Wednesday, June 27, 2007

June 27th: Return to Portland Tomorrow

Tomorrow, June 28th, I will fly back to Portland arriving at 4:00 PM Portland time. My long- time friend going way back to kindergarden, Jim McIntyre, will be picking me up at the airport. He brought me back home from Bismarck last year and said he'd be there again this year to see me finish this trip and take me back home. He loves baseball and is visiting a number of major league baseball parks as he works his way to Portland. On June 30th and July 1st he will be going up to Seattle for a couple of ball games and hopes I can join him. I told him I couldn't promise anything until I see how it goes on the river on the 29th. If it goes well I will go with him. The plan is to finish on the 5th or 6th of July. Not sure if anyone plans to be at the end, but if they are it will be either of those days. I will know better after a couple of days paddling. I will either end in Astoria, OR or Cathlamet, WA.

That means I will need to do about 35 to 40 miles a day in order to make it and still go up to Seattle. I always figure I can make 30 to 35 miles a day under most circumstances. I base that on my experience hiking the Pacific Crest Trail when I averaged 28 miles a day. On flat terrain like in Oregon 30 plus mile days were common. I can paddle faster than I can walk. Most of the time I'm able to make 50 miles a day with little trouble. My concern now is the wind. If it is anything like what I had before I came home it will really be tough.

I had a great time on my 10 days at home. I was able to play some golf, watch my daughter's twins play a couple of baseball games, spent a day with my son, Dean and his family in Somerset, WI and I also had a nice visit our other son Eric back here in Superior. Plus LuAnn and I were able to go out for dinner a couple of times with friends. It will be tough to leave.

Now you would think a guy would rest up for this final push, which I thought I would, but like always I needed to do some exercise so I ended up biking 25 miles each day I was home and doing an hour on my elliptical machine every day except for two. That added up to over 250 miles. Heck, in mileage for the trip that means I'm somewhere out in the Pacific Ocean! I can go back and just sunbathe on the beach!

Well, it's getting late and I still need to get my stuff together.

My goal, besides finishing on the 5th or 6th, is to also for once slow it down and enjoy the last few days with my good friend. I always seem to say that, but this time I hope I can.

Monday, June 25, 2007

June 17th: Sand Station to Portland

There will be no paddling today. The wind howled all night and was still blowing as hard as it was yesterday. So the plan for the day is to bike portage to the next town, Umatilla, to find a place to store my gear and work on getting a ride to Portland. To my surprise this was made very easy as a young lady who was at the campground stopped by as I was getting ready and asked if I was the guy paddling across the country. I said I was and after a short conversation and learning what my plans for the day were, offered to give me a ride into Umatilla and then as far as the Dalles area where she'd be turning south to Bend, OR. Again, help was there when needed.

We loaded my gear and strapped my canoe to the top of her car and headed for Umatilla. As we drove through Umatilla there was a feeling that came over me that this was not the place to store the canoe. I just felt there was something better down the road. So we drove on and in about 10 miles there was this nice new self storage place alongside the highway. Sarah drove in and because it was Sunday there was no one around but a sign saying call this number for service, which I did. Long story short, the lady on the other end said she had units available but wasn't sure if I could get my canoe in, but welcomed me to try and if it worked to send her twenty dollars when I got home. Very nice, except the units were too small so I called back and asked if she had any other options. She said I was more than welcome to bring my gear to her home which was just down the highway, and store it there if I did not mind it being outside next to her garage. I said that would work.

Again, as I've stated before, long ago I quit worrying about how things are going to work out when I'm in these situations. They just do and again I'm very grateful for the help I've received.
Sarah dropped me off in the Dalles and headed on her way. She was very interested in my trip as she too enjoys the outdoors.

The Dalles area turns out to be a huge summer vacation area for wind surfers. There are people all over the place with at least 3 huge truck stop type service stations on both sides of the road along with a motel and a number of fast food places. I figured it would be easier than I thought to catch a ride to Portland with this many people and I was right for the first person, a truck driver having lunch next to me offered me a ride once he knew what I was doing. So a day that could have been much longer was over by three in the afternoon and I was watching the end of USA Open Golf Tournament in my room.

Tomorrow I will fly out at 6:00 in the morning for home and then will return to Portland on the 28th. It will be good to be home and be with family again.

Not much further to go. I will post my plans for the remainder of my trip before I return.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

June 16th: Below Lower Monumental Dam to Sand Station

Interesting day. It started out relatively peacefully with a nice morning paddle to Ice Harbor Dam. The portage around the dam was about a mile. The takeout was easy but I found no boat ramp to put in at below the dam, rather it became another climb down over a rocky shoreline. As I paddle towards the Tri-Cities area I notice a lot more farming along both sides of the river with massive well pumps every mile or so pumping water from the Snake River to the fields. The call this area Palouse Country, whatever that means.

By noon I make it to the confluence of the Columbia in the Tri-Cities area. Everything has gone well all morning. Very little wind and just a nice cool day for paddling. I got my first hint that the afternoon will be the total opposite when I tried to take a short cut from the main channel and got hung up on one sandbar after another. It took a good 15 to minutes to get through. Twice I had to get out and pull my canoe over a variety of sandbars. Once clear I next needed to get down and around the wide open lake area which stretches south and then west of the Tri-Cities. I thought I had it all figured out, but after an hour of paddling I realized I was going too far south and was about to miss my turn west. To me it looked like I needed to go around a huge grain dock at the far end of this massive bay, but instead I should have started across the lake almost immediately when I made my turn off the Snake. Now I must cross the widest part of this lake, which looks like it is over two miles wide. In my notes it talked about this area being very dangerous because the winds can come up quickly. Reason this thought crossed my mind was because the winds were coming up a little more than quickly! By the time I was in the middle of this bay, whitecaps were beginning to form and I was approximately a mile from either shore. After paddling for close to another hour (a paddle that should have taken 15 minutes) I make it to the west shoreline and start to follow that shoreline around a 90 degree corner of the Columbia. Even though I'm somewhat protected by the rock wall along this shoreline, paddling is extremely tough.

I also notice one sailboat, with motor running, heading very fast to the Tri-Cities area and on the far shoreline a couple more heading to Walla Walla Yacht Club marina. I realize I'm the only one left on the water and I'm on the far northwest side of the river with nothing but a tall riprap of rock wall for miles in both directions. Well, I continue to paddle close to shore, hoping that when I complete the west turn things will get better. Not the case, they were getting worse which became very obvious when I notice this unusual block of wood lodged in the rocky riprap on the shoreline that I thought I passed a minute or so ago. Which turned out to be the case, for I was paddling as hard as I could and I was losing ground! I was going backwards.

Decision time. I could stay on this rock cliff side and wait it out or I could try and make it over to the other side. I thought back to the Lake Sakakawea incident when I almost lost everything including my life (forgot to mention that then). After assessing the situation I figured I would try to get across. Why do that? Well, here I felt I was in more control of the situation than I was on Lake Sakakawea. There's a car on the far shoreline driving back and forth watching me so I figure if I do dump someone will know it. Second, the water is much warmer so hypothermia should not be an issue. Plus the number one reason: I had to try! So off I went! I paddled as much as I could at a 45 degree angle into the waves. Which quickly became impossible. (By the way I figure it to be about 3/4 of a mile across.) So I decided on paddling as fast as I could, parallel with the waves and as the big ones came I turned to go with them and let them carry me like a surfboard. Out in the middle as I was doing the surfing technique I could look straight down and I mean straight down at the lower part of the wave which seemed a good 10 feet below me. It was a very serious situation, but I must say, just to ease the tension, at one point I thought, "I wonder what kind of style points they are giving me on shore." This worked well except when every so often two waves would come almost at the same time. Twice I thought I was going over but somehow managed not to. Well, I made it across and that car that was watching left when I was within 50 feet of the shore, knowing I was out of harm's way. I was hoping to thank the person, but he/she probably thought they'd wasted enough time with this idiot!

Well, I got everything out of my canoe, emptied out the water and put my trailer together for what I figured was going to be a very tough, into the wind 20 mile bike portage to the nearest camping area, Sand Station, which is east of Umatilla, OR.

Later that evening after arriving at the park I was informed the winds were gusting over 45 miles an hour and were expected to last through the next day. Now I really am glad I made the decision to cross over the lake. Even more glad the day is over.

Now I must figure out where to store my gear and how I'm going to get to Portland. I figure my paddling is over so I'm thinking I will bike portage as far as I can tomorrow morning, keeping an eye out for a storage unit where I may be able to keep my gear.

Well, that's for tomorrow. Right now I need a good night's rest after a very interesting day!

Friday, June 22, 2007

June 15th: Snake River (West of Boyer Park) to Below Lower Monumental Dam

Last night as lay in my tent going over the day's events and wondering about portaging around the dams ahead, I was looking at my map and thinking, man it looks like a long way to Portland. Yesterday when I was figuring the mileage and made the decision to go home I added it up to be actually less than 300 miles, more like 275. Now I see I made a slight error in my calculations. Slight - by about 90 miles! It is actually 360 plus miles, which means I'm going to be way off no matter how hard I work to get to Portland. Yesterday I was hoping to be near Cascade Locks by Sunday at noon. That would put me 40 miles from Portland. Now it looks like I will be lucky to get to Umatilla or Roosevelt, OR which are 180 and 120 miles respectively away from Portland. That means everything must go right...and of course 14 - 15 hour days.

I can hear my friend Jim ( Jim is my friend that goes way back to kindergarden who's meeting me in Portland on the 27th) now when I tell him. His comment will be, "Hoff, why, for all these years, do I continue to put up with your nonsense!" (Plus a few words that need not be mentioned). After he's finished his tirade, I will give him the response I always do, " Because I'm the only friend you got!" He will come back with another response that need not be mentioned, but in the end I know he'll be here and we'll make do. Although, I do feel bad about it, there's not many that would come all this way to pick up a foolish old man canoeing across the country. But again, deep down he knows I'll always be there for him when needed.

The day went well, although what breeze there was naturally was in my face, coming out of the northwest in the morning. And when I made my turn southwest, the wind did the same. Sometimes you just cannot win. I was able to make it around the next two dams, Little Goose and Lower Mounmental with little trouble. In fact I picked up some valuable mileage by bike portaging a little further around each. Tomorrow if all goes well I should be close to the Tri-Cities area in the morning which is where the Snake joins the Columbia. With a good day tomorrow and a half day on Sunday I may have a chance to get to the Roosevelt/Arlington area which puts me about 120 miles from Portland. We'll see; time for bed.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

June 14th: Clarkston to somewhere past Boyer Park on the Snake River

Gordy and Dave helped me get down to the river this morning. (see picture) The gate from the marina I came through last night was locked so we had to carry my canoe and gear down over the river bank next to the marina.

Although this is the Snake river it actually is a series of lakes starting here at Clarkston all the way to the Tri-Cities where it joins the Columbia River. Then the Columbia also becomes a series of lakes all the way to the Pacific Ocean. This is because both rivers have a number of dams now. Back in the Lewis and Clark days this was a free and fast flowing river. Not now. It is basically slack water with little or no current and most likely I will have the prevailing winds in my face coming from the west or northwest which could drastically cut my mileage.

However, today there is little wind and I can tell there is a little current in my favor.

As I pushed off I noticed my first barge accross the river. Very small, as is the tugboat pushing it, as compared to the barges on the Ohio.

The day's paddle went well. In the morning I thought I was making super fast time as I was counting down the numbers painted on bark markers alongside the riverbanks. I noticed I was at 24 in about two hours and knew I'd started at 34. Figuring these were mile markers I was doing great. Then in two more hours the next marker appeared, 22! So I figured it could not be mile markers but rather markers numbered only to let barges know what turn in the river they were at.

Late in the day I was out in the middle of nowhere and I heard voices. So a scull of about 7 rowers came paddling by with a motorboat yelling instructions to them. I figure they were learning the art of skulling, but out here I see nothing that shows a marina or town nearby.

In a mile I found out my answer. On the north shore was this nice building with the name, Cougar's Rowing Club. Must be a town somewhere nearby that loves this sport.

At about 6:30 PM I was approaching my first dam on the Snake, which I will need to portage around. On the Ohio if you remember, I was allowed to go through the locks. Here I am not. Plus they only have certain times of the day they open the locks to public motorboat traffic. This will be a bit of a hassle for it means I will need to hook up to my bike and portage around. This portage is supposed to be about a mile but some will be as much as 5 miles as I move along.

Well, as I neared the Lower Granite Dam there was a sign saying the portage is on the right side of the river. Naturally I was on the left side, so moved over but never found the portage. I went all the way to the dam, but no portage (I was on the earth side of the dam so it was safe.) I couldn't get out here because of the steep rock wall so I paddled back until I found a place I could get my gear up and over to what was a dirt road. I carried my first load of stuff up and on my way back I noticed this sign lying on the ground that said, "Boat Portage". Some portage landing. Nothing more than a low spot in the riverbank.

Well, I got my gear loaded up and headed up to the road leading away from the dam only to see that the road was gated off. I looked all around but there was no-one in sight. I pedaled over to the road on the dam leading to the locks. That too was gated off. I yelled; no answer. Went back; still no-one around. I'm inside a gated area with barbed wire strung all the way around the top. Now what. I figured I'd have to set up camp here until morning and as I was about to do so, I see a white pickup coming up the road on the other side of the gate. Good, they came to my rescue. The guy stopped at the gate, got out and said, "How did you get in there? Don't you know you are trespassing on federal property?" I said, " Well, I came by way of the river and was just following the signs that lead me to your fine portage and came up here to get to the other side and found myself gated in." Well, he made a phone call to the lockmaster, upon which I was asked to show my ID, which of course was packed away. Eventually I was allowed through and the man I was talking to turned out to be a very nice person. He said he was just following his instructions and was sorry for the hassle. He told me most of the dams ahead are not gated like this one. Maybe one more, but then they should all be outside the lock authority area. He pointed out where I could get back into the river and left. Where he pointed to was another spot downriver where I would need to carry most of my gear over a bank. Man, these dam portages are going to be more of a hassle than I thought. I lost an hour or more of time, although I believe by the time I stopped to make camp I'd come 40 or more miles and that was with a very late morning start. I hope that continues and I will be in good shape. On the down side, because of the late start, I only stopped once and that was for a quick bathroom stop. Just a bit of a sore back as I crawl to my tent. Tomorrow I will take some breaks.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

June 14th (Morning) Clarkston, WA

Last night my plans were to take my first real day off today. It is now about 9:00AM and I'm just pacing, so as soon as I finish this entry I will get on the water. Not only am I antsy, but my friend Jim McIntyre plans to meet me in Portland at the end of the month and bring me home. Well, I figure I have about 300 miles and I will be in Portland and at the rate I'm going I will be there in 6 t0 7 days, which means I will be 10 or more days ahead of Jim. So, here is the plan. No way can I sit around for 10 days. I still have a round trip air fare ticket I have not used. I figure I will take advantage of it now. So I booked a flight home from Portland for the 18th with a return to Portland on the 27th. That way I will get a much needed rest plus I will be with family and be back when Jim gets here.

That means I must get a move on it. I figure I can get to or very close to Cascade Locks in the next 4 and half days, find a place to store my gear and get a ride to the airport. I'm not sure how all this is going to work, but somehow it will. Plus it's a new challenge.

Between now and then I will be mostly in a remote area until I get to the Tri-Cities area of Washington, so I will be doing the next 4 day journal entries when I get home.

Time to get moving...It will be good to be back with family and friends.

I wonder if I can still hit a golf ball?

June 13th Orofino to Clarkston WA

I did not go over to the Barrazza's until around 10:30 since I knew they got home late and wanted to make sure they were up when I did. Lino was nice enough to take me to the local grocery store and do other errands before I set out.

I cannot thank the Barrazzas enough. Like so many times before, the people I meet have been unbelievable in how they go out of their way to help and the Barrazzas rate right at the top. Lino, I will stay in touch and thanks for everything. Lina, remember, you need to email when you finish your GED. I'm very proud that you are going to finish your education.

Well I was off for Clarkston at around 2:00. The Clearwater is fast and I was told I would have a few small rapids to negotiate along the way. Even though I had 40 miles to go, I expected to get to Clarkston in the early evening, which I did.

It was less than 5 minutes since I departed and I noticed this jet ski coming at me. It was the local sheriff water patrol coming. They were doing some water safety training for the local youth and just wanted to know what I was doing. I told him, and he said "Did you know you have some tough rapids ahead?" I said, "No. I was told it was a piece of cake." When he asked who told me that I told him it was the local Forest DNR station. He shook his head. Long story short, he escorted me through the first two rapid areas and told me how to get around two more. Great help.

With the fast flowing water and the rapids I needed to negotiate it made for a fun trip all the way to Clarkston where the Clearwater joins the Snake River.

Two rivers left: Snake and Columbia. Of course I'm way ahead of schedule. Feel good though. (Although, I have alot of the Missouri to do later).

June 12th Lochsa Lodge at Lowell, ID to Orofino, ID

Up at 5:00 AM and on the road at 5:30. What a beautiful morning and what a wonderful place Lochsa Lodge is. This will be a place someday I hope to come back to. Anyone that likes the outdoors in a semi-rustic atmosphere has many options here including excellent fishing and river rafting. One needs to put Lochsa Lodge as a destination.

It's 120 miles to Orofino and most is a gradual downhill ride. I hope to be there by early evening if all goes well. All did go well on my beautiful scenic ride to Lowell - 66 miles away. I stopped to take some pictures, which you can find in my photo album. I made it by 11:00 AM and had a great breakfast at the local cafe.

Here is where I met Dave who is from Alaska and is biking to Florida. I wasn't sure if he started in Alaska. We had a nice chat and he was somewhat surprised when I told him I came from Lowell on my little bike. He said he'd biked only 10 miles so far. As surprised as he was of my ride I know I would be going nuts if I'd only ridden 10 miles for a morning. I guess I cannot slow down because much of the day for me is having a good tough workout.

Well the rest of the day (about 45 more miles) was a lot tougher. Pedaling was a lot tougher all afternoon and figured it was because I may be going a little more uphill at times when it looked level. (Happens a lot in the mountains. You think you are on level ground and you are actually going up or down) Anyway, that was not the reason. When I finally did get to Orofino I found out that my back brakes where slightly rubbing! Darn, probably could have stopped and checked it out earlier.

Only the Barrazza's daughter was home when I arrived in Orofino. Lino and his wife Tracy were out of town at a Nez Perce Indian funeral and would be home tomorrow. So I went and found a place to stay and called it a day. In fact I felt it was a great 3 days, with a great ride over the Rockies that took two days less than I expected.

June 11 th: Lincoln, MT to Lowell, Idaho

It was still misting out when I awoke at 5:00 (it was light out well before 5:00), but the forecast was for clearing skies, plus it was a fairly warm mist so I decided to get started.

As I left Lincoln I was expecting my ride to be a gradual downhill into Missoula for that was the way I remembered it on my drive over. I was wrong! It was a very deceiving up and down for the first three quarters of the ride, plus I had a good wind in my face for most of the morning. On the good side, the scenery was spectacular and it made for a good hard day's workout.

I made it to Missoula around 3:30PM. In fact I was some 12 miles on the far side of Missoula in Lolo Springs having lunch, this being my first real stop except for taking a few pictures.

I was thinking of ending the day here, but I hear this little voice telling me you never stop until you get to the top of the hill. My Pacific Crest Trail friend from Australia, Phil Preston always said that when we were hiking together and he had a long ascent. Well, I was now facing a 32 mile ride to the top of Lolo Pass and needed to make a decision, which of course was, "You never stop until you get to the top of the hill!" So off I went and happy I did for the ride was not that tough. All but the last four miles was a very gradual ascent. The last four miles, however, seemed to be over 7 percent grade. In fact I had to stop a couple of times to rest which I hate to do, but finally made it to the top. Now it was 5 miles of downhill at the same grade I just came up. My goal now was to make it to the Lochsa Lodge resort at Lowell, ID (At Lolo Pass I entered Idaho and gained an hour in time).

What a fun five mile ride. I won't say how fast I was moving, but I do not think my little bike wheels could turn any faster.

Great ride today, beautiful scenery and I made close to 160 miles on my little bike. She's a beauty and rides as well as the bike I used when I went around the USA.

Good day's work and I'm at one of the most picturesque places I ever stayed. Very remote with a number of rustic cabins, a little grocery store and a nice lodge where I'm about to have a steak!

June 10th Great Falls, MT to Lincoln, MT

I picked up my bike in Missoula on the way back to Great Falls. Chris, the person how worked on it, did a fantastic job and I was confident it would hold up. I got back to Great Falls in the early afternoon and set off for Lincoln. I stopped at a gas station to get some food, water and snacks and bumped into an young man named Jim who said he was going my way and offered a ride to the outskirts of Great Falls, which I decided to take.

My ride was a little further than expected for I fell asleep and when Jim stopped we were some 20 miles further than I expected. On the good side I was closer to Lincoln and out of traffic, just needed to remember I had some twenty miles to make up. Plus, now I had a chance to make it to Lincoln which I figured was about 55 miles away.

For most of today's ride I was riding in open country which was not that interesting. Towards the end I started a gradual climb into the foothills of the Rockies which ended with about a 4 mile 6 percent grade over Rogers Pass and then a downhill glide into Lincoln.

First pass out of the way without incident and I'm very cozy in my 45.00 motel room as it is raining!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

June 10 - 12 Great Falls to Orofino, ID

Just a quick update.
Made it to Orofino, ID a lot faster than I anticipated. Boy, can this little old bike move! I did 160 miles one day and 120 another day. No problems but one very sore rear end.
Plan is to get back in the water today in Orofino below the dam. Then on to Lewiston, ID where the Clearwater River meets the Snake River.
As soon as I get to Lewiston, I will update the journal with more details. Time to get going!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

June 10th Return to Great Falls

Got my gear over to Orofino. As I drove into town I thought to myself, someone doesn't know it yet, but they are about to have a change in their evening plans and hopefully a new friend. I drove around town for a little while until I noticed a group of people having a barbeque. Perfect!I drove up and introduced myself. For some reason they looked a little puzzled and bewildered! In the end, Tracy Dean, Lina Barraza, Lino Barraza, Tracy Barraza, April Barraza, Kris Dean and Matt Fleming were excited to help. (You will need to check my pictures, should be posted by mid week.)

Back in Great Falls and I will be heading out tomorrow morning bright and early. I'm thinking it will take about 4 days. It should be a fun ride. The road has a decent shoulder and the grade over the two passes I must go does not look too bad. View is going to be spectacular. I noticed a fair number of touring bicyclists on that route as I drove over. It will be interesting to chat with them if I run into them on my way back.

I will update when I get back to Orofino.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

June 9, 2007 Great Falls, MT

I've gone over and over as to what is the best next move. Either could work. Twice I was ready to put my canoe in the water and head out, but in the end, I went to Great Falls to rent a car and get my gear over the mountains to Orofino, ID where I can safely enter the Clearwater River.

Something inside me just kept tell me this was the way to go, plus I wasn't sure how I was going to get everything back to Great Falls for I did not have a ride set up.

With my friend Jim picking me up for the ride back home I figured the simplest solution is to complete this section on the way back. Plans to begin with were to take some time to do some sightseeing anyway on the ride home so I figure we can work this in.

So I'm off. Soon I will have my act together.

Oh, I forgot to mention before I left Great Falls I still had to solve the problem of carrying my tent, sleeping bag and the other gear I would need for biking across the mountains. I had visions of using a backpack, but in Missoula I stopped at the Bicycle Works bike shop and they fixed me up with a bike rack and panniers and did a maintance check on my bike so I should be set. I left the bike off on my way over and picked it up on my way back. I will stop and say hi on my ride over for they are right on the road I will be traveling.

June 8, 2007: Drive From Williston to Great Falls, MT

Decision has been made. I've decided to go up to Great Falls, MT and work my way back to Williston.

Yesterday, after my workout I went down to the Highway 85 bridge to check out the river flow. To me it is doable, but definitely it will be a challenge. All evening I pondered what I should do. If I continue upstream it's for sure going take longer and I know each day I will be beating myself up to fight to get mileage. Just the way I am.

I know the canoe purist and probably my Pacific Crest Trail friends will be thinking I'm getting soft. Maybe so, but I was thinking about a couple emails I got which basically said, "Hey Coach do what is going to be most enjoyable." Well, the toughest part of these kind of adventures is staying in the right frame of mind and since I hit the water my mind has been tetering.

So I'm off to Great Falls. My ride cannot leave from here until around noon so I've decided to get in a half day's work by pedaling my canoe and gear as far as I can.

I said good by to Bob, the morning maintance engineer at the Airport International Inn and headed down the road. It felt good to be back and the canoe trailer was working very well.

All the way to the border of MT it seemed I was basically heading uphill. That was bad enough but I was also bucking a good wind (which later I found out was 17 miles an hour). Also kept noticing a noise coming from my wheels. I pulled over and took one off to see what was wrong. Looked okay although I wondered if I put a little chain oil on the bearing if that would help. Sure enough that is all they needed. I was rolling a lot smoother. (Probably should have done that back in Washington, D.C.!)

Well I made it to Culbertson, MT before my ride picked me. 40 miles,,,not bad for a good half day's work. (Actually 7 hours since I started at 6:30 and was picked up at 1:30)

It was a long boring ride, especially as I continued to think about my decision. Around 8:00 we arrived in Fort Benton, MT. Fort Benton is right on the Missouri just east of Great Falls. What a beautiful area. One of the neatest places I've ever been. This section of the river, Great Falls to Lake Fort Peck is the most scenic and well traveled part of the Missouri and I can see why.

My first thought was this section I should be doing with my friends Charlie Wright and Jim Waletzko. Basically it's float for much the way and right now it would be a very quick float for the river is as high as anyone can ever remember because of the heavy rains in the mountains.

In fact people are waiting in the local canoe campgrounds for the water to go down so they can start their trip. The river is fast, but it looks safe enough to me. Not sure why they're waiting.

But I do have another concern. With the current whipping as fast as it is I know I'm going to be piling up big miles and a trip that should take a week or more to enjoy will be done in a whole lot less time. This is too nice of a section to do that. So more decisions. Do I just rush through this or do I keep moving and save this for when I start my return trip home? Next would be the bike ride over the mountains. If I did that I'd follow the Lewis Clark Bike route and camp along the way, which should be fun. I believe it's 300+ mile trip to where I need to go.

I told Dan (my ride) that I would stay here for the night in the canoe campground and work on my next move. I figured I'd visit the visitors center in the morning and chat with the canoe camper.

This is beautiful. If you have never been here I suggest you put it on your list of places to visit. Especially if you're into scenic river canoe trips. You could go by yourself or hook up with an outfitter.

Maybe if my PCT friend , Keith Drury is following my journey he could add a comment about what he thinks about this section of the river. Keith paddled the Missouri a few years back.

Time for a walk before sunset. More questions to ponder.

Thursday, June 07, 2007


Well, Williston did not get the severe thunderstorms everyone else in ND got last night. Just a little rain, but it was very windy. Nor did I get my 75 miles of biking in, probably 50, which made for a decent workout.

Today it is very windy. It must be at least 30+ miles an hour, which made for a no paddle day. I thought hard about biking portaging today, but then that too could be dangereous, which was confirmed when I rode my bike over to the library and fitness center. I think I'd have been blown all over the place if I'd ventured out. So instead I'm still here and very antsy.

So for today's workout I pedaled over to Anytime Fitness Center for a workout. I had a good one, spent an hour and 15 minutes on an elliptical machine, 45 minutes on a treadmill, plus doing my weight lifting and sit-up routine. Good 3+ hours well spent in a very nice fitness center. (see picture)

I'm also working on what I will be doing next, whether to continue west from here or move west and work back. I hope to ride down to the Highway 85 bridge later to check out the water current for myself. I think it's 10 miles over to the bridge so it will make for another decent workout day, especially with the wind. Just wish it was on the river.

The key for me right now is to make this enjoyable.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

June 6, 2007: Rest Day in Williston

Well, not quite a rest day. I did get up early and bike 35 miles. I needed to redo the miles that I did not do when Lance picked me up yesterday.

It rained last night, but we did not get the severe weather that was forecast. Instead it is supposed to hit this area tonight and probably rain through Thursday morning. Anyway right now I feel good. My bike ride was a good workout with a bike climb out of Williston and the scenery was spectacular.

As I rode, my mind wandered from the low I experienced coming in to New Town to how great yesterday was, and that I need to make some decisions on how to tackle what lies ahead of me to Great Falls, MT.

This river has changed. It is not like what the guide books I'm following described when they did their trips. Since 2004 the river has dropped so far that the most of the resort bays have dried up, leaving no resort. David Miller who wrote the Complete Paddler Guide Book I'm following described Tobacco Bay Resort as one of the best places he visited. In fact he stayed two days. Now there's nothing.

Cecil, at Waterford Drilling, who's done alot of guiding on the river, says he's taken many canoers around this area.

Now it seems that the winter melt off (they got lots of snow this year in the Rockies) has caused some flooding ahead of me and raised the current to the point that it will be very difficult to paddle.

So I will ponder what to do. Most likely I will attempt to continue, but if it gets too tough and I have to start bike portaging, I will look for a way to get upriver and work backwards. I prefer the river to biking.

Well, my trailer is fixed. Tim and Jeremiah made me a whole new bracket for my wheels out of steel. What a job they did. (Need to see pictures when I get them posted) From a mess yesterday, I now know have a trailer I have complete confidence in and of course they would not take a nickel for their work. Thanks Tim, Lance, Cecil, Jeremiah and everyone else at Waterford.

I also got a new pedal at the local bike shop. The left pedal bearings were going on the one I had so I thought I better get that taken care of while I had the chance. Also, this is the same bike shop I stopped at in 2004 when I had some gear problems and I thought I'd say hi. Turns out the guy that worked on my bike no longers works there, but I did get a new pedal.

Well, it's time for dinner, Then maybe another good bike ride (it doesn't get dark here until amost 10:00). I'd like to get 75 miles in today. Need to get rid of this 20 extra pounds I seem to gain over the winter. Just can't stay away from the darn chocolate chip cookies LuAnn's mother, Glenys, makes!

Oh, also need to thank Jordan, Emily and Michelle for the Kool-Aid. I stopped at their stand as I was riding my bike to the Williston Library to update my journal.

June 5, 2007: New Town to Williston, ND

Williston ND! I will explain how I got that far in one day.

Last night I called home and told LuAnn what had happened and that I was not sure I could continue and would decide today if I could or not. Well, with her encouragement and a great email from my daughter Heidi, I'm going. At least to try and get to Williston and then see how it goes.

Here is how the day goes. ONE of the best I've had on this adventure. Because my back and knee were hurting and there was a threat of severe weather, after studying my maps I decided to hook everything up to my bike and portage over to Tobacco Bay Resort. This was about 40+ miles by road or maybe 30+ by river. The angle I sit while biking does not hurt my back that much. My reasoning for this is if a storm does hit I will be in a better situation than on the river. Plus I figured I could make it in half a day and then I would paddle back towards New Town, and back to the resort to make up some of the river miles. Then the next day I will paddle across to the other side where I can get on to Highway 1804 and pedal into Williston. From this point on I will be hitting big mud flats which are all but impossible to get though because the river is so low. Big thing is I need to work on my emotions and I was hoping the change might help. Instead the whole experience did!

This is what happened!

1st: I got to Tobacco Bay and the resort was a ghost town. The bay was dry! Now what, do I have to pedal all the way back? Well, I found a sandy trail that seemed to lead to the lake, which it eventually did after carrying everything on my back for a mile! Managed to get everything to the lake and felt good. At least now I can paddle, plus there's another resort (Lunds) on the other side of the lake that looks active. So I started to pull my canoe into the water and preceeded to go up to my knees in mud. Took awhile to pull loose, but I did and found a different spot that I was able to push off from. I had a good four hours now to waste before I headed over to the other resort so I paddled back towards New Town for a couple of hours and then swung back towards Lunds.

As I approached Lunds I saw 4 girls swimming in the river so I paddled over to see what info they could give me about the resort. They said I couldn't get to it. There's no water in the bay.

Now what. I know I cannot go much further and if the severe weather comes, I figured I needed to be somewhat protected, so I decided to proceed to the resort and figure a way to get up to the buildings I saw.

As I paddled I could see what appeared to be a boat landing. It was out of the water, but it looked like I could get to it and then carry everything up. For the last mile I was paddling in about 6 inches of water. My thoughts were that I was going to get within 100 yds of the landing, get stuck and be sitting there with no way to get out for fear of sinking in the mud I experienced on the other side. Did make it and was able to get everything hooked up to my bike. I started up the dirt road to Highway 1804 and then to Lunds. I was feeling good that everything was turning out well when all of a sudden there was a crash and my canoe is sitting on the road with the wheels above it!

I noticed when I got to Tobacco Bay that my wheels were a little at a slant but did not think much of it for it was like that last year. Besides, a good friend, Gene Cooper, who played football for me a few years had welded the problem before I left. Gene, "It did not work!"

Now what am I going to do? I'm in the middle of nowhere with a fold-up bike pulling a canoe that is laying on the road! Again, as luck has it, I see a red pickup sitting at the intersection of Lunds Landing looking at all this. I wave and he comes right down.

Lance works for the Weatherford Oil drilling company. Now this story is long, so you will need to look at my pictures when I'm able to post them. Anyway we get everything in the back of Lance's pickup and we head into Williston and to the Weatherford shop where he figures I can get my trailer repaired. On my way in Lance tells me every resort is closed because of the low water and that I was probably correct to get out where I did because of mud flats around Williston. That made me feel good, except for my trailer.

Once back at the shop, Lance introduces me to the guys and to Tim, who figures he can weld everything back together. After some time visiting with the crew at the shop (I know they thought I was crazy) Tim says he's finished and it should hold up now. Well I get everything back in the canoe, hook the trailer up to my bike, say goodbye and jump on my bike to head over to the motel across the street, when there's a thud and I look back and my canoe is sitting on the ground! Turns out the aluminum welding weakened everything and now the wheel portion of the trailer is completely broke in half.

To be continued tomorrow! Great day! Good hard bike ride plus 15 to 20 miles of paddling and everything ends in a mess! I feel a lot better, I'm back in my element I like best. Hopefully it continues.

Thanks LuAnn and Heidi and to everyone back in New Town for the encouragement.

June 4, 2007: South of Independence Pt. to New Town

Up and at'em early. Everything was going well for the first hour and then all heck broke loose. The wind started to pick up, coming from the NE which is hitting me on the right side of my canoe. Waves keep getting bigger and bigger and then while I'm looking for my map, my canoe canoe is washed into a log that strikes the left side and rolls it up at a 45 degree angle. Now I'm in the water grabbing for the canoe to keep it from flipping which somehow I was able to do. Good news is I was only in knee deep water for I was hugging the shore. Bad news is that I wrenched my knee (yes, the one with the partial replacement) and also my back.

Well, I was able to get things under control although I now have a few inches of water in the canoe. Very lucky.

As I continued, my back was giving me a lot of trouble and conditions were only getting worse. I probably should have stopped, but didn't, figuring I was not that far from Independence Point. My thinking was that once I made the turn, the wind would be more at my back and if I could get to the right shore, I should be more protected.

Let's say I did make it to New Town, but as high as I've felt the first few days of this trip I'm really down now. My back was hurting, I knew I was lucky that things were not worse when I tipped, and all the emotions from the past were coming back.

It was late when I got to New Town. I feel terrible. Not sure what I want to do. Right now I want to quit. Not sure I can handle this. Not sure why I feel like this.

June 3, 2007: Dakota Waters Boat Ramp to somewhere on Lake Sakakawea

My ride showed up! Al, Jim and I, plus my gear, were on our way to Lake Sakakawea at 6:00 AM. On the ride up I thought (anxiously) about what was in store for me going across this huge lake. I remember the lakes coming into Bismarck and how lucky I was with having light winds and waves to deal with. Would I be so lucky crossing this one and the last big one, Fort Peck? I will find out soon.

We arrived at the boat ramp around 8:00. Dakota Bay is about 10 to 15 miles further upstream from where I originally planned to enter, but this was where Jim and Al were going, plus they said they'd keep an eye on me as I paddled west.

I was on the water by 8:30, paddled the mile or so out of the bay and I was on the massive lake. The lake is about 5 miles wide. I turned to the west and started to follow the left shoreline. Again, luck was on my side. Little wind and what there was, was at my back and the seas were calm. As I proceeded I found that the shoreline on the left was about the same distance as the shoreline on the right. In other words, I was in the middle of the lake once again taking the shortest route! Well, as luck would have it, the entire day was gorgeous, seas were calm and I was making great time. With these conditions I figured I'd paddle as long as could and get as many miles as possible, not knowing what tomorrow will bring.

I made camp somewhere along the left side of the lake at 9:30. I believe I'm not that far from Independence Point which is where the lake makes a left turn (now going NW) and then swings back north to New Town, ND. With the conditions being so good I am sure it was 40+ mile day.

The hope is to make New Town tomorrow. Great Day!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

June 2, 2007: Washburn, ND to Bismarck, ND

I had a very pleasant and relaxing evening last night without the rain. Just me and my thoughts.
I have about 40 miles to get to Bismarck. I took my time packing up, figuring if I left by 7:00 I'd easily be in Bismarck by late afternoon. It was a very nice morning, cool with a slight breeze behind my back. I took my time as I weaved my way though one sandbar after another. I had the same thing yesterday. Twice I was not paying attention and came to a sudden halt paddling up on a sandbar about an inch out of the water. The water is up right now and I bet in mid and late summer one would be zigzagging back and forth through a maze of sandbars and mud flats. Fortunately now the water is high enough I can skim over most of them.

At 12:00 I pulled into a boat landing for lunch and got real lucky. A couple of fishermen were just putting their boat in the water and after learning what I was doing offered to give me a ride back to Garrison Dam. There were going up there tomorrow to fish and said they'd pick me up in the morning in Bismarck at Keelboat Park where I was headed. Man, things are working out well so far, I was dreading the thought of biking back. Hopefully they show up.

As was the morning's paddle the afternoon's was just as pleasant, only seeing the occasional fisherman as I continued to Bismarck.

This is a very nice section of the Missouri all the way from Garrison. The river has numerous sandbars as I mentioned and is dotted with a number of islands. The shoreline offers lots of great campsites. Wildlife is mainly ducks and geese. There are a few cabins and numerous nice homes near Washburn and especially Bismarck.

I arrived at Keelboat Park at around 4:00 PM back to the spot where I left off last year. Lots of memories flashed though my head of last year's trip as I paddled into the landing. Especially the memories of all the great people I met. Can I be so lucky this year? So far so good.

Time to get something to eat, find a place to camp and pray for calm weather the next few days as begin my journey across Lake Sakakawea.

Oh, do I hope my ride shows tomorrow!

I also need to say that it might be awhile before I get to a computer again. I am thinking I will probably need to get to Williston before I will have access, so it might be a few days before I have the chance to update this journal.

June 1, 2007: Garrison Dam to just south of Washburn, ND

Yesterday it took about 8 hours for us to get to Sheyenne, ND which is just south of Devils Lake, ND. My cousin, Gary Hoff, bought a small house in Sheyenne a few years back because he and his brother love fishing Devils Lake summer and winter. Gary brought along his neighbor boy, Chaz Dayton who just graduated from high school and his dog, Rambo. Just a little crowded in his pickup, but we managed!

We were up at 6:00 AM and on the road by 7:00 with a good 3 hour drive to Garrison Dam. I decided to go from Garrison to Bismarck because of my concern for the current and it was easier for Gary to get me to Garrison.

At about 10:30 AM and after saying my goodbyes to Gary and Chaz, I was on my way. It felt good to be back. The day's paddle was fairly easy for the first day. There was a good current, but I believe I could have made it going upstream, but that's hindsight and now it's time to focus on the present.

By 2:00 PM I stopped for lunch and figured I'd gone about 15 miles. My goal was to get as close to Washburn, ND as possible, but at this point I wasn't sure, for the sky was darkening and it looked like thunderstorms were approaching. So, I figured I'd go as at least as far as I could and pull out if I saw any lightning. As it turned out it only rained and I was at Washburn around 5;30 PM soaked and wet and was not looking forward to setting up camp in the rain.

Well, as luck has it, the sky started to lighten and within a half hour the sun was out. By 7:00 PM I was dry and decided to set up camp before another storm came. Setting up camp at 7:00 PM, with over 2 hours of daylight! I must be getting old! All in all, a very good day.

Note: Just want to thank my cousin Gary for all that he did in getting me out here and seeing that I got off to a good start. I hope you caught lots of fish and I will see you at Ryan's golf tournament. A very special man.