when I got up before 6 and hasn’t stopped all day. Probably around 20/25MPH and it is just enough to make it tough. I paddled almost 5 hours and bet I didn’t go 5 miles, but that is going to be expected at times. I actually probably over did it. My thumbs are bothering me let alone some sore upper arm muscles. I don’t think it matters how much one paddles, he is still going to get sore and be sore.

057150000A female beaver kept me awake half of the night, scolding me once again for camping in her spot where she gets up on the bank and cuts down the young willows. Fortunately I am sleeping well.

At this rate, if the wind continues it will take be 4/5 days to get to Glendive, but it doesn’t make any difference. Hopefully the wind won’t be blowing in the morning.

63563500

I don’t know what kind of snake this is, but it is big enough that I wouldn’t want it to be in the tent when I wake up in the morning. One of the many reasons I take the time to put the tent up, let alone the mosquitos that are starting show up, got bit twice last night before I got up and zipped the front of the tent up. Won’t be long and the mosquitos will be a daily/nightly nuisance.

Good spot to camp for the afternoon and night, out of the wind, no I-90 noise and all I hear is the birds/pheasants/the fish jumping and the river.

APRIL 24 SUN DAY 15 ON THE RIVER – No fun today that is/was for sure. It rained and blew all night. I thought about just staying in the tent for the day, which is not my first choice by any means. There appeared to be a break in the storm, which I went ahead and got camp broke down, the kayak packed and proceeded down river. I wasn’t on the water 30 minutes and lightening, thunder, hail, snow and way too much rain pounded me for 3 hours until I was completely wet, everything in the kayak was wet and I just couldn’t take any more. Plus the wind had come back up and my hands were so cold that it was all I could do to get things out of the kayak and the tent set up. My rain jacket didn’t work with a darn either

01968500It has taken a couple of hours, but I have managed to get the things dried out that I need for tomorrow. I have good cell reception, checked the weather and it is not supposed to rain much if at all tomorrow. Everything else will just have to wait until it warms up to get dried out. Doesn’t look like any sun for the for see able future.

My sleeping bag/bedding is damp but not wet so I am fortunate there. I have used my one burner cooking stove to get this stuff dried out, it works well. I cut a couple of long green willows to make a “support” for inside the tent that tightens it up, plus it has worked good for hanging stuff on to dry out. Fortunately I brought along 5 green propane bottles and have only used 2 since putting on the water and haven’t used up the 3rd one yet drying things.

I should make it almost to, or to or past Glendive tomorrow, which means on Thursday I should be to the Confluence.

It could be worse. I am just lacking a few things to make any weather that I encounter bearable and will plug these holes. Month of May anything can happen as I proceed down the first 3 lakes/and traverse the 3 dams that are in front of me on the Missouri. June is a different story. I expect warm/hot weather and for sure into July and the 1st couple of weeks in August if that is what it takes to complete the Mississippi.

0-127000I am really hopping tomorrow is a much more enjoyable day and I can make up some miles that I have lost these last couple of days.

APRIL 25/26 MON/TUES DAY 16/17 ON THE RIVER – Boy what a couple days of relentless weather. It has pretty much rained most of the time. I did get up Mon earlier than expect and got things packed up and on the river. It was quite an experience, but fortunately the wind was not blowing just a breeze that lasted pretty much all day. It quit raining and with the breeze it wasn’t half bad.

Still lots of eagles, beaver sign, always the wild turkeys, deer, ducks, geese and the pheasants. I am starting to see some baby goslings, but not many. Monday night I had a herd of horses that were not happy that I was camped where I was and the stud kept approaching the tent and letting me know I was not welcome. I finally got up with the flash light and ran him off. He didn’t go far, I heard him whinnying and grunting all night long.

There were also some wild turkeys that flew into roost in the trees right above me, first time that has happened, I had no trouble waking up early because they are pretty much just like chickens/roosters crowing in the morning.

I also had the privilege of seeing “I think it was a wild goat” up on the cliffs overlooking the river.

0-63500Once again the place I camped Monday night was not bad. It was a ways off of the river bank, but that is what it takes. Fortunately I found enough dry stuff and wood to have a good hot fire, got things needed dried out again and had a good night’s sleep.

I was on the water by 7:15 Tues morning and paddled hard until 1:00 arriving at Glendive which was my goal for the day.

After spending 4 hours in town, having a Veggie Pizza, charging my phone, going to Albertsons and picking up a few things, I was back on the river in a driving rain. I took a good hour to get out of town and away from the traffic noise and have once again, camped up off the bank in the trees. I have a feeling I will hear the beaver smacking their tails once again letting me know they are not happy, because they have been very active right where I have set my tent up.

It is a lot of work at the end of a long day to get camp set up, especially when it is raining, but once it is done it is worth it. It is also a lot of work at the beginning of the day, but both endeavors have some benefits. In the morning it gets me moving and walking back and forth from the camp site to the kayak to get it packed. At the end of the day, after sitting in the kayak all day, it gets my circulation going and really makes a big difference. Besides one couldn’t do this trip the way I am without it happening.

To anyone that has camped this way, day after day, they can relate to how nice it is to be warm, safe, dry and listen to the rain hitting the top of the tent, while drinking a hot cup of tea and eating a freshly baked blackberry scone.

For my 17 day on the water, I find myself very content, getting stronger as the days go by from the paddling and have not one second of wondering why I have taken this little voyage on. Nor do I doubt, as long as my health holds up, that I will complete it.




Yellowstone Journal 6
 
APRIL 27 WENS DAY 18 ON THE WATER – I just can’t catch a break on the weather. Rained all night and this morning when I woke up about 6. The decision to stay in the tent just doesn’t work for me, no matter what. I packed up and hit the water. In an hour a blizzard hit, white out and I couldn’t see either bank let alone down river. This added a tremendous amount of stress.

0-63500It became apparent that I had made two huge mistakes on my gear. Wrong gloves and have had several opportunities to rectify that situation but didn’t put them on my list on the phone. If it isn’t on the list, no way do I remember.

The second mistake was my rain jacket. It is no good and now 3 times the weather has proved that. I suffered greatly once again, became wet from head to toe. I have a good survival suit that I did not put in the kayak, it is in the van and that was a huge wrong decision. I made that decision because I already had too much stuff and the coat and pants take up room. When I get to the van, it will be the first thing that goes into the kayak.

I was on the river at 7:30 and around 11 I had enough. It was cold, my hands were numb and I couldn’t see a thing. It just snowed and snowed and snowed. I almost stopped, but decided to go around one more bend and caught the red and white sign out of the corner of my eye on the left bank, warning of a pending diversion dam. #6 and where did this come from?????



I heard it first, pulled over walked the bank and obviously made the decision to portage it, which wasn’t going to be any fun at all.

0-444500It actually turned out to be fun, because it warmed me up, gave me a chance to go thru everything in the kayak, clean it out and gets everything squared away for the eventual next 3 or 4 days to the Confluence. It seems like I am never going to get there, but I got spoilt and fooled on that first 3 days of warm weather. Last Friday it was 85 degrees in Miles City. I haven’t seen the sun since and it has rained and been nasty every single day since.

Fortunately where I am camped there was a lot of firewood and I got a big fire going and go everything dried out so that has helped immensely.






Yellowstone Journal 7

APRIL 28 THURS DAY 19 ON THE WATER
- I stayed up a little later than normal last night to make sure I had my waders, the insides of them dry. It paid off because I was up at about 6 and it was cold and everything was dry. What a blessing it was for someone to leave all of that wood there for a fire for hours and I am glad I had some fire starter/wet striking matches in some baggies.

0-317500On the water about 7:15, little breeze but no wind and what a joy to not have any rain or snow. I made good miles by 11:00 and reached Savage, MT. I have been thru there many times on the trips back and forth to ND and walked up to the Cenex C Store to get just a few things to make sure I had enough water and “sweets” for the next few days to finish up the Yellowstone. It surprised me with a High School in town, there wasn’t 1 single place to get a hamburger, but somebody mentioned to me that on Wednesday the senior center has a lunch. So for $3.50 I had goulash, salad, corn, pickles and brownies and ice cream plus had some nice conversations with some Senior Citizens who couldn’t even begin to fathom what I was doing and what was obvious to me, most of them weren’t as old as I am.

0-381000I found another good place to camp for the night, once again up off the bank, it is a bit of hike with all the trips it takes but well worth it to be out of the wind if it were to come up and just as importantly I won’t have the beavers smacking their tails in my face if I were to be down on the bank.

I may not make it to the confluence tomorrow and it doesn’t matter. It is going to be the weekend and I will stay busy organizing my gear, doing some shopping in

0000Williston, wash my clothes and get packed up for the beginning of the Missouri trip so when I get off the plane from St. Louis and call a taxi all I will have to do is go to the grocery store and get what will be needed for the ice chest. I hope to be able to get my sleeping bag and insert dry cleaned on Monday in a day, I also have to find somebody/sheet metal shop to help me fix my rudder it has really gotten beat up.

One of the things I beat myself up over is not tying the kayak up the first thing I do when I hit the bank. I didn’t do it this time and looked out towards the river and saw my orange flag I have on the back of the kayak floating down the river. I had plenty of time, but it is something I just have to remember. When I get out of the kayak and remove all of the gear, the kayak probably now weighs about 80 lbs. instead of 300lbs and floats like a feather in very shallow water.

I am breaking this trip into 4 sections. The Yellowstone the 1st, the first 600 miles plus or minus of the Missouri the 2nd which gets me to the other side of the last of 3 dams, then the section from that dam down to St. Louis the 3rd section, then the Mississippi from St. Louis to the Gulf/S of New Orleans the 4th.

If I can possibly keep the daily miles up, then once I spend a couple of weeks of Lake Saskatchewan I should have a pretty good idea of how long it will take me to finish the 2nd section. Not going to worry about the 3rd until I get there.

0-63500APRIL 29 FRIDAY DAY 20 ON THE WATER – Once up and the kayak packed and I was on the water this morning, it was evident it was going to be a nice day. It took me until 5:00 in the afternoon to reach the Confluence of the Yellowstone River and the Missouri River. I saw a lot of beaver today. The water has risen several feet because of all of the rain/snow this past week and a lot of their “beaver houses” have been washed away, so they were spending their day in their holes along the bank of the river. When I would come by, they would in twos and threes leap into the river and slap their tails long after I was way down river, they did not like being disturbed.

0-2540{image5}00At the boat ramp, I completely cleaned the kayak out, went thru all of my gear and cleaned it up. With the water being so muddy, everything looks dirty. Once I had done that, I put everything back, made my list for in the morning and finally got to bed about 10:00.

APRIL 30/31 SATURDAY/SUNDAY IN WILLISTON/JAMESTOWN, N
D – I was in town by 4:30AM, couldn’t sleep and was anxious to get things done in town and go back out to the kayak and finish preparing/packing the craft, so it was all ready for me upon my return from St. Louis. I washed clothes, bought everything I needed off my list at Wal Mart and was back out at the kayak by 10:00 in the morning.

Once I returned to town, on my way out of town I stopped at a coffee place and got somewhat caught up with my email/etc.

I left Williston, ND about 3:00 in the afternoon. I got no further than a few miles on the other side of Minot, ND and my van started to run very poorly. Long story short, it turned out to be a bad head gasket, after spending all day Sunday in Jamestown, ND working on the Van with a guy I met in an O’Reilly’s parts store.

MAY 2, MON IN JAMESTOWN, ND – I decided to leave the van with an auto fix it shop about 21 miles north of Jamestown. The owner, a very nice guy, gave me a ride back to Jamestown and I had to rent a large U-Haul truck to get back to Williston, in order to continue my trip. It was the only vehicle available in all of Jamestown.

I got back to Williston at 7:00PM, just in time to return the U Haul truck and walked back into town and got aa room in Williston, so I could take a shower, get caught up on things and I have arranged a ride from a gentlemen back out to the kayak, which is 20 miles away, whom I met at the laundromat while washing my clothes last Saturday. He works for a company that negotiates/purchases rights a ways for all of the gas pipe lines they are now putting in up here to capture all of the Natural Gas they have been burning off from all of the new oil wells.

I expect to be back to the kayak by 11:00 and on the water shortly thereafter. All I have to do is put a few things in the ice chest, put my hip wader boots on, untie the kayak and get in and go, which I am very anxious to do.


Missouri River Journal 8

 MAY 3 TUESDAY DAY 21 ON THE WATER
– I got up early and did my thing on the computer, got the Journal’s all caught up except for the pictures off of the camera. I forgot the cable in the kayak, so will have to re-post the last Journal once I can get the pictures in to it.

0444500Walked to the grocery store where the guy I met in the Laundromat last Sat AM is going to pick me up and take me out to the kayak. He picked me up at 10. I had gone in the grocery store and got Ice, some milk, yogurt and a few more sweets, seem to have a sweet tooth lately.

I had also got a speeding ticket going 35 in a 25MPH, $10 fine, so I took the time to call the Court House and get it taken care of while I was waiting for him. He was on time and I was on the water by 11:30.

You can tell a huge difference in the terrain. The shore line is different; there are sand bars everywhere and clearly not as many places to camp as there was on the Yellowstone. I am anxious to see what it is like on the lake, which I will be into tomorrow.

0-190500I have camped on the bank, not far off of the river…on sand. I think I will just have to get used to doing things differently. Every time I have stopped this afternoon, there have been moose tracks along the bank. I have been told that the moose have returned to the upper part of the Lake, hope to see some.

I have a little bit more room in the kayak this start of the trip. That will make it easier to manage the gear.

Absolutely beautiful day today, close to 80 and will stay this way for the next 3 to 5 days I guess.

I haven’t said too awfully much about my Van breaking down and the grief, stress, anxiety and expense it cost me, but nothing I can do about it and am not even going to worry about it now until I get to New Orleans which is a good 3 months from now.

0317500MAY 4 WENDSDAY DAY 22 ON THE WATER – If I would have continued on to St. Louis as planned it would have been completely stupid. Here I am almost a good 40 miles already from the Confluence and will be at 3 Bears tomorrow, which is the Indian Casino in New Town where I spent that year doing the Van Hook Truck Plaza East of New Town.

Now that I have had a chance to think all of the “bad decisions” I have made in reference to the Logistics of this trip, it is obvious I should have rented the smallest U Haul truck/van, drove to Gardnier, got the kayak and gear ready, took the truck to Livingston, hitchhiked back and just started the trip. No stopping, no driving, no flying, no worrying about leaving the kayak on the bank for days, no worrying about where I am going to leave/store the van, just get on the water.

Then once to New Orleans, break the kayak down, like I was going to have to do anyway, rent another small U Haul truck/van and drive to Havasu, just like I planned. So lesson learned for sure. Right now I don’t need to worry about it until I get to New Orleans and I will call ahead and make a reservation for a U Haul rig and just have to drive back up North to Jamestown.

Saw the 1st moose today. She was laying in the water along the bank.

0-127000Beautiful day today, it was probably in the 80’s. I had the wind behind my back for about 3 hours this afternoon, started at 8:30 and stopped at 5, long time on the water, but covered a lot of river miles.

This is an obvious total different environment as I get in to the 1st Lake which I believe is approximately 200 miles long. I have not seen one deer, not one Bald Eagle. I did see the 1st Moose however she was laying along the bank in the water and didn’t get up and take off until I was right up on her. I also saw a coyote, the first one of the trip even though I almost hear them every evening and every morning.

The place to camp are different, lots of mud to contend with and as I said about the camp last night, I will have to get use to camping out in the open now, nothing that can be done about it, it will be a continual, constant changing landscape and bank environment.

I hope to have dinner tomorrow night with Brandon, the friend of mine I know that is still in Killdeer, ND, he was the plumber on both of the Truck Plaza’s I was the superintendent on. That didn’t work out, couldn’t get to Four Bears in time, he had plans.

0127000I didn’t eat much last night, only had some peanut butter and jam in a flour tortious. Steve got me on to that, I haven’t bought a loaf of bread yet and probably won’t. I do however buy English muffins, they keep longer, don’t mash up like break and they are good for putting gravy on for breakfast and jam on for dinners.

MAY 5 THURSDAY DAY 23 ON THE WATER – What another long day yesterday. I was on the water today by 8 and paddled until 3. It was hot today, had to be in the 80’s. Lots of guys fishing in this part of the lake, of course a day like today is going to bring them out. Water has been just like glass all day long. One of the bad things about stopping this early, is it is hours before I go to sleep. Too tired to go for a walk and way too tired to sleep. The lake peddling requires a tremendous amount of energy, at least twice as much as paddling in the river. Any breeze at all can make it even worse; one doesn’t have the current to offset the breeze. I did get to see the first moose today.

0127000MAY 6 FRIDAY DAY 24 ON THE WATER – I finally got to sleep last night, just about dark. I didn’t wake up until 4:30AM. It had to be the most tired I was so far. I got up at 5:00 and was on the water at 5:45. I am getting better and not taking everything out of the boat, and for sure not brining anything more than what I need up to the tent, so it isn’t taking me as long to get the boat packed and on the water.

The wind had come up last night, coming out of the N. NW and I was on the S side of the lake, so the waves were pounding the kayak. Fortunately they had not gotten big enough to “swamp” the boat. I normally put the covers on all of the hatches and the seats, but didn’t last night because I was so tired and it was no warm.

Once on the water, it was choppy, which means I was thrown all over the place, very difficult to make any progress.



This cliff reminded me of Petra in Jordan.

I finally made it to 4 Bears Casino, which is basically New Town, ND where I Superintended the Van Hook Travel Plaza a couple of years ago, so I know this area very well. What a long paddle and I will not do that again, 9 hours in the boat, without getting out. I am way too old for that, so I am going to start tomorrow to tone this down a little bit. I have already gone close to 700 miles, maybe more.

0127000They marina here at the Casino let me camp down on the S Side of the boat ramp, out of the wind and right on the water, so all I have to do in the morning is pack up and go. I bought some maps of the rest of the lake, got ice, some misc stuff and should be good until I get to Garrisons Dam, which I figure is 4/6 days away, depending on the wind.

Once around this first dam, the river narrows out considerably and I have to think there is going to be some good current until I get to the next lake/dam which is a couple hundred miles, I think.

I ate at the Buffett and utilized their wi-fi.

No question this is an experience. The worst part is having to get off of the water for me. So far so good. No equipment issues, I am strong and feel great.


#Missouri River Journal 9
 
 

lefttop0These are Paddle Fish that they catch this time of year at the Confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers. North Star Caviar Company keeps this building here, hires guys to clean the fish for free for the eggs, for Caviar, a very expensive kind I guess.

100 guys on the bank with another 50 across the river, I went right down the middle of them as they were casting their 10/15 sinker with treble hooks on them, they snag them. They get as big as 100lbs or more.



04762500This is what I see when I look at my phone to see where I am.

MAY 7 SATURDAY DAY 24 ON THE WATER – Up early and in the 4 Bears Buffet with the phone and lap top plugged in so I can leave with both of them at peak charge. I went and sat down where the wi-fi was good and updated the Web page with all of the Journals/Pics up until yesterday.

They are just now finishing up a $51M Event Center and Addition to the Casino area, spending some of the Oil Money they have received from the Oil Boom up in this ND Bakken area that is now a bust for the for see able future.

I had a guy come down and talk to me who knows Bob Stenhouse and Terry and his wife, the guys from the Van Hook Travel Plaza. Once again, small world. I also ran into a guy superintending some concrete work at the Casino, part of the expansion…… from Bend/who knew everyone I do, bit of a story but won’t go into it, it has to do with CMS and that situation.

0135636000I got on the river/lake about 9:30 and it was just like glass and just beautiful. I have stopped for the day in a spot that has to be the most peaceful, quietest and serene place I have camped so far on the trip. There is absolutely no noise of any kind except a Meadowlark singing and I hear a couple of Doves off in the distance. The view is spectacular in all directions. It will be like this for another week as I paddle down the river/lake and get to Garrison Dam and I hope that is by next Thursday. This is the 3rd largest man made reservoir/lake in the US with 1,500 miles of shoreline, 6 miles wide at the widest point and 200 miles long.

One thing I am going to have to just accept is it is going to start warming up, hot in fact. I have plenty of sun screen and sun lotion and umbrellas. The umbrella I have is great for these kind camp spots where there is no shade. I also have it adapted to fit in some holders behind my seat for shade on the water. If my 2 golf umbrellas I have with me fail/break then as a last resort I can utilize this one for sailing also. I managed to go about 4 miles this afternoon without putting the paddle in the water one time and could still be going.

I was thinking of taking a nap, but it is too warm in the tent, so will probably read a little bit, something I haven’t done much of always something to do or too tired.

The one thing that I see changing with the warmer weather is my appetite. I may need to change/plan my meals differently

MAY 8 SUNDAY DAY 25 ON THE WATER – Tough day today it has been for sure. On the water by 8:30 , beautiful sunny morning, flat water, no wind or breeze. I got about 8/10 miles and the wind came up out of the East just as I was turning North and I was on the West side of the lake, which means the waves beat me to death until I got the kayak un loaded and on the bank. I finally found a “depression” about 100 yards from where I beached the kayak and that is where I have spent the day, mostly out of the wind.

0381000I did just put the tent up, got to take a nap, start a book and walked around and found limited cell service. It calls for rain tomorrow, but it sure doesn’t look like it now, not a cloud in the sky, anywhere. The wind is still blowing at it is almost 8:00. I am going to have some Top Raman and endeavor to get up early and be on the water by 6.

Normally the wind lies down as soon as the sun goes down; let’s hope that is the case once again. I have about an hour to reach what is called Independence Point which you make almost a 180 degree turn after heading North for that 2 miles and you head basically due South to the Garrison Dam which is about 60 miles from where I am at. 60 miles is a good 4 days at 15 miles per day. I can’t average much more than 2 miles per hour. If the wind were to turn behind me and blow south, I could probably manage to do 3 or 4 miles per hour with the Umbrella/Sail.

0-381000It appears it is going to take the 10 days total to do the entire Lake which would be averaging 20 miles per day. I don’t think it is a full 200 miles the way I am doing it. That 200 miles probably follows the Missouri River Channel and I cut a lot of that out by going from point to point, trying to make the shortest distance between two points a straight line.

Between the wind and the sun today, I feel like I have been in an oven, although it wasn’t that warm. I hear the Meadowlarks starting to sing their nightly song, so perhaps that means the wind is going to stop. I will do as much as I can to prepare the kayak for packing tonight so I can hopefully get on the water as fast as possible.

I have a very long ways to go to finish this trip, but I am still mentally prepared and feel up to it and for sure my physical stature feels strong and willing to do so.

There was no danger today of any kind, just another example of what I have to look forward to, a lot of windy days and they all won’t be blowing down river, whatever the direction the river is flowing. This is just part of the “adventure”.

0127000MAY 9 MONDAY DAY 26 ON THE WATER – What a beautiful morning this morning after having to endure over 16 hours of the wind yesterday, spending that time in a hole in the ground. But it worked; I slept well and awoke fresh and ready.

I was packed and headed out on smooth water by 6:30. I got across the lake to Independence Point, sat in calm waters and had yogurt and mini-wheats with orange juice. I saw a dog on the rocks, acting like he knew what he was doing; he had a collar on his neck. Also saw a deer start to swim across the lake, which was at least 3 to 4 miles the direction she was heading. When she saw me, she turned around and went back to shore, it was a Whitetail. I also saw a Muskrat, one of the few I have seen on the trip so far.



0381000I continued to paddle until approximately 11:30 and after consulting and studying the maps I bought at the Marina at 4 Bears, decided to paddle across the lake in a diagonal direction which would position me for in the morning. I normally will not head across open water that late in the day, but took my chances; it was a good 4 to 5 miles, which is a good 2 to 3 hours of paddling. I made it within a mile and the wind came up, just like it did yesterday, about the same time and it was all I could do to make it to where I wanted to camp. No fun and it is one of the few times I have ever done that.

The place I am at is pristine and very peaceful. I saw a coyote on the bank as I approach, deer browsing on the hill above the little valley, just beautiful. Once again I made the trek to where there was shelter from the wind, which gives me that walking and exercise I need after spending 8 hours in the Kayak.

I have had no cell service since Saturday around noon. But if I remember correctly, the weather called for rain Mon and Tues, and that was at Garrison Dam, which is only 3 days for me. Right now it doesn’t look threatening but it has clouded up and the temperature has dropped enough I put on a jacket and zipped my pants legs on my zipper pants.

I have already eaten dinner, had Butter Pasta with a can of tuna fish, flower tortias, a berry smoothie and Oreo cookies for desert. I also shaved and cleaned up a little bit today; I try to do that every 2 days.

I am very pleased that I am still emotional motivated and for certain physically I am doing great. At no time have I even had thoughts of how “crazy” this is, or what in the heck am I doing. Not once. I haven’t gotten down one single time or wished I was someplace else. Everyone keeps asking me how I can do this alone, but in reality there is really 5 of us at all times, Me, Myself, I, my Soul and my Spirit. There seems to constantly be a conversation going on at all times about something between somebody. Most of the time I don’t pay any attention at all, until there is an argument, disagreement and a decision needs to be made.


Missouri River Journal 10

MAY 10 TUESDAY DAY 26 ON THE WATER – Nobody said this was going to be easy, least of all me. In fact the only thing I have heard is I must be crazy and for sure have lost my mind. I woke up to rain this morning and the wind was still blowing out of the E/SE. Not good. I laid there for an hour or so and just had to attempt to make some headway. I paddled around the corner and went nowhere for 30 minutes. I let the wind blow me back around the point and went and sat down and had my breakfast. Once again yogurt and mini frosted wheat. I have a few Runa Energy drinks that Cam got me on to left so I had one of them.

Since I have had no cell service since Saturday, I decided to go for a hike and get up high on a hill. Once there I had good cell service, let Cam know via text that I might have to stay put for a day or so, checked the news and checked the weather but really didn’t learn anything. Once I was done I headed back, but for some reason I head due West instead of South the way I came. It became apparent after an hour or so, I was confused and discombobulated and was not where I wanted to be. I returned to the top of a hill, checked the map and sure enough, I was about 3 to 4 miles North of where I needed to be. I managed to get down on the shoreline and walked it back to the kayak.

05715000I set the tent up, relaxed and just watched the weather, it was raining off and on and the wind continued to blow. After an hour or so, I noticed that my kayak was getting pounded by waves, which meant that the wind had changed directions and was now blowing out of the S. West which meant it would be blowing over my right shoulder since I needed to head East.

Once the kayak was packed again, I headed around the point and sure enough the wind was in fact blowing over my right shoulder. I got the umbrella out and went about 8 miles with it, before it just gave out. Unfortunately I did not think ahead or I would have had another close enough to grab but the 2 more umbrellas I have were tied up front on the kayak. I paddled until the wind decided to come directly out of the South, which meant it was pounding me on the right side of the kayak and it wasn’t long and I was wet, the kayak had water in it and that meant that was the end of the day for me.

0000I got to shore, got the kayak pulled up on the mud flats, staked it down and got camp set up. As usual to get out of the wind I had to walk a good 50 yards up off of the bank. The place looks like a Chinese Laundry, everything I had on and some of the stuff in the boat is hanging from trees. My river boots are soaked, but fortunately my hip waders are dry, will wear them in the morning. My insert for the sleeping bag got a little wet but probably won’t need it tonight, I didn’t last night.

I put my red long johns on, got things squared away, got the water out of the craft, consolidated the food now into 2 food bags

instead of 3, did what I could do to get ready for in the morning. I got chilled to the bone with being wet and the wind blowing so have had the cook stove on in the tent, which works great.

-15240062484000It has cleared up, but wind is still blowing, directly out of the south. I expect it to stop blowing once the sun goes down and hope to wake up to the sun shining and a flat lake in the morning. I went 10 miles which is not bad for the challenges I have been dealing with. I have approximately 30 more to go to get to the dam.

I still may make it by the end of Thursday, if not for sure on Friday. Probably better, I am hoping that Sat morning someone will help me and put the kayak on the boat trailer and take me around to the boat ramp below the dam on the river. Perhaps if I get there soon enough, that can happened Fri, then I can go into town and restock up and get back on the water Fri not too late in the afternoon or first thing Sat morning.

All in all with approaching the end of the 4th week on water, I feel like I have planned well, have not taken any chances, have dealt with what has been presented me and have not put myself at risk. Obviously I have no control over the wind/weather and am trying to plan accordingly and to make the best of it, it is what it is.



Missouri River Journal 11
 
MAY 11 WENDSDAY/MAY 12 THURSDAY DAY 27/28 ON THE WATER – I am going to combine these two days, both these days have been challenging to say the list. Thursday woke up once again to the wind blowing N. N/W which is basically the direction I needed to go, blowing 25/35 MPH.

0000The night was the most stress full so far. Once I got camp set up and got things squared away, the song birds moved in to the trees branches right above me and for a good hour I was serenaded with some of the most beautiful sounds I have ever heard. The wind was howling before long, sounded like a jet engine coming thru the tree branches above me. I virtually got no sleep all night long, until early in the AM. I worried about the kayak, which I felt I hadn’t secured that well. I worried about the tent, which there isn’t much more I can do. It was very stressful.

It reminded me of one night out in the field in Vietnam when I was out of the perimeter with a couple of other guys and we had set up an ambush on a trail. Scared, worried, not sure what all the sounds were, very stressful and I will never forget it, wondrous that I would remember those feelings and feel the same say this night, sitting in a tent on Lake Sakakawea Lake in North Dakota 50 years later in my life.

I didn’t get with it real quick, tired and worn out and very tired of the wind. I got on the water about 11 and let the wind…with paddling blow me about 10 miles and went into a cove to take a break and contemplate just calling it a day. I did some sewing on the umbrella, after going thru the two golf umbrellas I had with me.

The golf umbrellas work great if it is about 10 MPH, but after that they just don’t last, get broken up real quick. But a beach umbrella, if it is sewn and reinforced on the metal frame, works very well. I then went for a walk, to see if there was any place I could get out of the wind. I spotted an “albino” doe, pure white, not a speck of brown on her that I could see. I would have given anything to get a picture of her. No place to camp, so got back in the kayak and headed out and probably went another 8 miles easily before I found a spot that was adequate, in spite of the wind.

0000I got camp set up, had a good dinner of fried spam, mashed potatoes and onion gravy, English muffins with blackberry jam.

0000Thursday, another night of wind but not nearly as bad as the night before, I was just in a better spot, secured the kayak by pulling it completely up on the bank and securing the tent as well as I could. I slept well. Upon unzipping the tent and saw 2 coyotes chasing 2 does on the side of the hill not far away. Then the does would turn around and chase the coyotes, it was fun watching them.

Got loaded up and headed up in 30 to 40 MPH winds, blowing over my left shoulder which was once again N N/W and it is not easy. There were 3 to 6 foot swells. This kayak is very safe and handles the swells easily and safely, but make no mistake about it, it is stressful no matter what.

I got to the point that I felt that I could head across the lake, going approximately S/E so I could hit the point I needed to go around to get into Sakakawea State Part, the boat ramp which is where I was to end this part of the trip. It was a good 3 to 4 miles across the lake, winds still blowing the 30 to 40 MPH, the swells getting bigger all the time. Something I was not looking forward to at all.

0-190500 I made it across in about an hour, but missed my mark and got blown into a cove where as I hit the beach, the kayak got swamped and I got soaked. I managed to get the kayak up on the beach, out of the waves pounding and walked down the beach half a mile or so to get out of the wind and build a fire to get warm and dried off.

Once I got down there and tried to start the fire, the water proof matches were soaked and it was hopeless. I walked back to the kayak and found more fire starter and matches that were dry, thank heavens and walked back to the out of the wind spot and build a good fire, spent a couple of hours, got things dried off and laid down in a pile of leaves and took a short nap.

I went back to the kayak, sat on a log and watched the waves, and figured what the heck, all I can do is get wet again, which I immediately did by getting the kayak back in the water and maneuvered such that I could get in and paddle like hell to get out far enough to get my rudder straps on and head to my right, East towards the point I need to go into the bay that would take me to the boat dock.

00002 hours later I am at the boat dock and hour after that I am in a motel room that the owner let me stay in for free once he found out what I was doing. The Park Ranger had a couple of his maintenance guys come down with their truck and flatbed trailer and gave me a ride to the motel, which was less than mile, just outside of the Park entrance.

Once again, everyone is very helpful to say the least.

An hour later everything is in the room, separated, drying out and I take a hot shower, shave and head to the restaurant for dinner. I had trouble getting to sleep, which is not unusual for me.


MAY 13 FRIDAY – PICK CITY, ND - I was up at 5:30 and started to get my gear squared away, cleaned up, dried out and repacked. Once I accomplished what I could, went outside and got the water out of the kayak, cleaned it as well as I could. I have tried once again to eliminate some things, but have found nothing I want to do without. I know wat it takes to be safe, comfortable and it is what it is. I have learned to pack the kayak much better so I have some room, much more than I did when starting out.

Once that was all done, I hitchhiked about 3 miles across the dam to a new little coffee house that served breakfast and a good one it was. Lee the owner, what a great guy he is, had one of his kitchen helpers give me a ride back. He also gave me the number of a guy named Jim Wahl who is going to pick me up about 10 in the morning and take me to the boat ramp below the dam. If you will remember in a previous journal, when I was in Miles City I heard of a guy who was ahead of me in a canoe. Well he stopped here obviously to portage around the dam. Jim Wahl gave him a ride also; evidently he is a couple of days ahead of me. He is from Alaska, in his 60’s and on his way to Omaha for his daughter’s wedding. I do not relish the idea of coming down this lake in a canoe, but guys do it. I doubt if I am going to catch up with him, with taking these two days off.

I will go buy groceries at the little store here in Pick Town and hope I can get what I need/would like to have. Finish up my Journal and get it posted. Go thru my gear again when I pack the food and ice chest and just relax for the rest of the day, hoping I can get a good night sleep. I am already anxious to get back on the water. It is very cold here for today and tonight, it is supposed to freeze.

It is 1400 miles from here to St. Louis, the Confluence of the Missouri River and Mississippi River. A long way, but it will go fairly quickly. I have 3 more lakes and of course 3 more dams. The lakes are not near as long, nor wide or big so they shouldn’t be as much work and stress as Lake Sakakawea. I expect it to take 50 days, but hope to do it in less.

What a great adventure this is, to be able to do it at this stage in my life. I still don’t like to go to bed because I can’t wait to get up. I don’t want to sit any more time on the bank than I have to because I am afraid I am going to miss something. Every day in spite of the wind this past week now that I look back on it is a privilege at best, a pleasure as well and grateful I have the opportunity, the physical stamina and health to do it.


Missouri River Journal 12

MAY 14 SATURDAY DAY 24 ON THE WATER – Jim Wahl picked me up at 8AM and I was down at the boat dock in 10 minutes. What luck I am having getting the help when I need it. 1905190500

This picture is in front of the motel where I stayed after completely the lake it is Sat morning and I am waiting for Jim Wahl to pick me up.

I had 4 good meals here. Steak, baked potatoes and salad Thursday night. Chicken fried steak, eggs and hash browns for breakfast Friday. Open faced turkey sandwich with gravy, mashed potatoes and corn for lunch. Walleye, French fries and a salad for dinner Friday night.

Also, what a break I got getting the free motel room for 2 nights.

2498-14600This is at the base of Garrison Dam getting ready to leave.

Once on the water the current was strong and I did a good 30 miles. Wind came up late in day and I had to spend the night in a creek bed which was out of the wind. All in all… a good day for getting back on the water.

2498-31200

MAY 15 SUNDAY DAY 25 ON THE WATER – What a fiasco when I made my first trip to the kayak to start to load the kayak. I had left the ice chest, 2 food bags, dry bag with solar charger and cables for phone and camera, lap top in bag on the bank and it was all gone. The water had risen a good 2 feet. They had let water out of the dam for the 1st time last night. Talk about stressed. I hurriedly broke camp got the kayak packed and headed down river hoping to salvage something. Keep in mind I had just stocked up.

I ended up finding a jar of peanut butter and the ice chest thanks to a fisherman who told me where it was. The ice chest was a good 5 miles down the river. Needless to say it was not a pretty picture. I decided to get to Bismarck and once there to resupply and get a notebook from ATT.

left127000I arrived in Bismarck at 4 and called a taxi and was in the ATT store by 4:15. Unbelievable. Then I went to Cash Wise and Big Lots which was in walking distance and bought what I needed. Bought a good hamburger at the deli in Cash Wise and called the taxi and went back to the kayak and got things repacked and organized.

By then I was so tired I went down river not far and slept on the bank under one of the bridges. Or tried to sleep. Trains, motorcycles, traffic and a bar across the river that had karaoke going until 11 made it impossible. Plus, a beaver slapped his tail all night long. Keep in mind I am just 4 feet off of the water.

MAY 16 MONDAY DAY 26 ON THE WATER – I made good time after Bismarck. My next short term goal/distance was Ft Hayes where the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is. It is where Sitting Bull is buried. 1905-63500

One thing that is very noticeable is I have not seen any wildlife. None. No deer or bald eagles, no beaver. There are still geese, ducks and hear a coyote now and then. Some fisherman when there is a boat dock.

I did not make it as far as I wanted to. I ended up once again sleeping on the ground at a boat dock. One thing I have learned is at the boat docks if there is a fish cleaning shed it has power. All the guys use electric filleting knives. Hence one can charge the phone and notebook. This was across the river from Fort Rice.


Missouri River Journal 13

1905000May 17 Tuesday - For the 2nd night I had not put up the tent. The mice drove me nuts. I put the tent down, then the pad and then my bag. They ran up and down the side of the bag on the tent. Then they would run over the bag. Couple of times I woke up one was pulling on my hair. Quite an experience.

MAY 17 TUESDAY DAY 27 ON THE WATER – I woke up to a beautiful morning. No wind at all. Lake was smooth as I have seen it. Once packed up, I shaved and had granola with yogurt for breakfast.

I paddled until about 2. The last two night’s fitful sleeps had me tired. I got camp set up and took a nap. It was a good night’s sleep because it was very quiet.1905-190500

Just before I got out of bed this morning I heard two geese talking to each other.

The 1st goose said to the 2nd goose: “Looks like Fred and Wilma didn’t make it back”.

The 2nd goose said: “Oh Oh”.

The 1st goose continues: “Ya, Fred told me they were going to stop at Summer Lake there at Lake In The Dunes. I told him that probably wasn’t a good idea. I said, you know those guys down there couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn if they were 10 feet from it, but they buy so many shot gun shells, they might just get lucky”.

2nd goose says: “Well that must have been what happened. You know, it is too bad, Fred and Wilma been coming back here for 10 years.

1st goose says: “I am just going to fly right on by this fall just like I did last fall.

MAY 18 WEDNESDAY DAY 28 ON THE WATER – It started out to be a calm day. There was a breeze out of the south which was the direction I am going. By noon winds were 20 MPH plus in my face and too much. I went to the bank, got out and walked and pulled the kayak along the bank for probably 4 miles. I did this for 2 reasons. I didn’t just want to sit there or give up on the day. Plus, paddling would have worn me out more than I already was.

I finally stopped walking, took a break and decided to head across the lake about 3 miles into the wind. 3 hours later I am across, beat up and tired. As tired at the end of the day as I have been on the trip.

1905127000If you look to the left center you will see the little buck laying along the bank.

2540-63500

Obviously the scenery is constantly changing.

This is very beautiful country.

I get the kayak out of the water, grabbed my wallet, phone and walking stick and headed to town. It is about 5.

It is a good 1 ½ mile walk. I don’t mind because after sitting for as long as I did it gets things working again. I got to a little pizza place and had a salad and pizza. Then to the White Buffalo grocery store and got a few things.

On my way back I stopped and talked to the range fire office and find out this wind is going to blow like this and up to 40MPH for several days so I have accepted the fact I am going nowhere until the wind changes direction or stops.

Once back and even more tired after carrying a bag of ice and what I had bought I get camp set up, I sit in my chair and ponder. I am tired for the 1st time and feel it. My hands are very sore from grasping the paddle and along with the challenges I have with my thumb joints they are cramping up. This last trip across the lake against the wind has taken its toll.

left28448000I have an idea to make things a little easier on me but going to sleep on the idea.

MAY 19, 20, 21 THURSDAY/FRIDAY/SATURDAY- I slept in because it is still blowing. I got squared away, shaved, put the only set of clean clothes I have on and had a breakfast of gravy on some English muffins, orange juice and a breakfast roll. Then I headed back in to town.

I stopped at the Tribal Road Department to test my idea. I asked the Superintendent if he knew anybody who might give me and my kayak/gear a ride down to Pierre which is 150 plus miles downriver and that would put me around the 2nd dam and eliminate some of the most difficult paddling of the trip. He calls Albert and Albert’s son Vance is going to pick me up Sat morning with his truck and car hauler and take me. It will probably cost me some money but worth it. Gets me back on the water, the next lake is good size but the last one is small and the way I feel I think it was a “good idea”.

I continued on and spent some time at Sitting Bull’s grave then walked another good 2 miles to the Sitting Bull College and I am here at the library. I had to run down the College’s IT guy, Nick to help me figure out some things with this new Notebook and he did.

So for now this gets me up to date. Since the cable for the Camera was in the little yellow dry bag that floated away for now I can’t download any pictures. I am going to see if the card in the camera will fit into this notebook and then will have the most recent pictures. It doesn’t.

I was very tired last night, Thursday night. I am sure it is the carryover from paddling so hard across the lake Wends afternoon. I slept very sound. I got things organized as much as I can, Vance called and confirmed he is picking me up at 10 tomorrow morning Sat. I have walked back into town and called the public transportation on the Reservation and I am at the library again. I am going up to the visitor’s center then will head back and relax the rest of the day. I should be back on the water Sun morning, I hope.

  Missouri River Journal 14

left283845007 

MAY 23 MONDAY DAY 29 ON THE WATER – I woke up early and walked down to the water and the water was like glass. Finally, it looked like I was going to be able to make some headway. Once loaded up I headed out and spent well over 8 hours in the kayak. There is no wind tonight and since it has warmed up the mosquitos are out in force which is something I knew was going to be the case. The ticks are also very prevalent. The coyotes are howling and the birds are singing getting ready to nest. The birds singing is by far one of the pure joys of this trip.

I know my eating is changing with it getting warmer. I will have to make some changes on how I stock up.

The kayak had some water leaks, minor but took everything out after getting camp setup and hoped I got it sealed good.0000

I never get tired of the sunsets, how could one?

MAY 24 TUESDAY DAY 30 ON THE WATER – Another beautiful morning as I was up before the sun was up. I had to have been on the water by 7. This is a very difficult part of the river let alone it being a lake. In a straight line I probably went 5 miles today in 9 hours but paddled a good 20 or more. There is just a lot of bends and corners. I have about 8 more days of this then in the current.

left381000Once again the heat is taking a toll. I am trying to drink more water but have no appetite. Not a bad thing as long as what I eat is proper.

I have another good camp spot tonight right on the bank that makes it a lot easier. The carp are spawning and gorging themselves on a hatch of bugs on the water. My back is to the lake and it sounds like rapids on a river.

I did a little sewing and patching on my sleeping bag and one of the 2 new food pouches I bought to replace the ones I lost. I think these are better. I can’t wait for it to cool down. Thank heavens I have this umbrella.

One thing for sure I won’t have any trouble sleeping once it cools down and it will do so quickly once the sun goes down.

I hit the 3rd dam tomorrow. I have been wrong all along there are a total of 5 dams. Doesn’t impede me in anyway what so ever I expect to get help quickly there are a lot of fisherman in the area.

Looks like there are some thunderstorms and rain coming but I don’t see any winds that amount to anything hope that is correct. (This picture shows where I got the hell beat out of me by the Thunderstorm).

MAY 25TH WENDESDAY DAY 31 ON THE WATER – What a difference just a few hours can make. Once again if you drew a straight line on today’s momentum it was probably 5 miles but had to paddle 25. Very frustrating and extremely tiring.

Last night after 8 hours of hard paddling yesterday and I got set up and did a good job of securing the kayak and felt I was in a reasonably good protected spot with the tent. The thunderstorm hit about 10 and it came right off of the lake right at me I had no time to prepare. I had to hold the tent poles right at the top for a good 3 hours. It rained so hard and blew so fiercely that it blew the water right thru the tent material. I felt a lull so went outside pulled the tent stakes and drug the tent back across the grass into the trees where I should have put it all along.

I finally got to sleep around 2. Surprisingly enough I was up, packed up and paddling by 6:30. Clark named it Big Bend. It is a horse shoe looking part of the river/lake that is 28 miles long and you really go nowhere. A tremendous amount of paddling.

After 9 more hours of hard work today I got to the boat dock at Big Bend Dam. Within 2 hours I had gotten a lift around the dam, got things dried out, organized, taken a shower, the tent up in the State Park and was walking back to town.

Got a ride once I was up on top of the dam and went straight to the store and got some cash. Went next door and mailed another package of miscellaneous stuff to Cam’s, went next door to the casino and had a bacon cheese burger. Then went and bought a few things and got a ride back to the camp ground. Lots of people here with Memorial Day this weekend.0190500

I am beat once again. Unfortunately, I feel like I might be contracting a cold/sore throat. I also picked up some poison ivy, must have been while I was on the island there in Pierre. It is on the back of my left hand and on both inside wrists. I don’t think it will get any worse.

I am hoping to feel somewhat refreshed in the morning. I am anxious to get to Yankton in the current on my way to St. Louis. I have about 200 miles to go to accomplish that. It looks like the Thunderstorms are going to pass this area. I am being told they will be constant daily occurrences and lots of rain. I don’t mind the rain it is the wind that is troublesome.

MAY 26 THURSDAY DAY 32 ON THE WATER – I was packed up and down the lake by 9:30. I had a good night’s sleep which initially helped greatly. I got within a couple of miles and was bucking the wind out of the south again and pulled over and called it a day. It was about 2. I was and am pooped. The throat infection that has come out of nowhere has also taken somewhat of a toll. I just finished some fettuccine with fried summer sausage in it and an ice cold milk. It was good.

About ready to pack up the kayak and get ahead of the game in the morning and prepare things for a thunderstorm.

left-63500I also think I am going to be paddling in some rain over the weekend.

I just saw my first raccoon. I have changed the way at the end of the day on how I sit in my chair. Normally one sets with their back to the shore looking out at the water. Well I now sit with my back to the water, after all I look at it all day. Here is what has happened from doing that. Now I see rabbits, squirrels, the raccoon and a variety of a species of birds I have never noticed before. Cool.

MAY 27 FRIDAY DAY 33 ON THE WATER – On the water by 7 and the breeze is blowing down river, finally. I have about 6 miles to Chamberlain. A mile from where I want to stop and get a few things an anticipated rain storm blew in and with it the wind came up river again. I just am having no luck at all. By the time I get to the boat dock I am soaked so decide to just get what I need. I also stopped at a thrift store and bought a pair of shorts, long sleeve shirt and a couple of towels, so I can dry off and put some dry clothes on. I am under a picnic shelter hoping the rain will pass and the wind will quit or turn and I will head out at least far enough to find a camp spot.

My throat infection doesn’t seem to be getting any worse. I bought some more cough syrup.

I sure do a lot walking considering this is a kayak trip.

The rain stopped and I actually went quite a ways before stopping.


 Missouri River Journal 15

MAY 28 SATURDAY DAY 34 ON THE WATER – I was in a good spot last night. Not many mosquitos and off far enough and tucked back in behind a bluff. No wind all night long. I had a two white tail come right by my tent I don’t think they saw it until they were right next to it, it was almost dark.

There are two things now I have started doing consistently before calling it a day. One is to make sure the tent is in a spot that no matter where the storm comes from I am protected. The other one is I pull the kayak up off the bank and secure it with the ropes on each end. Then I pack it with everything but the tent, cot, pad and sleeping bag and a few miscellaneous. This has done two positive things for me. I sleep better because I am not worried about the kayak or the tent and I take considerably less time to get underway in the morning.

I had the best day I have had today. The lake was calm as I left around 6:30. The breeze came up blowing down river for the 1st time in a very long time. I got to utilize the umbrella for the first time and went a lot of miles. I did today what it has been taking me 2 to 3 days to do. It just means if the weather will hold for 4/5 more days I am in the current and that is a very good thing. 2498-87400

Lots of boats and fisherman today. Of course it is Memorial day weekend so no surprises there.

I think my infection is getting better, it is the same thing I had while in ND in the winters, just hope it doesn’t linger on like it did then.

2498157200

I had 2, two year old bald eagles follow me for quite some time this morning. I whistled to them and they were curious. They would watch me as I went by, then fly ahead of me, wait for me and listen for me to whistle to them, then they would do it again. It was a lot of fun to watch them watch me

MAY 29 SUNDAY DAY 35 ON THE WATER – What another great day I have had. A very long one I spent 12 hours in the kayak. Way too long and made no sense what so ever. As anyone who knows me I don’t like being idle. The time on the bank is difficult for me. I have read numerous books and will read more. It doesn’t take long to keep the journal updated. There are other things I could do on the notebook but the battery would run down then I couldn’t keep the journal updated.

2498-15600

The weather cooperated all day. For the 1st 3 hours this morning the breeze blew down river again and I got to utilize the umbrella again. People are astounded and let me know. Seems very natural to me. Then the breeze quit and had to start paddling. As I have mentioned getting to Picktown is a big deal. I made it to within 1 mile and stopped at a good spot. Even if I got there it would be a zoo at the boat dock and campground. Tons of people on the water today with boats of all kinds. And I would never find anybody to take me around the dam this time of day. So I will get there probably about 9 get unloaded and ready and be patient.

It is about 120 miles to Sioux City which also like I have mentioned is where the real current and channel start. I am beginning to think I just could hit St Louis end of 3rd week of June. Which would mean I am down the Mississippi River a good 10 days before 4th of July.

The mosquitos got me good last night while I was setting the tent up. I also have noticed poison ivy on both my feet and lower legs. There were 2 animals or birds last night making a sound I have never heard. I shall never forget the distinct sound and wish I would have had the proper boots, clothes and light and went out to see if I could spot whatever it was.

I will certainly miss the song birds. I will also miss the beauty of the plains and the immense greenery of this part of the county. It is not hard to see why the Plains Indians thrived and prospered for as long as they did.

2498181100MAY 30 MONDAY DAY 36 ON THE WATER – I was up early again in spite of the very long day yesterday. What a night again. After having yogurt and granola once again off dinner, securing both the tent and kayak I crawled in the tent. I did not put the cot up. I was just too tired. That was about 9. At 10 the thunderstorm hit and it was another good one. Lasted a good 2 hours then I was able to get to sleep.

I was on the water by 7:30 and I have made it to the boat dock here at Pickstown which is a very big deal for this trip. I immediately chatted a couple of young kids up that were just going out fishing in a flat bottom boat and when they return at 2 they are going to take me around, we will unload, then they are going to take me back up to Abby’s the local grocery store and I will walk back the mile or so. Once again could that be any better?

I also had a very nice couple talk to me and they made me their guest of the Fort Randall Boat Club and I went over and shaved and took a shower, the 3rd one of the entire trip. A clean set of clothes which is the 3rd time also of the trip has made me a new man. In every sense of the set of circumstances…. I am almost afraid to mention just how good I feel.

I chaired a meeting before I left and my topic was “Happy, Joyous and Free”. I told the guys that my ambition and mission in life from now on was to define it, understand it, live it and experience it and I believe this trip is doing that for me. I have said it many times before. When I go for my walk and I feel like I am walking on air I know I am as close to being centered, grounded and connected as possible. At times on the water I feel like I am paddling in the air, it just gives me a sense of floating, forward in life. And I have to mention it again, the over whelming joy I am getting out of the birds singing has completely awed me. It is almost like I never really heard them before.

I have all the gear ready to load. The kayak is clean. I am ready to accomplish the next 73 miles. Then after that this becomes an entirely different experience.

The boys were right on time. Didn’t take 15 minutes. Once unloaded off to the side of the boat ramp I grabbed my boots and socks and they took me back up to the little store. It was slim pickings with it being Memorial Day. I had a quick hamburger that cost $13 and was about the size of a silver dollar. Then got a few bottles of water and 2 bags of ice. The owner heard me mentioning I had to walk back and he gave me a ride. He told me in the last 2 weeks they have had 4 1/2 inches of rain which is very unusual and the wind has also been unusual. No wonder I have had challenges. 0-127000

Looking down river just below Ft. Randall Dam.I am waiting to set my tent up here up on the park grass, letting everyone leave. I don’t know if they allow camping here or not, but I am not going anywhere else. It has been good to relax today. I can’t wait to get to Yankton which will be end of Wednesday.

0-1270This picture is of the kayak sitting next to the boat dock for in the morning.


Missouri River Journal 16

left28384500

MAY 31 TUESDAY DAY 37 ON THE WATER – Last night was another un-enjoyable night. Thunderstorms again and the tent wasn’t in the best spot. I did manage to get to sleep with the wind howling, lightning and thunder and lots of rain. It is starting to wear on me.

Once up as the sun was coming up it didn’t take long to get moving. The wind was to my back blowing down river so that helped.

-162560578104000The bald eagles are numerous along this section. But the beavers, deer, water fowl and wildlife appear to be missing. No tracks on the bank, it is quite obvious.

I made good time and stopped about 5. I am hoping for a quiet night. I should make it to Gavin point Dam by 5 tomorrow.

left000This is Tuesday nights camp spot. I am hoping I am not to exposed, kind of in a hole.

The wind didn’t blow at all so things worked out good.

left185039000

JUNE 1 WEDNESDAY DAY 38 ON THE WATER

I seem to be getting consistent on my waking up and getting with it. The wind was blowing down river and my immediate goal was to go about 3 miles and stop at a little town called Niobrara and get a few things and have some breakfast. I am completely out of everything and I want to make sure I have water and something to eat just in case I don’t make it to the marina and have to stay on the bank one more night.

I have read where this stretch of the river is pretty much just like it was when Lewis and Clark came down the river on their way back to St Louis

I had no trouble getting down to where the lake opens up. It seemed like it took forever.

2830643117600

The Lime Stone cliffs are magnificent thru here on Lewis and Clark lake.

2498157200I had to cross the lake because the wind was blowing out of the north hard and I was on the south side. It was beating the hell out of me.

What should have been a 1 hour paddle turned in to 3. It once again really wore me out.

286512028702000

Once again the cliffs are majestic.

I arrived at the dam/Lewis and Clark Marina about 7. The guy in the marina told me the Manager would help me in the morning. I went around to the beach area next to the bath house. Got a shower and shaved. Went to the restaurant and had a steak, baked potato and Caesar salad. I put my tent up about dark behind a bushy tree so the Park Rangers couldn’t see me and had a pretty good night’s sleep.

JUNE 2 THURSDAY IN YANKTON, SD -


Once again up early and back to the marina by 7. The manager was there and asked if I was the kayaker. I said yes I am. He says good, I will take you wherever you want to go. He took me to the boat dock right down town Yankton which made my day easy.

I went thru all my gear. Washed my clothes. Got a haircut. Got my sleeping bag dry cleaned. Called a taxi and went to Walt Mart and got what I needed. Mailed another box of stuff not using to Cam’s. Repacked the kayak and have it ready for in the morning. I will wait for it to get dark, put my tent up behind a tree and should be good to go by 7 in the morning. I am excited to continue the trip because now I am in the current for the next 1500 miles.


Missouri River Journal 17

JUNE 3 FRIDAY DAY 39 ON THE WATER
– Not a bad night’s sleep considering that I was literally busy YESTERDAY from 7 until 9:30. But I got everything done. I was up, shaved, had yogurt and granola once again and shoved off by 8.

What a joy to have current once again. In had some thunder and lightning and rain with wind both directions throughout the day. I got hung up once on some shallow area but overall I think I went a good 45 miles plus. I will be in Sioux City before noon. A week from today I will be able to come within a couple of days when I will get to St. Louis.

-287213-289936300

I will find some Wi Fi when I get there and up load the journals I have ready.

In must have seen at least 100 plus eagles today. I saw a group of 13 of them feeding on a large dead paddle fish. Also a lot of beaver sign.

It was 5 and had gone far enough, for sure, for my 1st day back on the river. I came around a bend and there was a boat ramp.

right688975000

I am always leery of putting the tent in spots like this because you never know which direction the wind can come from. Luckily it is coming out of the north and I am on the south side of the trees. It is really blowing and probably we will have a good thunder storm but I am ready.

I had chili for dinner with cold milk and a couple of sweets. Tomorrow should be a good day again.

JUNE 4 SATURDAY DAY 40 ON THE WATER – Pretty much on my schedule for being on the water by 7:30. It is about 20 miles to Sioux City, I am going to stop at a marina there.

The only difficulty I had was getting through some shallow water and once again had to get out of the kayak out in the middle of the river and pull it until I found the channel.

The river is still fairly wide until you get within about 5 miles and it narrows down and that starts the run 750 miles to St Louis. But once in the channel you know it. There is substantial current. There is no rift raft in the channel. There are mile markers letting you know how many river miles is remaining. Cool.

Once to the marina I went up, had something to eat, charged the note book and phone and uploaded the journals to 1indsob. Took about 2 hours and I was back on the river.

I went another good 10 miles which made this a 40 mile plus day. If I maintain that in the next couple of days barring any bad weather that should be the average. 264795063500

I have set up on a sand bar 1st time I have done so, but it is fairly protected. There could be a thunder shower but overall the weather starting tomorrow for the next 10 days is in the 80’s and 90’s, so I am sure I will be utilizing the umbrella for shade. In 10 days I could be 400 miles down the river so as I go I keep changing my weather data to try to keep up with it.

JUNE 5 SUNDAY DAY 41 ON THE WATER – Another very long day but productive one. Went 50 miles which is a long ways under any set of circumstances. The current is constantly moving and appears to be so far consistent.

When I left the bank this morning I looked at my phone and it was 7:22. When I looked at the mileage marker sign it read 722. The honest truth. Almost fell out of the kayak.

2912230100

This is what the Mile Markers look like.

I got to Decatur Marina and stopped to get a few things. There was a restaurant bar, very popular place, very busy. The owner said I could use his car to run down to the little store in town. I once again had another hamburger, which I swear is going to be the last time. Then I went and got ice and a few things and was back on the river.

I paddled until about 6:30, until I hit the 50-mile marker, 772 and found a private boat ramp in a little community and asked one of the residents if I could put my tent up and he said no problem. Nobody is here anyway.

It is difficult for me to admit it but I am very, very tired. I know a lot of it is the heat. I did utilize the umbrella for a good while for shade. I do need to take it just a little bit easier, after all I’m not 35 even though I feel like I am most of the time.

-304800-1582547000

I am enamored with the pilings that are along the bank, literally since the mileage marker 750. They have to be well over 100 years old maybe 200 years old and a lot of them have disappeared but a lot of them are still standing. It had to have taken 1000’s and 1000’s of the posts. Where did they come from? Miles and miles of the cable and 10,000’s of the spikes to hold the cable at the top of the piling and the rail in between them. There are 3 each to each piling. It had to have been during the steamboat, paddle wheel days. I am determined to find a book/information about how and why it was done.

The weather is supposed to be good for 6/10 days. In the 90’s at the end of the week. Good in some respects but not so good in others ways. I cannot imagine the heat not creating some pretty good thunderstorms in the evenings.

This is a good spot,,,,,I should sleep good tonight. I need to.

-304166-2059686000

I will have to admit when I do engage somebody in conversation, which by the way is not that often, they are somewhat taken aback with the enormity of this trip.

If I have been offered a beer once it has been 50 times on the water. It makes me feel good to say no thanks.


 Missouri River Journal 18



This picture was taken by some young guys on a bluff as I was heading to the Lewis and Clark Marina in Yankton.

They texted it to me.

JUNE 6 MONDAY DAY 42 ON THE WATER AND DAY 57 SINCE LEAVING BEND ON APRIL 9 – I am not sure if I am 100% correct on the days both on the water and since leaving but it is close enough. The difference between the days on the water is traveling, the days in Jamestown, ND when the van broke down. Days on the bank when the wind was blowing and days in left781177000town resupplying.

There has been now 4 straight days of the wind blowing down river, to my back since leaving Yankton on last Friday morning. Now that is obviously a good thing and it helps tremendously but it is also aggravating. It literally wears me out. I did utilize the umbrella again for shade today which helps.

I didn’t hit the water until about 8:30. I actually seriously contemplated just taking the day off. It was a good spot. Nobody around. Out of the wind. Not a lot of bugs, but some. But, before I knew it I was loaded up and headed down river.

Once again I have paddled close to 50 miles. Not as tired as I was last night. I am going to sleep up on the grass and a pretty good size marina here in N. Omaha.

I will take a shower in the member’s club house, put some clean clothes on and get some ice from a self-pay.

I can’t believe that by this time tomorrow I will be a good 30/40 miles down river from Omaha, Nebraska. I think I will be on the Mississippi on the other side of St Louis by or before 20 June. We shall see. I do know very good weather is coming. Tomorrow is supposed to be the last of this wind.

I know I am already thinking and planning ahead on how to get the kayak broke down and gear all packaged up to Havasu Landing, get to Jamestown and get my van, drive to Havasu Landing and make the move from Bend with what I have there to Havasu Landing.

-287213-1227725100

This is a Yellow Cat Fish this guy caught.

JUNE 7 TUESDAY DAY 43 ON THE WATER
– Well I didn’t make it down river from Omaha 30/40 miles but I did 20. Picture below is of the Omaha skyline

I stopped at a really nice river side park, camp ground and boat docks and had some lunch. My butt is tired from sitting in the kayak and is starting to bother me. Even right-1368588200though I sit on a pillow which is on a very good boat seat I need to do something different or I won’t make it the remaining 1600 miles.

Sitting here I saw that it was already 3:00 so I found the camp host and he said I could stay here under a tree that is next to the boat dock where I have the kayak tied up.

I will hit it as early as I can in the morning, tomorrow is the 1st day of it getting close to 100 degrees.

left1881314500Corps of Engineers working on the channel.


Missouri River Journal 19

JUNE 8 WEDNESDAY DAY 44 ON THE WATER – I am in Nebraska City, Nebraska at another good State boat dock and camp ground. What is nice about these is they all have good bathrooms with showers, power, grass and normally I can stay close to my kayak.

I enjoyed the break yesterday afternoon. I slept very soundly, it cooled down nicely. I was packed up and on the water at 6:45. I am going to try to make it even earlier in the morning.

-287213-280089700

They were thinking I was going to feed them. This was at the marina Monday night.

Tomorrow will start to be the beginning of in the 90’s. The wind blew up river all day, but because of the current I still managed to do 40 miles by 2:30. The State Game and Parks supt here at the park gave me a ride into town. I had a very nice lunch in a cute little place and the very nice lady there got to talking to me and offered that her and her husband would bring what I needed later if I would give her a list, which I did.

I walked back, got camp set up and have taken a couple of showers to get cooled off. Hopefully it will cool off nicely tonight like it did last night.

I am tired and somewhat lethargic, but with the heat I am not surprised. I am trying to pace myself more and more. The miles will start to wind down fairly quickly now. I have only really been in the current since last Sunday a mere 4 days.

JUNE 9 THURSDAY DAY 45 ON THE WATER – Boy oh boy, there wasn’t anything easy about the 40 miles I did today. The wind blew all day again today, only harder and straight out of the south. There were a few times the river meandered to the east and I got some relief. But it was all I could do was keep the kayak in the current and going straight.

left689483000

I came on to a boat ramp and parking lot in a state park and called it a day. I am camped over out of the wind, which appears to be dying down, behind the toilet which is a good spot.

Some observations. I saw some deer today. I think there are quite a few but the foliage is so think on the banks they hide very good. There are more bald eagles than I imagined there would be. Hearing wild turkeys often. I saw only one boat today, a Corps of Engineer with 2 guys in it, and a couple guys just put in here at the boat dock. There are some very “big” people in this neck of the woods.

They had a big flood here in this area about 30 days ago. Mud and debris all over the place. This picture of this boat ramp is a good example. Just full of mud017716500

I cooked some pasta with tuna fish and a cold bottle of milk. 1st time in quite some time I have cooked a little dinner. I took a shower last night and I walked out of the building and the camp host asked me if I would like to eat with them. I told him thanks, but I had a good lunch about 3. But, the real reason is I took a look at what was sitting with him and I couldn’t decide if it was a Woolley Mammoth he had as a pet or his wife.

The little biting black flies are everywhere, even out on the water when the wind is blowing.

I am getting a long sleeve shirt out in the morning. Guy couldn’t be doing this without a good tent like I have.

There is nothing easy about this. I surely wouldn’t advise someone to undertake this without some very definitive experience and very aware of their capabilities and knows their limitations. Anyone who knows me, knows I am very experienced and very qualified to be doing this. I am not bragging it is just a fact. But there have been a few times I have questioned my sanity, weather related only.

I have definitively decided that on the Yukon next year I am going to get a single Feathercraft for that trip and slim the gear down.

JUNE 10 FRIDAY DAY 46 ON THE WATER
- I got behind a day here on the journal. By the time I fought the wind again and the heat and found a place to stop I was pooped.

JUNE 11 SATURDAY DAY 47 ON THE WATER – On the water by 6:15 since it was going to be another hot day. My goal was to stop in St. Joseph and spend the afternoon getting squared away. But it was a dirty town, no city park to stop in and the freeway had a double Decker highway going right thru it, so I went another 20 miles to Atchison, Kansas and glad I did. Great place, easy access, already went thru all my gear and been to the store and back. There is a great little restaurant called Chuck and Hank’s right in the park and they are letting me stay right next to their deck. I am getting lucky on finding good, grassy places, convenient to put the tent up. The mayor even came by and said he would let the police know who I was and why my tent was on the grass.

I should be thru Kansas City by the end of Monday or for sure Tuesday noon, then it is on to Jefferson City. Heat took its toll today, I sure hope the 1st of the week it cools down.

JUNE 12 SUNDAY DAY 48 ON THE WATER
– Good paddling day all the way around. Headed down river by 6:30. Enough of a breeze to keep it cool somewhat and not too much so I could use the umbrella for shade. Well in the 90’s again today. I had a good dinner of ribs, Coleslaw and baked beans. The restaurant closed at 9 and they gave me a bag of ice.

Did just over 40 miles and stopped at 3:30 short of Kansas City, I would have a hard time getting all the way down river from the city this late in the day, it is a big city. I am obviously making good time. I am not supposed to spend the night in this park, already talked to a cop, but the park closes at 12 and opens at 5.

So I am going to just relax until dark, it will cool down, put a long sleeve shirt on, spray some bug spray on my hands and face and hope a thunderstorm doesn’t come up and sleep behind left1704975000some brush, nobody will know the difference. I can just get on the water a little earlier or about the same time.

I am starting to see the end of the Missouri.

Some more observations. I have only seen 1 Osprey on this entire trip, that was on the Yellowstone. I have not seen 1 Tip nor 1 Yurt. This entire section of the river for 100’s of miles has not recovered from the flood of 2011. It is blatantly obvious people are not on the river, nor are they on the banks. Awful lot of people in this part of the country are eating way too much corn fed beef, corn on the cob with real butter and mashed potatoes and gravy.

While I was working here a quick storm came up and I had to hide out in the bathroom. Lasted only 30 minutes, then I walked into town and got a pizza, only a mile or so.


 Missouri River Journal 20

JUNE 13 MONDAY DAY 49 ON THE WATER
– What a terrible night I had last night the 1st one, considering all of the river miles, wind, storms, mud and challenges I have been faced with. If one remembers in the last journal, the last day Sunday, yesterday I mentioned the cop that said I couldn’t stay in the park, there was no camping and it was closed from 12 to 5AM.

Well I was tired and I wasn’t going any further. So I weathered the quick storm that blew thru. Walked into Parkville and got a good Veggie Pizza in the cute little town and went back and waited for it to get dark.

I put my pad and bag in a little depression not far from the boat ramp, left the kayak and rest of the gear at the ramp and laid down, that was about 10. I of course couldn’t get to sleep, worried about the cop. Sure enough he shows up at 1:30, sees my kayak and gear are still there and starts looking for me. Why he didn’t come my way I don’t know. Finally, he gives up and sure enough he is back at 3:30 with his flashlight looking for me once again. So, I got no sleep at all. That is a tough thing when you are working as hard as I am. That will never happen again.

I left the dock at 5 well before the sun came up. I was going thru Kansas City by 6:30, on the other side by 9. 173355380174500

I had made another box of miscellaneous stuff I wasn’t using and had plans to mail it to Cam’s at the Post Office in Missouri City, MO. As I approached the town, it turned out there was no access to the town, up on the bank to the north. None. So I stopped about ½ mile down river, tied up and grabbed the bag and my walking stick and headed up the bank. What a mistake. I had only shorts and low top tennis shoes on. I cut my legs all to hell, the needles killed me and the mosquitoes were as thick as I have seen. It was too late, but I should have zipped my pants on and put my river boots on. Huge mistake.

Once thru the brush I piled some rocks up on the rail road track so I knew exactly where I came out and headed back to town. Once in town I see some folks working in their yard and painting their house. I asked where the Post Office was and where the store was. Two quick answers. PO closes at 10. It is about 11. There is no store. One quick question from them. You look like you are about ready to faint do you want a cold glass of water? One quick answer. Yes. My 2nd mistake was I didn’t take a bottle of water with me.

Once they understood what I was doing they offered to take me to the next town so I could go to the PO and get a few things at the store. They were out of beer so it worked for both of us. The PO was 8 miles. It was closed for lunch from 11 to 1, it is noon. They don’t want to wait so we drive to the next town, which is larger and I get the stuff mailed and get what I need at Walt Mart get lucky and get to have a Veggie Subway on the way back. Great guys, they were brothers been there in that little town all their lives. One was a union scaffold erector, worked all over and not sure what the other one did. They dropped me off right where the pile of rocks was and I got to tear the hell out of my legs for a 2nd time. It will take weeks for them to heal. I will have to really be careful and make sure I don’t get any infections from this river water.

They told me there was a boat ramp about 2 miles down river and that is where I ended up. Good spot. It was quiet but a ton of mosquitoes, fortunately the tent was in the shade and it finally cooled down. A few people came by, but once I cooled down ingot to sleep.

173355825246000

JUNE 14 TUESDAY DAY 50 ON THE WATER – Last night worked out well. I woke up refreshed and made up for the nights lost sleep. Another good day of paddling, 40 plus miles. I could go 50 plus but by 4 I am beat and my butt is tired. I did stop and get out, had a cold coke, some crackers, summer sausage, carrots and dip. Then headed back down river. I stopped here in Waverly, MO to get more ice, another gallon of water and more drinks. I have decided to just stay here, there is good shade, won’t be that quiet with the bridge over the river and the rail road track but once again I just don’t want to fight the sun, the wind… even though it is blowing down river and worry about finding a good place to camp. I will just have to tune the traffic noise out and the trains don’t bother me.

I caught a ride to the store easily and one of the clerks gave me a ride back. A guy by the name of Robin Kalthoff just stopped by, I have heard of him. Big time paddler, canoeist on the Missouri. Nice to have a contact if I need anything or help as I get down river.

JUNE 15 WEDNESDAY DAY 51 ON THE WATER
– The place I stayed at in Waverly, MO turned out to be just fine. Nobody came to the dock after dark and only 2 trains came by and the traffic on the road/bridge stopped after dark also. So I slept pretty good. I was up and on the river just after the sun got on the water.

I paddled close to 65 miles today. Everything just fell in to place. The current stayed strong. There was a breeze blowing down river most of the time, I stayed in the current and got to use the umbrella all day long for shade. I am in a little river town called Glasgow, MO. I got here about 6 and immediately walked into town and got an appetizer of chicken gizzards and liver, a small steak and baked potato. I did order a side of steamed vegetables but didn’t eat them, I saw the cook go out back and I think she picked them out of the garden and threw them on the plate. Wasn’t bad over all. Only restaurant in town and it was packed. No question I have had lots of opportunities to see a lot of little towns along the rivers.

0000

I am staying in the park, lots of grass, just got a shower and shave and well put some clean shorts and shirt on in the morning. The grocery store closed at 7 but opens at 7 so I will still be on the water by 8. I don’t plan on going as far tomorrow, although I feel pretty good all things considered.

I will be about 180/170 miles tomorrow end of day from St Louis. So I am getting within days. It is my intention to just keep right on going to Cairo, Illinois and stop there and reorganize, clean things and stock up form final push to Baton Rouge. In was told of an alternative route down to the gulf. I have read about it and might contemplate it, weather being I think the determining factor.

JUNE 16 THURSDAY DAY 52 ON THE WATER – The stopover in Glasgow was a good one. I slept good. I was at the store waiting for it to open right at 7. Once I got what I wanted I asked if there was any place in town to get some breakfast. The guy told me a bakery had some breakfast things. Ism pretty sure it was bakery not breakfast that made the decision. I took the things I bought back to the kayak, got it ready and walked back into town and sure enough I had a good breakfast burrito and a sticky bun. I was headed down river by 8:30.

I went another good 40 miles plus. I had a difficult time for some reason finding a place or the night. I finally settled on a spot I had to climb up the bank and it wasn’t 30 feet from the rail road track. Tons of mosquitoes and some breeze. Once I got the tent up and the bed up I just sat in the chair and took at least an hour to cool off. Keep in mind I am paddling in 90 degrees plus heat and have been foe days and it looks like it is going to continue thins way for another good 10 days.1733551739646000

Everything is dirty. The boat, he inside of them boat, everything. Even though I took a shower just 2 nights ago I and my clothes smell like sour river water. This won’t change as long as it stays hot. Tough.


Missouri River Journal 21  HERMANN, MO JUNE 18 WHERE I HAD TO STOP MY TRIP….GOT SICK

JUNE 17 FRIDAY DAY 53 ON THE WATER
- I have kept hearing about a place called “The Chain Of Rocks” a couple of miles down the Mississippi from the Confluence before you get to St. Louis. After doing some research on the internet I called Mike of Big Muddy Adventurers to ask some advice there in St Louis about 7 this morning. He told me Robbin Kalthoff had already called him. Once we talked it was decided that he would meet me at a take out just before the rapids and portage/drive me around. Which really solved a huge dilemma for me.

I will be in Herman, MO tomorrow by noon, a quaint little German Community right on the banks of the river. I will get a few things, have lunch and get another 20 miles in. That will put me at about 80 miles to St. Louis. Then Sun do another 40 and Mon get a few miles from the Confluence prepared for Mike and the portage Tues. Am.

I paddled another 50 miles today and have found probably one of the best camp spots so far at a boat dock in the middle of nowhere. Couple guys fishing are going to cook up a 20 lb cat fish they caught. One of them is charging my phone in his car. The tent is in good shade and there is a good breeze. I think this is the 1st night in a long time I have not been very hot at this time of the day. I should sleep very well tonight and looking forward to it.

0254000No question, there are 2 things I would have done different. Then1st is logistically I would have rented a small U-Haul driven to Garner, MT where I started, got ready and returned the rig to Livingston, MT. Did the trip, bundled it up UPS just like I am having to do and flew back. #2. Used a single kayak, conformed the gear to the single. When you get right down to it I have been paddling a big floating bathtub to a certain degree. Don’t get me wrong. This tandem K-2 Expedition Feathercraft is one hell of a kayak. But as I look back on it, for what I have had to do to do the 2,000 miles I have and how hard I have had to work, a single would have been for sure twice as easy.

JUNE 18 SATURDAY DAY 54 ON THE WATER – I woke up my usual time got packed up and headed to the boat ramp where the kayak was tied up lifted up off of the water. Upon getting to visually see the kayak I could see something was wrong. Somebody during the night had stolen pretty much everything. They left the paddles, my life jacket and that was pretty much it. What they took was the seat, the rain cover for the tent, my two food bags, one which had little food and the other some dirty clothes. They also took my day pack on top of the kayak which had my wallet and my camera and a few other things. I remembered I had my ATM card and what cash I had in the front pocket of my shorts I had on. So having the card and the cash lessened the impact initially. Needless to say this hit me pretty hard emotionally. Terrible actually. I assessed the situation and figured out with my camping gear I could configure a comfortable seat and I would be safe. A $100 dollars spent in Herman and I would be back in business. So off I went down river, 25 miles to Herman, MO.

I got about 10 miles into the morning and didn’t feel right. My chest was constricted I was having trouble breathing something wasn’t right. I called Cam and mentioned to him in the conversation I didn’t feel good. Also called on my Van in ND to make sure it would be fixed in time. I was wondering if the theft of my stuff was playing into the way I felt. Figured it would pass.

As the miles went by slowly since I was having trouble both breathing and paddling I became very concerned. The 1st thing was I was thinking a heart attack. Never had one so what was I to think?

I finally managed to get within 2 miles of the bridge, which I knew the boat ramp was just on the other side of the bridge and I just couldn’t go any further. I heard a boat coming up behind me, the only boat so far I had seen or heard on the river all morning. As they came up behind me I motioned for them to come over to me which they did. I told them I needed help which from the look on their faces it was immediately obvious I was not only not doing well I wasn’t looking well. They tied me up to the back of the boat with my tow rope in the front and we headed for the boat ramp. It was a good thing because my upper body was completely seized up and I was having difficulty breathing. It was decided the best thing was to have the EMT’s waiting at the dock so they called them. It was a lady with 3 young adults 2 girls and a boy.

As we approached the dock the EMT’s were there as well as some local police. Once there they got me out of the kayak and in the ambulance it was decided something was going on. After initial observation it was decided that I needed to go to the hospital in Washington, MO because they had a resident cardiologist, it was 30 miles away. I asked the folks to get my kayak and gear secure, which the guy who owned the bait shop right at the dock put it all in his basement.

Long story short. I spent 2 days in the hospital. They found absolutely nothing wrong with me. I did feel better. They were definitive in me getting some follow up tests, specifically a stress test. So I got out of the hospital Sunday afternoon and took a taxi back to Herman. I rented a little cottage from the Harbor Hause Inn so I could rest a couple of days. Monday AM I broke down my kayak got everything bundled up, wrapped in a blue tarp, duct taped and tied with rope and UPS’ed it back to Bend. Mike at the Wursthouse let me use his UPS account, which saved me a ton of money. They ship meats/etc all over the world, it arrived Fri AM.

0254000I left Tuesday evening on the train to St. Louis, then to Chicago, then to Devils Lake where I got lucky and got a ride to where my Van was and back which was about 70 miles one way. I decided to have a new engine put in the van, which was the 2nd one in less than 6 months, ton of money down the drain. I spent the night in Devils Lake, ND and got some much needed sleep and rest. Caught the train 6AM Thurs and was in Wishram, Washington across from the Dallas Fri 7 AM where my daughter Angie picked me up and we went back to Bend. Unfortunately I only took one picture during that time just before I broke the kayak down. I wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer at that time.

I did go to the Doc there in Bend once again absolutely nothing showed up. I was still very sick, bad enough that I spent 1 night in the emergency room. I was very sick for at least a week. One night I got a good fever, woke up in the morning all damp and wet and realized that the fever had broken and I felt better. 2 days later you would have never known I was sick. I now believe I got a Virus either from the water, which by the way I never drank nor brushed my teeth with. It could have been a mosquito bite which I had many, a spider bite which I had several, a scratch from a plant which I had several, who knows.

I decided on the 9th of July to make my move to Havasu Landing and have done so. Not the best decision because it has been 110 plus every day. I am going back to ND on 1 Aug flying out of LV to get my Van. Will go to Bend and spend some time then tow my 29 down here to Havasu with the van.

I plan on going back to Herman, MO mid Sept and finish the kayak trip all the way to the Gulf for sure this time, should take about 30 days, finishing up mid Oct. It will be cooler and the fall colors should be in full bloom. Will take the double again, did borrow a single but it is just too small, not very safe.

left-2185161900

This is the view of the little lake house in Havasu looking out the back across at Havasu City across the lake.

Tough month but it looks like I survived it. I do have the stress test on the 11th in Bend which will tell if there are any blockages that “might” have caused my predicament.

Next Journal posting should be close to the end of the 3rd or mid-4th week of Sep.


 Missouri River Journal 22 CONTINUING ON FROM HERMANN, MO WHERE I GOT SICK

FRIDAY OCT 14, DAY 55 ON THE WATER
– To bring this up to date. I left Havasu Landing on Thursday Oct 6. It was close to 1600 miles driving to get to Hermann, MO arriving Sunday about 1. Kenny Black who owns the bait shop and who helped me out when I had got sick met me and let me store my gear in his basement of the bait shop right at the dock. I had previously put Stormie in a dog kennel for the drive down to New Orleans and the train ride back.

I got a good 100 miles in before stopping for the night. Arrived in New Orleans about 7 that evening. Close to another 800 miles driving. Went directly to the Amtrak Station and booked my train ride back for the next day at 1. Then I went and found a Walmart to spend the night.

I left for Vincie which is about 80 miles downriver from New Orleans. About half way down I spotted a guy on the road side of the levee with all his gear spread out and a small canoe. I went back to talk to him. He started up at the Source of the Mississippi. He had gotten swamped by a Ferry the day before 1st issue he had. But he said this 80 miles just wasn’t worth it. Hard to find places to camp. Lots of river traffic consequently the water is constantly like a washing machine on wash.

So I said to myself good enough for me. I headed back to New Orleans found a park down town to get out to end the trip. With some patience found a Coffee Roasting business who let me park the camper van in an enclosed area that they lock up every night about 6 blocks from the park. Called a taxi and went to the train station to catch the train back to Hermann.

0254000The train ride was no fun at all. Brutal. Very rough track. But arrived back in Hermann Wens about noon. Started to get my gear together. Decided not to put the kayak together until the next day. Went and got Stormie out of the Kennel, I called a shuttle service to accomplish that. She has done great with everything so far.

Thurs morning immediately decided to not leave on the water until Fri AM. Got the kayak put together and got all my gear squared away and got whatever else I needed to make sure I had everything I needed.

Frank Van Kamp who owns the Harbor House Inn made sure I got breakfast every morning with all of his guests, Hermann has a month’s long Oktoberfest.

We got on the river at 9AM, sunny and beautiful bright Friday morning. The trees just have a slight hint of fall colors. Just me and Stormie on the river, nothing had changed there and never will.036830000

SAT OCT 15 DAY 56 ON THE WATER – Uneventful day yesterday for the 1st day back on the trip. Very warm but noticed there was a lot less bugs if any at all. We did 40 miles this 1st day. I have endeavored to stay in shape by walking, exercising, trimming palm trees and staying physically busy. So I feel great. Found a good 1st nights camp spot, got a great night’s sleep, Stormie does amazing in and out of the boat. We did another 40 miles for the 2nd day.

0190500


SUN OCT 16 DAY 57 ON THE WATER – Got up to another beautiful day. Few mosquitos last night but not like they were in June. Plus this new tent I got is great. Lots of room and I can stand up in it.

It was only 20 miles to the Confluence of the Missouri River and the Mississippi. We arrived there about noon.

I had called Mike at Big Muddy Adventures to help me if I needed it to get thru the Chain of Rocks. After making the turn in to the Mississippi I ran into 3 folks who had rented kayaks from Mike. I followed them down to the Chain of Rocks and watched them go thru. It was no big deal. So I jumped in and headed down river. Called Mike and told him I didn’t need help. He convinced me to stop and spend the night which I did.0-254000

MONDAY OCT 17 DAY 58 ON THE RIVER – I spent Monday at Mike’s because the wind was blowing and he didn’t have time to take me to get a few things. We did manage to do that in the afternoon. I also had boxed up some things to get rid of excess stuff I wasn’t using and once again mailed it to Cam’s.

TUES OCTOBER 18 DAY 59 ON THE RIVER – Mike took me down river about 5 miles to the closest place to launch. There aren’t a lot of them. Very close to the Arch.

0000Didn’t take long and got loaded up and took off. This is right in the middle of St Louis and the harbor so there is lots of river traffic and the water is rough, there is about 15 miles of this then one is out of the harbor.

We had no issues and I decided to stop early. I hadn’t slept well at all at Mike’s the last 2 nights, I have caught a little cold and found a place about 1 and set camp up.

5729477456800WENS OCTOBER 19 DAY 60 ON THE WATER – I got a good night’s sleep. Took a nap in the afternoon yesterday weather is holding up. We had no wind at all. But it is going to change. We stopped and got camp set up just in time because a thunderstorm started and blew in from the north.

THURS OCTOBER 20 DAY 61 ON THE WATER – The storm rained, lightning and thunder all night long. The wind is blowing out of the North so I have decided to stay put and just let it pass which it is supposed to this afternoon and be nice again tomorrow. One more day isn’t going to make any difference. I pulled my back yesterday getting the kayak on the water so a day of rest will be good.




Mississippi River Journal 23

FRIDAY OCTOBER 21 DAY 62 ON THE WATER
– As I hoped the wind blew the storm out and we got up to another bright and windless day. It is unbelievable to me that the weather is absolutely perfect for this trip so far. I am seeing a few bald eagles. Lots of deer tracks on the bank but seldom see any along the bank. If a guy got up real early he would probably see them. There is a tremendous amount of wildlife habitat behind the bank of the river. I am averaging a good 30 to 35 miles per day. What throws that off is when I have to stop and get supplies. That normally can take about 4 hours.

0127000SATURDAY OCTOBER 22 DAY 63 ON THE WATER – Once again we got to take off looking at a beautiful day. Stormy does exceptional in the boat. She obviously loves to get out at the end of the day and run around. Once she does then she eats and that is pretty much it. I stop at least once and sometimes twice. I am enjoying the Mississippi much more than I thought I would, even in spite of the river traffic.. the tug boats and the barges. It is very, very big after the Ohio River comes in at Cario. It is pretty much the same day after day. It is up till now the absence of wind that is making this final leg of this trip go so well. I stopped in Columbus, MO and got a few supplies.

0190500
SUNDAY OCTOBER 23 DAY 64 ON THE RIVER – Nothing much different today. I am starting to read the current better and starting to understand how to get out of the way of the river traffic with as little water turbulence as I can. It is not too bad when they are going down river. But up river against the current they create a lot of waves for miles. Fortunately the river is very wide and the channel they stay in is probably about a third of the water surface. That is what is looks like to me. There are river buoys that are easy to track. They never go out of the channel.

MONDAY/TUESDAY OCTOBER 24/25 63 DAY ON THE RIVER – I stopped in Hickman, KY to resupply again. There was a Ferry crossing the river and one of the guys said it was about a mile to the store. I try to always walk to the store. After sitting as long as I do it helps get the soreness out. I stopped at a restaurant on the way and plugged my phone and note book in and ordered a hamburger, fries and a coke. Don’t do that very often. One of the guys in there gave us a ride to the store and I ate it before I went in.

0-317500Everyone really likes Stormy (I am changing the spelling of her name), she is so easy with literally everyone. I normally always get the same stuff. 3 Gallons of water, ice, apples, yogurt, some sweets, cheezits, couple of bananas and that is it. I have yogurt and granola for breakfast and a sweet with water. Then for lunch a Cliff Energy Bar and a Red Bull. I always have a bottle of water between my legs and in my day pack in front of me I have a few things. I also keep my ear cover, pair of water proof gloves, tooth brush and tooth paste and the note book and phone and chargers so they are easy to get to. The day pack is water proof. Once again it took about 3 hours.

0000
WEDNESDAY/THURSDAY OCTOBER 26/27 DAY 65/66 ON THE RIVER – We have been sleeping good. I have been trying to pick camp sites that get us up off the bank and it is quiet. I have been pulling the kayak all the way up on the bank. The river traffic at night seems more, but that is only because I am not moving. If they come close to the bank it can raise hell with the kayak. Stormy just can’t quite except the fact she can’t sleep with me. She has been sleeping in the chair.

I took this picture to show the current. 0000

Couple of nights I haven’t put the cot up and course she loves that because I am sleeping on the floor of the tent. The mosquitos are still prevalent but once the tent is up and organized no issues with them.

I almost got into trouble today. We got sucked in behind a barge pushing 35 barges up river. Huge mistake and miscalculation on my part. Fortunately I know what this kayak is capable of but it was no fun. By the time I got to the bank we were soaked, kayak half full of water and Stormy was in my lap. It will never happen again.

063500
FRIDAY OCTOBER 28 DAY 67 ON THE RIVER- I think I am off on my days on the river. Not a big deal. I should be hitting Memphis, TN on Sunday. Then it is downhill from there. Another week to Vicksburg and then there is for sure only another week left or less. I should be in New Orleans before the 15th. The weather looks the same for the next 10 days.

I stopped in Caruthersville, MO for supplies again. Once again it took the 4 hours. Both the phone and notebook were dead so needed to get them charged for sure. Once again walked the 2 miles to the store and got a ride back and got packed up and we layer on the grass while the two items were charging at the city park. Never seem to have a problem finding plug ins.

We got a good place to camp tonight. Once again lots of river traffic right out my front door. That will never change.




 Mississippi River Journal 24

FRIDAY OCTOBER 28 DAY 67 ON THE WATER
– I am a couple days behind on doing this journal. On Friday I stopped in Caruthersville, MO and got stocked up again. I had missed the boat ramp and tied up down river about 100 yards not knowing yet where I was in relationship to the town. You can never tell because you are below the dikes.

After asking a few people where the grocery store was I ended up walking to the Wal Mart about a mile and half. Unfortunately none of them mentioned it was a store left127000with no groceries. So we ended up walking another mile to the grocery store. Stormy does real good on her chain. She never pulls on me and when I tie her up while I am in the store she just sits there and never whines or barks. She is either a natural or somebody trained her very well.

I got a ride back to the boat ramp from a young girl in the check out line. I unloaded stuff and then went up and got the kayak and paddled it back up river to the ramp. Not easy to do when there is current.

Once I was all packed up we went up to the city park and plugged in the phone and this notebook and rested for a couple of hours while they charged up, then we were off down river.

0190500SATURDAY OCTOBER 29 DAY 68 ON THE WATER – We woke up to another beautiful morning. I cannot believe how lucky we are on the weather and the difference it is making. It looks like we are good all the way to Vicksburg. I am still trying to do 30 to 40 miles per day. The river traffic doesn’t bother me anymore, I have figured out how to position the kayak to receive the least water turbulence. Once again Stormy does great in her seat. She has lots of room.

SUNDAY OCTOBER 30 DAY 69 ON THE WATER – Long day yesterday. I thought I would make it to Memphis but just too far. Some days you paddle 40 miles but really only go 10 miles or so in a straight line because of all of the dog legs and switch backs. That is why this 1300 river miles is in a straight line only about 700 or 800 miles.

left000I have been picking good camp spots. There are a lot of them unlike the Missouri River where they are few and far between. The Yellowstone also had great and plentiful camp spots. I have started unloading everything out of the kayak for two reasons. The liquid urethane I put on the bottom has not held up, consequently the seams on the bottom in the back of the kayak are still leaking and it is enough I take a towel and get it out at the end of every day. The 2nd reason is since there is so much river traffic at night and some of the barges are pushing 45 large barges they create huge wakes and waves so I carry the kayak way up the beach and stake it and tie both ends. That way I can sleep and not worry about it all night.

MONDAY OCTOBER 31 DAY 70 ON THE WATER – I expected to reach Memphis by noon but once again I was off and it was 2. A guy spotted me as I was going by and hollered at me to pull into the Memphis Yacht Club and gave me the directions get there. Upon arriving the Google Boat was there also. I don’t know if I mentioned the Google guys in my 1st Journal when I was in St Louis at Big Muddy Mike’s.

But a guy out of Seattle is organizing the triip down the river with volunteers who fly in every week and row the boat while the Street Mapping unit I guess maps the river.

063500This guy is the one who hollered at me and gave me directions to the Yacht Club and gave me a ride to the grocery store. He is the oldest guy on record at 80 years old to paddle the entire Mississippi.

Anyway, I got a ride to the grocery store, took a taxi back, got loaded up and made it across the river right at dark. It was a pretty sight as you can see from the picture.

left1502981500

We just put the tent down and slept on the sand I was way too tired to set the tent up, however I did unload he kayak and pull it up on the beach. I didn’t sleep good at all, never do when I do it that way.

Quick story. As I was getting the bed ready Stormy took off down the beach barking like crazy. Pretty soon a guy comes walking up with Stormy barking at him. I was stunned. He was in pretty bad shape. I asked him what in the hell was he doing and he answered me he was lost. I said how in the hell could you be lost when he entire city of Memphis, TN is right across the river. I gave him some water and a banana and all the money I had which was 7 bucks. Later I was glad the grocery store didn’t have an ATM or I would have had $200 and probably gave it all to him. He rested, used my phone to communicate with a few people and got up and took off again. Turns out he was a “Traveler”. They are people who just travel around. I have ran into them before and heard of them.

TUESDAY NOVEMBER 1 DAY 71 ON THE WATER – There was a pretty good breeze this morning when we got going as the sun was coming up. With the current though one can still make good headway. I was glad to see Memphis disappearing behind me. We stopped at about noon I ate something and hit it again. A guy in a canoe came by, 1st time I have seen anyone else on the river in the entire trip. He waved I waved at him, looked like he was struggling in the wind, they work very hard in the canoes. Much harder than a kayak.

I got tired at 2 from not sleeping good last night, plus I was tired of the wind. It has quit now. I think starting Thursday in is going to be coming out of the North so I might be able to use the sail. It is supposed to be less wind tomorrow, hope so.



This is spot we are at is one of the better we have had. The river traffic is clear across the river, probably a good mile and a half.



This dog is not stupid.


 Mississippi River Journal 25

WENDS NOV 2 DAY 72 ON THE WATER –
It is not easy to wait a couple of weeks and try to do a journal, get caught up on it, but I will do the best I can. We had a good night’s sleep last night. It helps to be away from the river traffic. Stormy is up half the night chasing animals. She has gotten enamored with the beavers. She can sit with her butt in the tent and her head out the door and she watches for them to swim by. No matter how dark it is she can see them with the ripples in the water.

left000No wind today out of the north, hopefully it will be tomorrow.

I stopped at a river bank museum, not sure what town. It also had quite a few casinos. But one of the security guys, Lee, offered to take me to the Dollar General so I could round out my supplies. I left Stormy tied up and it didn’t take but 30 minutes to get there and back. I sure have had good luck in getting help when I need it.

THURS NOV 3 DAY 73 ON THE WATER
– I was caught up on the journal and for some reason it didn’t get saved. Very aggravating to say the least. The biggest problem is keeping the notebook and phone charged up. A guy at the Memphis Yacht Club showed me a battery that OEM Tools sells that you can use to keep things charged. I will get two of them, and another solar charger and the rest of my trips I won’t have this problem.

We got to sail today and probably covered a good 40/45 miles. It certainly gives me a good break from paddling. However, one still has some work to do holding the ropes to the bottom of the sail and making sure you are going where you should. There is some work and stress involved along with working the rudder. There is also some risk when the river changes direction and you get a cross wind. Doesn’t work. Huge chance of being blown over. So you have to roll the sail up on the mast, secure it and paddle until you get the wind again over one or the other shoulders or straight behind, then you can get the sail out again.

-16383017018000FRI NOV 4 DAY 74 ON THE WATER – Not enough wind today to sail for second day. You have to keep in mind that if the river is moving 3 to 5 MPH and the breeze/wind is 3 to 5 MPH out of the North, then you effectively have no breeze/wind. It must blow at least twice the pace of the river to be effective sailing. So you can see the trees moving, the ripple on the water or even feel the wind on the bank, but on the water in the kayak it feels like there is no breeze or wind because you are moving the same speed.

Lots of river traffic. The noise from the diesel engines I do not enjoy. Especially at night.

SAT/SUN NOV 5/6 DAY 75/76 ON THE WATER – It seems like it is taking forever to get down river. I am trying to make 30 to 40 miles a day, not happening. I forgot about the change in day light hours and that is making the difference. I am lucky to be getting 20 to 25 miles per day. Frustrating.

Lots of bald eagles. They have adapted over the years to the river traffic. You will see them fishing in the wakes and waves caused by the barge heading up river. They also spend a lot of time on the sand bars. There are also lots of beaver but I have yet to see a beaver hut/house. I have no explanation for that.

MON/TUES NOV 7/8 DAY 77/78 ON THE WATER
– I am going to combine these 2 days, they are pretty much running together. As I was approaching Arkansas City, Arkansas I was hoping to get a few things. However, it was miles off the bank. I went by a boat ramp and there was one truck parked there. A couple miles past the boat ramp a boat with one guy in it was coming back up the river so I figured it was the guy from that truck. I waved him over and he stopped. I asked him if there was some place and he said no, it was about 10 miles from the boat dock, but he offered to take me. He towed me back up river, I secured the kayak and he loaded up his boat and we headed to the store. His name was Lee also. The store surprisingly enough had everything I wanted and needed.

0000On the way back he told me he had lived there in Arkansas City all his life. He works for a large farmer and has for 25 years. Doesn’t work in the winter months but hunts and fishes all the time. Here is the fishing and hunting report for Arkansas City, Arkansas:

Cat Fish- It is nothing for him to go out and catch several 100 lb cat fish on any given day. If they go commercial fishing with the nets they can net 1000 lbs a day and sell them for $2 to $5 per lb depending on the market. He was driving a nice truck.

Deer – They have White Tail. A tag allows you 2 bucks and 3 does. Needless to say, there are a lot of deer. One of his bucks last year was a 12 point and weighed in at 240 lbs. Explains why I have been seeing Mule Deer size tracks on the bank almost every time I stop. The wild life habitat between the river and the dike provides for thousands of acres of wild life area. That is why you don’t see a lot of wildlife.

Black Bear – There are a lot of black bears. They finally started a season on them.

Wild Pigs – He trapped 20 of them last year. I didn’t ask him what he did with them.

Alligators- I didn’t think there were any. Well, not true. They are all over the place. In all his year’s he has never seen a large one in the main channel, but has seen small ones. They don’t like the current. They are in the sloughs, the oxbows and the ponds/lakes in that area between the bank and the dike. The largest alligator ever caught in TN was at Vicksburg just last year. Very big.

0000There you go. No wonder Stormy is so busy all night chasing something.

WENDS NOV 9 DAY 79 ON THE WATER – Finally got to Vicksburg, it felt like forever. It took 9 days from Memphis, which works out to 100 miles every 3 days. Tough paddling. However, no wind up river, sunny days and balmy nights. I am being told this is very unusual, I will take it. We did have a couple of days of rain, but it is so warm it just doesn’t matter.

I had a hard time finding a place to stop and get ashore. Typical Mississippi River town, no boat ramp and no way to exit the river. I went past town and finally stopped at what looked like a gravel pit. After walking about a mile, sure enough there was a company called Dirt Works who owned the pit. A guy named Hunt helped me big time. Once I told him what I was doing he let me borrow one of their rigs and I went to the Dollar General and got a Subway. He also let me plug in to recharge which I left over night and went back early AM to retrieve the phone and notebook. It was dark so managed to get the tent up and we just slept on the ground. Stormy got into a skunk, but she was lucky and didn’t get sprayed in the face. But it smelled in the tent for hours. What a great guy this Hunt was, one of the best.




 Mississippi River Journal 26

THURS NOV 10 DAY 80 ON THE WATER
– After getting stocked up good with Hunt helping me we are on our way to Baton Rouge 200 miles, 6 days no way to change that.

In spite of not having the camp set up except for the tent I slept fairly good. Because of the time of year there is a tremendous amount of dew. I mean it is like it has rained inside and outside the tent, so you have to pack everything up in the morning wet and damp. Which means you must stop early enough at the end of the day to get things dried out. Imperative that you do. But it gets dark so early that means you should stop around 3 to ensure enough sun and breeze to get things dried out. Sun goes down real quick. Consequently that also limits the miles per day paddled.

0000FRI NOV 11 DAY 81 ON THE WATER – The days are kind of dragging on. I am beginning to think Baton Rouge might be where this journeys ends.

SAT/SUN NOV12/13 DAY 82/83 ON THE WATER – Nothing much different on these days. The river traffic is picking up as we get closer and closer to Baton Rouge. The weather has been absolutely gorgeous, unseasonably warm but it is the lack of the wind blowing upriver this close to the gulf that is making this easy, in spite of the amount of paddling.

0000
MON NOV 14 DAY 84 ON THE WATER – Once again I am thinking Baton Rouge rather than New Orleans. There are several reasons. My right eye is bothering me. Clouding over and spots moving around and flashes on the right hand side. Obviously somewhat worried about it. The noise of the river traffic I have had enough of. The barges and tugs don’t bother me, I have figured out how to avoid them the safest way I can. It is the sound from the diesels as I have mentioned previously. Plus I am a week off my schedule, which if I do go down to New Orleans messes up my plans for the next couple of months. We shall see.

TUES NOV 15 DAY 85 ON THE WATER – Another absolutely beautiful morning. Just picture perfect. Hardly even a breeze and very balmy. We could reach Baton Rouge today. That is probably optimistic. I took some short cuts for the 1st time. 3 to be exact. I have been reluctant to do so, sticking with the river channel markers. The water has been dropping every day and the last thing I need is to take a short cut and hit a dead end, get hung up on a sand bar and have to paddle back up river. But all 3 of these short cut channels turned out well.

0000Old tree/hunting stand.

063500This old boy is from Haines, AK and is a river guide. Been all over. There was a total of 5 boats, 2 of the rafts had 6HP motors. Not easy to raft on the Mississippi.



WENDS NOV 16 DAY 86 ON THE WATER – We didn’t make it yesterday. We got within about 6/8 miles and came around the 2nd to the last corner and the river was full of barges and tugs. It was the area where they stage the barges putting them together. I knew the right thing to do was spend the night right there, it was a perfect spot. So I stopped, got camp set up and made some decisions. I knew there was a boat ramp at the I -10 bridge. That is where I decided to end the trip. Another 100 miles wasn’t going to make any difference. I figured we would get there by 11. We got there at 10:45.

I got the kayak unloaded, pulled it up out of the river, tied Stormy to the boat and walked up to the closest casino.

Here is what I did:

Had something to eat.

Charged the phone.

Called and got a ticket on the Greyhound bus to New Orleans at 5:15AM.

Called and made a reservation at a Motel 6 about 10 miles away because they are dog friendly.

Went back and started to break the gear and kayak down. Low and behold the Google guy shows up that I had met in St. Louis at Big Muddy Mike’s and again at the Memphis Yacht Club. His boat is about an hour away. He tells me he will give me a ride when I am ready to the motel. What a blessing and great deal.

At the motel by 4. Walked down to a mall and bought a clean shirt and shorts. Took a taxi to Pet Smart and bought Stormy a break down dog pen and a bed. The motel wouldn’t let me leave her in the room without her being in a pen. She loved both her bed and the pen. Took a shower for the 1st time in 6 weeks. Slept terrible.Taxi picked me up at 4:15.

Left Baton Rouge at 5:15.

In New Orleans at 6:45.

At my van at 7:10 had taxi take me.

Back at the motel at 8:50.

Unbelievable.

Left Baton Rouge Thurs at about noon for the 1700 mile drive to Havasu Landing.

Arrived back at the lake on Sun 4:00 with absolutely no issues on the drive back.