Author Topic: A Bit about Montana Road-trips and Kayaking  (Read 1216 times)

DGSquared

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A Bit about Montana Road-trips and Kayaking
« on: February 25, 2021, 08:51:35 AM »
I took a two-week road trip to Montana with my dear friend and former flight-attendant classmate/roommate, Lori, and arrived at Lori's house in Columbia Falls, Montana on June 1st. I did not get back home until July 22. My husband was not thrilled about me being gone so long but I was afraid to fly because of COVID-19 and could not get an affordable car rental out until the end of June.

Lori put me up for almost two months. She left for three weeks, which was fine because she's a flight attendant based in Los Angeles and has two homes to maintain. She gets a clean house, cooking, gardening, and my delightful company out of the deal. I planted strawberries and a self-pollinating plum tree for her as a gift and symbol of our friendship before I returned home.

It was Heaven for me. 

I was home for five weeks before our yearly family camping, road-trip of which we did zero camping this year because every National and State Park was closed for camping. Lori insisted we stay at her place because she was going to Moab to jump out of an airplane on her 60th birthday. So, we drove back up with the family to stay a Lori's Montana home for two more weeks. We had a full-on grizzly encounter in Glacier, on the Hidden Lake Trail, but that is another story. 8-)

Indar stirred the memories and sent me to Tracy's Kayaking poem at The Tangled Branch, which triggered this.
 
I kayaked at least eight times while I was in Montana and I am hooked.

One of the highlights of my sojourn was the two-day 2020 Summer Solstice Float down the North Fork of the Flathead River from the Canadian border in Montana to Pole Bridge, Montana. It was my first real kayaking experience on rapids. I was in a self-bailing Ducky and had the most terrifying, exhilarating, beautiful experience in my life. Class I to Class III rapids, which is huge for me. I am a novice kayaker.

Two people died on that river the two months I was in Montana. In both cases - no life vests. Every year, they tell me, the river takes one or two stupid tourists who have no business on a river they do not respect.

My friends took me out and gave me specific rules to follow, always wear a life vest and shoes, keep the nose in front, tilt this way, not that, and what to look out for, like strainers. :o  There were other things too, like do not pass the lead raft. But those Duckies shoot through the water like bullets! So, on the second day, I had to dock with the lead boat until we all banked so the group could re-group. A small faux pas, but all was forgiven.  :-[ ;D

Those rivers are deadly, and we did not want anyone to die. So, I was very thankful to all the people who kept me alive and encouraged me on the river. There were only 5 kayakers, so we were sort of heralded as the brave souls. Unless they were pulling my leg about that too.  ???

Another unexpected treat were all the dogs in their doggie life vests floating on the front of some rafts like hood ornaments - kings of the river. The first time I saw a dog float past me on a pontoon raft, I was delighted. He looked so happy.

There were about 60-70 people on about 40+ rafts, skeeters, pontoon rafts, or whatever they're called. On the first day, we ate lunch on a cool sandbar. On the second day, we stopped in the most gorgeous area to eat lunch. Sadly, the Go-Pro with those pictures was lost to the middle fork of the Flathead by my husband when his kayak tipped while we were on the family vacation.

The Solstice Float was something special, even in COVID-19 days. People camped and stayed socially distant around the two bonfire nights. At 12:30 am the sun was just starting to sink behind the Flathead River like a dream.

I plan to make it a yearly pilgrimage.

Don't mind me, I got a little carried away. :D  8)   ;)


Cheers!
~Deb
« Last Edit: February 25, 2021, 10:54:09 PM by DGSquared »
"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." -Groucho Marx

A child’s life is like a piece of paper on which every passerby leaves a mark. -Chinese proverb

Blondesplosion! ~Deb

Gyppo

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Re: A Bit about Montana Road-trips and Kayaking
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2021, 03:21:52 PM »

My friends took me out and gave me specific rules to follow, always wear a life vest and shoes, keep the nose in front, tilt this way, not that, and what to look out for, like strainers. :o

What's a strainer, Deb?

I've only ever seen one dog with a life-jacket and he was on a narrow-boat passing along a canal.  Reared up at the bow like a little figurehead.  A serious and contemplative dog.  He didn't even bark at the quacking ducks ;-)

DGSquared

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Re: A Bit about Montana Road-trips and Kayaking
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2021, 10:42:00 PM »
Strainers are basically log-jams or obstructions in a river that act as a sieve or colander with spaces just big enough for water to rush through. They are deadly for water sports because, on a fast-flowing current, a kayak and its contents can easily be sucked under and trapped. A lot of people, even experienced kayakers are killed in strainers because the force of the water can pull you towards one and makes it impossible to pull yourself out or be pulled out of.

That's why it's important to stay behind the lead raft, or if you are the lead raft, to know the river. 

I doubt I will ever kayak on a river I don't know if I don't have another kayak to follow. Lazy rivers, I'm not too worried about but the swift currents and deep water rivers are to be navigated with caution.

I felt rather triumphant after my first couple of runs on slower waters but the Flathead is a roaring beast od melting snow in the spring and I felt like a conquered something by finishing that float.

I think it's funny that they call a rafting group a, "Float." I was anything but floating down that river. I was paddling and steering for my life.
"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." -Groucho Marx

A child’s life is like a piece of paper on which every passerby leaves a mark. -Chinese proverb

Blondesplosion! ~Deb

Gyppo

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Re: A Bit about Montana Road-trips and Kayaking
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2021, 06:36:29 AM »
Cheers, Deb.

I thought it might be something like that, but now I know.  It's good to be certain  ;-)

I see you flushed Mrs N from her hiding place in the undergrowth ;-)

Gyppo

DGSquared

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Re: A Bit about Montana Road-trips and Kayaking
« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2021, 07:47:55 AM »
I guess so.  :)

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." -Groucho Marx

A child’s life is like a piece of paper on which every passerby leaves a mark. -Chinese proverb

Blondesplosion! ~Deb

Jo Bannister

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Re: A Bit about Montana Road-trips and Kayaking
« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2021, 09:46:16 AM »
I've never kayaked on a river.  We lived close to the sea at one point, and I used to wheel my kayak down to the beach.  No strainers, but the waves could get a bit out of hand and there were seals and the occasional basking shark to negotiate.

Spell Chick

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Re: A Bit about Montana Road-trips and Kayaking
« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2021, 03:11:30 PM »
The last Kayak trip we took was in an estuary area and I was okay with the dolphins over there. But when they were over here, they were huge and stopped being the beautiful and graceful beasts they are, when over there, and became terrifying and massive.

But they were just saying hello and then went on their merry ways.
Imperfect Reason My thoughts, such as they are.

DGSquared

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Re: A Bit about Montana Road-trips and Kayaking
« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2021, 09:12:10 AM »
I've never kayaked on a river.  We lived close to the sea at one point, and I used to wheel my kayak down to the beach.  No strainers, but the waves could get a bit out of hand and there were seals and the occasional basking shark to negotiate.
On all but the two-day Solstice Float, I kayaked in hard-sided, ocean kayaks but I don't think I'd want to take on a breaking wave in one of them. Although, I would totally surf a big wave in.

I'll bet your ocean kayaking was gratifying. It sounds that way. You can't really go wrong with sea life, except for jellyfish, rockfish, great whites, leopard seals, or orcas, but you'd need to be touching the water to worry too much about those.

One of my friends, the only one in an ocean kayak, flipped his kayak twice on day one of the Solstice Float. He's an experienced kayaker. He didn't kayak with us on day two, but he met us in Pole Bridge with a fabulous meal and strawberry pies. That's my BFF, former classmate/roommate, Quiggs.
"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." -Groucho Marx

A child’s life is like a piece of paper on which every passerby leaves a mark. -Chinese proverb

Blondesplosion! ~Deb

DGSquared

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Re: A Bit about Montana Road-trips and Kayaking
« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2021, 09:19:22 AM »
The last Kayak trip we took was in an estuary area and I was okay with the dolphins over there. But when they were over here, they were huge and stopped being the beautiful and graceful beasts they are, when over there, and became terrifying and massive.

But they were just saying hello and then went on their merry ways.

Yes, dolphins can be aggressive and intimidating.

When I was 18, my mom lived in Hawaii. She became friends with some locals who took us on a hand-paddled catamaran to see humpback whales. It was incredible! I've been on four whale-watching tours but none was like this one. I could have reached out and touched a humpback. I know animal rights people might raise Hell but it was magical. They were curious about us and came right up next to the catamaran to actually look at us. It was as if we made friends.

Magical.

Wow. Looking back, and looking forward, life is such a gift.
"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." -Groucho Marx

A child’s life is like a piece of paper on which every passerby leaves a mark. -Chinese proverb

Blondesplosion! ~Deb

Gyppo

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Re: A Bit about Montana Road-trips and Kayaking
« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2021, 09:57:10 AM »
Close encounters with animals.  But totally the other way around.

I was wriggling up a low grassy bank, rifle flat across my arms on my way to getting a good shot at some rabbits in the field.  They were quite unconcerned so I must have been doing a good job of my stalking.

There was a sudden hash noise in front of me and there was a defiant and very angry little fawny-grey Stoat.  About twelve inches of furious defiance, tiny jet-black eyes blazing with outrage at my intrusion into his territory.

We stared at each other for a few seconds and then I wriggled backwards, slowly,  very much aware that I was in the presence of a real predator, not a part-timer like myself who had the option of buying meat in a shop.

He reared up on his back legs,  the cocky little victor in the stare-down stakes, and waited until I was about twelve feet away and coming back up onto my knees.  At which point he dismissed me from his mind and went back to his on undulating stalk.  Within a few feet he was lost in the grass.

That's the only time I've ever seen a live one at close range and at their level.  i can understand why rabbits sometimes freeze

Gyppo
« Last Edit: February 27, 2021, 10:01:37 AM by Gyppo »

DGSquared

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Re: A Bit about Montana Road-trips and Kayaking
« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2021, 10:07:15 AM »
Great story, Gyppo. I can just imagine. Your descriptions are always spot-on.

Animals are funny and apologize for nothing. I love animals.

I was with the family when we had a grizzly encounter on the Hidden Lake trail in Glacier Park in August 2020. I'm saving the telling until I can add both videos to the story. One is just a two-second video Dakota took as the bear passes by Dakota, Darren, and me.

 I'm trying to edit the sound out of Dillon's Boyfriend, Eli's, video because Dillon doesn't want the world to hear his panicked cursing as he watches the grizzly pass them and turn from the field into the trail on the horizon, around the corner from which Darren and I were about to come 'round. It's great footage.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2021, 10:09:03 AM by DGSquared »
"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." -Groucho Marx

A child’s life is like a piece of paper on which every passerby leaves a mark. -Chinese proverb

Blondesplosion! ~Deb