May 5 through May 11
Monday, May 6, 1996
It’s Monday and they have finally gotten back on the river! Much to their delight! They arrived here last Tuesday and spent much of their time working on this website….updating pictures, text, etc. It’s been a nice break for me.
They have one week left of floating in civilization, then they head into the “wilds” of Montana! Civilization follows the Missouri River up to Loma, Montana. Then the highway continues north to Havre and the Missouri heads east to North Dakota. I’ve never been on this stretch of the river and would love to go sometime. Their plans are to arrive at Virgelle on Thursday night because they are picking up fellow floater, Jim Brock. Jim is going to canoe with them to a place called Judith Landing where I will be making my last food drop and picking Jim up to bring back to Great Falls. There will be one other food drop being made by a few of their buddies, Ron, Doug and Jim. They get to go to Devil’s Creek Campground on Fort Peck Lake out there by “Montana’s Freeman’s'” home. I opted not to do this drop. Then they should, if all goes well, get to the town of Fort Peck sometime around May 28th-30th where they can resupply at the grocery store. Then it’s on to Fort Union and the ride back home. I think they will be sad when it ends. They like being outside and on the water. Especially on the water!
Oh yes! I almost forgot….thanks to Blair Martin and Mike Aiken from KFBB-TV5 here in Great Falls for the great news coverage. It was a great spot! We hope you had fun in the boat and we will be sure to float again when they finish this trip.
Wednesday, May 8, 1996
Talked to Roland tonight, they have made it to Loma, Montana. This is where they begin to leave civilization as we know it. The Missouri heads east now to Fort Peck Reservoir and then North Dakota.
Had to confirm sad news that they had read in yesterdays Great Falls Tribune about a fellow kayaker, biker, runner, skier, skydiver and tennis player being killed in a tragic bike accident Sunday night. So in memory of Steve Clark from Atlanta, Georgia and most recently from Great Falls we will miss you. Elliott will miss you playing with him and I will miss you stopping by on your daily run. Steve was the “adrenaline junky” of our group.
Roland and John want to add Steve to their dedication page along with Roland’s brother, both led too short of a life but your spirits are now free….have fun!!!
Excerpts from John’s Journal
Sunday, May 5, 1996
Having spent the last few days in our hometown of Great Falls we spent the day getting ready to get back on the river tomorrow morning. It was great to have a few days to stop, catch up on what’s been happening, see my friends at the Stein, etc. Roland spent most of his time updating the website and with Julie! We were interviewed by Blair Martin with KFBB-TV5 today at Giant Springs. It was fun, but weird…the best part was getting her out on the water in my boat. She was pretty comfortable. I think she liked it!!!
Monday, May 6, 1996
Well Roland lied to me again. He told me we were portaging all the way to Carter so we would miss the “Big Eddy”! But do we? No..as usual we head in a different direction and by the time I figure it out, he’s laughing! His explanation was that we had to add a day to our schedule because a friend, Jim Brock, is coming out on Friday to Virgelle to float the White Cliffs with us. It really wasn’t that bad….we got to shoot the rapids below Maroney Dam making sure we stayed way left so as to miss “Big Eddy”. Big Eddy is a huge keeper hole approximately 3 miles down river from Maroney Dam and has been known to upset many a canoeist and kayaker if they were not paying attention. We paddled all day, it was beautiful, finally. We even found a good fishing hole where Roland pulled in a 24″ Northern Pike. Great dinner!
Tuesday, May 7, 1996
Another beautiful day! We just pretty much floated with good current. Got to the town of Fort Benton, walked into town, picked up supplies, food and a Great Falls Tribune. Launched and paddled about 3 more miles before finding an old abandoned hunting camp along the river. Looked like a good place to camp plus there was lots of cool things to explore. I quickly looked through the newspaper and was startled to find a story about a bicyclist who had been killed by a car and the cyclists’ name was the same as a friend of ours, Steve Clark.
Wednesday, May 8, 1996
This was a sad day. We spent the entire day thinking and hoping that the article wasn’t about our friend and fellow kayaker. We made camp outside of the town of Loma and Roland paddled across river and walked the mile into town to call Julie. He came back and confirmed our worst fears…Steve Clark is dead…rest in peace…enough said.
Thursday, May 9th, 1996
Awoke to a SNOWSTORM! This is MAY! Needless to say we broke camp quickly and got on the water. The next three hours were spent paddling in a blizzard. This was probably the most miserable day yet. Cold, wet and windy. Finally we made it to Virgelle. Crawled in our tents to stay warm! Hope Jim brings better weather with him tomorrow.
Friday, May 10, 1996
Jim Brock, an old friend, showed up in late morning with his 15 year old daughter Isabelle, Izzy. Izzy has come with us floating before and gone cross country skiing with Roland and Julie. Izzy is a real trooper. We started our float into the White Cliffs with the weather still a little cool but getting warmer. We stopped at the White Rocks Campground for the night. Roland and Izzy went hiking…Jim and I relaxed at camp. Jim brought “fresh” food!
Saturday, May 11, 1996
The White Cliffs are an extremely beautiful place. Take the time to read about them on this website from Lewis & Clark. I cannot do them the justice Lewis did. Isabelle spent the day in my kayak and did great! I took over the canoe so Jim could fish. Together we nailed one good sized Walleye, another good dinner. Jim has fed us well. We have even been eating breakfast. Thanks, Jim!
One note about the White Cliffs…the campgrounds this time of year suck