Clark Fork River Float – July 2019

Tuesday July 23: Today is an adventure for me – a river float with all four of my daughters and some of their women friends. I prepared my daypack last night, so this morning I only have to make coffee and take care of a few last minute things. After saying good-bye to Clifford, I leave our campground here at the Bass Creek Recreation Area (Bitterroot Valley of western Montana) and pick up my daughter Ang on the way to Alberton, where we meet up with the others. We all pile into Becka’s truck, as she calls her carry-all, and head to the Petagonia Raft Tour office near Tarkio, west of Missoula.

The Clark Fork River in western Montana

We are given instructions, life-jackets, and have to sign a waver. There are sections of the Clark Fork River that are class II, III, and IV rapids, but our trip is designated as Wine & Cheese Float for Middle-age Women. I’m guessing it is going to be a pretty smooth ride, but in the interest of taking no chances, I leave my cell phone in the car.

Smooth sailing – photo by Becka

The river float is absolutely delightful, scenic, and the wine, cheese, and other snacks are perfect. I loved spending this time with my daughters and their friends. Our guide is a wonderful young woman, fit and tanned from her job as a river guide for the company that she owns. This float is on a gentle section of the Clark Fork River, but at one point we put on our life jackets and take a small course of rapids, getting a good splash all around. One of my daughters takes photos for me, since I left my cell behind, but as I see how gentle our float is, I realize I could have taken mine.

Floating the Clark Fork – photos by Becka

Our wine glasses are printed with the company logo and the words LEAVE BORING BEHIND, and that is what we did today. After our return to the Petagonia headquarters, we sit around chatting, as no one really wants to leave and go back to normal every-day life. It feels like we want to just stay in this place of fun and excitement, but eventually it is time to go.

A great day with my daughters

We make a couple of stops before Ang and I head back to her place. I am spending the night there in Terry, the 30-year-old travel trailer that we gave her when we bought our Cougar just a year ago. So Terry feels like home, because it was our home-on-the-road for several years. This was a very good day and I sleep well.

Utah Trip – Day 1 – September 2017

Friday September 1 – We finish packing the Suburban this morning for our rather impromptu trip to Utah. This is a business trip related to Clifford’s non-profit, Carnicom Institute. Since it is not meant to be a camping trip as such, we are not taking the camper; in fact, we are not even taking a tent. I have packed camping pads, sleeping bags, and pillows, a couple coolers, some canned and dried food, the picnic bag, and a bag of cooking gear – pans, spatula, and so on, and one suitcase of clothing. Hopefully it is enough.

It is a bit hazy from forest fire smoke as we leave Wallace, Idaho, about noon, but increasingly smokey as we head east. Smoke from the Lolo Peak fire in Montana nearly obliterates the mountains the closer we get to Missoula, but even beyond that, heavy smoke continues to dominate the landscape.

A bit hazy as we leave Wallace, Idaho, around noon

St. Regis River near St. Regis, Montana. Hazy mountains in the background

Mountain valleys are hazy as we head east

The smoke is heavier as we reach Alberton, Montana

The mountains near Missoula, Montana – smoke from the Lolo Peak fire

The Clarkfork River beyond Missoula; we have hopes of leaving smoke behind

But no such luck, as mountain valleys are deeply entrenched with smoke

Smoke continues to dominate the landscape as we head more southerly into the hill and butte country of southwest Montana

Southwest Montana

Southwest Montana

Approaching Divide, Montana

We arrive at the Divide Bridge Campground north of Dillon, Montana, in the early evening, happy to find that it has not been closed due to the fires. Although the sites by the river are taken, we consider ourselves to be very fortunate to get a nice spot on the Friday evening of Labor Day weekend. We unpack food and cooking utensils, making vege quesadillas for dinner. Then I make the back of the Suburban into a comfy bed, the coolers and such are loaded onto the front seats, and we are set for the night.

Campsite at Divide Bridge Campground

Bighole River, so much lower than when we were here in May, and all the snow is gone from the mountains and hills

Evening light reflecting off the river before sundown

We watch the sun go down, forest fire smoke coloring the sky.

Forest fire sky

We made 250 miles today, a good start on our journey.