July          Ft. Benton to Great Falls.  I left Ft. Benton on Wednesday
26-30:      after a refreshing stay at the Grand Union Hotel, a wonderfully
                  restored 19th century grand hotel.  Russell Young saw me off,
                  and shot 3 rolls of film of me on the river.  Some of them
                  could be fantastic photos, and I hope we can get a couple on
                  the website.  
                  Iíve been a little frustrated with my progress going upstream. 
                  Since the midway point of the Wild and Scenic section (Judith
                  Landing), the river has flattened out somewhat, and I know
                  when Iím paddling Iím making good time.  The problem is that
                  there are rapids and shallows where I have to get out and
                  walk, and this slows me down.  Itís refreshing to be in the
                  water and the footing is generally good with little mud, but the
                  closer I get to the Rockies the faster I want to get there.  
                  I suffered my first real setback coming into Great Falls.  I had
                  planned to pull in at Belt Creek, below the dams, pull my
                  kayak up the creek to the nearest road (about 2 miles), and
                  portage it into Great Falls on its wheels (about 18 miles).  This
                  would approximate Lewis and Clarkís Great Falls portage.  But
                  when I got within eyeshot of Belt Creek I was stymied by a set
                  of rapids that I simply couldnít get around.  I climbed a nearby
                  bluff and saw a dirt track leading to the creek, and was
                  planning to get my wheels out and start my portage early
                  when some folks from the Museum of the Rockies who were
                  excavating a site nearby offered me a lift to their campsite on
                  the creek.  They gave me and my gear a ride the ľ mile to
                  Belt Creek, and I got things ready for my portage.  At their
                  campsite I noticed a dirt track heading up Belt Creek.  I asked
                  where it went, and discovered it led to the road I wanted, and
                  cut a mile or two off my portage route.  In my eagerness to
                  save time, and my fear of pulling my kayak up the apparently
                  rattlesnake-infested Belt Creek, I deviated from my plan, and
                  started hauling my boat up the dirt track.  I got about halfway
                  to the road when the axles on my wheels buckled, leaving me
                  high and dry in the middle of nowhere.  I had been hoping to
                  wheel my kayak triumphantly into Great Falls, but sadly I had
                  to accept the kind aid of the Museum folks, who drove me and
                  my gear into town.  There is now a 16 mile gap in my 
                  journey - or at least 16 miles I didnít complete on my own -
                  and I know itís going to haunt me for some time.

                                   A beautiful view.

July 31:    After 2200 miles of relentless current, the river finally gave me
                  a break today.  For the entire distance between Great Falls and
                  Ulm, more than 30 miles, the Missouri strolls along at no more
                  than 3 mph.  For me that was like paddling on a pond.  Along
                  the way I passed dozens of attractive homes on the
                  riverbanks, plus I saw more than a dozen eagles and even
                  more deer.  The water here is clear and cool, and at the end of
                  a hot day it felt good to sit in the river and let the water wash
                  over me.

August 1: An easy morning paddle, then things were back to normal
                  again by mid-afternoon, when the current picked up.  The last
                  few miles into Cascade were a struggle - for the first time
                  since Belt Creek I had to get out and pull my kayak.  I expect
                  to see more of this until I get to Holter Dam.

                    Click here for days 117 - 123 of Richard's journal