August    My stint on the Jefferson River was annoying, aggravating, 
    9-13:     and thankfully brief.  The water level was so low that I could
                   barely paddle most of it, the rocks so slippery that pulling 
                   my kayak was difficult, and on top of that the river reeks of
                   manure.  I came around one bend and was almost 
                   overpowered by the stench of several rotting pelican
                   carcasses on one bank, and a steer carcass on the other.
                   Could these be the remains of some epic avian-bovine 
                   conflict over water rights?
                                Richard's new friends...

                   I comfortably weathered a hail storm on the 10th - the first
                   rain I've had since my first four days in Montana, more
                   than a month ago.  No wonder the forest fires are 
                   proliferating.  The air quality ever since Helena has been 
                   poor.  The sky is always hazy with smoke, and at times the
                   visibility is less than 5 miles, making photography (at least
                   scenic vistas) impossible.
                   Despite the increasing presence of livestock feeding and
                   watering along the banks, I continue to see countless deer,
                   often in groups as large as six.  Beaver are prevalent, and
                   on the 11th a group of four otters playfully poked their 
                   heads up near my kayak.  Pelicans abound, and I see at
                   least one bald eagle each day.  On the 12th I saw a snake
                   swimming across the river just ahead of me.  It was either
                   a bull snake or a rattler, and I was disinclined to make a
                   closer inspection.  I have yet to see a rattlesnake, and I'm
                   happy to keep it that way.
                   A word of caution to anyone floating the Jefferson River:
                   beware of the guidebook Paddling Montana.  It is filled with
                   inaccurate maps, grossly miscalculated distances, 
                   unreported diversion dams and fences - in short, it is a font
                   of misinformation, not worth the paper it's printed on.

  August     On the Beaverhead River.
 14 - 16:     I had a wonderful stay at the Old Hotel in Twin Bridges,
                    and a thoroughly enjoyable dinner with Dolly and Allen
                    Carroll, who are helping me arrange a portage for my kayak
                    across Lemhi Pass while I hike that section of the route.
                    After a restful night I set out on the Beaverhead, the last
                    part of my upstream journey.  The distance from Twin 
                    Bridges to Clark Canyon Dam, the Beaverhead's headwater,
                    is about 40 miles, but the river is so serpentine that for me
                    the distance is closer to 90 miles.  Unlike the Jefferson, the
                    The Beaverhead has a steady flow of water (thanks to the
                    dam and fewer people using the river for irrigation), and
                    the river bottom is gravel and small stones, offering much
                    better footing than the Jefferson.  There are a few deep 
                    pools, but generally the river is no more than knee deep.
                    I spent the first half of the 14th paddling, but most of the
                    time after that I was pulling my kayak behind me, Lewis
                    and Clark style.  On a hot summer day, wading in the cool
                    water is refreshing, but I wouldn't want to do it in the spring
                    or fall.  If I had to start my journey trudging up the 
                    Beaverhead, I probably would have quit after 2 days, but
                    because this is my last stretch until the divide, my spirits 
                    are up.
                    The forest fires continue to blaze, filling the sky with smoke
                    and haze.  At times the smoke makes my eyes burn, and
                    one morning I awoke to find my tent covered with bits of 
                    ash.  I've seen several new species of wildlife: a couple of
                    coyotes stared at me from the banks (I've heard them 
                    before, but never seen them), I see mink scurrying about,
                    and the river seems to be a favorite for sandhill cranes.
                    I've also encountered swarms of mosquitoes for the first 
                    time, but 100% DEET seems to hold them at bay.  
                    On the 15th I camped on rangeland with a herd of cattle -
                    noisy, smelly, stupid beasts who annoyed me so much I 
                    had to throw things at them to drive them away.  I now
                    have a new slogan: "Eat beef.  Deplete the world's supply
                    of cattle."
                    Another word of caution to Beaverhead River travelers: 
                    there are a dozen diversion dams and as many fences 
                    across the river (one of them barbed wire, another 
                    electric).  Use Paddling Montana for kindling.

                    Click here for days 132 - 135 of Richard's journal