May 12 through May 18
Tuesday, May 14, 1996
Met up with the guys last Sunday at Judith Landing. This is another of Lewis & Clarks camp sites. John has written more on their adventure so here it is…
Excerpts from John’s Journal
Monday, May 13, 1996
Last night while camped at Judith Landing we encountered a skunk that acted tame. But neither of us would get within 20 feet of it. Also, late around midnight we heard a strange screaming from some animal, a sound neither had ever experienced. Launched at 10am into a warm overcast day, stopping about noon at an old homestead. In exploring we came across a boat house with a beautiful old wood boat in better condition than one we saw in Virgelle going for over $1000. Two hours later we stopped again at what appeared to be an old saloon, like one would see in a western movie. We hiked a mile or so to it, noticing a car parked to one side of it. After knocking an older woman came out and greeted us with an accent. The next thing I know, Roland and this lady are communicating in German and I’m at a loss. Turns out the saloon was built in “86” and I blurt out 1886? “No” she says, “My husband is an architect and he built it 10 years ago”. We bid farewell and after another hour pitch camp. Ten minutes later a torrential down pour hits! Holed up in our tents for now, the once dry ground we pitched on is now a mud field.
Tuesday, May 14, 1996
After the rain abated last night, an incredible May Fly hatch took place. So thick were these bugs, one could barely see a hand in front of their face. They all flew west like migrating fish, with an occasional one going against the flow. This morning, however, we paid the price for witnessing this spectacle. Our boats had apparently been a perfect place to lay their larvae. Green goo covered every nook and cranny of the kayaks! This stretch of river through the Bear Paw Mountains is extraordinarily beautiful, with one down side.. The campgrounds SUCK! It’s as if someone found the muddiest, brambliest, ugliest spots and decided these would be an ideal places to camp. We decided to just pick our own beach and pitch there.
Wednesday, May 15, 1996
Mud, Mud, Mud!!!! All night it rained and everything we own is either muddy or wet. We paddled non-stop today and covered the last 20 miles to James Kipp Campground in under 3.5 hours. We barely had time to pitch our tents, before another deluge of rain moved through. Everybody here is paddle fish snagging. But due to the weather, it seems we’re all just holed up.
Thursday, May 16, 1996
Rained all night again and we have pushed our Devil Creek drop to this location out of fear the road to Devil’s Creek will be rained out. We did nothing today but stay out of the rain and try to dry our gear.
Friday, May 17, 1996
Pretty much dried up our stuff and spent a boring day doing nothing. The rain subsided and we wished we were paddling. Around 5pm canoes started docking where we left our boats. It turned out to be 40 eighth grade students from Russell Middle School in Colorado Springs, Colorado. They had spent the last week floating the White Cliffs and Bear Paws behind us. James Kipp is their take-out. Like ants they hauled their gear and dropped it beside our tents before heading back for more. At first I thought it was going to be a pain camping next to 40 kids, but this group was extremely well behaved and mannered. Nobody ever got to do stuff like that when I was in school. More power to ya guys! They plan to send us some photo’s of their float so we can get it out on our site. We look forward to hearing from them!
Saturday, May 18, 1996
Windy with unseasonable record low temperatures! Last night the Russell kids all had flashlights and it was as if fireflies were flitting around. We watched them turn back into ants as they loaded their bus and headed home. Once again its boring as hell waiting for our food drop. WE WANNA GET BACK ON THE WATER! After 7pm we called and found out our drop had car problems and wouldn’t make it until tomorrow. Next journal update won’t be until we reach Fort Peck Dam. See ya in 3 weeks!
Postnote from Julie: The comments from the teachers/counselors and kids were great! They ranged from I hope I never see another canoe until I’m 80 to being very sad the trip was over. What fun and they came all the way from Colorado. The guys are on their own now as to find them on Fort Peck Lake would be too difficult and roads are not always reliable. So when I hear from them, hopefully around the 25th, I will update here. When they make it to Fort Peck Dam I’m sure you will hears their shouts of joy no matter where you are!!! Thanks for checking up on us!