At the Source of the Missouri-Mississippi River System
// June 18th, 2012 // Uncategorized
I’m currently in the small town of West Yellowstone, Montana, located at the western gate to Yellowstone National Park. I’ve come here to replenish some supplies before launching my small inflatable boat on Hell Roaring Creek tomorrow morning. I’ll be far away from Internet service over the next week, so this will be my last update for awhile.
I hiked out to the source of the Missouri-Mississippi river system yesterday and although I was completely knackered by the end of the 15-mile hike (round trip), I’m happy to report that, despite several feet of snow still tightly packed on the gulley floor, I was able to fill a small vial with a sample from Brower’s Spring (elevation 8800 feet), the utmost source of North America’s longest river system.
The hike required six creek crossings (three in, three out), three of which were completed half-naked (from the waist down), a chilling experience in water that had been snow only minutes prior. Numb, bare feet on slimy rocks in rushing, thigh-high water only added to the challenge of kicking off this 3800-mile source to sea journey. Somehow it’s comforting to know that it’s all downhill from here. (I mean that in a positive sense!)
The next step will be to tackle the small creeks that flow into the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. These creeks are quick flowing at the moment and seem to be 2-3 feet deep. I figure it will take 8-9 days to paddle to Clark Canyon Reservoir where I will switch to the sea kayak. Two days after that I will reach the town of Dillon, Montana.
Today has been an extremely windy day, gusting and ceaseless. Wind will be a challenging factor on this entire expedition. Lake crossings on days like today will be true test of stamina, determination and sanity. There will be plenty of early morning paddling before the breeze kicks into high gear.