Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Updates from Bismarck

(Burlington-Northern Railroad on my approach to Bismarck..taken around Price, ND)

Hello to all you bloggers out there from sunny Bismarck, ND. I am now 1,008 miles from Three Forks, MT which is pretty wild! It seems like just yesterday my Dad and I were driving through on our way out from Virginia. For this blog I am going to give you a quick update since my brother's last blog and talk about my stay here so far in Bismarck. I will also be sending a blog tomorrow talking a bit about my nutrition on the trip as well as some thoughts now that I am 1,000 miles down.
(Power plants just upstream from Bismarck)

When you last heard from me I was camped on a beautiful sandbar island just downstream from Washburn, ND. Early the next morning (6/29) I awoke around 6 am and started paddling toward Bismarck, ND. I would like to have gotten up a bit earlier but my phone and watch were still soaked from my capsizing incident two days prior. Anyway, the river had slowed down a fair bit after Washburn so I made slow time and pulled into Bismarck around 2:45 in the afternoon.
(This shows kinda what it feels like to paddle all day in the sun)

Waiting to greet me at the Southport Marina were my Mom (who flew out from Denver), Gail and Ed Breckel (members of the Bismarck ND Parkinson's support group) and Laurie Edinger. We all sat down and talked while I wolfed down a double quarter pound burger (I had to special order the burger but I was hungry!) Laurie had helped set up a number of press meetings in Bismarck and also gave me a very nice gift basket (the Chokecherry Taffy was delicious... I couldn't resist).
(The Lewis and Clark ship docked outside of Bismark)

After lunch my mom and I drove the Mary Agnes and all my gear over to Gail and Ed's home where I am storing my kayak. They have been gracious enough to let me keep my kayak at their home as well as spend a night their Wednesday night. My mom then took me back to the hotel room where I "de-funkified" and took a shower. Gail and Ed then met up with us again and we went to the Walrus, a local Pizza joint, for dinner. In addition to the great company we talked a bit about Ed's difficulties with Parkinson's as well as the support group here in Bismark. I was very touched by the devotion and care that Gail gives to Ed to help him with the challenges he faces daily. It makes paddling down a river seem pretty trivial.

This morning I woke up and took on the daunting task of catching up on emails, sending out thank you letters to sponsors and repairing my gear. None of my gear is significantly damaged (other than the cell phone) but I needed to clean out my tent, repair a small tear in my sail and clean my stove. The MSR XGK stove that I use works great, but after 27 days of cooking it needed some cleaning to bring it back to full burner capacity.

At 11:45 in the morning I met Anne and Lee from Channel 5 NBC North Dakota News for an interview down by the Missouri River. They were both very pleasant and made my first television appearance stress free! Here is the link to the NBC news video feature. http://www.kfyrtv.com/News_video.asp?news=31607

This afternoon my mom and I will be running a number of errands including food shopping as well as going to Best Buy to try and fix a few kinks that I have been having with my solar powering system. Tomorrow we will be heading to Ft. Lincoln in the morning, and then in the afternoon I will be presenting my trip to some members of the local Bismarck Parkinson's support group. Also, as I mentioned in the beginning, I will have a more in-depth blog regarding nutrition and thoughts about the trip tomorrow afternoon.

Two days of rest + friends and family = Awesome!!!!

Until tomorrow,


Monday, June 29, 2009

End of Lake Sakakawea to Washburn, ND

(Uncle Dave Johnston collecting some firewood as the storm set in)

The great weather on Thursday changed on Friday night for Dave and Joe. As they were in camp, a storm whipped up, causing the weather to change significantly. The clouds began to swirl and a tornado was spotted two miles from their campsite. It began raining and Dave told me that by the end of the night, there was an inch and a half of rain in the bottom of the tent. The two of them had a poor night, but were only a day’s paddle away from Garrison Dam, so they pushed on in the morning.

(Storm clouds building around our campsite. This was the storm that produced the 70 m.p.h. gusts and the tornado. The sky turned a very eerie aquamarine!)

The waves were turbulent, stirred up from the changing weather, which made paddling very difficult. Only seven miles into Saturday’s paddle, Joe capsized. He attempted to roll the boat, but the rough waters made it very challenging. So Joe swam the boat to shore, recovering most of his gear, the lone exception being the cell phone. Luckily, our mother, Bonnie Forrester, will be meeting up with Joe in Bismarck with a replacement in hand.

(Delicious steak dinner courtesy of Uncle Dave after the capsizing incident. I am convinced this gave me the power to push through until 1:45 am. Steak Power!!!)

After the morning’s events, Dave and Joe decided it was best to try and wait out the storm in the tents. The weather did not let up enough for them to head out until 8:45 pm that night. Under a quarter moon they set out for Garrison Dam. The paddling was still arduous, with choppy waters and low visibility.

(Sunset as I was beginning to leave for the midnight run to Garrison Dam)

The green beacon near the dam, which is a navigating tool for approaching it, was not lit. Therefore, the two had to navigate the end section, full of trees, by starlight. At 1:45 am on Sunday morning, Dave and Joe made it to Garrison Dam. It took a total of 117 hours to paddle the length of Lake Sakakawea.

After a short rest that night, Dave parted with Joe after a great few days. Joe really wanted to thank him for the company, help, and companionship on Lake Sakakawea. He then set out down the river, fast approaching Bismarck.

(Uncle Dave and I before the put-in below Garrison Dam)

In his stretch today, Joe passed by some unique historical sites. Just downstream from the dam is a reconstructed Fort Mandan, which Lewis and Clark built and spent the winter of 1804-05. A little farther downstream, the Knife River merges with the Missouri. Upstream on the Knife River is evidence of hundreds of mound houses built by the Sioux Indians. The indentations in the ground are still visible and this is where Lewis and Clark obtained Charbonough and Sacajawea for their journey. (Much thanks to Norm Miller for the great facts on the region)

Joe is currently camped one and a half miles downstream from Washburn on a sandy island. He was very tired when I spoke with him today, as to be expected from the midnight run. But, he is in good spirits after paddling the second of the three large lakes (the last being Lake Oahe). Tomorrow, he will be arriving in Bismarck and will be able to update the blog with many pictures as well. He’ll be taking two rest days in town, Tuesday and Wednesday, and will be back at it on Thursday. In reaching Bismarck, he will have paddled 1007 miles!

(Camp on a sandbar outside of Washburn, ND)

Paddle on,


Friday, June 26, 2009

Lake Sakakawea- Rendezvous with Dave

(Early morning sunshine on an early morning paddle)

I just received a very enthusiastic call from Joe, after another wonderful day on Lake Sakakawea. He was able to meet up with Uncle Dave Johnston yesterday and enjoyed some great company both yesterday and today. Apparently Dave's journey down from Minnesota was long and with little sleep, but they are both having a great time now.

(looking out over the open water of the Van Hook Arm of Lake Sakakawea)

(A number of cows enjoying the water on a hot day around Independence Point)

Dave and Joe found a great campsite last night near Independence point. It was a sandy beach spot, right next to the water. The weather cooperated with them, allowing for clear water and few clouds. Along with the tasty Corona's Dave brought, Joe said it was like kicking back at the playa in Mexico.

(Dave preparing some delicious salmon and Notch, Dave's pheasant hunting machine in the boat)

The dinners have also improved with Dave's arrival. Last night, they cooked up some salmon over an open fire fueled by cow chips. He said it gave the meat a mesquite flavor and was delicious.

(Our delicious salmon meal con Corona Cerveza)

The day on the water was great. In the morning, they took out Dave's kite and went sailing around the lake. The afternoon was spent paddling, ending up at the edge of Beaver Creek Bay, bringing his total to around 900 miles paddled. Tomorrow, Dave and Joe will be finishing up on Lake Sakakawea, ending at Garrison Dam. From there it will be a day or two before he reaches Bismarck and will be able to enjoy two rest days there. Joe will be able to upload more photos and update the blog when in town, so check back for new photos from the trip then.

Paddle on,


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Lake Sakakawea- Four Bear's Park

(Early morning Alpenglow paddling on Lake Sakakawea)

Joe sounded great yesterday, very optimistic after his longest flat water day. He paddled 31 miles on flat water, the last 10 he managed with a strong headwind. He said the last section was very challenging, but he was unexpectedly rewarded by some amazing North Dakota residents. While on the water, he ran into some very kind folks who invited him over for a pizza dinner at the Four Bear’s Campsite (also his campsite for last night). He wanted to pass along a great thank you for the delicious meal and wonderful company, especially after a challenging day.

The Bridge at New Town, near the Four Bear's Camp

(My View of the Four Bears/New Town Bridge)

His day wasn’t all a grind though; he was able to enjoy another great day along scenic Lake Sakakawea. His sightseeing paid off, as he spotted a paddlefish jump out of the water 30 feet from his boat. (For the picture and brief description of the fish, click here, the blog from June 11th.)
(Camp at the Four Bears Campground)

In kayaking by New Town, Joe passed by the Verendrye National Monument , commemorating what could be considered the earliest western exploration into the Missouri River area. In 1742, 60 years before Lewis and Clark, Pierre Gaultier de Varennes and his two sons explored what is now North Dakota on the way to Manitoba, Canada. The exploration was an unsuccessful attempt to reach the Pacific Ocean by a land route.

Joe’s goal for today is to make it to Independence point. He will also try and rendezvous with Uncle Dave Johnston today, so hopefully Joe will be in good company tonight.

An aerial view of Independence Point, Lake Sakakawea

Paddle on,

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lake Sakakawea - Tobacco Gardens Bay

(Early morning paddling through the delta heading into Lake Sakakawea)

Despite the wind and intermittent service, I spoke with Joe after an interesting morning. After a great rest in Williston (again, much thanks to Linda for her help in town), Joe said he was rudely awakened at one am by a raccoon intruder in camp. The attempts of scaring it away while in the tent were futile, so Joe, sandals and all, left the tent armed with the backup paddle, ready to lay waste to the critter. The raccoon escaped, but Joe’s flesh did not, as the mosquitoes, “mercilessly attacked my [his] flesh.” The night’s activities resulted in a few bug bites and a loss of shut eye heading onto another large lake.

(A large log floating down the river into Lake Sakakawea)

A view of Lake Sakakawea from space .

(Tobacco Gardens in a small bay on the south side towards the left side)

The wind was blowing when he woke up and it was perfect time to really try the sail out. He said it worked well, almost too well, as it propelled him across the lake at a few whitecaps that had formed. He had to put the sail down because every time he would crest a whitecap, the Mary Agnes would take on water, forcing him to bail out for parts of the morning. Regardless, Joe still cruised, putting in 41 miles today, with the last 9 coming in just an hour. He is currently camped close to the entrance to Tobacco Garden Bay.

(Camp my first night on Lake Sakakawea)

Lake Sakakawea has a different feel to it that Fort Peck Lake, with one difference being the numerous places to camp along the coastline. This is definitely a great change from the jutting fingers of land that caused the numerous open-water crossings on Fort Peck Lake. Tomorrow the weather is supposed to be great, so Joe’s goal is just past New Town.

Lake Sakakawea near New Town

Also, our uncle, Dave Johnston, is planning to meet up with Joe on Lake Sakakawea, so he’ll be around some company for the latter portion of the lake and the portage. I will probably talk with Joe once he settles in for camp tomorrow night, so the blog will be updated then.

Joe uploaded a bunch of photos in Williston, so feel free to check back on past blogs to see the corresponding day’s photos.

(Dinner: Macaroni, Tuna, Cheese and a protein drink)

Paddle on,


Monday, June 22, 2009

Williston, ND

Hello everyone from Williston, ND! It has been a really good past couple of days. First a brief synopsis and then I will add a couple of thoughts at the end. After I talked with my brother on 6/20 I had quite the late afternoon adventure. I had been eyeing a ridge that rose up behind my camp since pulling in so I decided to go for a hike. It wasn't particularly long, but I was able to do a little bit of climbing and stretching of the legs which is really nice after being in a boat all day. Looking out across Montana at the top, I imagined what Lewis and Clark must have thought when they came through. It must truly have looked like a paradise.
As I was coming back from my hike, I noticed that a pontoon boat was pulling up to my campsite. I went down and introduced myself. On board was Kenan, Carla, Lana, Fred, Joyce and Allison, who are all a group of folks who live in Culbertson, MT. They were very gracious, and despite my river rat appearance, invited me to their barbecue that they were having later in the evening. I agreed and hopped onto the pontoon boat. Fred and Joyce let me use their shower(which was excellent!) and then we walked over to Kenny and Carla's house where a delicious feast was prepared. The food was great and the company was even better. We finished off the night by going dancing at a barn in town.

Dancing at the barn

Their was a bar downstairs and the loft was a refinished dance floor with a live band. The entire evening was fantastic and very unexpected! The next morning Kenan dropped me off at my camp around 7:30. A thunderstorm had come through early in the morning so everything was a little damp but I packed up and started paddling. The rain was intermittent all morning but the country was beautiful; the Montana breaks were giving way to the grassland plains of North Dakota. Yesterday afternoon I pulled into Ft. Union in the afternoon and set up camp. The mosquitoes were voracious which was a first for the trip although I regret to inform you not the last. Ft. Union marks the border between Montana and North Dakota and is located at the confluence of the Yellowstone River and the Missouri.
It was amazing to see the very turbid and log filled Yellowstone enter the Missouri. The current was really rushing and gave a much needed boost to the flaccid(at this point) current of the Missouri.
Early this morning I woke up and paddled the 25 miles into the Hghwy 85 bridge outside of Williston where I met up with Linda. Linda is a school teacher in town who agreed to help me resupply which was very nice.
Anyhow, tomorrow I head onto the next large reservoir, Lake Sakakawea. This should be challenging, but I am feeling strong and ready for some more beautiful scenery and excellent adventures. Now, here are some thoughts about the trip thus far. I am continually amazed at the simple twists of fate that have occured thus far on the trip and the people I have met. Looking back, meeting Norm, Zane and all the folks at Culbertson was very unexpected but they have all been incredibly helpful and very meaningful to my trip. They might not know it, but each appeared at a time when I needed the support, and I am very thankful to them. I am also getting excited to be in a less remote section of the river. I have been more or less paddling alone for the past three weeks, seeing folks occasionally during the day. While I haven't gotten lonely, I am looking forward to having a little more social interaction in the coming weeks, and looking forward to increasing the Parkinson's aspect of the trip. But, if there is something I have learned on this trip, it is that patience is a virtue, and that being able to just keep paddling is a true skill.
Anyhow, my next access to the internet will be in Bismark. I hope to take a rest day there and will have a ton of new stories and info! Stay tuned......Joe

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Day 16/17 - Culbertson Bridge


After last night’s camp spot by Culbertson Bridge, Joe has now traveled 102 miles since Fort Peck, making the total before todays travel 702 miles.

The travel has been very challenging after Fort Peck because of the lack of river flow and depth. As Tim, the dam manager at Holter Lake, had warned, the flow was cut back out of the dams; therefore, Joe is encountering numerous sand bars, eddies, and slow moving water. The lack of water is causing travel to be slower and harder: it took 11 hours on Friday and 10 hours and 45 minutes on Saturday to paddle the 102 miles. Yesterday (Saturday), he told me the river conditions were improving, but he pulled off when he did because of the impending thunderstorms.

A view of the Missouri River from Culbertson Bridge

Joe also encountered rough winds, with a 10-15 mile per hour easterly wind, which made for a difficult headwind all day. He tells me the jet stream is taking longer to stabilize this year; hence the common northwesterly winds are not present right now.

Joe trying to show off the "guns" along the Missouri River

I was wondering, as I’m sure some of you are as well, how Joe is able to receive the weather updates. He told me that with the Standard Horizon HX471S VHF radio, he is able to pick up weather reports as well as a few other stations. He posted a blog entry on April 7th reviewing the radio (Click here to get a full description from that post).

The wildlife on this stretch of the river wasn’t as amazing as the White Cliffs region, although that could be due to his more arduous paddling so he is not appreciating it as much. One little tidbit he did share with me was about the dog tick.

An American Dog Tick

He said they are becoming more prevalent on this section of the river, so the twice daily checks are crucial. Joe said they have only been on his gear, but are still nuisances none the less. He tells me Lyme disease, as well as some of the other tick transmitted diseases, is not endemic to the region, but he is still taking precaution with them.

Joe made mention that today should be his last day in Montana and will be heading into North Dakota very soon. He also was interested into the significance of the railroad that he had been traveling next to for awhile, the formerly known as, Burlington Northern Railroad. It is a predominant freight train system that merged into a larger railroad company, BNSF railway, with the merger of Burlington Northern, Incorporated and the Santa Fe Pacific Corporation. The company is huge: moving more grain than any other railroad, as well as hauling enough coal to power 10% of the United States. I should be able to fill him in on the interesting facts about the railway when I speak with him today.

His next portage point, Williston, North Dakota, is fast approaching and afterward, he will be on another large lake, Lake Sacajawea. The lake travel should be a little easier on the coming lakes, as opposed to Fort Peck Lake, because he does not have the open water to cross. On Fort Peck Lake, he was traveling between fingers of land on the lake, making for long stretches of open water paddling. On Lake Sacajawea, there is more of a coastline, so travel should be better. His goal today is past Fort Union, but before Williston. I will have an update on the location and days events as soon as I speak with him.

Paddle on,

Friday, June 19, 2009

Day 15 - Just outside Wolf Point

Joe was in rather good spirits today, after a 51 mile paddle down the Missouri from Fort Peck. He said that he thoroughly enjoyed his rest day in Fort Peck. Following up a great arrival the previous day, Joe and Zane ended up touring the Fort Peck Dam as well as the hydraulic plant. He also wanted to point out his delicious dinner, pork chops with green peppers and onions, and the much appreciated companionship of Zane and Pickles. They had a great campfire session last night before Joe head out this morning, where Zane left Joe a hatchet, which makes for a great hammer for tent stakes on the journey.

Zane and his hawk, Maia

The paddle down was scenic as usual. Joe spotted a large raccoon, “scoping him out, chilling on the banks.” He also saw a mother dear with her two fawns close by.

After the wildlife, he found a great place to camp: in the high grass, on an island, 12 miles upstream from Wolf Point.

The city of Wolf Point has an interesting history, as Joe mentioned that it was considered the stabbing capital of the country. More than you’d ever want to know about Wolf Point history can be found here. Wolf Point is an Indian Reservation, and violence towards kayakers is not unheard of; therefore, Joe made the wise decision to pull off early and pass by the town in the wee hours tomorrow before anyone is awake.

The popular story for how the city got its name was that William Bent, nephew of Kit Carson, spent the winter of 1868-1869 hunting wolves in the area. Although, Wolf Creek is close by, most likely, that is where the name derived. Wolf Point is not Joe’s final destination tomorrow; he is hoping to camp up at Brockton, MT . I will be talking with Joe on the satellite phone tomorrow afternoon, probably after he sets up camp, so I will be able to update the blog then.

An early photograph of Wolf Point at "Old Town." The Presbyterian Mission schools, on the left, were operated from 1895 to 1927.

Paddle on,

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ft. Peck Restday

Hello to everyone from Ft. Peck. Whew, what a whirlwind week! I have been paddling through some absolutely beautiful country, very wild and pristine.

When I last talked with you all, I was getting ready to leave Ft. Benton. My journey took me through the wild and scenic White Cliffs section for 3 days. I had the chance to see more deer than I could count, herds of bighorn sheep, spectacular sandstone spires, and of course, breathtaking sunsets.

I have then spent the past four days crossing Ft. Peck reservoir, the first of the big three reservoirs that I will be paddling through. What a challenge! The reservoir was so remote that some days I would only see a fishing boat at a distance and I really felt very isolated. The most challenging part of this section was the long stretches of open water that I had to cross. If you have been following my SPOT check ins, you can see that I have had to cross numerous coulees, or bays ranging from 1-7 miles across. Before each crossing I had to check the weather and then just paddle, long and hard, until I reached the other side. I certainly felt very alone when I was several miles from shore in my 17 foot boat.

The other major obstacle was the wind/weather. Afternoon thunderstorms have started arriving around 2pm, so in order to get my long distances paddled, I needed to get up very early. While getting up so early was hard, the sunrises from the reservoir were phenomenal and the stillness of such a large body of water in the morning is really eerie. One of the more memorable experiences I had was passing by an island full of terns and gulls in the early morning. I think I spooked them a bit because all of a sudden the dark morning sky was filled with squaking birds. For several minutes I had visions of Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" floating through my mind, but thankfully I just kept paddling by and the birds settled down.

Yesterday was one of the more exhausting days. I awoke very early and paddled until about noon when I reached the marina at Ft. Peck. In order to get there, I did a 7 mile open water crossing which was nerve racking and physically very challenging at the end of a long morning of paddling. However, the cheeseburger and company I found at the marina made it all worthwile.

Zane preparing a meal

As Jared mentioned in his previous blog, I had the chance to meet up with Zane and his dog Pickles, who are also paddling to New Orleans.

Zane, Joe, and Pickles

This is his second trip and he is traveling with a substantial amount of gear and taking his time, so I had a feeling we would meet up at some point (folks upriver had told me he was heading down). We spent the afternoon celebrating a successfull passage of a very difficult section of the trip as well as touring the interpretive center and going to the Lewis and Clark lookout.(Unfortunately I don't have the ability to upload any photos, but hopefully that will change in Williston)

Today, I am resting up for my next push, which will put me in Williston, ND and my next big lake. I am hoping to check some email, tour the hydroelectric plant, and learn about all things Lewis and Clark that happened in the area.

Part of Fort Peck Dam

Zane has been a great asset and has been driving me around showing me the sights. I am continuously surprised at the really great and helpful people I am meeting on this trip.

So now for a new segment on the blog, a section that my brother and I are going to call "Thoughts and River Life." About every 7 days or so we are going to try and put together a brief informative post about how I go about daily living on the river, major revelations, or just plain interesting bits of information. The story for today, my morning routine.

Essential to any successfull outdoor trip is developing a routine for setting up and taking down camp. It increases efficiency and prevents one from forgetting items at camp. So here is my routine(times change based on weather but it gives you an idea of how long these tasks take):

2:30 am - My alarm goes off

2:35 am- get dressed for the day

2:40 am -pack sleeping bag into a dry bag.( I have found that if I hold off on doing this until later I lose a bunch of time in the morning)

2:50 am- Start boiling water, arrange my 6 tablespoons of oatmeal and my coffee.

2:55-3:15 - While the water is boiling I start taking all my gear out of the tent and take it down to a tarp that I set out on the river bank. This is where I stage all of my packing.

3:15-3:20- Pour the boiling water into my coffee press, and pour the water my oatmeal. I then keep packing while I let the water cool down.

3:30 - By this time I have all my gear down on my tarp, except for my tent which I leave up until the very last in order to let it dry as much as possible.

3:35 - Wolf down the oatmeal and coffee, and prepare my lunch bag for the day(usually a couple of snickers bars, a protein bar and a package of tuna)

3:40 - Clean my cookware and package it up. I then drag the Storm GT down to the river bank.

3:45 - Pack up my tent and do a final check of the camp to make sure I have all my trash out and haven't left anything behind. I then walk down to my boat and start packing.

3:50 - After packing(I will have another info sesh about this procedure), I put on my life jacket, do a quick tick/spider/other nasty buggers check, put on my spray skirt and shove off.

It is quite the procedure but it is amazing how much more efficient I get each day!

Well, that is all for now. I will hopefully have a chance to upload a bunch of photos when I get to Williston, but if not then, then Bismark.

I also wanted to say a thank you to my brother, who has been doing a very great job on the blog, and I am glad to hear how much everyone is enjoying it!


Day 13- Arrival at Fort Peck

Well I heard from Joe twice this afternoon on cell phone, in great spirits, after a day of paddling that began at 3 am. He started paddling early, real early, to beat the wind to the lake. He fared well until the last 7 mile stretch, where he hit a long headwind. Joe said his whole upper body was on fire finishing his day out, but was well worth it. He is taking a rest day tomorrow at Fort Peck and will be on his way down the Missouri afterward.

A view of Fort Peck Lake in the background with part of the dam in the foreground

Once in Fort Peck, Joe met up with a fellow paddler, Zane, along with his dog, Pickles. It turns out that Zane and Pickles are on the same journey as Joe, this actually being their second time. Zane started his journey in Fort Benton and is planned to finish in his hometown of New Orleans as well. Unfortunately Zane’s planned end date is in December so they won’t be able to see each other at the end, but that didn’t stop them from a little celebrating in Fort Peck. They went and got some midday celebration brews and went to the Interpretive Center in town, which features both local flora and fauna as well as a fossilized T. rex. After the “tame” tour of Fort Peck, they decided on shooting some of Zane’s firearms. Joe was able to try out his Derringer, a gun famous for its diminutive size.

After a great day in Fort Peck, Joe is now camping in an RV camp, which is providing both good food and showers. Tomorrow, Joe and Zane have planned a tour of Fort Peck Dam as well as supply up for the next leg of the Missouri. I will talk with Joe tomorrow afternoon, so I will be able to make an update on his goals and predictions for the upcoming leg on the Missouri.

Paddle on,

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Day 12 - on Fort Peck Lake


I spoke with Joe, again very briefly, yesterday afternoon. He was already in the tent, after an early morning of paddling, trying to take a little shelter before the afternoon thunderstorms rolled in. It was another shorter day mileage wise, as compared to before the lake, but still a decent one nonetheless, with 25 miles paddled. He said he was camped 2-3 miles away from the “F bouy” past the 9th ridge. I actually don't know where that is located on the map, but I believe it is where his last spot beacon update was sent from.

Today, Joe is trying to put himself in a position to be off the lake sometime tomorrow. He told me yesterday that he thought he could make it to the marina in a day and a half. The marina he is talking about, I believe, is located in the small town of Fort Peck. With not too much news from Joe, I thought this would be a good time to talk about the history of said town. Fort Peck was originally a boom town for the workers building the new dam in the 1930's. The dam itself is a product of FDR's new deal; it was an attempt to decrease unemployment while constructing a great public work. A copy of FDR's speech at the Fort Peck Dam site can be found here.

A photograph taken during the construction of Fort Peck Dam

Americans took pride in the construction of the dam, as it was depicted on the cover of Life Magazine on November 23, 1936 (photograph by Margaret Bourke-White).

Construction of the dam was not without mishap though. On September 22, 1938, a mistake in the elevation of pipeline caused a large scale slide of the dam. Over 5 million cubic yards of earth ended up sliding out in the Missouri, along with eight workers, who lost there lives that day. The complete story can be found here. More information on the dam can be found on wikipedia, as well as a privately maintained website.

I plan to catch up with Joe tonight, so if the spot beacon is being faulty, which was not the case yesterday, I will be able to make an update on Joe's location.

Paddle on,