Montana
Missouri River Quest '07 - Page 2
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Frosty kayak
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5.15.07
I woke up this morning to a heavy coat of frost on the tent.  I reached out to get my sandals
and found they were frozen solid.  It was cold getting started, but once I was on the water, I
warmed up quickly.

I crossed my first of what will be many big lakes today.  Canyon Ferry lake is twenty five
miles long and has a reputation for getting dangerous when the wind picks up.  Luckily,
the weather was on my side today.
Frosty tent
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Smooth waters
We all woke up to a beautiful morning and got a nice early start on the river.  I said good
bye to Shawn and Kyle and paddled the few miles to the Hansen Dam portage trail.  
There wasn't anyone around to help, so I started carrying my stuff around the dam.  When
I returned from my first trip, I saw the Sewer Slut parked next to my boat, and Shawn and
Kyle getting ready to carry their stuff over the dam.

When we had all of our stuff carried to the put-in, one of the workers from the dam offered
to haul our boats down in his pickup.  We gladly accepted his offer, but it would have been
even better if he showed up in time to haul our stuff.

We loaded up our gear and said our good-byes again.  A few miles later I entered Gates
of the Mountains.  It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.  The river
enters a four hundred foot deep canyon for ten miles.

I paddled in awe for two hours before entering Holter Lake.  Holter is about fifteen miles
long and quite pretty.  The lake isn't very wide and there are plenty of mountains to look at.  
I made good time with a tail wind the whole way.

By this point in the trip, I have learned that it is far easier to have someone haul the boat in
a truck than carry it around a dam.  So when I reached Holter Dam, I went looking for a
driver.  I tried the marina first, then the boat ramp, and finally the campground.  Nobody
wanted to haul my boat.  Then genius struck.  I went to the bar.  In five minutes I had
someone lined up.  I just had to wait for him to finish his dinner.

I walked back down to start unloading the boat.  As I was unpacking the boat, I looked out
at the lake.  Shawn and Kyle were just in time for the portage.

Our boats didn't really fit into a short box pickup, but they stayed in as long as someone
sat on the bow.
The sun was out and the day warmed up quickly.  The lake stayed as smooth as glass all
day.  It was a beautiful paddle.  The water was crystal clear and I could see fish swimming
twenty feet under my boat.  I paddled along stunning cliffs with many interesting rock
formations for most of the day.  There were beautiful granite outcroppings for the last five
miles that reminded me of the Boundary Waters. (See more on
page 4 of my Photo Album.)

The dam at Canyon Ferry is far too big to portage, so I paddled to a marina to try to hitch a
ride.  As I neared the boat camp, I saw a Kevlar canoe surrounded by dry bags and gear.  
Fellow paddlers!
Kyle and Shawn were paddling to St. Louis as well, and they already had a truck on the
way to get them around the dam.  I hitched a ride with them and fifteen minutes later we
were all on the downstream side of the big dam.

I decided to paddle with Kyle and Shawn for the rest of the day and share a campsite with
them.  They had too much beer in their boat and needed to lighten their load.  I thought it
would only be right to help out.

We covered ten more miles before setting up camp on a rocky outcropping beneath some
beautiful pine trees.  We spent the evening drinking beer around the campfire and
swapping stories.  It was nice to have some company.

Tomorrow we will part ways. My kayak is faster than their canoe, which they have named
Sewer Slut.  They seem to have what it takes to make it to St. Louis.  I hope they get there.
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We said our good-byes again at the put-in and I headed off into the only stretch of river I
haven't enjoyed so far.  The interstate runs on the right side and the railroad on the left.  
Between the interstate and the river there is a housing development that has gone on for
nearly twenty miles.

I also hit shallow water several times and managed to put three new scratches in the boat
today.  Even with the scratches, I am very pleased with how the boat has worked out so far.

There weren't many campsites along this last bit of river.  I finally settled on a flat spot with
only one lump about fifty feet from the railroad tracks.  I hope no trains come tonight; the
interstate noise is bad enough.
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My gear weighs 150 pounds
when my water bottles are full.
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