Upper Missouri NWSR Canoe Trip 2009


Day Nine

We woke up at our splendid campsite, well refreshed after a good night's sleep. We thoroughly enjoyed not being surrounded by other campers and decided to stick around for a while.
I walked upstream again and had a nice bath, and floated down to our campsite. The river had almost no current in this side of the bend, so you could float forever without being pulled downstream.
We made ourselves a treat, breakfast of powdered eggs, chili, Gouda, and crackers. Yum. Overhead, fighter jets were performing some type of exercise. We cheerfully broke camp and headed downriver once more. After stopping at a homestead, this one with a copy of the original patent, for pictures the wind picked up and we made headway only with difficulty. We became crabby and had a small paddling technique fallout.
After progressing only seven miles for the day, we noticed the canoe belonging to our friends with the ice as we pulled up on McGarry Bar to have a bite of lunch. We started snacking, and a waving figure soon appeared and urged us to stick around and come enjoy a cold drink, an offer which we accepted with a minimum of deliberation.
We walked downstream a few hundred feet to their camp, and enjoyed an icy Jack & Coke and a smoke. We reintroduced ourselves and started chatting. John & Paul mentioned that they had been rock hounding and asked us to help them retrieve two especially large specimens that they had identified and dug out with a penknife but had been unable to transport back to camp.
We had mentioned a spherical rock that formed part of the fire ring at our campsite the night before, and they showed us one they had collected and explained that they were collecting these near-spherical rocks for Paul's driveway. We agreed to assist in the retrieval of the other two, and talked a bit about where and how these guys lived. They had places about a mile apart but were each others' closest neighbors, and spoke of a life of self-sufficiency that sounded both alien and attractive to our urban ears.
After some time, Paul stood up and announced that it was time to go get the rocks. We got my pack out and grabbed another, and headed up the coulee behind the campsite. We found some interesting "dinosaur" bones that later turned out to have belonged to a cow, and soon came upon the smaller of the two rocks, which closely resembled a cannonball.
We continued up the coulee, by now much further from camp than we had expected, and presently saw the larger of the two. A white-seamed black volcanic thing twice the size of my head that must have weighed at least 110 lbs. After establishing that they were not kidding and actually intended to hump this thing back to camp and put it in the canoe, and realizing that the old guys would never let me hear the end of it if they were the ones to bring it down, we loaded me up with the giant rock in an old ALICE pack as it wouldn't fit in my 65l rucksack.
I had solemnly promised to curse them all the way down, and followed Paul down the coulee while unleashing a stream of invective regarding his ancestry, upbringing, and sexual proclivities. After shoving the smaller rock into my pack and loading it onto John's back, we continued down. I wondered all the way how I could possibly have been duped into doing something this retarded, and I wondered all the way when the straps on the old pack I was using were going to give out - I could hear stitches giving way.
I finally made it to the river and plopped the big rock down into the mud. Dad contributed to all this by documenting the affair, and by helping Paul get their canoe from camp and row it upstream to collect the rocks from the mouth of the coulee.
Once back in camp we had a dinner of Beef Baron sausages, washed down with silly quantities of Jack & Coke. As the evening wore on and the whiskey wore down, I regained my sense of humor about the whole rock situation and we shared a good laugh at the absurdity of it all. John and I managed to kill an entire magnum of Jack, and we finally stumbled off to our respective tents.

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Jacob Saunders