I arrived in Three Forks, MT a little before noon to meet the owner of a storage facility. Before the meeting, I scoped out the area to find the best way to get the canoe and all of the gear to the water. The Jefferson River runs just north of the storage facility, but with no public access until further downstream. The Madison River public access is two miles east of the facility. Both access points were similar distances. Do I drop the canoe and gear at one of the rivers, drive to the storage facility, leave the truck and walk the two miles, or is it best to unload at the storage facility and carry the gear the two miles. This was my dilemma.
When I met the owner of the facility, I was surprised when he said that his land was adjacent to the Jefferson and he would let me drop the canoe there and then give me a lift from the facility back to the water. That is exactly what we did, with only minor difficulty.
We drove to his back pasture as close to the water as possible before parking and unloading. The river was maybe 200 yards from where we parked; through thick, tall grasses, through a gate, and across a deep ditch. It took four trips to get everything to the river. I packed way too much stuff, probably not, but it seemed like so much more than I take on the bike.
I managed to paddle eight miles that day. I was on the river for about five hours, so you can do the math. I could have walked that distance in less time. I enjoyed the short time on the Jefferson. The water was only a foot or two deep and clear enough to see all the moss covered stones as I flew by. Along the edge of the river were large carp hiding in the shallow weeds.
I had a couple of hours of sunlight left and intended on going several more miles but the wind had other plans. It was blowing so strong that I couldn’t keep the boat straight in the water and eventually was unable to make forward progress, so I got out and walked. I stopped next to railroad tracks and found a flat place to set up camp. My tent was set up under a tall embankment which I hoped would buffer me from the noise of the trains that came by every two hours.
Dinner consisted of a Gatorade and a bag of vegetable korma. Should’ve known then something was off when I poured most of the dinner in the river. As I sat there adding foam cushioning to the seat I felt a wave of despair pour over my body like it was injected into my bloodstream. My thought was, “How can I feel low while listening to Harry Potter?”, so that is what I did until falling asleep.