Finally did the trip I'd dreamt about for a long time. I added a few photos of the kayak I built for the trip, designed by Bedard Yacht Design out of Florida.
The trip spanned 5 days and 150 miles. Launched at 3pm on the 1st and took out at 3pm on the 5th.
I made really good time. I could have taken a couple more days if I'd wanted but 5 days was good for this trip.
No Mosquitoes! Don't know how that happened but that was my biggest fear going in. I cringed at the thought of mosquito swarms harassing me for 150 miles but I don't even think I saw a total of 10 for the whole trip. I think the heavy rains earlier in the season may have upset the breeding cycles for them.
85F degrees every day. Down to maybe 60-65 at night. Had a little rain the first night and then clear for the rest of the trip.
I took a Garmin InReach Explorer+ so I could contact my wife for the occasional location update and to let her know when to contact my sister to pick me up at the end.
On the second day I refilled one of my water jugs at Coal Banks. That water tasted terrible and had a definite yellow color to it. A couple days later some folks from Red Lodge gave me their extra water. They said Judith Landing ran out of water. The well went dry I suppose. The water they gave me wasn't any better than Coal Banks. Moral of the story: Take enough water from the start to last the whole trip.
There were some minor "rapids" at times on the river. Nothing to really worry about as long as you have a life jacket. Those were the only times I wore mine. And for the first couple times I jumped into the water.
I would probe the depth with my paddle to make sure it was deep enough to jump in, bungee the paddle to the side, then stand up on my kayak and hop off the side, surface quickly and grab my kayak before it could drift away very far. Before I left home I took my kayak out an practiced getting back into it in case I tipped it over, just in case.
It's hard to describe how wonderful this trip was. Many times I found myself smiling just because I was there in the middle of this river surrounded by beautiful scenery, history, nature, geology...and the peacefulness at the end of the day, sitting in my backpacking chair sipping coffee and enjoying the stillness of the evening.
I would encourage anyone who has though about doing this trip to just do it. You won't regret it.
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