Upper Missouri NWSR Canoe Trip 2009


Day Eleven

We woke up exhausted on the morning of our last day. Pooling our remaining ingredients with John & Paul's gave us a good breakfast, but packing up afterwards on the muddy bank, with the temperature rising, really took it out of us. Once we pushed off however, as usual, we felt much better. The rhythm of paddling, the cool river water, and simply being underway always boosted morale.
We stopped at what our guide book indicated was the ruins of a power plant, built near a seam of coal opened up to power a gold mine several dozen miles away. We couldn't identify any structure that appeared designed to, or solid enough to support a generator. The site consisted of a very nice cabin with a stone chimney innovatively suspended, and a collapsed shed. The cabin had remnants of newspaper used as wallpaper or insulation, with a date of August 3rd, 1915. Cool.
When we started paddling again we ran into a large group of young folks, so we decided to get off the river and let them pass, we didn't want to spend our last day in the company (or within earshot or even visual range) of others. We found a great spot with an earthen wall facing a clearing, clipped a target to the earth wall using a branch, and proceeded with some more fun with weapons. I had screwed up the scope's windage adjustment on the pellet gun and it was too breezy to try to readjust it, so we just had fun with the pistol and the 22.
After an hour and a half or so we got back on the river and headed for our take-out point. We finally saw some bighorn sheep! Dad spotted them even though they were the exact same color as the hill side. About an hour before reaching our final destination, a huge storm - with horizontal lightning and dark thunderheads - started brewing up behind us. We picked up the pace, and made it to James Kipp Recreation Area with no time to spare. Tony's truck was exactly where we expected it to be, and we loaded it up and climbed inside just as the first raindrops began to fall.
We had lucked out, within minutes we were engulfed in a deluge. We lucked out a second time too. After 20 or 30 miles (wow, cars are a LOT faster than canoes) we happened upon a little gas station and store: cold beer, Diet Cokes, cigarettes (I had run out two days earlier and had survived on four of John's smokes), Carmex, and Triscuits comprised the most exciting load of groceries I've ever bought. When I tried to go back in to buy another Coke they had locked the door behind us; apparently we had arrived there five minutes before closing. Impeccable timing once again.
John & Paul had invited us to stay with them so we headed to their place outside of Roundup, about 70 miles from the take-out. After seeing John's place, which includes a very nice auto & truck repair shop, hangar (that Paul built for John) with two aircraft, and a sawmill, and having a few beers and a hot shower, we headed up to Paul's place. He cleared a beautiful spot for himself along a ridgetop, and built all of the structures up there himself. Power is supplied by solar panels, and water comes from a large tank that gets filled once a year. A wonderful place to live off the grid, and a stunning view of the surrounding countryside.
After the grand tour and freshening up we headed to Tracey's Mecca, a local bar now run by Tracey's grandson after she singlehandedly ran the place for 56 years. We enjoyed copious quantities of beer, and some delicious (free!) pot luck as well as a pickled pig's foot which I ate on a dare and is one of the most disgusting things I've ever eaten. That night I stayed at John's place and dad stayed at Paul's. Six solid hours in a real bed felt absolutely incredible!

Jacob Saunders | Create Your Badge
Jacob Saunders