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Week Seven   arrow

May 26 through June 1

Tuesday, May 28, 1996

I don’t know what I did last week, but by the time I noticed that the update I had planned to have posted by a week ago yesterday was still not here it was too late to get it posted before the holiday weekend…..My apologies….

I don’t have allot to update…I received a message from Jordan, Montana from a Mr. Marvin Loomis that said he had been with Roland and John, they were fine, very wet! and were stuck at Devil’s Creek Campground for a few days because of high winds on Fort Peck Lake. I’m sure they were thrilled! This message came to me last Thursday and I have not heard anything else since then. Hopefully they have made some progress, otherwise they may be ready to kill each other.

As soon as I hear anything from them I will posted it here and hopefully all will go well and it will get posted promptly…..Thanks for checking in…

Excerpts from John’s Journal

Sunday, May 26, 1996

What can I say? WIND! WAVES! and more wind all day, we make little headway. We stopped at 1pm and just sat in a cove waiting for it to stop. At around 7pm the wind let up a little so we started paddling. After two miles the wind picked up again and we struggled to Bone Trail Campground. This portion of lake is a straight 30 mile west to east shot and we’ve been told the most dangerous stretch. We’ve nicknamed it the “The Gauntlet.”

Monday, May 27, 1996

Woke early to NO WIND and two campers named Mike and Mavis Orvis. They treated us to coffee and fudge (incredible fudge) and with a buzz we were on our way. Today would prove to be one of the calmest days to date. We took advantage of this fact and paddled 13.5 hours with only a 20 minute lunch break! We did more than 40 miles before landing at the Pines Recreation Area. Without wind or rain or waves we were able to hold our heads up and actually see the beauty of this lake for the first time. Maybe summer is finally here.

Tuesday, May 28, 1996

A little breeze started howling after we had gone about a mile and a half. We got to see this lake in all its fury today. Waves as big as the oceans without a single boat willing to try them. It’s all the more frustrating, because the dams within our site! We sat sheltered under some trees all day, kicking ourselves for not finishing the night before. Finally at sunset the winds quit and we’re on our way. It’s spooky paddling in the dark totally surrounded by water. As the lights of Fort Peck got closer, the swells got bigger. Finally at 1:30am Wednesday morning we beached and Fort Peck Lake was behind us!!!! GOOD RIDDANCE!!!!

Wednesday, May 29, 1996

Today we danced on the dam!!! We ate real food!! Met great people, Verna and Lou are camped right beside us. Turns out Lou has a Pentium 486 and is having problems with Windows ’95. Imagine out in the middle of no where and some guy puts me to work. Verna made up for it by giving Roland an incredible salad with honey mustard dressing (his favorite). Portage around the dam was provided by Bill Lord and his truck. The highlight however is this campground has SHOWERS!!!!

Friday, May 31, 1996

Spent the last day at the dam, cleaning laundry and re-supplying our stores. The food we have has to last till the end of this trip. We are out of money and nearly out of time. On the up side just before launch, Verna came out of her mobile home and gave us sandwiches and cookies fresh made. We launched into a severe wind coming from the east, and under Roland’s advice, took the long way round to the spillway. Had we stayed river right, we would have saved an hour bucking the wind. The spillway to Fort Peck dam is a spectacular site, which was featured on the cover of Life magazines very first issue back in 1936. The entire north bank of the river is located on Indian reservation land, and came upon an intriguing site. The cottonwoods are abundant on both sides of the river, but all of a sudden the bases of the trees flared with color. Bright scarves are wrapped around the bases of these particular cottonwoods, each with reds, greens, blues and yellows. They continue for about a half mile downstream, and as far inland as the eye can see. The purpose for these wraps, or what they represent are mystery to both of us. Through the course of the day the wind never diminishes, and by nightfall we find an island and camp.

Saturday, June 1, 1996

An early launch, with the wind still howling. This part of the river is so different from any we have ever experienced. Since Fort Peck’s dam has kept this lower section of river from flooding for 50 years, a good cleaning is in order. Sand bars are everywhere, many trapping a fully loaded kayak with no warning. We have developed a method of getting unstuck we refer to as “The Spaz & Jerk”. The wind boils the river into a muddy chop, disguising snags, rocks, sandbars and the ever increasing number of dead farm animals. On this particular day I have counted 28 dead, bloated, stinking cows & sheep. The problem of getting fresh drinking water has also become a problem. Our PUR water purifier has been clogged for a good 2 weeks, (the filter was guaranteed for a year, and when we started it was brand new). Throwing our entire body weight into pumping the PUR, we succeed in only getting a few drops, twenty exhausting minutes later we each have a small cup full. The wind would not be so bad if it was only coming from one direction, but with the winding river, snaking back and forth, just when I’m getting used to leaning with or against the wind, it switches. While going through the town of Wolf Point, we stopped to get water and call Julie. A few miles downstream, we took out at Picnic Bridge but decided against camping due to a number of drinking, transient people, who did not make us feel comfortable. Another hour downstream and we found an island much better suited to our needs.


Postnote from conversations on the phone: I was very excited to hear from the guys Wednesday. They told me that they were doing laundry, but they had to do their socks twice because the first time the machine just turned to MUD! They were very lucky that the “Gauntlet” was calm, they have worried about it the entire trip! They told me Wednesday to plan on picking them up the following weekend. They called again on Thursday….”How about picking us up on Wednesday?”….they are very anxious to be done! Roland was excited just looking forward to having a “weekend” to do something different, like white water or a bike ride or hiking, he said anything different! I also want to thank the outfitter and his wife for calling and by the way his name is, Marvin Loomis.

They left Fort Peck Friday morning…I have my map and figured they should be in Wolf Point on Saturday…imagine I was even home when they called yesterday. Right on schedule…so today they should be arriving in Poplar, then Monday somewhere past Brockton, then Tuesday somewhere past Culbertson and finally Wednesday arriving at Fort Union. They will have time to check it out because I am leaving Thursday morning and it is approximately a 6.5 hour drive to pick them up. I think they can drive back.

See ya, thanks for checking in with us…we appreciate all your support and stay posted for the After Float Party!!!!!