Odyssey 2004 Journal Entries

Thursday–May 13, 2004
Trail Day–1
Trail Mile–21
Location–Lewis and Clark Memorial, Hartford/Wood River, Illinois

What a fitting place to begin a journey west — Gateway Arch — to all in America, the symbol of westward expansion. Rising from the riverfront in St. Louis it looms majestic for miles, presenting such a striking and powerful presence.
Two centuries ago tomorrow, the men that set others dreaming about such expansion departed from Wood River, at the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers just a short distance from here. Up the Missouri River they struggled, over the rugged Bitterroots and down the Columbia River — and into history.
Those men were Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, charged by President Jefferson with the task of searching for and finding the Northwest Passage, a route to the Pacific, thought by Jefferson and many others to surely exist.
Today, this very moment, I depart on my own quest in search for that elusive passage. With me, for a couple of days, and continuing his world wanderings by biking o’er the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, will be Jim Dragon’s Breath Damico.
At the Museum of Westward Expansion, Jim snaps my picture with Thomas Jefferson, William Clark and Meriwether Lewis, and we’re on our way.
Most of the trek today is along bike paths. First, the North Riverfront Trail, then the Great River Road Bikeway, which leads past the Lewis and Clark Memorial, all the way to Alton.
We head out in a drizzle, which continues as we pass Clark’s grave in Bellefontaine Cemetery. On the way to the old US66 Chain of Rocks Bridge, which takes us into Illinois, the heavens open and the deluge begins.
Our destination today is the Memorial. I’m tired, but I’m in by seven-thirty.

The object of your mission is to explore the Missouri River…as, by its course and communication with the waters of the Pacific Ocean, whether the Columbia…or any other river, may offer the most direct and practicable water-communication across the continent… [Thomas Jefferson]
Friday–May 14, 2004
Trail Day–2
Trail Mile–22/43
Location–Mechen Road, Katy Trail, Mechen, Missouri

It’s pouring down rain. All events at the Lewis and Clark Memorial and Interpretive Center have been canceled. I head out alone in the cold wind and rain, down the road to the Lewis and Clark State Historic Site at the banks of the Mississippi, directly across from the mouth of the Missouri River. Eleven columns were placed here, each representing one of the states through which the Corps of Discovery passed. But alas, arriving, I find no columns. Since reading about them, all have been swept away by the flooding waters of the mighty rivers. It is amazing there is no one else about on this day, such an historic day, for today represents the 200th anniversary — 200 years to the day the Corps of Discovery began their journey up the Missouri. A small pedestal facing toward the mouth of the Missouri suggests I try imagining that dreary, rainy day when the Corps departed. Ahh yes, imagine indeed!
The hike today takes me across Clark Memorial Bridge, which leads from Alton Illinois to West Alton Missouri. Near the bridge, I stop at #26 Lock and Dam, the US Army Corps of Engineers building, to view more beautiful Lewis and Clark exhibits. After another deluge in the afternoon, the rain finally relents as I approach the bridge. The West Alton Trail, which runs for over two miles is mush.
Jim has opted to go on up the river on the Illinois side and take the ferry across, a much better choice for biking. We’ll get together again this evening in St. Charles.
This has been a long, hard day. I think my legs are going to come back. A few more days should tell.

Rained the fore part of the day…I Set out at 4 oClock P.M, in the presence of many of the neighbouring inhabitents…a heavy rain this after-noon. [William Clark, Wood River, May 14, 1804]
Saturday–May 15, 2004
Trail Day–3
Trail Mile–12/55
Location–Frontier Park, Katy Trail, St. Charles, Missouri

Jim can cover sixty miles a day easily on his bike; I must hammer hard to do much over twenty. He’s been slow-pedaling, lolling with me, patient to a fault; but it’s time for him to move on. So this morning, after he promises to run point and scout ahead for me as he pedals up the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, we bid farewell.
The sun is back, the makings for a great day, and I’m out with the least limp. This will be a short day along the northern/eastern extent of the Katy Trail, which is now under construction. More mush, but great views across the wide Missouri from the high ground that is the trail. I see mallards, geese and turkey.
There is much revelry and celebrating in St. Charles in commemoration of the Corps passing. I arrive before two.

at 9 oClock Set out and proceeded on 9 miles…saw a number of Goslings to day on the Shore…a fair afternoon. [Clark, May 15, 1804]
Sunday–May 16, 2004
Trail Day–4
Trail Mile–21/76
Location–Katy Trail, Defiance, Missouri

It was just too confusing to me, too hectic in St. Charles, so I hiked a little further on. I should have known or at least suspected. Wall-to-wall people. At the bronze twice lifesize Lewis and Clark memorial, kids were jumping on Seaman’s head (Clark’s Newfoundland dog) and swinging from Lewis’ arm.
This morning it’s different, Sunday morning at seven forty-five. No one’s around except the grounds keeper — and Lewis and Clark, and Seaman. I get my picture with the three of them.
I’m out to another beautiful, blue-clear day as I head on up the Katy Trail. Lots of folks enjoying the trail, especially families with kids. I hug the right grassy edge to keep out of their way.
There are many beautiful wildflowers along today; I count over twenty species, many very small and delicate. I see a large graceful fox, many turtles, all kinds of waterfowl — and peacocks in a pen. The river is rolling.
Folks have commented that the Corps of Discovery was a journey mostly by water; so the question continually comes: why are you hiking? Well, so it seems, Lewis was much more the hiker than a boatman and spent the better part of the day on the lands along the river — me too!
My legs are a little stiff but they finally loosen up. I’m into Defiance by three-thirty.

Lewis preferred the freedom and solitude of the river banks and was the better hunter and naturalist. [Paul Russell Cutright, Lewis & Clark: Pioneering Naturalists]
Monday–May 17, 2004
Trail Day–5
Trail Mile–19/95
Location–Loretta’s Place, Katy Trail, Marthasville, Missouri

Another cool, clear day beside the Missouri, along the Katy Trail. More turkey and geese. And today I see three goslings, just like Clark described, one of the few things still the same after 200 years.
The river has changed. Oh yes, it’s changed; in some places the river’s moved as much as three miles from its location 200 years ago. The countryside all around, that’s changed completely, too. Yet, here today, do I see these tiny helpless creatures — as did William Clark.
Today I pass the Corps May 23rd and 24th 1804 campsites to end the day by their May 25th site at Marthasville. At this point in the journey the Corps passed the last white settlement. From here to the Pacific and back they saw only Indian villages. Cities such as Kansas City, Omaha, Portland, all the grand cities of the west we know today, none existed. There were no states west of the Mississippi in 1804.

Camped at the mouth of a Creek called River a Chouritte [La Charrette], above a Small french Village of 7 houses…[Clark]
Tuesday–May 18, 2004
Trail Day–6
Trail Mile–24/119
Location–Katy Trail, McKittrick, Missouri

It’s easy enough to understand why I’m making better headway than the Corps did. I’ve a casual walk along, the least weight on my back, following a perfectly smooth, level path — no need to haul a 55 foot keelboat loaded with thirty tons of provisions upriver against a 5-7 mile-per-hour current! On the 24th, Clark wrote: The Swiftness of the Current Wheeled the boat, Broke our Toe rope, and was nearly over Setting the boat.
Just back a ways I passed Femme Osage Creek. Hereabouts was the home of the legendary frontiersman, Daniel Boone. Whether Lewis and Clark or any of the Corps ever met Boone is not known. However, one fact is known: those brave souls leading our nations quest to press ever westward toward the horizon, those with that insatiable, fire-in-the-gut thirst for adventure, on May 25th, 1804 that torch changed hands forever.

Great as were the material obstacles in the path of the United States, the greatest obstacle of all was in the human mind. [Henry Adams]
Wednesday–May 19, 2004
Trail Day–7
Trail Mile–21/140
Location–Katy Trail, Steedman, Missouri

During the first number of days upriver, some of the most difficult, the Corps managed only 12 to 14 miles per day. Shaking everything down, getting into some semblance of routine took time. Aside from all the menial tasks, there was the need to hunt for fresh meat. Each man was consuming as much as eight pounds of fat meat per day. The river was running fast from spring runoff; pushing against it constantly proved physical to say the least, a seemingly impossible task, but they were a tough lot. Lewis and Clark chose only the very best men. They had chosen well.
This morning, and across the river, I pass one of the first large tributaries to the Missouri, the Gasconade. One of the orders given by President Jefferson was for Lewis and Clark to accurately fix the location of major geographic sites. On May 28th, Clark wrote: I measured the river and found the Gasconnade to be 157 yards wide and 19 foot deep.
I am hiking well today, so thankful for my good health and stamina. When the Corps passed where I am passing now, Clark became ill. He wrote that he suffered from …a verry Sore Throat and am Tormented with Musquetors and Small ticks.
There’s a neat bar and grill in Portland. I was much looking forward to stopping in, but alas, today they’re closed.
A large fox crosses the trail ahead of me in the afternoon. Many squirrel and rabbit today. The geese are nesting on the cliff ledges all along. When mom nudges these little guys from their nest, they’ve got one shot at flying.
Steedman makes up for the Portland grill being closed. I’m in early at the SOB (Steedman’s Only Bar!)
Thursday–May 20, 2004
Trail Day–8
Trail Mile–22/162
Location–Katy Trail, North Jefferson, Missouri

Today, as I pass, another major river enters from the far bank, the Osage. In the past two hundred years the mouth of this river has moved over three miles downstream. From a point of rock high above, Clark was able to view both the Missouri and the Osage. Now there is but a long peninsula — and dry land below. Earlier this year I managed to scale the bluff to that very point, there to try visualizing the scene described by Clark. It is said that men from the Corps carved their initials in the rock, but the wind, rain, ice and sun have worked relentlessly. I saw only faint etchings.
There are few travelers on the Katy Trail today. One is Jim Fogle, biking his way to Ft. Clatsop on the Pacific.

The party is much afflicted with Boils and Several have the Decissentary, which I contribute to the water which is muddy…Some with eight or ten of these Tumers. [Clark]
Friday–May 21, 2004
Trail Day–9
Trail Mile–20/182
Location–Katy Trail, Easley (Cooper’s Landing) Missouri

The view of the Missouri Capitol across the wide, rolling river is striking. Atop a grand bluff, it stands on the horizon, commanding the lands about for many a mile. So much has changed since the Corps passed here 200 years ago, so much.
Along this section of the river, Lewis made plant and animal discoveries. Clark wrote: Several rats of Considerable Size was Caught in the woods to day. Capt. Lewis went out to the woods and found many curious Plants & Srubs…
Spaghetti dinner at Cooper’s, and a fine evening fire attended by many out for the annual river cleanup tomorrow.

Lewis, who had learned the rudiments of herbal healing from his mother, lanced the boils and applied a mixture of elm bark and cornmeal to the sores. Following Dr. Benjamin Rush’s instructions, he bled his patients frequently. And he freely dispensed some of the six hundred pills the doctor had sold him: laxatives so powerful that the men called them Rush’s Thunderbolts. [Dayton Duncan, Out West]
Saturday–May 22, 2004
Trail Day–10
Trail Mile–17/199
Location–Katy Trail, Rocheport, Missouri

The river swings a wide, serpentine path from bluff to bluff across its floodplane, a width, generally of some two to three miles. At times it meanders along the far bluff. Today it spends considerable time right here next the old railgrade. The river is up, just as it was when the Corps ascended 200 years ago. The turbulence, the speed at which whole trees are swept along is dizzying. It’s hard to even imagine how the men were able to make any headway at all. Along this bank a major mishap occurred. The mast of the keelboat became entangled in the branches of an overhanging sycamore and snapped in two. An elementary mistake this was not. Sgt. Ordway was at the helm. To avoid the swiftest of the rushing current necessitated steering near the riverbank. To stray away spelled certain disaster, especially if the boat became forced broadside into the current, so to have prevented the mast from becoming entangled would certainly have presented even greater danger.
Today I pass Clark’s Cave where faint petroglyphs can still be seen.
It is my pleasure to have the company of Josh, grandson of my lifelong pal, Donnie. Josh is working to earn his merit badge for hiking, toward becoming Eagle Scout. He’s done over 50 miles with me these last three days. Today I also have the pleasure of the company of three of the Amos sisters, Lylis, Dwinda and Linda.
It’s been one fine hiking day!

…..our mast broke by my Stearing the Boat near the Shore the Rope or Stay to the mast got fast in a limb of a Secamore tree & it broke verry Easy… [Sgt. Ordway]
Sunday–May 23, 2004
Trail Day–11
Trail Mile–11/210
Location–Katy Trail, Franklin, Missouri

This will be my last day on the Katy Trail. Can’t say I’ll miss it. But on the other hand, considering what lies ahead — the long roadwalk clear to the Pacific, these eighteen-wheeler-free days will, no doubt, be long remembered.
After experiencing all the tunnels I passed through during my 2002 transcontinental trek, I gave little thought to the one on today’s hike. It’s right out of Rocheport, and it’s a dandy! Indeed, this entire eastern section of the Katy Trail, the near 200 miles I’ve hiked these past nine days, is dandy. The only problem: this sort of treadway is just better suited for biking than it is for hiking.
The river’s moved back over to the far bluff again, leaving behind rich bottomlands turning green with corn. The old railbed continues hugging the near bluff, which is literally filled with caves. I quit counting after ten. Clark commented about the numerous black bear his hunting parties had taken along this stretch of the river. No wonder; if all of these caves were bear dens, then it’s easy to see why this was great bear country! He also commented about the beauty all about.
At a little past one, Josh and I reach the Franklin trailhead, right next the river bridge to Boonville, the beginning of the Santa Fe Trail. Here I bid Josh farewell. It’s been a joy hiking with you, son. You’ve got your twenty-miler and your five ten-milers all done now; another scout merit badge completed as you continue progressing toward becoming Eagle Scout. We did all these seventy-plus miles together — and I’d just like to say that it gives me a feeling of pride to have been along. Just as your grandfather and I’ve been lifelong friends, I know that we, too, are now bonded in friendship.
Today I bring closure to my hike along the old Santa Fe Trail. During my 2002 transcontinental trek, and as part of that journey, I followed the Santa Fe Trail, through Missouri, Kansas, the Oklahoma Panhandle, and New Mexico, all the way to the Plaza at the Palace of Governors in Santa Fe. Problem was: I picked up the trail at Arrow Rock, not in Franklin. The Santa Fe Trail began in Franklin Missouri, not across the river in Arrow Rock. So today, I hike those first beginning miles along the old Santa Fe Trail — out of Franklin.

The Countrey about this place is butifull on the river rich & well timbered on the S. S. about two miles back a Prarie coms which is rich and interspursed with groves of timber, the count[r]y rises at 7 or 8 miles Still further back and is rolling. on the L. S. the high lands & Prarie coms. in the bank of the river and continus back, well watered and abounds in Deer Elk & Bear. [Clark]
Monday–May 24, 2004
Trail Day–12
Trail Mile–20/230
Location–SR87, Glasgow, Missouri

The roadwalk begins. Lots of winding and climbing, traffic whizzing. Gotta get into the road mode.
First little town along is Boonesboro; a little crossroads with a mom-n-pop store right at the crossing. In I go for sausage biscuits and eggs. These old general stores are so neat. This one’s got everything from PVC pipe to peanuts, coffee to crowbars. The health department’s been by. They’ve put a notice on the bathroom wall instructing us on how to properly wash our hands. Six steps are listed. The first directs us to turn the water on, the last, to turn it off. The other four are even more helpful. Ahh, how would we ever make it on our own, how, indeed!
Although I’m up in the hills now, dodging oncoming traffic at every dip and bend, I have a much easier go of it today than the Corps had down below on the river 200 years ago.
Working their way upstream against strong current the boat struck a snag, turning it sideways, causing a

…disagreeable and Dangerous Situation, particularly as immense large trees were Drifting down and we lay imeditely in their Course. [Clark]
Tuesday–May 25, 2004
Trail Day–13
Trail Mile–27/257
Location–US24, Brunswick, Missouri

What a great time in Glasgow; neat trail town, right on the river. Lots of history. Kit Carson was born near here. Cantrell and his raiders came through. Legend has it that the Glasgow sheriff put out a reward for Cantrell. When Cantrell found out, he and his boys beat it back to town and collected the reward themselves!
New owner at The Keg. It’s now Pappy’s Keg. Nice old fellow, Pappy. Ditto for waitress Rhonda, and locals, Steve and Woody. Great subs; cold beer. Yeah, neat little trail town, Glasgow!
More and more, when I leave the river and venture beyond, the hills are taking on the appearance of the plains. The Ozark Highlands, my home, are now behind. The river — and me, we’ll keep on climbing, deep into the Bitterroots.
I’ve decided to take a shortcut to Brunswick, a zigzag of gravel roads to Price Bridge to cross the Chariton River, then onto the railroad grade through Dalton to US24 just east of Brunswick. This’ll save five or six miles and make the distance a manageable 27. I do fine until I hit the gravel. A nice lady by a farm, Lanie, she gets me going right again. “Look for indigo bunting around the corner. We always see them around the corner.” she said, pointing the way. Yup, indigo bunting, just around the corner. Two train tracks. Lots of trains running. I just switch tracks and wave when they go by. I’m in town by four.
On June 8th, 1804, the party met fur trappers coming downriver near present day Brunswick. Among them was Pierre Dorion, Sr., who knew Clark’s older brother, George Rogers Clark, a revolutionary war hero. Dorion agreed to travel back upriver to the Yankton village and act as interpreter. The most feared of the Indians were the Sioux, and to be able to converse with them was of great benefit.
Wednesday–May 26, 2004
Trail Day–14
Trail Mile–22/279
Location–US24, Carrollton, Missouri

A beautiful night, last, calm and warm, not a cloud anywhere. I pitched my little Nomad without the fly and rolled in. While working my journal entries, and thinking back, came to mind the last time I pitched without my fly. It rained during the night and I got soaked. So thinking better, and before nodding off, I rigged my tent fly. Right decision; during the night came this storm, buckets of rain.
This morning, the storm has moved on east. It’s cool and clear. Perfect hiking day. I’ve got a 22 to knock out along US24 into Carrollton. I’m in by one-thirty. This is my first maildrop, and my bounce box is right here waiting. Good meal at the little mom-n-pop right on the square — and the library’s open.
Thursday–May 27, 2004
Trail Day–15
Trail Mile–23/302
Location–SR10, Hardin, Missouri

Hard rain on my tent shakes me before six. By seven, the day turns fair. I break camp and am out to another glorious Missouri morning. Both Lewis and Clark spoke of the beauty of Missouri and of days like these now, except back then there was no place called Missouri; then, Missouri was only a small part of the greater Louisiana Territory. What folks of that time called “The Territory” exists now as many mid-western and western states. Obviously unknown to the Corps at the time, they ventured through eleven states on their journey to the Pacific Ocean and back.
First stop this morning is at Casey’s, a local convenience store in Norborne. While motorists are gassing up, I get my tank topped off with an egg and cheese biscuit. And to wash it down, two pints of whole milk, compliments of Kevin and Gerry, delivery men for Anderson Erickson Dairy. Happy milkmen, they. Thanks, fellows!
We never speak of the men of the Corps of Discovery as pioneers, or trailblazers, or even frontiersmen, but in the traditional and truest sense, they were all of these — and more. While fulfilling Jefferson’s mandates, they served not only as brave soldiers, boatmen, naturalists, cartographers, but also, statesmen of the highest order.
Others soon followed their path, along the Oregon Trail, the California Trail, and the most famous of all, the Santa Fe Trail. We think of the events of westward expansion happening during a time long, long ago, no more than shadowy, past moments in history, events to memorize for exams, then forget. I’ve found my link to all of this through my mother and father. These times are alive in me, right now, today. For, my mother was alive then, though merely an infant, when the last wagon train lumbered west, to cross over South Pass in 1912 — and into history. I recall my father oft showing me an old stone hitching post once used along the Overland Trail/Pony Express route that passed through our little village in the Ozark Highlands of Missouri.
Across the river just south of me, where I’m passing now, are the remnants of the old Santa Fe Trail, ruts in the sod that have survived the ravages of time, testimony to those brave, courageous souls that followed the Corps of Discovery — to open the West. Along the trace of that old historic trail did I struggle my way during “Odyssey 2002, From Sea to Shining Sea.” I have, and am blazing my own trail west, bound on my own “Journey of Discovery;” my quest separated from theirs — only by time.

There is no land discovered
That can’t be found anew.
So journey on intrepid,
Into the hazy blue.

And as you seek your fortune,
And near your lifelong quest,
There’ll still be countless peaks to climb
Before your final rest.
[N. Nomad]

Friday–May 28, 2004
Trail Day–16
Trail Mile–24/326
Location–SR210, Excelsior Springs Junction, Missouri

Seems there’s at least a gallon of water on my little tent, from the overnight dew. Having a detachable fly makes it easy to shake most of it, but I can certainly feel the extra weight as I shoulder my pack. In awhile the sun warms the morning, so I stop and drape everything over a fence, including my soggy down bag. In no time everything’s fresh and dry.
Folks, there’s been something nagging at me for over two weeks now — stuck in my craw — time to get it out. It has to do with the treatment dished out to another intrepid who’s on the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.
This year there are may folks taking this journey. Most are using some form of mechanized transportation. As I hiked out of St. Charles, an absolute train of rolling palaces whizzed by me, their little cabooses tagging along. There are at least three fellows I know of that are biking the trail. Two other friends are canoeing down from Three Forks. There’s the celebrated modern-day Corps of Discovery with their keelboat and pirogues. And then there’s Neil Rosenblad, who’s kayaking the Lewis and Clark – up river.
If you recall, I departed the memorial at the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers on the morning of May 14th, 200 years to the day the Corps began their expedition. It was a miserably cold, rainy morning. I had the place entirely to myself. No one else was about. Had I waited until four that afternoon, the story would have been different, as four o’clock was the exact hour the Corps departed on that cold, rainy day in 1804.
So what’s the rub? Well, seems Neil wanted to depart at four o’clock from the memorial, but so did the modern-day Corps, atop their boats, all decked out in parade dress, feather plumed hats and all. So something had to give. And what gave was Neil, who was told he had to depart an hour earlier, and for security reasons, I believe was the excuse given, from another place. When I heard about this, it really irked me. Folks, I’ve never met Neil Rosenblad; I don’t know the man. But I still haven’t gotten over this after two weeks. I’m still mad. More tomorrow.
Saturday–May 29, 2004
Trail Day–17
Trail Mile–21/347
Location–NW Barry Road, Barry, Missouri

What a joy to be on this journey, reliving history in such a physical, down-to-earth way. What an exciting time to be following the paths of men (and one woman and one child) who changed America forever. Indeed, “There is no land discovered that can’t be found anew.” The Corps of Discovery remained undaunted in their quest to discover the Northwest Passage. I, too, am searching!
The Corps of Discovery ascended the mighty Missouri under their own power, polling, rowing, and dragging their boats, loaded to the gunwales with food, gear and other essentials. Mine is an easy task by comparison. I’m making much better time. It’s hard to believe, though, as the autos, motorhomes and bicycles whiz by, that there’s someone on this journey that’s progressing at a slower rate than the old Nomad, but it is true. Neil, in his kayak, is lucky to make twelve, perhaps fourteen miles a day. Just keeping up with the Corps from day to day is a challenge for him as he fights the current and dodges the steady stream of flotilla coming at him from upriver. I recall sitting on the bank of the wide Missouri, along the Katy Trail, near where the keelboat’s mast struck that sycamore, watching whole trees being swept along at such alarming speed, wondering in amazement how anyone could possibly make any headway against such unrelenting force.
Coming north along the Mississippi from the Lewis and Clark Memorial, and from the bikeway at Wood River Creek, I looked down from the bridge there to see a white pirogue moored below. Two gentlemen in colorful, formal expedition era garb, members of the modern-day Corps no doubt, were busying themselves in preparation for departure upriver. I stopped to meet and encourage them, but they were too preoccupied with their tasks of greater importance to have any time for me. While there, however, I did take a good look at their boat. It certainly appeared authentic enough, but a fairly large hump in the bilge, a stowage compartment I suppose we’re to believe it be, gave away the boat’s true identity — a motorboat, not a rowboat!
America loves pageantry, the colorful pomp and circumstance of grand, historic celebrations. And, so, this pirogue, and no doubt the keelboat and the other pirogue, will progress upriver, undoubtedly under full power, as Lewis and Clark and the Corps of today stand in full parade dress, to be greeted by cannon and musket fire, signaling and saluting their arrival at each succeeding, celebrated reenactment.
This is all fine, a way for families with children to take part in the 200th anniversary of such an important event in American history. But I (and my trudging) am not about such grand celebrating, and neither, I doubt, in his struggle upriver, is kayaker Neil. What we are about (by paying our dues, hopefully) is to learn and know the hearts and minds of Lewis and Clark and the Corps of men. In attempting to break that barrier of time, the 200 years separating us, we seek to become part of the daily struggle that so identified that remarkable adventure, the Corps of Discovery. Ours is about the daily grit and grind of it, the toil and tribulation that comes only with the constant task of facing the unknown. We are about dealing with those challenges, hopefully undaunted, as were they.
I am blessed, as no doubt were all the Corps, to have the Angels of Goodness and Mercy astride my shoulders. Be they with you also, Neil. I look with great anticipation to the day we meet, perhaps at Three Forks before ascending the Bitterroots.
Shut those engines down fellows. Get out of your neatly pressed officer’s uniforms. Remove your feather-plumed hats. Stow it all. Get into your Corps work clothes; pick up the oars and poles. Man the gunwales and put your backs to the task for just one mile of it.
Although you were not permitted to depart from the Memorial at four o’clock on the 14th, Neil — yours is a much more noble quest. There, I feel better now!

So stand ye true helmsmen, set wind to your sail,
Outbound on a journey anew.
And test your true mettle and fearing to fail,
And quit dreaming the doing…and do!
[N. Nomad]

Sunday–May 30, 2004
Trail Day–18
Trail Mile–21/368
Location–SR45, Beverly, Missouri

Yesterday, at day’s end, what a joy to be greeted by dear friend, Dwinda, and just as during Odyssey 2002, to be collected up and whisked away to spend the evening at her daughter’s home in Olathe Kansas, only a short distance across the river. Thanks, Mark, Julie, Jennifer and Jamie; I had a great time!
Dwinda has me right back this morning and I’m out to a cool, clear day as I roll up and down and zigzag along country backroads toward the river. I’ve got Kansas City behind me now.
Above the mouth of the Kansas River, the wide Missouri isn’t so wide anymore, as the Kansas is also a mighty river in its own right. On June 26th, 1804, the Corps reached the mouth of the Kansas River, future site of Westport Landing, an important and noteworthy site in the history of westward expansion. From Westport, in the early and mid 1800s, thousands of pioneers and merchants equipped their wagons for their journeys west along the Oregon and Santa Fe Trails. At the Kansas River, a big bend in the Missouri changes the river’s course from predominantly west-east to north-south. Here, the Corps was at the mercy of the heat of summer. They suffered violent storms and the near-flooding rage of the river. The biting insects were an unmerciful and constant problem. This past month there have been over 600 tornadoes recorded in the Midwest. I’ve been fortunate enough in my travels to have dodged them, but I’ve not been so fortunate as to have escaped much of the pounding!
Late afternoon, what a surprise to hear a vehicle slow behind me. Glory be! It’s my dear childhood buddy, Larry. He lives in Virginia. He and wife, Mary, took me into their home for a number of evenings during Odyssey 2002. He’s out west now, across the river at his sister, Jeannine’s place in Winchester Kansas, doing some fixer-upping — mending her porch. They’ve taken the day to track me down, and now to take me back to Winchester for the evening.
I tell you, folks, this hike is really turning tough!

Mosquitoes and Ticks are noumerous and bad. [Meriwether Lewis]
Some hard showers of rain this morning prevented our Setting out until 7 oClock…the atmispr. became Sudenly darkened by a black and dismal looking Cloud…and the opposit Shore, the [bank] was falling in and lined with snags as far as we could See down… [Clark]
Monday–May 31, 2004
Trail Day–19
Trail Mile–24/392
Location–US59, Rushville, Missouri

Larry has me back on the “trail” by eight-thirty, a blustery but so-far, clear day. Thanks, Larry, Jeannine (and granddaughter, Sharon) for a very enjoyable evening. Pizza and a few cold ones — yup, Larry sure knows the tricks in the proper care and treatment of the old Nomad!
I take a shortcut along the railroad tracks into Weston, the bluffs and river, beautiful beyond description all along. The bluffs then give way to glorious, green rolling hills that open to announce the beginning of the high plains prairie.
This will be a hammer it out day, along SR45 into Rushville. Many trains pass today, hauling coal and new vehicles up the Missouri Valley floodplain, coal for the power plant just south, and autos to keep America rolling. Lewis and Clark could only have dreamed in their wildest dream, such. On the morning of June 30th, 1804: a verry large wolf Came to the bank and looked at us [from near] a gange of turkeys. [Clark]
On my journey today, US59 crosses the river into Atchison Kansas. The Corps camped here on July 4th (the nation’s 28th birthday). They celebrated by firing the swivel cannon. They named Independence Creek, and the captains gave the men an extra ration of whiskey.

one of the most beautiful places I ever Saw in my life, open and beautifully Diversified with hills & vallies all presenting themselves to the River… [Ordway]
Tuesday–June 1, 2004
Trail Day–20
Trail Mile–17/409
Location–St. Joseph, Missouri

US59 is a busy highway, but its wide shoulders provide room from the oncoming crush. I move over to the tracks and dodge the trains awhile for a little diversion. This highway is straight as an arrow, the eighteen-wheelers blending to a dot on the horizon. Days like this take patience.
The floodplain here is nearly five miles wide, and the river has meandered its way across to the far bluff. At this point in the expedition, the captains were becoming the least anxious about meeting the Sioux, the most feared of all the Indians they expected to encounter. Taking no chances — assuming they were being watched from shore, and to prevent surprise by better securing their camp, they pitched on islands in the river. On the night of July 11th, Private Willard fell asleep on guard. Because his negligence endangered everyone, he was sentenced by the captains

…to receive One hundred lashes on his bear back, at four different times in equal propation.
Wednesday–June 2, 2004
Trail Day–21
Trail Mile–23/432
Location–SR7 Sparks, Kansas

Two states behind me now, Illinois and Missouri, nine more to go.
What a good time in St. Jo. Lots of history, 150 years of it.
Only 22 years after the Corps camped on the banks of the river, St. Jo became a major Indian trading post. Many early wagon trains headed west from St. Jo, and when gold was discovered in California, more ‘49ers were equipped for their journey in St. Jo than in any other river town. In 1860 the Pony Express was established to carry mail to Sacramento, and although it lasted only eighteen months (the telegraph line did it in), the Pony Express made St. Jo a legendary frontier jump-off. And there were other legends — Jesse James lived here — and was murdered here.
I get a picture of the beautiful bronze Pony Express statue, then visit the Pony Express Museum. At the St. Jo Museum, I enjoy a splendid interactive Lewis and Clark commemorative exhibit.
The hike across the Missouri River Bridge into Kansas is exciting. The wind, which gusts at times to 35 mph, whips at me most all day. I manage to dodge the afternoon storm as it visits, thence to dump on the river. The darkness then moves on as swiftly as it approached, bringing a welcome calm all about.
On July 14th, Clark wrote:

the Storm Sudenly Seased and the river become Instancetaniously as Smoth as Glass.
Thursday–June 3, 2004
Trail Day–22
Trail Mile–22/454
Location–US159, Rulo, Nebraska

During Odyssey 2002, “From Sea to Shining Sea,” it seemed I’d never get through Kansas; I hiked nearly straight across — during July and August. This journey, Kansas proves much different as I pass through what I will of it, the northeast corner, in only one pleasant, cool day. So, that’s it for Kansas. Three states behind me now, eight to go as I head on up the Missouri.
SR7, which runs along the river, is little used, hardly any traffic. Ditto for whatever it changes to in Nebraska; I never saw a road sign after White Cloud and the Iowa Indian Reservation.
The Iowa Tribal Reservation is the first of many reservations I’ll pass through during this odyssey. I suspect there won’t be much celebrating by any of the Indian tribes as the 200th anniversary of Lewis and Clark arrives their lands. Here’s what the Superintendent of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail for the National Park Service, a full-blood Mandan-Hidatsa Tribal member has to say:

If we look at the overall experience since then [1804], and think about what has happened to those tribes [of Nebraska, the Oto, Missouria, Ponca, Pawnee], it is not a pretty story. But, if we look at the Indian people themselves, we still see the pride, and some of the way of life that the crew saw in the early-1800s. [Gerard Baker]
Friday–June 4, 2004
Trail Day–23
Trail Mile–42/496
Location–Peru, Nebraska

I didn’t hike 42 miles today; just been hiking past the locations listed in my itinerary the past few days and am about a day ahead now. Last night I actually stayed in Falls City. What a neat trail town. Old hotel right on the square. Cheap and clean. Restaurant and bar. Library next door. Post office right down the street — yup, neat trail town.
I’m back on the railroad tracks again today. The roads don’t go where I want to go around here; they all run the sections, either north-south or east-west. If you want to go some other direction, like northwest, you’re out of luck — but the railroad goes that way — so, I go the railroad. Had to dodge a freight train and a dragline cleaning out trash at one of the bridges. Off the tracks, it’s another hammer-it-out day on the straight-aways that are the highways here.
I’ve decided not to go into Auburn, but rather, to head back to the river at Brownville. As I bumble my way along and as I go, I’m learning about what’s ahead. Turns out there’s an old railgrade from Brownville to just south of Nebraska City that’s been converted to a rail-trail — the Steamboat Trace Trail. It runs some 21 miles. So Brownville’s where I’m headed.
When the expedition went through here on July 14th, 1804, they saw elk. Clark went ashore and shot one for supper. The next day, south of Brownville, Clark hiked a ways up and beside Little Nemaha River in search of more elk. What he saw as he hiked was near endless prairie, and a grand array of cherries, grapes, plums and many other berries.
A short stop in Brownville for a cold one, and I’m on the railtrail to Peru. I get in before dark. Neat trail and another neat little Nebraska village. Wide brick streets. Old downtown buildings still open for business. One’s a restaurant, another’s a bar. I hit ‘em both before pitching for the evening next the pavilion at the trailhead.
The tarmac really got cookin’ today, but with these great New Balance 806s, we’ll be handling the feet/heat fine.
It took the Corps of Discovery nearly two months to get upriver from the southeast corner of Nebraska to the northeast corner. Looks like I’ll manage the same distance in around nine days. Coming downriver in 1806, the Corps covered the same distance in one week.
Saturday–June 5, 2004
Trail Day–24
Trail Mile–21/517
Location–US75, Nebraska City, Nebraska

The dawn light of the new day brings me about and I’m treated to a breathtaking sunrise. Red sky in the mornin’, ahh, sure enough, two hours into the hike today the storm hits. Poncho on, I trudge into it.
The Steamboat Trace Trail follows the bluff, and yesterday afternoon, with the sun playing just the right angle, I was treated to a front seat show — the bluff carvings — remarkable artwork in the limestone cliffs (done a number of years ago by a local fellow, I’m told). First, there appeared the face of a tiger glaring at me, then an intricate coat of arms, and finally, the seal of the great state of Nebraska, all in stunning relief. In between, for some light humor, appeared a skull, fully sculpted, complete with a dismembered skeleton, a headstone, and a natural crypt. Oh, and I also had the pleasure of meeting the Jay Devine family out picking mulberries.
The Steamboat Trace Trail peters out at the power plant south of Nebraska City, so I move over once more to the tracks and stumble along and on in. The day’s hike is done by noon.
The expedition didn’t reach this area, now Nebraska City, until the 18th of August 1804. Consequently, the grand 200th anniversary celebration scheduled here won’t begin until late July. I’ll miss seeing the keelboat and the pirogues as they come motoring up, with Lewis and Clark waving to everybody. Fortunately, I’ll miss that. Unfortunately, I’ll also miss the grand opening of the Missouri River Basin Lewis & Clark Interpretive Trail and Visitor Center, which will be displaying the over 300 scientific discoveries of flora (178 plants) and fauna (122 animals) documented during the two years of the expedition.
Sunday–June 6, 2004
Trail Day–25
Trail Mile–27/544
Location–CLR31 and US34, near Pacific Junction, Iowa

I want to hit all the states the Corps passed through, so today, instead of heading on up beside the river here in Nebraska, I’ll cross over the SR2 bridge into Iowa, there to dodge I-29 by hiking side roads, then CL31 north to the US34 bridge back across at Plattsmouth.
From the bridge at Nebraska City I get a grand view of the river. It’s really moving here. Apparently it hasn’t slowed down much in 200 years. Clark made this journal entry near here on July 18th, 1804: Measured the Current and found that in forty one Seconds it run 50 fathoms.
My planned route works fine until the little-maintained road I’m on plays out. I keep going, right through the cornfield. That’s when I find out why the road quit — a good-sized canal cuts across. So it’s backtrack time for a couple of miles. No problem though, for while in the cornfield I managed to kick up two beautiful pheasants I would not otherwise have seen.
Another blistering-hot day. The tarmac is bubbling. No relief from the sun, which cooks it out of me. I never seem to carry enough water.
Monday–June 7, 2004
Trail Day–26
Trail Mile–21/565
Location–S13th St., Omaha, Nebraska

Another state behind me, Iowa. Seven to go to reach the Pacific. I’m back in Nebraska again. This state’s taking awhile.
The old box-frame bridge across the Missouri at Plattsmouth, built in the 1930s, is a narrow, rusty excuse for a bridge. It was to be paid for with money from toll fees. Guess it’s still not paid for, as motorists are still paying to cross. No vehicles permitted over 15 tons. I can see why. Crossing is shaky — and scary. I find a quarter. The old geezer running the toll booth recalls riding his bike across when it was whiz-bang new. He looks a lot older than me — but not as old as the bridge.
Today I cross the Platte River, known to run a mile wide and an inch deep.
On July 21, over six hundred miles and sixty-eight days upstream from the Mississippi, the expedition reached the mouth of the Platte River. According to Stephen Ambrose, author of the book, Undaunted Courage,

This was a milestone. To go past the mouth of the Platte was the Misouri riverman’s equivalent of crossing the equator.

Lewis wrote a five-hundred-word description of the Platte. And of the Platte tallgrass prairie area, Clark recorded:

Capt. Lewis and mySelf walked in the Prarie on the top of the Bluff and observed the most butifull prospects imagionable, this Prarie is Covered with grass about 10 or 12 Inch high.

August 1st was Clark’s thirty-fourth birthday. To mark the occasion,

I order’d a Saddle of fat Vennison, an Elk flece & a Beavertail to be cooked and a Desert of Cheries, Plumbs, Raspberries, Currents and grapes of a Supr. quallity. [Lewis]
Tuesday–June 8, 2004
Trail Day–27
Trail Mile–29/594
Location–US75, Blair, Nebraska

This is going to be a long day as I hammer the miles. Omaha is one big city, at least to walk through. From in to out takes me over five hours. In the little community of Ft. Calhoun, I stop to get off my feet for just awhile.
At this point in the expedition, the Corps had traveled 640 miles up the river and had not seen a single Indian. All were out hunting buffalo on the prairie. But on August 2nd, 1804, an interpreter came to camp with six Oto and Missouria chiefs. The next day, council was held at Council Bluff. This Council Bluff is not the city we know today, but is just across the river from Ft. Calhoun. The meeting lasted only a short while before the Corps

…Set out and proceeded on five miles on a Direct line. [Clark]
Wednesday–June 9, 2004
Trail Day–28
Trail Mile–35/629
Location–US75, Decatur, Nebraska

Had a funky sort of day yesterday, but I know I’ll be rollin’ again today. Out at seven, fine breakfast, then it’s bang it out on the old tarmac straightaway. The wide shoulders have disappeared, but not the “wheelers.” There’s lots of eighteeners (cattle, hogs and fertilizer haulers, a few tankers, and lots of regular boxes). Some twentytwoers (side-dump gravel barges). And to keep the mix interesting, a parade of twentyfourers (standard twelve wheel dumpers with tag-along twelve wheel long-nosed trailers). All give me a full lane when no one’s coming up behind.
The day looks to be setting up for hot, hot, hot. But by two, some thank-you-Lord clouds roll in, a pleasant nudge-me-along breeze comes by and the day turns perfect for the old Nomad to knock out some miles.
The Missouri is just east of me, a mile or two, or five, as it meanders its way back and forth across the floodplain. Corn is king here, and it certainly rules — as long as the bugs don’t get too hungry. To make sure they don’t, farmers all about are running their pregnant-tanked spray machines up and down every row. And what machines they are. Tractors today aren’t anything like the little Farmalls and Fordsons from my days around the farms back home. When these farm boys have to move one of their two-story-high air-conditioned giants from one field to the next, they take up the whole road — and most of the shoulder. I move waaaay over!
Many offers for rides, and the sweet lady from the little store in Ft. Calhoun stopped the other day, gave me ten bucks – “I want to buy you lunch,” she said. Introduced me to her boys, then hurried on her way.
The captains, along about here, were set to frustrating with what appeared a desertion, fellow named Reed. They’d sent another of the crew, La Liberty, out to find him; neither had returned.

a man who went back to camp for his knife [supposedly] has not joined us. [Clark]
Thursday–June 10, 2004
Trail Day–29
Trail Mile–19/648
Location–US75/77, Winnebago, Nebraska

The task today is to get through the tribal lands of the Omaha Nation, which stretches some twenty-two miles from just north of Decatur, to just north of Winnebago. I strike camp and am on my way by six forty-five. The day starts iffy, then turns to gentle rain. Not a problem. Sure beats the blazing sun, which there’ll be plenty of in the Dakotas and Montana. I make very good time and am nearing Winnebago by two.
Just then, and to the shoulder before me pulls this SUV towing a camper. Out pop the driver and passenger, arms a’waving. Oh my, I can’t believe this. They’ve succeeded in finding me again, just like during Odyssey 2002; it’s Honey and Bear, dear friends of mine from The Cabin in East Andover Maine. They load me up and take me to lunch. Then it’s off to the nicest campground, right on the Missouri River in South Sioux City. The evening is spent talking about so many, many mutual friends.
Lewis and Clark spent their day near here talking to three of the principal Oto chiefs. On August 18th, 1804, the Corps camped near Winnebago. Reed, the deserter, was brought in.

Cap L. Birth day the evening was closed with an extra gill of whiskey and a Dance until 11 oClock. [Clark]
Friday–June 11, 2004
Trail Day–30
Trail Mile–17/665
Location–US75/77, South Sioux City, Nebraska

Boats on the river, the casino just across, lots of racket, no problem. I slept just fine – until two. That’s when the hailstorm roared through. First came the low, rumbling roll of thunder. That woke me to the lighting show, which came flashing, as if projected through a strobe. I managed to pull my tent vestibule down just in time. The frightful racket, resulting from the rain, thunder and hail, lasted the better part of half an hour. Sleep came easy after.
Bear is up before six, coffee hot. That gets me up and moving. By eight, they’ve treated me to breakfast, and have me deposited back in Winnebago to continue my hike toward South Sioux City. Before two, I’m in. Honey and Bear are right there to fetch me once again. Then it’s off to a great Mexican feast before returning to the campground. Another grand day on the road, and another memorable one with two wonderful friends.
For the Corps, the next two days, August 19th and 20th, 1804, were agonizing.

Sergt. Floyd was taken violently bad…and is dangerously ill we attempt in Vain to relieve him… [Clark]

Captain Clark stayed by his side most all that night. Next morning they once again set out upriver, but at noon they decided to stop and

…make a warm bath for Sergt. Floyd hopeing it would brace him a little… [Clark]

As they administered to him, Floyd died

…haveing Said to me…that he was going away. [Clark]

It is generally agreed that Sgt. Floyd died of a ruptured appendix, which at that time was not understood.

His grave is across the river here, just south of Sioux City Iowa, where

…he was buried with the Honors of War much lamented… [Clark]
Saturday–June 12, 2004
Trail Day–31
Trail Mile–19/684
Location–SR12, Ponca, Nebraska

Practice does not always make perfect, especially when it comes to the unhappy task of saying good-bye. That’s one thing I’ll never get good at, no matter. And this morning, though I’ve had plenty of practice saying good-bye to these dear friends before, I muff it again. Sorry, Honey. Sorry, Bear — I just can’t hide these feelings of the heart — no matter how hard I try. A hug from each, a wave as they pull away — and they’re gone. I dig holes in the tarmac, jamming my sticks in for the next two hours, but it does little to relieve the funk that’s descended over me.
The road is climbing steady now, the prairie more open and rolling. Lots of tallgrass.
I’m in Ponca before two. A few cold ones, then a grand feast, and I’m able to lay down my head.

By August 23, the expedition was almost at the ninety-eighth meridian, the generally agreed-upon eastern border of the Great Plains of North America. The sense of being in a Garden of Eden was strong. There were fat deer and elk and beaver and other species in numbers scarcely conceivable. That afternoon, Lewis sent Private Joseph Field on a hunt. A few hours later, Field came rushing down the bluff to the bank and hollered out to the boat to come ashore. When it did, he breathlessly announced that he had killed a buffalo. [Ambrose]
Sunday–June 13, 2004
Trail Day–32
Trail Mile–29/713
Location–SR12/S14B, Wynot, Nebraska

The road undulates much today, the wide open country rolling to the horizon. Distance is deceptive; trying to estimate it is folly. Vehicles first appear as no more than slowly moving dots. Where I first spot them, it’s a two-hour hike away. When storms are about, it isn’t unusual to see two or three at the same time, their curving veils of rain brushing the prairie as they move across. Late morning, one comes to visit, then swiftly passes.
It has been a long, hard nine hours on the road today. As I approach Wynot, my destination, a pickup slows behind. “You okay; you need a ride?” asks the fellow. “Got a cold one for you here, too, if you want,” he says, holding the can out the window. I decline the offer, thanking him kindly, then suggest we have a cold one together at the bar in Wynot. “See you there,” he replies, as he hurries away.
Turning from the highway, the little village in sight now, comes another pickup. Passing slowly, passenger window down, the driver gives me a nod and tells me to go to the second bar, the Wynot Bar and Grill. “You go in there” he says, “They’ll take good care of you!” Oh yes, into the Wynot Bar and Grill I go, there to be greeted by barmaid, Celine. “Where you been? We’ve been waiting for you. Pete said to take care of you — what’ll it be?” she exclaims with a beaming smile. “Who’s Pete,” I ask. “Pete, Pete Snyder,” she says, “The fellow who stopped to talk to you on the road.”
Well, folks, a row of cold ones down, in comes Pete and wife, Krif to buy me dinner. I’ve also met Johnny and Marlyce Colgate and their five kids, Josh, Amanda, Katy, Angel, and Gunnar. Come to find out, Johnny wants to hike the Appalachian Trail — seems some of the kids do, too!
Katy’s been walking around all evening with my pack on, pecking away with my Leki sticks!
What a neat little town, kind, gentle folks here. It’s late now, an impending storm on the horizon; and so, the Colgates insist on taking me into their home for the night.
On the 27th of August, 1804, near present day Yankton South Dakota, where I’ll be tomorrow, the Corps entered Sioux county. Here, they set the prairie on fire, the customary method at the time for calling council. Came in three young braves, an Omaha and two Sioux. On the 29th, council was held with the Yankton Sioux. That council went well compared to what was to come with the Teton Sioux.
Monday–June 14, 2004
Trail Day–33
Trail Mile–20/733
Location–US81, Yankton, South Dakota

What a grand time in Wynot yesterday afternoon and evening. Thanks, Pete and Krif, Celine and Jeff (it was Jeff, Celine’s husband that directed me to Wynot Bar and Grill), and to the Colgate family for taking me into their home — and making me feel truly part of their family. Thanks, all for your kindness and generosity.
My route, from Wynot to the river at Yankton, is a zigzag one, over gravel backroads that follow above the river floodplain. From here to Yankton, this section is considered the least changed during the past 200 years. I get a few glimpses from the road. Not much traffic, a blessing for a change, for sure. But folks do stop to inquire as to my well-being and to offer assistance. Steve offers me a ride, and when I decline, invites me to stop by his home for a bite to eat. “By the time you get to my place, I can have a cheeseburger ready — I make a really good cheeseburger,” he says. I thank him again for his kind offer. But before I’ve gone two miles, he comes by again, with his crewcab truck full of kids. “Wanted them to meet you,” he said. “Here, take this bag of fruit. You can sure use that.” So I talk to his children — and take the bag, with an orange, banana, apple and strawberries.
By four, I’m crossing the double-decker bridge to Yankton. Another state behind me, Nebraska. Five down, six to go — nearly half the states, but only a forth of the distance.
During the two and one-half years spent in the wilds, the Corps shot around 260 bison. The first, just a few days back. The tongue and hump were most preferred. A special recipe prepared by Charbonneau, boudin blanc, was Lewis’ favorite. According to Craig Oldsen, a Lewis and Clark historian:

It consisted of about 6 feet of the lower bowel, which was stripped of its content, turned inside out and knotted at one end. This receptacle was then stuffed with a mixture of finely minced tenderloin, kidney suit, a small quantity of flour, salt and pepper. The open end was then tied off, rinsed off in the river, well boiled in a kettle of water, and fried until brown in bear’s oil.
I go for the chicken dinner, downtown Yankton; thank you very much!
Tuesday–June 15, 2004
Trail Day–34
Trail Mile–28/761
Location–SR50, West of Tyndall, South Dakota

At Yankton, the Missouri is flowing ever down from an elevation of 1168 feet. I’m going upriver for sure now. From here to where the Missouri collides with (and takes over) the Mississippi, it drops over 700 feet. Before I get out of the Dakotas, the Missouri will be rolling down from above 1800 feet.
A thunderstorm is brewing a little west of me as I hike northwest this morning. Although it is slowly moving northeast, the tail end of it whips around and dumps on me for half an hour before moving on. However, the day clears nicely with a gentle breeze moving in behind me.
In awhile I hear the whirring sound of bicycle spokes. Looking across, who comes up but none other than Jim Fogle. Jim is a friend of Jim Damico. Both are from Kansas City. I met Jim Fogle on my second day out, in Wood River at the Lewis and Clark Memorial. We’re all doing the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, and we’re all bound for trail’s end at the Pacific in Oregon and Washington. Jim’s the one that told me about Neil the kayaker and how he was treated his first day at Wood River. Jim had taken a week off recently, so I’d gotten ahead of him — again. But it didn’t take him long to catch me — again. What incredible luck that our paths cross once more; for as Jim walks his bike along and we get caught up on how our separate adventures are going, we arrive in moments at where he turns. He’s heading up the trail through Springfield. The route I’ve chosen takes me through Tyndall. Have a safe and fun-filled trip, Jim. So long, my friend; hope our paths cross again.
I find it most interesting how different little towns take on different personalities. Who one meets, how they greet and treat you forms immediate impressions, and those impressions stick and make all the difference. The city streets can be neat, the homes well-kept. Or the whole place may have seen its better days. None of this really matters or seems to make much difference one way or the other. It’s the people one meets; it’s how they greet and treat you. All the catchy, colorful, fancy-painted welcome signs at the city limits can’t make up for one or two grouches, especially if the grouches are the very folks one meets. Now I’m not looking for any favors from anyone, any special treatment. I’d just like to be treated as one person to another, with civility, with a degree of kindness and respect.
Okay, here’s where I’m going with this. Remember the other day, how I was greeted and treated in the little, not-so-fine-n’-fancy village of Wynot! Amazing, the kind and gentle folks there, amazing. In contrast, take the neat and clean little town of Tyndall, my destination for today. The business district is a half-mile off the highway — neat, well-kept homes, lawns groomed all along. I’m headed for the local bar and grill. I’ve done nearly a thirty today; I’m hot, tired an thirsty. Downtown now, I find a bright, clean and neat establishment, the local bar and grill. As I enter, removing my hat and sunglasses, the barmaid interrupts her conversation with a customer at the bar to glance my way, then quickly turns back to her conversation. That was my greeting. I pick a table right next, unload my pack and have a seat. The conversation the two are having has to do with an album the barmaid’s just put together, how special and beautiful her kids are — you know the album, we’ve all got one. She pays me no heed, continuing the conversation. Waiting, I reluctantly open my water bottle and down the last swig of hot water I’d saved. Man am I thirsty. The lady finally picks up a menu, along with her order pad and pencil, then comes around to my table. Dropping the menu in front of me, she stands, blank stare, pencil and pad at the ready. I greet her, no response, then tell her I’m not really interested in anything to eat right now. Well friends, what happens next is amazing. Before I can say another word, she sweeps up the menu, makes a perfect, military about face, and she’s immediately back to her beautiful kids-album conversation with the other lady at the bar. Talk about getting the bum’s rush. I’ve endured it in many different forms, but this one — this gal’s strictly pro!
Well, I hit the toilet, fill my water bottles, shoulder my pack, and leave. The barmaid turns her back to me as I bid her good-bye. There’s a return on the door, so I can’t slam it.
The thing to do now is get this neat-n-clean little town with all its welcome signs behind me. Heading west, I find an old abandoned house. Bad storm coming.
Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery were treated most kindly by the Indians hereabouts.

We then brought out the presents and gave all Some small articles & 8 Carrots of Tobacco, we gave one small Meadel to one of the Chiefs and a Sertificate to the others of their good intentions. [Clark]
Wednesday–June 16, 2004
Trail Day –35
Trail Mile–27/788
Location–SR50, Wagner, South Dakota

Folks had been telling me yesterday that a storm was coming. More of the stuff, I guess, that hit Sioux Falls with six inches of rain, causing flooding. I wasn’t hanging around Tyndall after the reception I received there, so I hiked on west another four miles. Along the way, I was looking for a place to get in, assuming the pending storm would bring hail, not a good thing to deal with in a silicone nylon tent. As luck would have it, on my right came up an old abandoned farmhouse. No posted/keep out signs, so over I went. The door was hanging on one hinge; no problem getting in. The accommodations weren’t five star, but the floor upstairs was level, and when the storm started pounding and the hail came, the roof didn’t leak. Is the old Nomad charmed, or what!
I take my sweet time getting up and moving this morning, as it’s turned cold, the rain is still coming in sheets, and the wind is gusting to at least 35. By nine, the storm seems to be passing. I’m getting restless to go, so out into it I head. Wrong decision. I no more get cranking than the wind starts howling again, driving bitter-cold rain laced with shotgun shell pellet-sized hail. My fingers turn numb, so I cuff my trekking poles, letting them drag and bump along while I stuff my hands in my pockets. Am I ever happy to reach Avon and the cafe/bar there. By the time I’ve had lunch, got warmed up and dried out, the storm has passed through bringing a fine day.
Mid afternoon, I decide to get off busy SR50, so I hit the gravel into the little village of Dante. Neat old town. Neat old Mike’s Bar. Leona tends. We have a good chat. She and Mike moved here in the 70s, the youngest couple at the time. Now she’s close to being the town matriarch. Five kids. All have stayed nearby, except the youngest. He’s in Iraq.
By six I’ve got the 27 knocked out and I’m in Wagner.
The Corps of Discovery were discovering many new-to-science plants and animals as they continued their journey upriver.

Lewis was fully aware of the magnitude of the discoveries and greatly excited by the opportunity to be the one to note and describe plants and animals new to science. He spent hours examining and describing his finds…As the men laboriously moved the keelboat upriver, Lewis, in the cabin, weighed and measured and examined and recorded…He took his responsibility seriously, but he had a lot of fun doing it, and he had a never-flagging sense of wonder and delight at seeing something new. [Ambrose]
Thursday–June 17, 2004
Trail Day–36
Trail Mile–30/818
Location–SR50/1804, Geddes, South Dakota

My chosen route takes me back toward the river today. Climbing the ridge above Lake Andes provides a spectacular 360 for miles. In one direction, power line towers marching in rank to the horizon, over rolling fields of grain. And in the other, the hill country/river canyon. I can see the water tower in Geddes, my destination this evening — yet a four hour hike away.
Off busy SR50 and on a parallel gravel road again (this whole country is blocked off in EW/NS mile squares, gravel roads all sides each) I’m closing in on Geddes. It’s due north of me.
The lady at the convenience store in Lake Andes told me about the bar in Geddes, complete with rooms for rent upstairs. Yes-siree, that’s where I’m headed. I pass the beautifully manicured wrought-iron-fenced cemetery. Appears there’s more people here than in town, still a half-mile ahead. At the bar, Dan’s Place, I meet Dan. He’s got a room for me. Doo Dah!
Dan is dearly trying, along with others, to keep the little village of Geddes alive. That’s a hard task now-a-days, this being a time-passed 19th and 20th century farm-to-market town. I mentioned to Dan about passing two or three abandoned farmsteads, in just the last six miles, on my way in. His reply: “Yeah, and you didn’t see the ones they’ve already dozed down.”
Eighty, perhaps 120 acres was all a farmer could tend to fifty to a hundred years ago. Now, a single farm can take in thousands of acres. With the speed and efficiency of modern machinery, one farmer can do the work previously done by ten. Back in the Ozark Highlands of Missouri where I’m from, the soils support only mixed farming, a blessing perhaps. So the farms have remained small. Consequently, many of the old homesteads still exist, occupied by the sons and daughters of pioneers past — and jobs are to be had nearby in Jeff City, Missouri’s capital, to supplement the meager farm income. Up here in the wide open rolling breadbasket of America, seven to ten-thousand acres are not all that big a place — and it’s a long, long way to “town.” Good luck, Dan, and all dear folks working diligently to keep your school and the little village.

In late August, 1804, describing the plains of present day South Dakota, Clark wrote:

The surrounding Plains is open Void of Timber and leavel a great extent, hence the wind from whatever quarter it may blow drives with unusual force over the naked Plains and against the hill…

Near here (today’s Yankton Sioux Reservation) on September 8, 1804:

At 9 I went out with one of our men, who had killed a buffaloe and left his hat to keep off the vermin and beasts of prey; but when we came to the place, we found the wolves had devoured the carcase and carried off the hat. [Sgt. Gass]
Friday–June 18, 2004
Trail Day–37
Trail Mile–26/844
Location–Junction SR50/1804 and SR44

Recent rains have really been a blessing to South Dakota farmers. Winter wheat is tall and lush, same for oats. Corn and soybean crops are coming up nicely, too. And the mowers, rakes and balers are running full tilt in the alfalfa fields. Yes, it is a blessing.
Walking through a winter wheat field the other day, I kicked up the first coyote I’ve seen in quite awhile. He jumped straight up, then went bounding away. In only seconds, his ears and tail were all I could see. On August 12th, 1804, near here, what Clark called a “Prarie Wolf” was spotted. The Corps were the first Americans to see a coyote.
Hiking the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, I’m able to see and experience many things much as did the men of the Corps — like seeing the coyote, and like living the daily demands, the constant, exhausting toil. One can read about the physical struggle each member endured. However, riding along in air-conditioned comfort, one cannot experience what their quest was truly about.
The disadvantage, of course, is the limitations due to walking. I simply cannot see all the historic places along the river, like the Floyd monument, Spirit Mound, Blackbird’s grave, and the “Volcano.” But you can read about them elsewhere, if you wish.
On September 7th, 1804, the Corps saw their first prairie dog, called “barking squirrels” in their journals. As to other wild game, here’s a quote by Bernard DeVoto from his book, The Journals of Lewis and Clark:

Wild game, which had been plentiful from the beginning, had now become remarkably abundant. They had seen their first antelope, which they usually called goats. Clark wrote: Great numbers of Buffalow & Elk on the hill…I saw Several foxes & Killed a Elk & 2 Deer & a Pelican…a great number of Grous & 3 Foxes…vast herds of buffaloe deer Elk and Antilopes were seen feeding in every direction as far as the eye of the observer could reach…8 fallow deer 5 Common & 3 Buffalow killed to day…Muskeetors verry troublesom.
Saturday–June 19, 2004
Trail Day–38
Trail Mile–30/874
Location–Junction 344 Ave. and 258 St. south of Chamberlain, South Dakota

The Missouri flows a much narrower, but still serpentine course now, with canyon walls looming along the south face. When the road I’m hiking rises the least bit or nears the river, I’m offered breathtaking views.
Folks stopping to check on me today all ask if I’m lost. In the little village of Academy, I get some much-needed water, and again at Platt Colony.
Platt Colony is an interesting place. It is, indeed, a colony – descendants of German immigrants, living in barrack-like dwellings. They dress like the Amish do, but differ from those folks in that they use modern machinery, practice state-of-the-art agricultural methods. A sign pointing to their colony says, “World Leader In Sustainable Agriculture.” They have no television sets or radios. Not a bad idea, considering the pure garbage we’re fed by the major networks these days.
North of Bijou Hills, and along a little-used dirt road, another fellow stops to ask if I’m lost. A few cordialities and the usual questions answered, the old codger shows much interest in my story. So I drop my pack and we chat. And so, here, today, I meet Albert Delany, beekeeper, farmer, rancher, auto dealer, avid conservationist. When I mention the beauty of the area, Albert asks if I’d like to see “a really pretty place.” After he promises to bring me back here, I hop in and we’re off. Up, and up some more we go, toward a place on the river called Twin Buttes. We bump along seldom-used dirt tracks, pass through fields, then a grassy =ath. In a short while we reach the top — of a rim overlooking an enormous canyon, formed and flanked by the two (twin) buttes. The canyon wall drops off precipitously to depths exceeding 700 feet. The rim around, a distance every bit of three miles. And below, and to the river, which forms the canyon door, the most beautiful tree-dotted meadow, perhaps 2000 acres in all. I stand in total and bewildered awe. “This is exactly the way I got it, and this is the way it’ll be passed on. Lewis and Clark both climbed that butte over there. I think it’s a pretty place,” says Albert. “This is yours,” I ask. “It’s mine for now, to care for for awhile. Been offered double-digit millions, but I’ll not sell it.” he says.
Albert takes one DAV in, a different one every year, to hunt deer. “The Vets deserve it. One fellow brought out a buck the other year with a rack that missed Boone and Crocket by only two points.” he remarks, proud smile. “Don’t you have a problem with poachers coming in from the river?” I ask. “They know better’n to come on my land,” says Albert. I didn’t ask why, but I think I know.
Back where he picked me up, I linger with the kind, old gent awhile longer. “If you’re ever back this way, I’ll show you the Indian stash I found in there, two five-gallon buckets of arrow points, knives and spear tips. And there’s a cave up there, too — outlaw hideout. We’ll go in, spend the day.” Another big smile. This is tough, but — “So long for now, Albert Delany. Dang betcha I’ll be back. We’ll spend that day, for sure!”
The rain has held off all day, but it’s trying again –and it’s turned quite cold. I find a cedar thicket to pitch for the night. Two cackling, fluttering pheasants keep me company.
Sunday–June 20, 2004
Trail Day–39
Trail Mile–13/887
Location–Business I-90, Chamberlain, South Dakota

The coldest night yet. Hard to believe that the end of June it could get down in the 40s. Sure glad I’ve got my Feathered Friends Rock Wren sleeping bag along. It’s a three-season sleeper, yet so lightweight, I carry it even in summer — good thing!
It’s a straight shot to town today, past fields of grain and cattle feedlots, up paved 344 Avenue. One feedlot sign boasts “custom feeding.” I don’t know what that might mean. Guess it’s what they put in the cows. I can sure tell you this, though: what comes out isn’t custom, it’s standard. P-uuUU!
I can see the Chamberlain municipal water tower three hours before I get to it. Plod, plod, plod — isn’t patience such a wonderful virtue!
A Brule Deputy Sheriff stops to chat a few minutes. “Where you going, anyway?” he asks. Said he got a phone call yesterday from someone concerned about me tripping along out there so far from any main road. I show him my maps, then we have a little geography and history lesson, about Cape Disappointment and the year 1804.
On September 14th, 1804, Clark commented on seeing the first pronghorn and the first jackrabbit. Of the pronghorn: they are all Keenly made, and is butifull. And of the jackrabbit: I measured the leaps of one…and found them 21 feet.
On September 15th, 1804, just south of present day Chamberlain, South Dakota, the Corps reached the mouth of the White River

…and so passed the long escarpment called Pine Ridge and entered a new geographical province, the Missouri Plateau. Geographically, this is the beginning of the Upper Missouri. [DeVoto]
Monday–June 21, 2004
Trail day–40
Trail Mile–29/916
Location–SR1806, south of Lower Brule, South Dakota

Chamberlain is a fine trail town. Four motels right in and it’s only a few blocks to the post office. Same for a number of eating joints, including fast-food.
On my way out this morning, two blocks and I’m on the Missouri River bridge. The river here bears no resemblance to the Missouri of 1804. Fort Randall Dam took care of that. On September 17, 1804, the Corps camped on the west bank here, below American Island, Passed an island about the middle of the river 1 mile this island is about a mile long and has a perpotion of Red cedar on it. [Clark]. Clark was speaking about American Island, a stopping place for explorers, trappers, traders and steamboat men for over a century and a half. All of this is, indeed, history now, as the island is submerged, thirty feet under Lake Francis Case.
I’ve decided to hike the west side of the river from here up to Pierre. In a mile or so, I jump the fence to head cross-country over to Lower Brule cutoff road. My map shows I’ve got a short hike up to the ridge, then a twotrack from there to the cutoff. Well, the short hike to the ridge ends up being a mile, and the twotrack is little more than a cow path through a farmer’s pasture. That runs for over four miles, passing some out buildings before ending at a gate right behind the farmer’s house. Oh boy, now what? The lady of the house is probably home alone, and when her dog sniffs me out (all farmers have at least one dog), she’ll come to check the commotion. When she sees this old hiker bum coming through her back gate, she’ll certainly head for the phone — to call the sheriff.
Okay smart guy, now what? Well, the decision, to avoid meeting the sheriff today, the decision is to cut a forty-five across the field behind the house, from the farmroad over to Lower Brule cutoff, which is right there. This plan works fine until I get about a quarter-mile into it. That’s when two fellows on quad-tracks come riding up. Looks like I’ve had it now — caught trespassing. Perhaps this day, maybe even this hike, is done. I’m relieved to see broad smiles on the faces of both young lads. The front rider is Zane Reese. The other chap smiles and nods but I don’t get to meet him. They’re out spraying thistle, big tanks strapped to the backs of their machines. They’re not out here to track me down as I had feared. It’s only coincidence we meet. Both are intrigued by my story. Both wish me well. They continue spraying, and I continue hiking – fast, on over to Lower Brule cutoff road. Whew, doesn’t it seem, from time-to-time, that the old Nomad can get into some really natty (as a thistle) situations!
The hike through the upper pasture, then later today, along another grassy easement, provide grand, panoramic vistas. The skies appear so deceptively low here, no doubt because the lands all about are so incredibly expansive and wide. Many stop to inquire of my well-being today. One, John Blum, who lives next the Reeses, tells me about his bad hips and knees. “What a distance you’re walking,” he says. “I couldn’t make it from here to my road, right up there.” He’s 66, same age I’ll be this year. What a blessing — my good health and stamina.
The wind must be biting and severe here in winter, bringing below zero double-digit wind chill. To protect their livestock from the frigid blast, farmers have erected high wind barricades in their fields. I see the first today on John Blum’s ranch.
Lots of game and wildlife today. A skinny little yearling buck in velvet prances across the knee-high cornfield, paying me little heed. He won’t have to worry about getting behind the woods barricade this winter if he doesn’t change his habits real soon. Mallards are along the ditches and I flush numerous pair as I proceed along. Lots of larks, swallows and other birds in the fields. Also, prairie dogs, hundreds and hundreds, and their boroughs.
On that same day, September 17th, 1804, one of the men killed a magpie, until then, unknown outside of Europe. That same day, near present day Chamberlain, Lewis wrote:

Having for many days confined myself to the boat, I determined to devote this day to amuse myself on shore with my gun and view the interior of the country…One quarter of a mile in rear of our camp…passed a grove of plumb trees loaded with fruit and now ripe, observed but little difference betwen this fruit and that of a similar kind common to the Atlantic States…this plane extends with the same bredth from the creek below to the distance of near three miles above parrallel with the river, and it is entirely occupyed by the burrows of the barking squiril [pririe dog] heretofore described; this animal appears here in infinite numbers…a great number of wolves of the small kind, halks and some pole-cats…this senery already rich pleasing and beatiful was still farther hightened by immence herds of Buffaloe, deer Elk and Anelopes which we saw in every direction feeding on the hills and plains. I do not think I exagerate when I estimate the number of Buffaloe which could be compre[hend]ed at one view to amount to 3000…
Tuesday–June 22, 2004
Trail Day–41
Trail Mile–29/945
Location–SR1806, Cedar Creek Recreation Area, near Ft. George Butte, South Dakota

My camp, last, on the cedar-crowned hill overlooking the Missouri, from there and across the lake, such a remarkable sunset. A peaceful, quiet place. I could visualize the keelboat and the two pirogues moored for the night, just below.
It’s a short hike into Lower Brule here on the Sioux Reservation. First stop, the casino (and restaurant). I head right in for biscuits and gravy. At Sioux Boy’s convenience, I load two day’s supplies (hot dogs and buns complete with a Ziploc of mustard), and I head on upriver on a cool, clear, but blustery day.
Next stop is the tribal council hall. All whiz-bang new. I’m permitted to take pictures in the beautiful council chamber. Many colorfully painted buffalo skulls grace the hall. A huge buffalo hide adorns the chamber wall behind the council table. The Bruel Sioux are the Lakota (peaceful people of the Great Plains), but they are the buffalo people, first, last, and always. Buffalo roam the prairie all around the council hall. It is, indeed, a magnificent sight. Ahh, but the Lakota are Americans, too! Both flags, that of our American Nation, that of the Sioux Nation, both fly at half-staff before the hall, honoring the week of tribute to President Reagan.
Today, I meet Percy, Leonard, Larry and Pat of the Sioux Nation. The Lakota Sioux are a quiet, dignified and peaceful people. We talk much of times past, and days present.
Certainly, we do not condone vandalism, in any form. But I must tell you this amazing thing I see today: The letter “O” in the word “No,” (maybe 3”x 4” in size), of a “No Passing Zone” sign, the center nearly shot out by a clustered bullet group, perhaps eight or ten rounds, all within the yellow of the “O.” Drouillard, spelled and pronounced “Drewyer” by both Lewis and Clark, was a half-breed, (half Indian, half French). He was by far the best marksman and hunter of all the Corps. This fellow who shot out the “O” in the “No Passing Zone” sign was an obvious marksman, but probably no match for Drewyer with his 1795 smoothbore flintlock musket. To qualify with the Corps, each man had to be able to fire fifteen rounds in 3¾ minutes.
I pass the “Big Bend” in the river today.

we proceed on to the Gorge of the bend…the Distance of this bend around is 30 miles, and 1¼ miles thro. [Clark]
Wednesday–June 23, 2004
Trail Day–42
Trail Mile–34/979
Location–SR1806/US83, Fort Pierre, South Dakota

Pitched by Cedar Creek, last. Was able to get water from one of the small streams feeding the creek. A pair of pheasants (they are literally everywhere out here) kept me company again in the evening.
More Lakota Sioux stop to talk with me today. First, Johnny, from Fort Yeates, a ways to the north, who’d come to see his father, Doug, a teacher at the Lower Bruel school. Then later in the day, I have the honor of speaking with another passer-by, Michael Jandreau, Lakota Chief, Lower Bruel Tribal Chairman. This chance meeting, with such a kind gentleman, caught me completely off guard. Lewis and Clark were ready for such — they had beautifully struck medals from President Jefferson to present to the tribal chiefs all along their journey. I have nothing to present this tribal chief. Forgive me, Michael. Toward evening, totally out of water, I stop at a small arena/stables right next the road. Chris comes from the corral to greet me and to offer me water.
Ahh, folks, the joy, the continual, unexpected rewards of walking. Does all this not amaze you!
Here at Fort Pierre, where the Teton (Bad) River meets the Missouri, the journey of the Corps of Discovery could easily have ended, changing history forever. For here, finally, the Corps met the Teton Sioux. And what a near-ill-fated meeting it was. But for the steady control of fingers to trigger and to bowstring — but for a split second on at least two occasions, had a shot been fired or an arrow launched, all would certainly have ended.

Throughout…four days the tension was so great that Clark did not sleep. It rose to extremity twice. On September 25, in the first moment of pressure, the young men, always the most belligerent and foolhardy, strung their bows, equivalent to loading and cocking a rifle. The white man’s nerve was intended to fail right there. It did not…With rifles trained on them from the keelboat, the Sioux did not notch their arrows. Again on the 28th when an attempt was made to prevent the final departure, the furious Clark, barely controlling himself, seized ‘the port fire,’ prepared to discharge the swivel…Indian bluster immediately collapsed…the career of the Sioux as river pirates ended here. [DeVoto]
…..justures were of Such a personal nature I felt My self Compeled to Draw my Sword…Most of the Warriers appeared to have their Bows strung and took out their arrows from the quiver. [Lewis]
Thursday–June 24, 2004
Trail Day–43
Trail Mile–18/997
Location–SR1804, near Okobojo Creek, South Dakota

Great time in Ft. Pierre — Wagonwheel Steakhouse and Bar. Met Chris, the local piano tuner. He told me about the epic film, “Dances with Wolves,” starring Kevin Kostner, which was filmed nearby. Chris works some for Kevin’s brother, who liked the area so much he moved here and bought a marina.
I’ve decided not to go into Pierre, but to stay this side of the river and cross at Oahe Dam, a pile of dirt and rock. I don’t get across until nearly five, but it’s okay, because today I’ve had the opportunity to meet and talk with two very interesting people. First, Caleb Gilkerson, who owns and operates Dakota Adventures, a guide service for canoeing, kayaking and backpacking, out of Pierre. He stops, gets out of his car, then crosses the road to greet me. Caleb shows great interest in my journey, and I gain much information about his services. Second, I stopped at the Choteau Trading Post, owned and operated by Scott Matteson. His card reads “Collectibles Old and New — Rocks, Antiques and Good Stuff.” Well, the card’s an understatement. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve seen so much “Good Stuff!” — like Indian artifacts — projectile points, fulcrums, drills, knives, scrapers, awls, pottery shards, pipes, beads. His personal collection is most astounding. Some of the pieces are over 15,000 years old. Steve showed me a point he believes predates the Clovis period. If this is true, it will prove problematic for some experts and their theories. Ahh yes, time well spent!
On September 26, 1804, speaking about finally departing the Bad (Teton) River, Sgt. Gass wrote:

We set out early, and proceeded on four miles. The bank of the river on the south side was covered all the way with Indians.
Friday–June 25, 2004
Trail Day–44
Trail Mile–36/1033
Location–Junction, SR1804 and US212, South Dakota

Today I’m following SR1804 as it notches a ninety north, then a ninety east, then back north and east some more. The northerly excursions aren’t so bad, but I’m looking to get to the Pacific Ocean, and going east won’t get me there. The Corps must have had the same feelings of frustration, probably more so, because the river channel touches all points of the compass with predictable regularity. But I am following the river, and to follow the river, I must go east for awhile.
The river here — and the historic places along, such as the Corps campsites, Indian lodge sites, and later, trading post sites and settlements, all are now buried beneath Lake Oahe — in 150 feet of water.
Late evening now, a vehicle pulls to the shoulder. Out jump two young men. Here I meet Joe and Chad, Marines just back from Afghanistan. They open the rear hatch, invite me to have a cold one — to sit and talk. They can’t get over what I’m about, this odyssey. They try relating my hiking with their combat training marches — with sixty pounds of gear — in combat boots. They can’t believe my ten pound pack and lightweight shoes. What a joy talking with these two young men. Thanks fellows, for your dedication to freedom and democracy, for sacrificing your time to defend us. Young Americans, these. The kind of great young folks that will carry on the noble traditions of our great nation. They give me money for my dinner at Bob’s, and pay for my stay at the campground there. Thanks fellows, thanks for stopping. Dang, if you guys aren’t the kind of young people this country needs more of — thanks, especially, for that!
On October 1st, 1804, the Corps reached the mouth of the Cheyenne River, opposite a trading post operated by Jean Valle. Much was learned from him about the people of the Cheyenne, their land, game — and the Black Hills. On the 2nd

a frenchman came over to us this morning, we found him to be Mr. Valley, the Trador among the Sioux nation he could talk English. [Ordway]
The Cheyenne Nation has about 300 Lodges hunt the Buffalo, Steel horses from the Spanish Settlements… [Clark]
Saturday–June 26, 2004
Trail Day–45
Trail Mile–35/1068
Location–SR144, Akaska, South Dakota

The only objects out here to break the wind are the power poles, and their absence is becoming common. Trees are fewer and fewer now and more of the fields about are equipped with roundy-roundy irrigation systems. I am reaching the northwest extent of the Tallgrass Prairie.
When the wind comes from the north, northwest, it’s usually fair weather, at least that’s been my observation. It’s hard to push against 25-35 mph wind all day, and those are the conditions I’ve had to deal with the past number of days. Today, however, the wind is calm – a blessing for sure.
I can see Lake Oahe from the higher vantages as the prairie rolls along, and as I zig a ninety, then zag a ninety — still north and east. I’m on rural (very rural) roads all day. Few houses out here, few anything out here, save game. I see more deer and pheasant than autos. I quit counting pheasant at fifty.

we proceeded under a verry Stiff Breeze from the S. E. [Clark]
Sunday–June 27, 2004
Trail Day–46
Trail Mile–29/1097
Location–SR1804/US12, Mobridge, South Dakota

The little village of Akaska — another neat trail town. Linda’s Supper Club. Last night was Karaoke. Many happy people singing and dancing.
Fishing and hunting, sportsmen coming in from every direction, provide a much needed boost to the economy here. Fishing’s the sport right now, and walleye’s the fish to catch in Lake Oahe. A gentleman from Minnesota, here fishing for walleye, bought my dinner. I met Jim at the campground, where I showered. Then I was permitted to stay in the city park for the night. Thanks, Linda, Cindy and Wilma at Linda’s Supper Club — for your caring kindness.
More rural countryside today. Villages are becoming fewer and farther between. More pheasant, their explosive rising jangling my nerves as I flush them all along. I hustle the 29 miles on into Mobridge, at the mouth of the Grand River.

As autumn 1804 came on, the Corps of Discovery moved rapidly upriver and into today’s North Dakota. Days grew shorter and nights colder, but the men ate well because game was plentiful and fat for winter…On October 8, at the mouth of the Grand River, the Corps came to three villages of the Arikara, farmers who traded produce such as corn, beans, squash and tobacco to the Sioux…Clark wrote that this visit was “all Tranquillity.” [Along the Trail with Lewis and Clark: Travel Planner and Guide (2002-2003) Barbara Fifer]
Monday–June 29, 2004
Trail Day–47
Trail Mile–26/1123
Location–SR1806, Kenel, South Dakota

Fine stay at Eastside Motel last. Stoked up this morning at High Plains Restaurant before tackling the narrow bridge across the Missouri. And it is narrow, indeed, less than standard width lanes with less than two feet each side between the white line and the rails. Not so much traffic, which is moving slow. Everybody waves; I get across fine.
In just awhile there’s another mile-long bridge across the Grand River, and I’m soon back in the hills again — hiking not so much east today, but still mostly north; I’m happy.
There’s been little rain north and west of here, runoff that normally keeps Lake Oahe Reservoir up to level. So the lake is very low, so low in fact, all the public boat ramps are closed, there being a quarter-mile of downslope mud and silt between the ends of the ramps and the water. Not good for tourism; not good for the local economy.
Once across the Missouri, I’m in the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. It’s a vast place. I’ll be in here the better part of four days.
Many Indians stop to make sure I’m okay, to offer rides. A young lad, Tony, is insistent. “Okay, so you’re walking the Lewis and Clark Trail — but couldn’t you ride just a little of it? Let me take you up to Fort Yeates.” he says. When I decline his kind offer again, he warns ,“just look out for the rattlesnakes; they’re moving right now.”
Two hours and a little over seven miles into my hike today I have a blowout. First foot problem in a long time. The tarmac is really starting to get hot. I pull off under a cottonwood and make repairs, a little taping, more powder, and I’m back out again. Oh, that feels much better!
Late evening I’ve made it to Kenel. Bad news, the little store here closed less than an hour ago. No water. I was counting on the store for water. To my good fortune, however, up drives Brian and Delina Marshall. Delina has a big container of tea and offers it to me. I think they’re both surprised to see the amount I chug down. “Did you go out to Fort Manuel Lisa,” asks Brian. When I tell him, “no,” he expresses disappointment. “Come on, get in,” he says, “You gotta see the fort.” So I load, and we go.
Hey, this is quite an impressive place. Brian jumps out, pointing to the stockade. “I built that; I put all those posts up myself!” he exclaims, beaming with pride.
One of the significant historical aspects of the original Fort Manuel, which was built nearby in 1811, and that has to do with the Corps, is it is believed Sacagawea, the Shoshone guide for Lewis and Clark, died at Fort Manuel in 1812. Her nearby grave is now protected and guarded by the Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux.
Brian and Delina invite me to spend the night with them. I set up camp in their yard. She fixes me supper. In the evening, Chief Charles Holy Bear pays a visit. I learn much about the history of the Lakota Sioux and of their leaders of long ago. Two who had great influence within the Sioux Nation — and on that of the white man too, were Sitting Bull and Rain in the Face. Brian, a full-blooded Sioux, is a direct descendent of Sitting Bull. Charles, a full-blooded Sioux is a direct descendent of Rain in the Face. What an honor and privilege to meet these men, to become their friend.

Sorry [several] Canoos of Skins passed down from the 2 Villages a Short distance above, and many Came to view us today, much astonished at my black Servent, who did not lose the opportunity of [displaying] his powers Strength…this nation never Saw a black man before. [Clark, October 9, 1804]
Tuesday–June 29, 2004
Trail Day–48
Trail Mile–31/1154
Location–SR1806, north of Ft. Yeates, North Dakota

A memorable time in Kenel. Thanks, Brian and Delina, for your kindness and generosity.
A brief stop at the little Kenel Store and I’m out to a perfect day. Soon, many riders come up behind me, fifteen in all, a group of bicyclists touring the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail under the guidance and support of Timberline Tours. I meet Irwin, Tom, Dick and others. Most whiz by. Their journey will last fifty days, cover a little over 3,200 miles.
Holy Bear stops for a moment on his way back from Ft. Yeates and wishes me well. A while later comes his son, Charles, Jr., who gives me a bundle of sage, a symbol of friendship. When set afire, the smoke from the sage is used by the Sioux for spiritual cleansing.
I am offered many rides again today. Dorla, from Cannonball, gives me two bottles of Gatorade, and of course, offers me a ride.
At two I enter North Dakota. A foot-square stone post in the ditch the only marker. Six states behind me, five yet to go.

A fine day. Above the mouth of the river, great numbers of stone, perfectly round, with fine grit, are in the bluff and on the shore. The river takes its name from those stones, which resemble cannon balls. [Clark, October 18, 1804]
Wednesday–June 30, 2004
Trail Day–49
Trail Mile–33/1187
Location–SR1806, Huff, North Dakota

Most every reservation has its casino. The Standing Rock Tribe has theirs. It’s on a high place overlooking the Great Plains of the Upper Missouri. Prairie Knights Casino and Resort by name. A lavish, most impressive place. I stop in for the breakfast bar.
We find there’s mostly good in every nation; it is true. As in ours, so too, the Sioux Nation. But there’s also that other element among us no one understands – that somehow can’t be fixed no matter. Brian and Delina told me about theirs. While we were riding last evening, Brian’s truck quit. It would start, run awhile, then quit again. Looked like we weren’t going to make it. We were out in the country, but not so far out that we couldn’t get a ride, or walk back if it came to that. Brian, however, became quite upset and apprehensive. “Easy, Brian,” I said with reassurance, “We can walk back; we’re in no hurry.” “No, no, you don’t understand,” he replied with urgency. “I can’t leave my truck out here; they’ll burn it.”
Oh my goodness, now I understand. Yesterday I passed a burned-out hulk, rims resting on the pavement shoulder. Now I understand what happened. I also now know what all the charred spots along the road came from.
Well, of that ilk, I meet up with those of the Lakota today. A car-full; they scare the Holy-beJesus out of me. Coming at full tilt, and just before reaching me, the driver veers to the shoulder, straight at me. Where a split second earlier there’d been asphalt, comes now only bumper, headlights and hood. Just as quickly, and before my flight reflexes kick in, they swerve back — then pass in a flash. As they do, I hear loud jeers and laughter. I jab my sticks down, then lean on them for support — till my legs quit wobbling. Thank you — Lord!
As I pass through this place, homeland of the Lakota, there rises within me a hollow, melancholy feeling of sadness. We all know the Sioux weren’t farmers; they were hunters, true nomads. Where the buffalo went, they went. They roamed the vast plains. Game was plentiful. Oh, but do not the lands of the Sioux yet remain — vast! Yes, and there’s game to hunt — for sport. The open prairie is no more. Today, the Sioux still occupy the land, but as-if farmers. Ahh, and therein lies the sadness. For they are no more farmers today than they were over past centuries.
All along the road, and for the past number of days, and where the silhouette of an occasional dwelling interrupts the graceful lines of the rolling prairie, stands only that: a dwelling. No outbuildings there, no barns, no machinery to till and toil the earth — just a lonely dwelling, set back on a hill against the open sky — fixes, unmovable. Ahh, indeed it does bring over a deep feeling of sadness. You can zoom by these places in air conditioned comfort and think you see them — but you cannot truly see. To walk the land is to see.
This land is still the home of the Lakota, home of their ancestors for countless centuries — but it is their home no more.
And so, dear friends: Brian, Holy Bear, Using Arrow, Spotted Elk, Iron Shield, Little Owl — your land is gone, but within your hearts and minds remain the gladness of past lifetimes — true dignity and pride. That gladness will not diminish, but shall remain forever. I have spoken with you these many days. I have seen the gladness. I know what is true.
So many Indians honk and wave now as they pass in both directions. They’ve seen me out here for days, walking their land. Their happy gestures, I believe, are an indication of their appreciation and respect; for I am perhaps the only white man any of them have ever seen crossing their reservation on foot.
Buffalo range both sides of the road as I cross the Cannonball River and leave Standing Rock Indian Reservation.
Fine oasis, Double T Bar and Grill in Fort Rice. I’m thirsty and hungry. Todd, the bartender fixes me right up. Two cold ones and a sack of sandwiches for the road, compliments, Double T. Thanks, Todd!

our hunters killed 4 Coats [Goats] 6 Deer 4 Elk & a pelican & informs that they Saw in one gang: 248 Elk… [Clark, October 18, 1804]
Thursday–July 1, 2004
Trail Day–50
Trail Mile–22/1209
Location–SR 1806, Mandan, North Dakota

Here on the prairie there is no place to hide, no place to pull off and pitch that cannot be seen from every direction. The color of my little Nomad tent was chosen specifically to blend in, a light gray, the natural color of a brushy spot or of other natural objects common to the land. And so the problem last — to find a spot to rest my weary body. Finally, as the sun was setting, presented a small break in the prairie, enough to conceal and protect me for the night.
Seems everybody from Mandan/Bismarck is making a run to the casino. Heavy, hammering traffic. The prairie wildlife doesn’t have a chance. I’ve already passed three dead rattlesnakes, two exploded pheasants plus a chick, a dead skunk (whew), one porky, all flattened out along the shoulder, plus two deer in the ditch. And so, ‘tis the price paid, that all might hurry after their elusive dreamed-after jackpot, then to grab it and hurry back. Even the BIA Police (Bureau of Indian Affairs) have to move right along — to keep from getting run over.
By one in the afternoon I’m at Fort Abraham Lincoln, situated on a good vantage next the confluence of the Heart and Missouri Rivers. Of historic significance here (long after Lewis and Clark) is the Custer house, built in 1873, home to Lt. Col. [Brevet Major General] George Armstrong Custer. On May 17, 1876, columns of cavalry and infantry accompanied by scouts headed west out of Fort Abraham Lincoln. Five weeks later, on June 25th, 1876, Custer and 265 of his men died at the battle of Little Bighorn in central Montana.
Less than a mile upriver from Fort Abraham Lincoln lies the remains of On-A-Slant Indian village, already abandoned by the time the Corps passed in October 1804. With the coming of the white man, many Indians died in battle, but more succumbed to smallpox, a dreaded disease brought by the white man. Epidemics of smallpox and other diseases did more to obliterate the Indian population than all the Indian wars combined.
The Corps had heard much about a ferocious type of bear. Near the abandoned Mandan lodges, Private Cruzatte wounded a grizzly, but it escaped.
Fall was in full color and winter was quickly approaching as the Corps pressed on north toward the Mandan and Hidatsa villages near Knife River.

Saw Several fresh tracks of that animal double the Sise of the largest track I ever Saw…[Clark]
At Heart River camp: Some frozen rain last night. Snow this morning…Snowed slowly until 12 oClock… [Ordway, October 21st, 1804]
Friday–July 2, 2004
Trail Day–51
Trail Mile–6/1215
Location–North Dakota Heritage Center, Bismarck, North Dakota

The purpose of the short day today is to give time to cross the Missouri again and to tour Bismarck. I want to see the capitol grounds, where stands the most impressive bronze statue of Sacagawea with infant son, Jean Baptiste — then to tour the North Dakota Heritage Center.
And what a day it is. Lots of pictures, inside and out. The capitol grounds are magnificent, and the Heritage Center? Well, one could spend more than one afternoon and still have much to see. Here, there’s one of the largest collections of Plains Indian artifacts in the nation. It is, indeed, remarkable. In North Dakota, Lewis and Clark discovered numerous new species of plants, animals and birds. Of special interest to me are the birds. I have seen so many birds out here on the prairie, and now I can identify most of them from the beautiful display here at the Center. Please permit me to list those I’ve seen and that I recognize.
The most abundant, without question, of all the birds that have paid me a visit are the barn swallows. They could just as well be renamed “bridge swallows.” Their mud nests form solid bulbs of plaster under most bridge structures. Interestingly, they are not alarmed in the least by the constant, familiar noise and vibration of vehicles passing above. But when they hear and feel the unfamiliar “tappity-tap-tap” of my trekking poles, all come out to investigate. At times I’ve been greeted by hundreds and hundreds of these graceful, happy creatures.
Okay now, in no order, other than as I view them perched behind the glass: killdeer, upland plover, long billed curlew, prairie falcon, pigeon hawk, common crow, rock wren, eastern kingbird, yellowthroat, bobolink, robin, oriole, cedar waxwing, sparrow, catbird, redheaded woodpecker, blue jay, warblers (many different ones), redwing blackbird, sandpiper, mallard, piping plover, sandhill crane and the great blue heron. Whew, what a list! Oh, and I should tell you that this list represents only a fraction of the different species of birds on display. These are all native birds. And so, the reason for the absence of the ubiquitous pheasant — it’s not native to North Dakota.
What a joy to have seen and to have spent so much time with all of these dear, happy friends. Tomorrow, when they come to visit me again, I’ll be able to call more of them by name.
There’s an AYCE steakhouse here in Bismarck. In the evening I hit it hard!
The cold wind, rain and snow caused Clark no minor trouble…

last night at about 1 oClock I was violently attacked with Rheumetism in my neck, which was so violent I could not move, Cap L. applied a hot Stone raped in flannel which gave temperry ease. [Clark, October 22, 1804]
Saturday–July 3, 2004
Trail Day–52
Trail Mile–33/1248
Location–Junction SR1804 and US83, south of Washburn, North Dakota

About one-third of the Missouri River is impounded behind dams now, one-third has been channelized, and the remaining third is remnant free-flowing stretches of water. Only about one percent of the river remains truly uncontrolled. At the Mandan/Bismarck Bridge, crossed yesterday, the Missouri stands 1,631 feet above the sea. Today, I continue climbing up the mighty-Mo! I’m headed now for the Corps’ winter camp of 1804-05, some two days yet ahead.
Some of the most significant events of the Corps’ journey happened in this region of North Dakota. The Mandan/Hidatsa Indian villages, now called the Knife River Indian villages, was home to a young Shoshone Indian woman named Sacagawea. At the time of Lewis and Clark, Knife River had a combined population of about 4,500 people, larger than the cities of St. Louis and Washington, D.C. and was of importance as a trade center in the Indian world. Lewis and Clark knew of these villages and were greatly anticipating arriving there, as they hoped to winter nearby.
Bismarck is a very lovely, clean city. As I hike out this morning, past modest ‘50s era homes, folks are out mowing and tending. First stop is Chief Looking’s Village, situated on a high-terraced knoll above the Missouri. The village was occupied by the Nu eta (We the People), now know as the Mandan Indian Tribe, between 1675-1780. Depressions along the crown of the knoll remain, marking the locations of many of the 43 earth lodges that once stood here.
Six or seven nearby Mandan villages existed during that time period. From this vantage today, I can see back across the Missouri to the On-a-Slant Village site near Fort Abraham Lincoln, and upriver, to another village site known as Double Ditch.
Today I have crossed the northernmost interstate highway, I-94. Before the Missouri finally ends its northerly trend, I’ll be less than an hours’ drive from Saskatchewan, Canada.
Next stop is the Double Ditch Village site where archeological work is underway. Here I meet Bob, Carl and wife, Julie, Stan and Fern. Carl and Stan work with the Paleocultural Research Group out of Flagstaff, Arizona. Bob is sorting, drying, bagging and marking material that’s being painstakingly excavated from food caches opened by the others. Bob shows me many different artifacts mixed with the dirt. There are bone awls, bone beads, drills, gaming pieces, pottery shards, some very large with rims intact, and flakes of Knife River flint, waste from the flint-knapping process that was employed in making stone tools and weapons.
The Mandans are the most well-known agricultural people of the tribes in the Missouri Valley region. They developed a rich and elaborate culture through farming and bison hunting. The total population of all the villages near Heart River probably exceeded ten thousand. Three of those villages I’ve seen are: On-a-Slant, Looking’s, and now Double Ditch. These villages were the center of trade between the Mandans and their nomadic neighbors, and later, Euroamerican traders, back as far as 1738.
During the years 1780-81 a smallpox epidemic swept through these Mandan villages, which probably caused the abandonment of Double Ditch. By the time Lewis and Clark arrived here in October, 1804, all these villages were ghost towns; the few survivors of the epidemic had mover farther upriver, to Knife River.
The cache pits being worked here today at Double Ditch have been located by measuring magnetic activity with a little hand-held device. A pop of the needle marks the spot, making the digging process exact and precise. These locations are being sought out and marked by Ken, another of the crew that I meet. He’s working closer to the river, probably near where the Corps camped in October 1804.

…proceeded on a Short distance and camped on the S.S. below the old village of the Mandins… [Clark]
Sunday–July 4, 2004
Trail Day–53
Trail Mile–25/1273
Location–SR1806, Stanton, North Dakota

What a great day last; much variety to break the usual uninterrupted hours of steady walking. By late evening I had reached my planned destination, a little boat landing and primitive campsite next the river west of Wilton. This being the 4th of July weekend though, the park looked pretty much packed, so I decided to hike on to the next little creek crossing where I could pitch and find some water. Good plan, but that all changed — when this pickup with four young fellows pulls up behind. Says the driver, “Saw you hiking today, we thought you might like to camp with us this evening. We’ll feed you — we got plenty of food.” And so, I meet Aaron Franklund, a enthusiastic and energetic young fellow from Bismarck. “My family owns most of the land along here, too. You’re welcome to camp anywhere along if you’d rather,” says Aaron. I explained that I’d like to get in a couple more hours of hiking, till around eight-thirty. But I also mentioned that it’d be great to spend time at the river with them. Then Aaron offered to come back out and pick me up around eight-thirty. Doo Dah! And did we have a grand time! Young adults, all graduates from Century High, Bismarck, Class of 2001. They genuinely enjoyed my company – and I, theirs. They even put on a special 4th fireworks show for the old Nomad. They insisted I light the grand finale. Oh, and two huge hamburgers, washed down with a few (that’s more than two) cold ones. Aww, kids, you don’t know how much your happy, shiny faces, your boundless energy and your great kindness have meant in bolstering the old Nomad. Thanks, Aaron F., Liz, Ashely, Aaron H. Darin, Jeremy, Matt, Renee, Josh, and Mack.
Becker (Darin) has me back on the road a little after eight and I’m on my way again. I’m headed for the North Dakota Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center and Fort Mandan in Washburn, organized, promoted and operated by America’s most adventurous historical foundation, the Lewis and Clark Fort Mandan Foundation, a private non-profit organization. Along, I’m following the river, one of the most picturesque, unspoiled sections I’ve seen since departing Wood River.
At the Center, the remarkable story of the Corps’ journey is revealed through the beautiful artwork by Karl Bodmer, in statuary, in exhibits displaying artifacts and by short film documentaries. The whole place is whiz-bang new, complete with grand, much larger-than-life statues of Captains Lewis and Clark and Chief Sheheke at the entrance.
I am greeted by Kevin Kirkey, Coordinator, who presents me with a complimentary pass to both the Center and the Fort. He takes time to drive me the two miles to the fort and back, then sends me on my way with a specially prepared bag lunch. Kind folks, top-drawer, professional operation — thanks Kevin!
And what did I learn while at the Center and the Fort? Well, as I entered the Center, I was greeted by this banner, a statement by Donald Jackson — boldly engraved just beyond the atrium: “Every man’s dream of ordinary men doing extraordinary, improbable things.” Ahh yes, I understand that!
Along I read: “The adventures and hardships of Lewis and Clark are the American story. Hearty individuals working together to overcome overwhelming obstacles. The Captains were commissioned by President Jefferson to find the Northwest Passage and establish peace among the Indians. With a corps of strapping young men they explored the Missouri River to its source and struggled across the Rocky Mountains to the ocean.
On the way, Lewis and Clark spent the winter of 1804-05 in a shelter they built near this very spot. They named it Fort Mandan in honor of the nearby Indian tribe. The expedition spent one-fourth of its time in present day North Dakota, a full 213 days.”
I urge you to come see these places.

Over four days ending on the 31st [of October, 1804], the captains met with chiefs of the villages, presenting through interpreters the ideas of peace…and trade with an allegiance to the ‘new father.’ The successful conclusion, including smoking the pipe with the visiting Arikara chief, marked the beginning of friendships between the captains and especially chiefs Black Cat and Sheheke. On November 2, men of the Corps began building a two-winged, stockaded fort of cottonwood logs…This rough little shelter was grandly named Fort Mandan. [Fifer]
Monday–July 5, 2004
Trail Day–54
Trail Mile–12/1285
Location–SR200, Hazen, North Dakota

Last evening in Stanton I was greeted by Terry Huber who befriended me and brought me food. He said, “You must see the Knife River Indian Village, home of Sacagawea.” So, this morning, talking with folks at Glo’s Cafe, Dwayne Payton offers me a ride out. He’s lived here a long time. His house is right across the road from the Knife River site. Stopping near the top of the ridge, he points out the river and the actual location of the village. At the Knife River Indian Village Interpretive Center, operated by the National Park Service, I am greeted by Jane and Dorothy. Jane takes much time with me, explaining all about the village.
Here is another well thought-out and organized operation, including artifact exhibits, a reconstructed earthlodge (completely furnished), a 15 minute film, and a live presentation/orientation by Jane.
The story about Knife River is remarkable. From archeological findings it is believed this area’s been inhabited for more than 11,000 years. At the time of the expedition, the villages around were occupied by the Mandan and Hidatsa Tribes. The winter quarters (Fort Mandan), constructed by the Corps was only a short distance away and thus was visited by the Indians throughout the course of the winter. The Indians traded corn, squash and beans, and shared information with the Corps. Toussaint Charbonneau, a French-Canadian trader who had been living with the Hidatsa was hired as an interpreter. His wife was a Shoshone woman named Sacagawea. The rest is (literally) history!

we Continued to Cut Down trees and raise our houses, a Mr. Chaubonee interpreter for the Gros Vintre nation Came to See us…this man wished to hire as an interpiter. [Clark, November 4, 1804]
Tuesday–July 6, 2004
Trail Day–55
Trail Mile–21/1306
Location–SR200, Golden Valley, North Dakota

What a grand reception last by the lovely little village of Hazen. Near the outskirts, and as I approached, came a car turning by a drive. A young lad jumped out and headed, thought I, for the mailbox for the family mail before driving on to the house a ways back. Instead, he came toward me. “Hello,” his greeting. “Are you the man hiking the Lewis and Clark Trail? My editor received a call from a lady in Stanton saying you would be coming through.” So, there I met a happy fellow, Blake Dinkins, intern reporter for the Hazen Star — and his parents, Brian and Jane. “You mind if I ask you a few questions?”…a pause, then a big wide grin. “ Sure,” I replied. So we walked along, toward Knife River Bridge. Pad-in-hand, he wrote frantically, bubbling with excitement – and questions.
Bidding him good-by, next, near the local restaurant pulled this car to the curb. Down went the passenger window. There I met Myra Axtman, (another big smile). Myra is Executive Director for the Hazen Chamber of Commerce. “My husband and I were returning from Lake Sakakawea (another variation in spelling Sacagawea), and we saw you walking the highway. We were going to offer you a ride, then realized you weren’t hitchhiking — you were on the other side of the road. Where are you going?” (another beaming smile) I’ve got my story down now. No more than a minute to tell it. Myra was totally fascinated and invited me to their home for dinner.
Oh, and what a great time it was with Myra and husband, Wayne. Later in the evening came Bryan and Blake to give me some flakes of the famous Knife River flint, as I had asked Blake earlier about the nearby ancient flint quarries located a little further west.
This morning I head for Sue’s, a little mom-n-pop downtown, to have breakfast with Blake. Nice young man; more questions.
At the post office, I empty my bounce box into my pack, then it’s to the Chamber office to bid Myra farewell before hitting the road for Golden Valley.
SR200 is not a friendly place, heavy commercial traffic running hard, narrow highway with steep, sloping shoulders — and sweet clover knee high only two feet from the white line. I must constantly churn the narrow band of loose gravel only elbow distance from the whizzing traffic.
I can’t blame the locals, though. Out here, where the distance from place to place is so great, one can spend a lifetime behind the wheel driving only fifty per. If folks want to see their family and friends, flyin’ ninety is the required speed. The old codgers are the only ones driving fifty. Well now, guess that proves my point! And me? I’m just passing through — I was already old before I got here.
This is coal country, reclaimed strip mines all along. But one would never know. It’s really amazing how they’ve put it all back, thousands and thousands of acres. Waving fields of grain — the whole landscape the same as before — except 15-25 feet lower now with all the coal gone.
Toward evening, and with heightening anticipation, I keep plugging along toward Golden Valley, looking for my dear friend, Larry, to pull up behind me. Near the turnoff to the little berg, I hear, “beep, beep,” as he goes by, stopping in a short distance.
What a joy, his coming to spend time and to support me on into Montana.
We spend the night in the city park.

…..over this winter, the co-captains wrote detailed observations on the plants, animals, and Native Americans met so far…They copied out the daily astronomical observations to aid mapmakers…They prepared animal and bird skeletons and hides to send back to President Jefferson…then as spring neared, they built six canoes of cottonwood…On February, 11, 1805, Sacagawea gave birth to a son, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, whom she carried to the Pacific and back on a cradleboard. [Fifer]
Wednesday–July 7, 2004
Trail Day–56
Trail Mile–8/1314
Location–SR200 near Halliday, North Dakota

While spending the evening at the Axtman’s, Myra suggested I look up John Lindemann while in Golden Valley. “He’s got one of the finest private collections of Harley Davidson motorcycles in the country,” she said. So this morning, at the Valley Store I inquire of Joyce, the storeowner, as how to contact John. “John’s out of town,” she tells me, “…but by the time you’ve finished your first cup of coffee, his father, Bill, will be in.” Sure enough, in only minutes, comes this old gentleman. Joyce nods, “That’s him.” I wait for my opportunity, then introduce myself. I tell him about my interest in old Harleys, about my hike — and that my friend Myra had suggested I contact him. “I’d sure like to see your son’s cycle collection, if you’ve got the time,” I remark. “Sure,” he says, “Give me a few minutes to chat with the fellows, then we’ll go over.”
Well, friends, let me tell you, I’ve never seen anything like this. Larry and I just stand and gawk — as Bill tells the story. Before us are lines of Harleys, up and down both sides of this well-lighted, exquisitely finished/furnished showroom. In the center are old Model-Ts, Mustangs, old Fords, all perfectly restored, just like new. There’s not a smudge or a speck of dust anywhere.
My first Harley was a ‘47 knucklehead springer. There’s a ‘47 in the lineup here, and a ‘48, and a ‘49, and a – well, he’s got one of about all of them. I get my picture with the ‘47.
Bill then turns to the old cars. “That Model-T there, that’s a ‘24,” says Bill. “I was born 12 days before it was built.” (big grin) There are more warehouses, more cycles, more cars and trucks, and tractors. Bill leads us on. “How many of these things you got running anyway?” I ask. “No tellin’,” says Bill, “We quit countin’ a long time ago.”
In his private office now, Bill pulls down this little framed picture. With a wrinkle in his voice, he manages, “One of the saddest days of my life.” He hands it to me. An aerial picture of the auction, lines of dozers, earth movers, every kind of heavy equipment, acres upon acres of it. With a look of sadness, and in a low voice now, he says: “Sold it all, a sad day. I loved the business.”
Bidding farewell to Bill, Larry pulls his truck around to the antique pumps, in front of the antique filling station sign — Sanitary Restrooms, Regular, 21.9 — “filler-up,” hollers Larry!
Another stop Myra suggested is the museum in Dunn Center, a few more miles up the road. “Ask Dawn or Maggie if they can get you in touch with the Lynches. They own the land where the old Knife River flint quarries are located. It’s a remarkable and amazing place.” So, as I hike out of Golden Valley (at close to noon now), Larry heads for the museum in Dunn Center. Early afternoon, he’s back. “The Lynches are home and they said we’re welcome to come by. Both Maggie and Myra have talked to them,” says Larry. Oh my, this is great. I load up and we’re off to the Lynch farm, a little this side of Dunn Center.
Not much of a hiking day, this. But that’s okay. These are the kinds of days that memories are made of.
As we arrive, Allan and Gail are waiting outside for us, and before we’ve hardly exchanged greetings, Gail invites Larry and me to supper. Trying to decline, Larry nudges me, then gives me that “You Dummy!” look. We agree on six o’clock.
Full of excitement now, as if he’d never shown the quarries before, Allan urges us to follow as he jumps on his quad-trac. Up the lane, through the gate and across the field we go, lickety-split. In only moments we’re seeing huge depressions all over the pasture. They extend clear across the crown of the hill and over the undulating field.
Walking with Allan now, begins the program. “Up until forty-some years ago, all of this was explained away as nothing more than a bunch of buffalo wallows,” says Allan. Larry comments, “These pits look just like sinkholes commonly found above areas of limestone. That’s what I would have figured they were.”
Ahh, but they are neither wallows nor sinkholes. These are quarries, deep holes in the earth, laboriously and painstakingly excavated by hand, using the crudest, most primitive of tools — over the eons — over more than eleven thousand years. The rock removed from this ground and all about amounted to over a million tons of Knife River flint. It was dug up, shouldered up — and lugged away, piece by piece by the Plains Indians. First here were the Paleo Tribes, then more recently, over the past 1700 years, the Mandans and Hidatsas.
Prized by the Indians, indeed, as would be prized the richest of gold mines by the white man, cobbles of Knife River flint dug up here were of unequaled value. They were fractured on anvil stones using smaller hammer stones into more manageable pre-form billets. The pre-forms were then transported and traded, or transformed right here on-site into the finest of stone (flint) tools, implements, and weapons. Arrow points and other Knife River flint artifacts have been found as far away as the far west, southwest, north into Canada – and east, across the Appalachians from Maine to Florida. Yes, the Flint River pieces were the finest of the fine. To possess Knife River flint for barter or trade was an indication of great wealth among all the Indian tribes — for centuries. Ahh, and all of it came from right here — from these buffalo wallows and limestone sinkholes!

Our vessels consisted of six small canoes, and two large perogues. This little fleet altho’ not quite so rispectable as those of Columbus or Capt. Cook, were still viewed by us with as much pleasure as those deservedly famed adventurers ever beheld theirs; and I dare say with quite as much anxiety for their safety and preservation. we were now about to penetrate a country at least two thousand miles in width, on which the foot of civilized man had never trodden; the good or evil it had in store for us was for experiment yet to determine, and these little vessells contained every article by which we were to expect to subsist or defend ourselves, however, as the state of mind in which we are, generally gives to colouring to events, when the imagination is suffered to wander into futurity, the picture which now presented itself to me was a most pleasing one. enterta[in]ing as I do, the most confident hope of succeeding in a voyage which had formed a da[r]ling project of mine for the last ten years, I could but esteem this moment of my departure as among the most happy of my life. [Lewis, April 7, 1805]
Thursday–July 8, 2004
Trail Day–57
Trail Mile–16/1330
Location–SR200 near Dunn Center, North Dakota

The evening last spent with Allan and Gail was a most delightful time. The dinner Gail prepared filled this old Nomad right up, and that’s no small task, considering the energy I’m burning these days.
After the table was cleared, Allan brought out their personal collection of artifacts. Oh what an amazing number of pieces to look at and talk about: arrow points, drills, knives, hammer stones, scrapers of all sizes, preforms, and the most interesting of all — microblades and the cobbles to strike them from. I’d never heard of or seen a microblade before. Allan explained that certain of the Indians carried a small egg-sized cobble of the finest Knife River flint from which thin slivers could be chipped. These razor-thin/sharp chips were then used for a variety of tasks where sharpness and precision were needed. It’s hard to believe that a small sliver (microblade) of flint could have an edge every bit as sharp as the finest surgical steel — but it is true!
The last pieces to be shown were some very special knife blades. Allan laid them out, then in a low, deliberate voice began relating the fascinating story of the Indian snake effigy. To the Indians of the Plains, and across the eons, the snake and the turtle held sacred meaning. The Missouri, the Little Missouri, the Knife and the Heart Rivers were literally their rivers of life. From a butte or other high place, and looking down on these waters from such a vantage, the serpentine nature of their course became so apparent — so much resembling the appearance of a snake; thus the divine relationship and connection to the snake.
Allan had heard, through Indian oral history, about a snake effigy that once existed somewhere in the area. Over time, however, the exact location became unknown. Since childhood here on the farm, lands of his father and mother, Allan had searched diligently for it. Finally, a few years ago, his determination paid off — he found the effigy!
As the snake is a sacred symbol to the Indians, so, too, the grounds of the effigy. “Only a handful of people know of its location,” said Allan. “Those I’ve taken there are spiritual people, holy men and holy women.”
Allan then explained the Indian sacrificial ceremonies that were performed at the snake effigy. “The land and waters gave life to the Indians. Before taking from the land, sacrifices were always made. Those things sacrificed to the effigy were always items of great value, and one of the possessions valued most was the flint knife,” Allan related. At the time of discovery and at the head of the serpent, Allan gathered and removed the knife blades now lying before us on the table.
And so, to conclude this remarkable story — Allan, his head bowed — and in a low, deliberate, respectful voice — remarked, “I must return them, I must take them back — I know I must take them back. I will return them.” During a quiet pause that followed, I said: “Allan, you know it is not coincidental that you have been chosen to be the steward of this land. This special place is in your hands and under your care through the forces of a divine power we know but may not fully understand.”
In a short while, eighty acres, the very heart of the Knife River flint quarries will be placed on the National Register of Historic Places by Allan and Gail.
I get out a little late. As an afternoon storm approaches, Larry comes to take me from the road just as it hits.

Traveling north and then west up the Missouri River, the Corps of Discovery moved rapidly across today’s western North Dakota in the spring of 1805. Paddling and poling the pirogues and canoes, they moved twenty-five or more miles a day. When the wind was right, they put up sails and sped along at three miles an hour! [Fifer]
Friday–July 9, 2004
Trail Day–58
Trail Mile–33/1363
Location–Gap Road, Little Missouri River, northwest of Killdeer, North Dakota

Today I will pass through Dunn Center and Killdeer, then head northwest, onto Killdeer Mountain toward the Badlands, then US85 and Watford City, leaving the beautiful Sakakawea South Shore area and the happy, friendly people that live and prosper here, behind. What a remarkable, memorable time I’ve had. Larry, my dear friend, has come to support and help me along, and I have met so many wonderful, wonderful people. Thank you Blake, Brian, Jane, Myra, Wayne, Darlene, Joyce, Bill, John, Allan, Gail, Dawn, Maggie, Debi, Eric. To each of you, thanks so much dear friends for your generosity and kindness to this old man. The days spent here along the South Shore, these days will remain in my memory, forever.
Finally, and with great reluctance, I make this closing comment about my journey across Sakakawea South Shore. I remember with great clarity these words of wisdom from my mother. They were simple and straight. She said, “Son, if you can’t say something nice about someone, just keep your mouth shut.” I feel compelled, however, because of the great effort so many fine folks have and are putting forth daily to promote and extend the good will of all that live in the South Shore area, from every community…That a certain deputy stopped to talk to me near Halliday. He inquired as to why I was here, where I was from and where I was headed. After giving him my short, canned answer, he looked me straight on, and in a drone-like monotone, replied, “You are nowhere near the Lewis and Clark Trail, nor are you anywhere near the South Shore.” Well, Mr. Deputy Sheriff, I’d like to inform you that less than half-a-mile from your house, on SR200, you’ll find one of the beautiful Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail signs; how many times do you pass it each and every day? Oh, and the village in which you live? Well, your little community, I’m happy to tell you, is a proud member of the Sakakawea South Shore Tourism Association. And so, it would be a blessing to all your hard-working neighbors throughout the South Shore if you’d become a little better informed – then perhaps, just perhaps, you’d put on the yoke and pull along with them! Nuff said.
As I roll along today, to the north and the west, then back to the north again, along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, and as this summer rolls along here in the majestic high plains of northwestern North Dakota, I continue to be blessed with days graced by cirrus-tufted skies, with cool, gentle breezes nudging me along. All is lush and green, the rolling fields of hay and wheat and barley and oats, maturing in the soothing high-plain’s sun, producing what will surely become a bountiful fall harvest.
Larry meets me at the Buckskin Bar and Grill in Killdeer for lunch. When all hear my story, both our meals are provided — compliments of Eric the proprietor.
Leaving Killdeer, I begin climbing toward Killdeer Mountain and the Badlands of North Dakota. Up and around on Gap Road I go, expecting to be greeted on the other side by a waffled landscape of eroded flat-tops characteristic of the Badlands. But instead, and to my surprise, the gap opens to the most fertile and lush of all the high plains meadows, and I am greeted by reflected waves of shimmering light dancing and pulsing across fields bathed in the forenoon sun. The gravel road seeks the high ground here, following the ridge along. This is open range. There are no ditches, no fences, just blue sky, green fields — and this ribbon of road winding its way.
By late afternoon, clouds begin to gather, and in just awhile I can see no less than four dense gray thunderheads, invading marauders of the tranquil heavens, their trailing veils of rain draping and brushing the prairie.
Near Roundtop Butte, Larry comes to fetch me. He passes, then pulls off above at a vantage next a gate to a rancher’s high field. Down comes the tailgate, in goes my pack – and we sit, enjoying the profound beauty of the distant storms as rainbows chase them, and they move away.
Something interesting I’ve noticed up here: When the machines of the fields wear out and have seen their better days, the ranchers don’t pull them aside and park them behind the barn. Instead, they move them to a high spot for all to enjoy. Over the past few days I have seen old plows, cultivators, rakes, even an old threshing machine. The rusting remains of one of these machines rests on this knoll. “Bet you don’t know what this is,” says Larry. I nod, he continues, “This old machine was used to harvest wheat. Those old spokes there and there, they formed a paddlewheel that drew the grain in. Once cut, the wheat was gathered onto that conveyor (he points down — all I see are weeds). Then it was automatically bundled and tied into sheaves. Behind, and as the binder moved along, others gathered the sheaves and stacked them in shocks.” As a child in the Ozark Highlands of Missouri, I remember seeing such fields of wheat shocks. I can close my eyes now and hear this old machine running, and I can see, so vividly, the shocks standing all about in the rolling field below me.
In awhile, we walk toward the knoll to take some pictures and get a better look. We’re no more past the gate than Larry is greeted by a rattlesnake. It coils, he recoils. With my trekking poles, I gather it up, lifting it toward the sky. Still trembling, Larry fumbles with his camera. “For gosh sakes, Larry, take the picture,” I plead. “I’m not enjoying this fellow’s company any more than he’s enjoying mine!”
Oh what an exciting day this has been. The kind one remembers — the kind spent with a friend.

….we called Sharbono’s Creek after our interpreter who encamped several weeks on it with a hunting party of Indians. this was the highest point to which any whiteman had ever ascended; except two Frenchmen…who having lost their way had straggled a few miles further, tho’ to what place precisely I could not learn. [Lewis, April 14, 1805]
Saturday–July 10, 2004
Trail Day–59
Trail Mile–30/1393
Location–US85, Watford City, North Dakota

The hike today will drop me off the high plateau of Killdeer Mountain, down and into the gorge of the Little Missouri River and the Badlands that form the eastern extent of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
The maps that I rely on, which I’ve created and compiled from DeLorme software, often have errors. The fieldwork involved in compiling data for the maps may be an exacting science. However, the job of interfacing this data with other information, such as aerial photographs, certainly is not, and errors can occur. Larry’s explained all this to me. He did field survey work for USGS for many years.
There is a major error in the map I’m relying on today. It shows an all-weather road where no such road exists – the road I’d hoped to follow down and into the Little Missouri gorge. As I trouble my way along, along comes Mrs. Harris from Circle-6 Ranch. She gives me directions — and as I’ve found in the past, the way I’m going to go is much further than the way I’d like to go. And so, out and around I trek, then down, tacking to the southeast — when I want to go northwest.
As I descend, cattle are grazing the shortgrass stubble that’s intermingled with the sagebrush on the narrow flats and washes that give base to the vertical walled buttes. Also grazing are the biting flies. There are clouds of them. They find me right away. Comes now the task of fending them off. At first they’re annoying, then frightfully troublesome, and finally, due to my inability to repel them, sets the agony of it. They attack with abandon, no fear of dying. I swat them by the hundreds, but they just keep coming. They’re like flying hypodermics armed with battery acid. For hours, and all along the gorge of the Little Missouri, I battle them in vain. When I stop to take a picture, to relieve myself or to get a drink, I pay dearly. They chase me across the Long-X Bridge that spans the Little Missouri — and halfway up the canyon wall on the far side before finally retreating.
From early this morning until late this evening I’ve seen two vehicles. One, a local rancher, and the other, Larry bringing me lunch.
“Bad” in the word, “Badlands” is certainly the right choice. Mother Nature can surely show her reckless side from time-to-time. She must certainly have been in a troubled mood when she threw up these walls of dirt, clay, rock and scoria. Though rugged and haphazard, they offer a strangely organized and visually pleasing pattern. I find it impossible to describe the feeling of trying to take it all in. Roosevelt commented “I never would have been president if it had not been for my experiences in North Dakota.” Those experiences must certainly have honed and tempered him. Perhaps the daily troubles in Washington were like swatting biting flies!
It was here in the Badlands that Roosevelt came to understand the responsibility that each of us must accept in protecting our treasure of natural resources. He established the U.S. Forest Service, five national parks and 51 wildlife refuges. He was a great conservationist, and from his example, we have all learned. The Badlands National Park bears his name and honors his memory.
Late afternoon, Larry comes out again to provide a moral boost — and some cold water.
It’s nine by the time I’ve stomped down the perfectly straight fifteen-mile-long ribbon that is US85, from Long-X Bridge to Watford City.

walking on shore this evening I met with a buffaloe calf which attached itself to me and continued to follow close at my heels until I embarked and left it. it appeared allarmed at my dog which was probably the cause of it’s so readily attaching itself to me. [Lewis, April 22, 1805]
Sunday–July 11, 2004
Trail Day–60
Trail Mile–20/1413
Location–US85, Alexander, North Dakota

Long, straight roadwalks like this one today, when uneventful, can become the least bit boring. So, except for saying the wind was not my friend at all, I’ll not trouble you with any of it. Instead, if I might digress a bit to talk a little about my place in all this Lewis and Clark excitement.
If you’ve checked my webpage from time to time, you will recall that I did a transcontinental trek two years ago, from the old lighthouse at Cape Hatteras to the old lighthouse at Point Loma, San Diego. During that odyssey, I passed through Washington, D.C., then, heading northwest, I hiked into Pennsylvania, very near Pittsburgh. From there I pretty much headed west, following the Ohio River, to cross the Missouri at Chester Illinois, near the confluence of the Ohio and the Mississippi.
Some historians say the Lewis and Clark Expedition actually began in Washington, D.C. They, of course, were taking into account the genius of Thomas Jefferson, who long understood the importance of securing the Louisiana Territory for the United States. Jefferson employed young Lewis as his personal secretary, not for any ability Lewis may have had in that regard, but more for what Jefferson knew of Lewis’ ability to lead a corps of men into the unknown, hopefully find the Northwest Passage, and return them safely.
Lewis spent much time with Jefferson and other leaders and professionals of the day, preparing himself for the task Jefferson had set for him. When that day came, Lewis chose Clark to co-captain the expedition. They were ready. After Jefferson sent Lewis off, one of Lewis’ last stops was in Pittsburgh where the keelboat was being built. Much time was wasted there, which ultimately meant no progress up the Missouri until the spring of 1804, thus the winter camp at River DuBoise.
So, my journey, retracing the paths of Lewis and Clark — my journey also passed through Washington, D.C. It then proceeded west, down and beside the Ohio River to Missouri.
Before departing Wood River, May 14, 2004, I had walked to the graves of Lewis and Clark and had paid my respects to both the Captains; Clark, who is buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis, and to Lewis, who is buried at Grinder’s Stand, on the Natchez Trace in Tennessee. I hiked the Natchez Trace National Historic Trail last year in order to visit Lewis’ grave.
Oh, but could I have gone with the captains and their men 200 years ago; guess I was born 200 years too late — but what is 200 years anyway. In my own time and in my own way, I am reliving their incredible odyssey, through my own personal Journey of Discovery — Odyssey 2004.

The wind blew So hard this morning from the N. W. that we dared not to venture our canoes on the river. [Lewis, April 19, 1804]
Monday–July 12, 2004
Trail Day–61
Trail Mile–31/1444
Location–SR1804, Trenton, North Dakota

Another long, straight roadwalk day – to the Missouri River Bridge near Williston. By noon, the wind is no-nonsense pushing me, and does not relent. When I finally reach the river, I’m beat. Across the bridge, I can save a good five miles by hiking the live railroad grade upstream. Oh yes, I drop off the bridge and pick up the rails. Lucky for me there’s a twotrack all along the grade, eliminating my need to walk the tracks. Live grade, indeed is it ever! I’m on here no more than twenty minutes and two mile-long freighters have already passed. I’m here because the grade leads to SR1804. That’s where I want to go and I make it in good time. Larry won’t be coming to fetch me for over an hour, so I have time to hike the road on into Trenton.
It’s been a good day.

the whole face of the country was covered with herds of Buffaloe, Elk & Antelopes [Lewis]
Tuesday–July 13, 2004
Trail Day–62
Trail Mile–32/1476
Location–SR327, Bainville, Montana

I’ve got approximately ten miles remaining to complete my trek through North Dakota. That’ll be seven states down and four to go. Finished are Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, and now, North Dakota. Remaining are Montana (nearly eight hundred miles of it), Idaho, Oregon and Washington.
In the past few days, besides the rattlesnake that greeted Larry, I’ve seen a very large jackrabbit, numerous mule deer, and this morning, my first pronghorn.
Near the border of North Dakota and Montana lies the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers. By the Interpretive Center there, and on a high place, I’m able to get a good picture of this famous site. Also nearby is Fort Union. I take the short way over for a look (through a section of re-established native shortgrass prairie).
There’s no problem telling where the Montana state line is located. No, there’s no “Welcome to Montana” billboard, just a sign that reads “pavement ends.” So, the remainder of this day will be spent churning the gravel. The difficulty in walking I do not mind, though, as the river here above the Yellowstone is a glorious sight to behold. Near the bluffs where the oxbows wind, the channel splits around numerous islands and sandbars. Here, the Missouri has taken on an entirely new complexion, and the narrowness of the river now tells me that I have made noticeable progress in my journey toward its headwaters.
The biting flies are back again today. They are brutal and relentless, worse than any horde of mosquitoes or blackflies. They’ve injected enough acid into my system to keep my batteries charged for the remainder of my life!

The Corps knew they were nearing the Yellowstone River, because this area had been described well by the Hidatsas, Charbonneau, and Jean Baptiste LePage – a French trapper who had enlisted at Fort Mandan…On April 25, Lewis took a few men and headed overland in a straight line in the direction of the Yellowstone, to gain enough time to ‘make the necessary observations’ of its latitude and longitude without detaining all the Corps…Clark and the others coming via the Missouri reached the mouth of the Yellowstone at noon the following day. Both he and Lewis thought the site on the Missouri’s south side would be excellent for a trading post. Indeed, forts later were built there, but on the Missouri’s opposite shore. These were Fort Union, a fur trading post built twenty-four years later, and military Fort Buford, built in 1866 [Fifer]
Wednesday–July 14, 2004
Trail Day–63
Trail Mile–25/1501
Location–US2 near Brockton, Montana

After a short stop at the Bainville post office I’m headed for Culbertson.
From the upper reaches that form the impoundment of Lake Sakakawea, the river is basically in its natural state all the way to Fort Peck Dam. Although the river channel has moved since the Corps passed here 200 years ago, what I see now is remarkably the same as what they saw then.
I’m out and going only a short time when I hear the whirring high-pitched sound of bike spokes behind me. I turn to see a man and woman. They slow and cross to my side of the road. I recognize the lady right away, her happy eyes and bright smile — but they’re out of place; the helmet and bicycle don’t fit. “You know who I am,” she says, beaming with excitement. I stutter and hesitate. She says her name. Oh what a joy it is to see Bonita Mother Goose Helton again. Our trails have crossed many times, on the Appalachian Trail and at different trail gatherings over the years. She’s biking the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail this year, and riding with her is David Norton.
Mother Goose has gained much notoriety within out tight-knit long distance hiking circle. She’s the first woman to have successfully completed a “yo-yo” hike o’er the Appalachian Trail — that being a thru-hike of 2,150 miles, from Springer Mountain Georgia, to Mt. Katahdin Maine – thence to do a 180 turn around (right then and there) to backtrack-hike the 2,150 miles to Springer Mountain. It was an amazing accomplishment, almost as amazing as her latest long distance trek, that being a thru-hike o’er the Eastern Continental Trail, from Key West Florida, the southernmost point on the eastern North American continent, to near the end of the Appalachian Mountains in Canada, a journey of no less than 5,000 miles.
Of the thousands and thousands of folks that shoulder a backpack and hit the trail from time to time, only a small percentage ever become ultra long distance hikers. Today, miraculously, two are standing together, along a long, lonely stretch of road in northern Montana, rejoicing the great good fortune that their paths have crossed once more. Mother Goose, dear friend, what a blessing to see you again. I wish you success on this journey, and as always, I pray for your continued safe passage wherever you go.
There is much traffic today, and I am very tired when Larry comes to fetch me. Cold, refreshing beverages, and a ride back to town; am I ever being spoiled!

I walked on shore with one man. about 8. A.M. we fell in with two brown or yellow bear [grizzly]; both of which we wounded; one of them made his escape, the other after my firing on him pursued me seventy or eighty yards, but fortunately had been so badly wounded that he was unable to pursue me so closely as to prevent my charging my gun; we again repeated our fir and killed him. [Lewis, April 29th, 1805]
Thursday–July 15, 2004
Trail Day–64
Trail Mile–30/1531
Location–US2, Chelsea, Montana

I’ve been trekking through petroleum country the past number of days. On the road, tanker trucks are running the crude. They’re big and long, thirty-six wheels in all. The main rigs are pretty much standard eighteen-wheelers (with two more wheels that can be lowered for overload). Attached and tagging behind are large tank trailers with sixteen more wheels. All these rigs are filthy, covered with dirt and mud from running the way-back roads — down and into to the pits of hell where the wells are located. Whatever their original color might have been, they’re all a dingy camo brown now. As they roar by me, enveloped in their own dirt clouds (and if I’ve been sweating the least bit), it doesn’t take long for a good bit of the flying crud to cake up on me — in layers. The last few days, when I’ve had the opportunity to bathe, the bathwater swirls down looking a whole lot like it came directly from the “Big Muddy.”
Jim, my friend from Kansas City, who’s bicycling the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, will be concluding his odyssey at Fort Clatsop any day now. He sent me an email awhile back, giving me the heads-up about the double-bottom oil tankers. I’ve had no problem with them; they give me as much room as they can when they go roaring by. But I tell ‘ya: Danged if I’d like being on a bicycle with those thirty-six wheels rolling directly off my elbow.
As I move further west and climb further up and onto the high plains, the land is slowly becoming more arid. And I am climbing. Below the Yellowstone at Williston the Missouri stood at 1,847 feet. Above, near Chelsea at the old Lewis and Clark Bridge (not much further upriver) it stands at 1,965 feet. The soil here is rich though, the secret to good crop yield being dependable water. And the water’s here, lots of water — from the Yellowstone. It’s being diverted into irrigation canals and ditches to help the wheat, sugar beets and corn. What a pleasant sight, seeing everything so lush and green. The crops this year will be very good.
For the last number of days, the highway and the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railroad have been running side by side. Most all the engineers have gotten to know me by now, even the Amtrak pilots. They all give me a short beep-beep as they go clanking by. What good energy for the old Nomad!
On the 8th of May 1805, the Corps passed and named the Milk River. Clark thought its color ….resembles tea with a considerable mixture of milk. This was the river named by the Hidatsas as “The River That Scolds At All Others.”
Considerable time and much way-around miles will be taken the next number of days getting around Fort Peck Reservoir. Fort Peck Dam backs up the Missouri clear past the mouth of Mussellshell River, and the lake has flooded the entire river bottom where the Corps traveled and camped through this stretch. So tomorrow, I’ll head south, way south, to get Fort Peck Lake behind me.
Chelsea consists of an old church that looks to have lost its congregation quite awhile ago. It’s situated back a ways from the highway. That’s it; that’s Chelsea. Larry comes for me again, so I don’t have to bed down in the old churchyard!

we nooned it just above the entrance of a large river which disimbogues on the Lard. [Starboard] side…the water of this river possesses a peculiar whiteness, being about the colour of a cup of tea with the admixture of a tablespoonfull of milk. from the colour of it’s water we called it Milk river… [Lewis, May 8th, 1805]
Friday–July 16, 2004
Trail–Day 65
Trail Mile–29/1560
Location–SR13, Vida, Montana

The afternoons are beginning to warm up to the point of being the least stifling. By the time I reach the Missouri River at Wolf Point Bridge (site of the old Lewis and Clark Bridge), and as I start to make the pull up the far side, I decide to move over for a break from the heat. Neat place, Harry’s Bar and Grill. Two Dews down, I head back out.
I’ve rounded the corner south now — to get past Fort Peck Reservoir. Turns out to be a hammer-it-out day on the straightaway to Vida. Larry comes for me at the little bar there. A few cold frosties turns the day!

…the Missouri was still free-flowing here on May 14th 1805, when an accident happened that could have ended the expedition right then, by their estimate 2,200 river miles from St. Lewis…interpreter Toussaint Charbonneau was steering the white pirogue…Wind caught the sail and Charbonneau turned the wrong direction, so that the boat upset and waves washed in…Cruzatte threatened to shoot him if he didn’t ‘do his duty.’ Instantly, Cruzatte ordered two men to bail with kettles already on board, and two others to join him in rowing to shore. At the back of the boat, Sacagawea was catching articles that were beginning to float away… [Fifer]
Saturday–July 17, 2004
Trail Day–66
Trail Mile–31/1591
Location–SR200, Circle, Montana

Before this thirty-one-mile day is over, it will prove the most trying, the most unpleasant and the most difficult of any so far.
Saying good-bye to my dear friend, Larry, starts the day on a funk. Then the heat comes up, the humidity already up — 98 and 97 respectively. By late afternoon the tarmac starts bubbling, and my shoes begin sticking to the goo. I bury my PocketMail deep in my pack to keep it from being fried. What little water I have does little to hydrate me, ready as it is for the preparation of hot tea.
Late evening, after a kind farmer and his wife give me some water, I stumble into Circle. Places out here are getting farther and farther apart. I’ve got thirty-one to pound out tomorrow, to a little crossroads’ rest area, followed Monday by a thirty-six to the next little village. Another fryingpan day is forecast. I’ll sure say my prayers tonight.

we employed the toe line the greater part of the day; the banks were firm and shore boald which favoured the uce of the cord. I find this method of asscending the river, when the shore is such as will permit it, the safest and most expeditious mode of traveling…the great number of large beds of streams perfectly dry which we daily pass indicates a country but badly watered… [Lewis, May 16, 1805]
Sunday–July 18, 2004
Trail Day–67
Trail Mile–31/1622
Location–Junction of SR200 and SR24, Montana

The day dawns cool, but it doesn’t take long for everything to start cooking, including me. The bit of early haze burns off by ten. There’s not a cloud to the horizon in any direction — and the breeze that’s become so predictable up here has taken the day off.
The wheat and hay fields pretty much quit yesterday, nothing out here but patches of shortgrass stubble crowning the countless buttes, with exposed, gray, hardpan filling the gulches. The highway rolls up and down, pretty much straight through, the ridges and buttes having been bulldozed into the gulches, creating sheer dropoffs right next the white line, in some places thirty to fifty feet — no shoulders, no crash rails, nothing.
The locals fly out here, same for the tourists passing through in their motorhomes. They give me what room they can. At times I must stop, drop off and cling precariously to the sloping shoulder.
There are no trees, just cactus, sagebrush and tumbleweed — and rattlesnake road kill. The only shade to be found anywhere is under the wooden bridges that span the countless gulches.
By two-thirty, my little REI pack thermometer is registering 105. I’m nearly out of water. What little I have is too hot to drink. I’m no longer sweating; my refrigeration unit has pretty much shut down. I become very drowsy and start weaving around. Under the next bridge there’s a large puddle with some of that milky looking water described by Lewis. I pull over, stumble down and plunk my heat exhausted body right in. Oh my, what relief! I drop my hot water bottle in too, and in no time we’re both cooled off. Also cooling off in the bank of sloping rocks under the bridge is a rattlesnake.
The humidity has dropped back to normal, in the teens, but a hundred-five is a hundred-five, no matter. I’ve never had the sun press me down like this, the heat from it like a searing weight that can’t be lifted.
I endure two more hours of this agony before reaching the intersection at SR200 and SR24. Here there are restrooms with cool water to relieve my wilting body — and to the side, shade from the toilets. This is an absolute oasis. Thank you, Lord! At the faucet on the outside wall I soak my feet and drench myself. Folks rushing from, then back to, their air-conditioned comforts seem amused, but few tarry to talk for long.
Yesterday, the heat from the sun above, and the tarmac below, proved the torment from hell. Today has been a rerun — hell warmed over.
Tomorrow, from here to the little village of Jordan it’s thirty-six miles, nothing between but more sagebrush, cactus, tumbleweed and rattlesnakes — but I’m too exhausted to think about tomorrow.

Capt. Clark narrowly escaped being bitten by a rattlesnake in the course of his walk, the party killed one this evening at our encampment, which he informed me was similar to that he had seen… [Lewis, May 17, 1805]
Monday–July 19, 2004
Trail Day–68
Trail Mile–36/1658
Location–SR200, Jordan, Montana

The narrow road continues, up and over the rounded mesas and down and into the gulches. There’s still no shoulder — but there’s plenty of road kill; more rattlesnakes, a fox, a coyote, a porky, numerous jackrabbits and two mulies (with scattered pieces of grill).
It’s another scorcher. There’s no way to carry enough water; by mid afternoon I’m out. However, Larry, who passed here on his way to pick up his wife, Mary, at the Billings’ airport Saturday, had the great foresight to spot me a gallon of water at MM130. What a blessing! I grab the jug, duck under the next bridge and refill my empties — then chug the rest of the gallon.
I reach Jordan a little after four. I’m so dry I can’t swallow. First stop, the little drive-in, complete with awning-covered tables. A young lad slides the order window. I ask for a tall cup of icewater, then a Pepsi. “Okay,” he says, “but it’ll have to be city water; don’t have any bottled water.” Jim, my friend from Kansas City, who departed St. Louis by bicycle with me, and who’s finished now, had told me about the Jordan water. It’s apparently heavy on alkali and gives folks intestinal problems — bad intestinal problems. The young fellow fixes the water, then watches wide-eyed as I gulp it down. “Tastes fine to me,” I say, “filler up again!”
While sitting at the table cooling off, comes a lady by, inquisitive she is about my journey — saw me on the road a day or so before. What a pleasure meeting Jackie Currey. She’s lived here most of her life. “You hiking toward Sand Springs tomorrow?” she asks. “I live out that way about fifteen miles. I’ll check on you on my way to work in the morning and bring you some water tomorrow evening when I get off.” What great help. “Yes, that would be great,” I reply. It isn’t supposed to get as hot tomorrow, but I can always use the water. “I’ll sure be looking for you; see you tomorrow,” I say as she climbs in her truck. To the young lad at the window I say, “filler up again!”
Downtown, on the bank marquee, the digital sign keeps flashing back and forth from 5:01 to 103.
I’ve got a thirty-three looking at me tomorrow. There seems no relief from these long mile days. If you want to check out where I’m at right now, get your map out, open it to Montana. Check the color of the paper your map’s printed on, then look for the large spot that’s that color; not much printed there — that’s where I’m at in Montana!

The hills are high & rugged the countrey as yesterday. I walked on Shore with two men we killed a white or gray bear; not withstanding that it was Shot through the heart it ran at it’s usial pace near a quarter of a mile before it fell. Capt Lewis’s dog was badly bitten by a wounded beaver and was near bleading to death…[Clark, May 17, 1805]
Tuesday–July 20, 2004
Trail Day–69
Trail Mile–33/1691
Location–SR200, Sand Springs, Montana

I’m up and out, moving before six – trying to beat the afternoon heat. But I’ll lose. Thirty-three miles takes eleven hours of hard, steady pounding, which means there’s no way I can avoid the afternoon frying pan that starts sizzling whomever’s in it around two-ish. Doubt if I make it to the little store either, before it closes. I’ll just hammer the highway and hope for the best – and look forward to seeing Jackie sometime before five.
I’m about eight miles out today when this truck pulls off and stops. It’s John Billbrough. He and his wife had given me some much-needed water last Sunday on their way home from church. He gives me water again. As we talk, I’m leaning over the truck bed. The whole thing’s full of empty jugs and buckets. “Going to Lewistown for water,” he says, seeing me looking at all the containers. He lives in Jordan. “Wife and me, we use about a gallon apiece every day. Gotta make this run every four to six weeks. Gas station there, they let me hook my hose to the faucet outside — fill them all up.”
I’m thinking as he tells the story that the last road sign I saw a short ways back showed Lewistown to be 130 miles away. “Dang, John,” I say, “that’s over 250 miles round trip — you drive 250 miles for water!” “Yup, takes me all day. Gotta do it. We can’t drink the city water.” Amazing, just amazing! “You ever thought of moving?” I ask.
Distance really means nothing to the folks that live out here. Many of the rutted two-track private roads leading from SR200 go back to houses six or seven miles off the highway. Yes, these are driveways! Many of the public roads breaking off north or south aren’t much more than two-tracks either. There’ll be a cattle guard to cross, then no fences either side. Some roads may have seen a motorgrader one time or another. There’s no gravel. The shallow ditches, if any, are probably more useful for finding the road when the snow’s drifting than for draining off any rainwater. There may be ten or twelve ranches down one of these sideroads — as far back as thirty miles.
I pass a little country school today. The reason it’s out here, I’m sure, has nothing to do with folks not wanting to drive their kids to school in town — or for that matter, for their kids to ride a bus to town. It’s probably more the fact that by the time they’d reach town it’d be time to turn back around and leave for home!
Many folks slow or stop to make sure I’m okay. Steve, the MHP that runs SR200 is intrigued by my story. Phil, from Hill’s B&B a little this side of Mosby invites me to stay tomorrow night. Mother Goose had sent me an email (with her little PocketMail) and had told me about this neat little oasis. Phil seemed pleased that I already knew about Hill Ranch Oasis. I’ll be heading there for sure — Mother Goose told me to!
Weird situation today: This fellow goes by on a bike. I don’t hear him for the wind. He’s obviously touring, panniers all four corners. I look over when I catch a glimpse. He doesn’t wave, doesn’t look back, just keeps on pedaling frantically against the twenty-five mile-per-hour headwind. He’s soon over the next pop and around the corner. As I round the hill, I see he’s pulled across the road and leaned his bike against a reflector pole. I figure he’s stopped to take a break from the rascal wind and to chat for awhile. He sees me coming, turns his back, and begins fidgeting with his handlebar pack. As I approach, my sticks clicking away, he turns to square his back to me. I stop behind him. “Kinda windy today, eh? We’re used to it though, aren’t we?” I ask. There’s no response, but I know he hears me. He just keeps fidgeting while munching a powerbar. After what seems an eternal minute, I move around to face him from the road shoulder. He puts his head down and turns some more. “You okay, mister?” I ask in a concerned voice. He turns back briefly, and in a very terse voice, says, “I’m fine.” He then turns again to his handlebar bag. That’s it. End of conversation. I hesitate momentarily, then hike on. In a few minutes he goes by again, pumping like crazy against the wind. In just moments he clears the next hill — and is gone.
The sun and wind take turns at me today, but patchy clouds arrive mid-afternoon to monkey their game and to provide “Thank you, Lord” relief. I make it to the little Sand Springs store right at five. Daisy, the sweet lady who runs the place, hasn’t closed for the day.
Jackie comes in shortly after I arrive with water for me and lots of goodies — and a little lapel pin that I should keep to remember her and the far away little village of Jordan Montana.
Daisy fixes pizza. I empty her soda cooler. She invites me to pitch by her store for the night.
The sun gives up right at five, to cool it, but the wind doesn’t back off till seven. The constant sun and wind have really dried this area out. Folks hereabouts need rain — bad.

at about 12 oClock it began to rain and continued moderately for about 1 ½ hours, not Sufficient to wet a man thro’ his clothes; this is the first rain Since we Set out this Spring. [Clark, May 18, 1805]
Wednesday–July 21, 2004
Trail Day–70
Trail Mile–21/1712
Location–SR200, Mosby, Montana

Daisy’s got the store open by eight; coffee’s on! I help her with a few chores around. She gives me an ice cream bar. Working my second cup of coffee, I take time to look the place over. Lots of memories here. A painting of a man and his airplane adorn a ceiling beam. “That your husband?” I inquire of Daisy. She sags a little, then looks away for a moment — “He loved to fly.” She said, with a far away glint. I don’t ask any more questions.
Over by the pop cooler, on two tables slid together, and on six feet of white construction paper are scattered a bunch of candy bars and sweets. I’d seen it when raiding her pop cooler last evening but didn’t pay any attention. Looking closer now, I realize it’s a birthday card for Daisy, from her children and grand children. This is really cute. It reads (along with appropriate candy props): “Happy Birthday Mom and Grandma. Now that you’ve hit the big eight (plastic cake number) ZERO (candy bar), do your bones CRACKLE (bite-sized candy), do your GOOBERS (packaged candy) feel dry? Do you still know how to MAMBA (candy bar)? When you tell your friends about making a NUTRAGEOUS (candy bar) from the store do you hear SNICKERS (candy bar)? Do your friends think you’ve gone FAST BREAK (candy bar) because I told you that I was going to give you a 100 GRAND (candy bar)? Unfortunately, I mentioned it before PAYDAY (candy bar) and now I have to give you HUGS and KISSES (candy bits). Mom, you know that you’ve been a LIFESAVER (hard candy) and you’re worth a MINT (wrapped mint) to us little SUGARBABIES (packaged candy). We wish you MOUNDS (candy bar) of GOOD ‘n PLENTY (licorice) years as you relax listening to your favorite SYMPHONY (candy bar). P.S. Don’t MUNCH (candy) on this card all at once or it may make your TOOTSIE ROLLS (soft candy) CHUNKY (candy bar). Hats off to you, Mom! With all our love, your NERDS (packaged candy).”
Karmon, the Postmistress for Sand Springs, gets her little cubicle open before nine. She lets me hoist the flag and I get some pictures of she and Daisy before bidding both these new friends good-bye.
This is remote country, miles between towns, miles from anywhere — “Big Sky Country.” There’s more and more sagebrush, less and less grass. Nothing out here but a dome of blue and the scorched earth. What I see before me appears more as desert than high plains prairie. From a vantage this morning, as the highway continues to climb, and sweeping an unobstructed 360 I see not a single power pole, no transmission lines, nor nary a microwave tower. Now that’s remote!
The wind comes up hard by ten, trying its best to turn me around, and the sun’s back at it, too. The additional weight from the extra water I’m having to lug, plus the incessant backpushing wind have combined to really stress my knees. These long mile days are taking their toll. I’ve boosted my Ecotrin intake to 100mg/mile, the equivalent of eight to ten 325mg coated aspirin tablets per day. During Odyssey ‘98, and near the end of that journey, I was popping up to 4,000mg of coated aspirin per day.
Thank goodness I’ve only got a short twenty-one now, into Hill Ranch Oasis B&B. By four, I’m descending another hill and can see the drive leading to the Hill ranch. A few moments ago, a van pulled to the shoulder. I’d seen it pass the other direction earlier in the day. As I near, I hear a gentle voice, “Would you like a cold pop.” I down-shift, hit the brakes and haul ‘er down. Here I meet Jim Willems. He delivers heavy equipment parts for Torgerson out of Lewistown. He slides the lid off his cooler. “Take your choice,” he says with a smile — as he sees my beaming face. “Hey, you got Pepsi! Can I have that one?” I ask, excited as a child. He nods, I pop, and chug. Jim laughs. Catching my breath, I manage, “Oh man, you don’t know how good that tasted!”
We have a good chat. He invites me to stay with he and his wife, Selma, when I pass through Lewistown next Saturday, then he hauls me the mile up the hill – to the Hill Ranch Oasis. Thanks, so much, Jim! See you and Selma in a few days.
At the beautiful Hill home I’m greeted by Wayne and Edna, friends of Phil’s aunt, Evelyn, who also welcomes me. Phil and his wife, Delores, are away in Billings and won’t be back before I leave. Wayne and Edna prepare the evening meal. I manage two, full, heaping plates. We relax after dinner and share a wonderful time together.

Now the Corps was in the Missouri Breaks, where “the Country on either hand is high broken and rocky…” with cliffs “juting in on both sides,” and “the river bottoms are narrow and afford scarcely any timber.” [Fifer]
Thursday–July 22,2004
Trail Day–71
Trail Mile–23/1735
Location–SR200, Winnett, Montana

Edna’s already got breakfast ready and Wayne’s fixed coffee by the time I make it to the dining room. Another full spread — plus a lunch to go. Wayne drives me back down to the road and I’m out and moving a little before eight. Thanks, Phil, Delores, Evelyn, Wayne and Edna. I must be royalty — I was treated like royalty!
Today is shaping much better. It’s cooler and the wind has moved on, leaving only a gentle breeze. The landscape is changing. As I climb, there are scattered pine trees and less and less sagebrush. By the time I cross the Musselshell and the Box Elder Rivers, things have begun to green up again. The road continues climbing and from a high point above the Musselshell, I can look back across and see the Hill Ranch some eight miles away.
By mid-afternoon I’m back in fields of hay and wheat. Perhaps the “desert” is now behind me. It’s been an incredibly long, hot crossing!
Above the Box Elder, and from a vantage there, I saw the Rocky Mountains.

On May 20th, 1805, the Corps of Discovery reached the Musselshell River, which they labelled by translating its Hidatsa name. Hunters explored five miles up the Musselshell, finding a creek the captains named Sacagawea River, perhaps to honor her quick action in the pirogue accident. [Fifer]

I beheld the Rocky Mountains for the first time…covered with snow and the sun shone on it…I felt a secret pleasure in finding myself so near the head of the heretofore conceived boundless Missouri; but when I reflected on the difficulties which this snowey barrier would most probably throw in my way to the Pacific, and the sufferings and hardships of myself and party in them, it in some measure counterballanced the joy… [Lewis, May 16th, 1805]
Friday–July 23, 2004
Trail Day–72
Trail Mile–24/1759
Location–SR200/US87, Grass Range, Montana

Since departing Wood River back on May 14th, and along SR200 now for the last while, I have strayed the furthest yet from the Missouri River, nearly eighty miles. Fort Peck Reservoir is the last river impoundment along the Upper Missouri and I’m now past it. So, as I climb toward the Missouri headwaters, and when I reach Great Falls, I’ll be back along the river again, to follow it all the way to Three Forks. Above the lake, where the river flows free, it’s been designated the “Upper Missouri Wild and Scenic River,” the longest remaining section still in its natural state, much the same as seen by the Corps of Discovery in 1805 and 1806. From the Missouri Breaks, Hole in the Wall, Gates of the Mountains, I’ll miss seeing all these historic places. The locals along all just shake their heads. Their comments go something like: “You’re missing the most beautiful part of the river out here walking the road. You need to be on the river, like Lewis and Clark.” They are right; certainly it is true. I am, however, doing the best I know how to experience the physical aspects of what they experienced, and to see as much as my feet can take me to. There are many differences in our respective journeys, though. One, the Corps didn’t have to worry about water — I don’t have to “hunt” for food.
It’s amazing what a few short(er) days can do, the last three being 21, 23, and now a 24. The knee pain has become much less troublesome. I have my stamina back. The strength has returned to my legs and I’ve been able to back off the coated aspirin – a true blessing.
The weird incident with the cyclist the other day, on my way into Sand Springs — remember that? It was so perplexing. I have fretted over it ever since. Daisy, at the little store in Sand Springs, keeps a trail register for all passing through to sign. She had asked me to sign it. When I opened it to pencil in my name, I noticed another entry made earlier that same day. “Anyone else in here today, Daisy?” I asked. “Yes,” she said, “A fellow on a bike stopped for lunch.” “You talk to him,” I continued. “Well, yes I did,” she said, “I talked to him, but he didn’t talk to me. Seemed like he had something on his mind. He wasn’t very happy.” Next to his name he’d written this comment, “Bicycling the L&C Trail all the way out and all the way back.” Well now, although he had little to say to either me or Daisy, seems he sure wanted to make it plain to everyone what his journey was about — his great goal.
Now, I’ve pondered this whole thing to a considerable extent. I have that luxury, being alone as I am, with nothing but the wind, the sun — and my own thoughts to keep me company for up to twelve hours a day while my feet pound the tarmac. Anyway, here’s what I think happened: For days, perhaps as long as the past number of weeks, and prior to overtaking me, as he told folks his story, he may have heard back, “We’ve seen a lot of you guys and gals passing through on bikes, but keep your eyes open; there’s a guy out there walking the thing.” So, when he finally caught me, he had to stop and check me out — and face the realization that what he’d been hearing was true. And then the further realization: that what I’ve set to accomplish might paint the least lackluster over his whole journey.
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not implying that riding a bike six thousand miles isn’t a great accomplishment. I know that hiking three thousand miles certainly is not. As to long distance bicycle odysseys, check out my friend Jim’s website <www.wanderingtheworld.com>. A couple of years ago Jim did a continuous journey by bike that covered over ten thousand miles. Since, and the times I’ve been with him and we’ve talked about our experiences, he’s never made a big deal out of it. What he had accomplished, in his mind — riding his bike ten thousand miles — the great success of that journey was the love and unselfish giving that flowed to him through the people he’d met — the money raised for a very worthwhile, humanitarian cause.
And so, perhaps the lesson to be learned here is this: The challenges we set for ourselves are nothing more, nothing less; they’re personal goals. The joy of accomplishing them is ours. The satisfaction can certainly be shared though with family and friends. The rewards of such human endeavor are not there to be cheered and lauded by others, or to be weighed on a scale and compared to what others have done. They are gifts from the Lord, and to him shall all praise be given.
Well folks, I may be entirely wrong about this. I don’t know. In any regard, I will now put the fretting and frustration of it behind me.

There are Indian paths along the Missouri and some in other parts of the country…There are also roads and paths made by the buffaloe and other animals; some of the buffaloe roads are at least ten feet wide. [Gass, May 27, 1805]
Saturday–July 24, 2004
Trail Day–73
Trail Mile–32/1791
Location–SR200/US87, Lewistown, Montana

Grass Range is a nice little village, what’s left of it. Pretty much, it’s moldering into the ground. It was a boomtown back in the 1800s, on the route of numerous cattle drives back then. Many drovers liked to graze their cattle in the natural meadows on their drives through. It remains a lush and fertile place; thus the name. But long droughts, grasshoppers by the millions, and the great depression pretty much did the town in. US87 and SR200 both go around the old downtown now. I went through — it was shorter.
Thanks Sunny, Maxine, Jamie and Rachel, at the Little Montana Store and Cafe. And thanks, Clay Smith, for sending me there. Sunny let me pitch in the grass out back. Ahh yes, a nice place, good people.
I’ve got a 32 into Lewistown today. I’m out moving at eight to a cool, clear morning. The road today is narrow with hardly any shoulder. I’m climbing again, into the Judith Mountains and the Judith Basin that’s up there. The traffic is running hard and I must watch my step with the “Wide Load” trucks hauling round-bale hay and huge harvesters, the wheels of which hang way over the white line.
By late afternoon I am deep in the Judiths, climbing toward the pass to Lewistown. This is beautiful country, green fields — and trees again, lots of trees. The road passed beneath a huge cottonwood yesterday, the welcome shade from it the first in over a week. This “Big Sky” is closing down some now, the mountains rising into its domain. The High Plains Prairie reaches up and into the mountain coves a ways, but the wide open spaces are now pretty much behind me.
By six I’m at the outskirts of Lewistown where I’m greeted and welcomed by Jim Willems. Jim had stopped to befriend me and offer a cold drink a couple of days back. While talking, he was apparently sizing me up. For, in awhile he invited me to be his guest when I passed through Lewistown. So here he is, waiting to welcome me. He hands me another cold Pepsi as I load my pack. We’re soon at his lovely home where I’m greeted again, this time by his wife, Selma. They settle me in. As soon as I get the road scum off, I’m seated to dinner where I proceed to stuff myself. After dinner, Jim gives me the tour of his place — which takes in half a city block. Back in their spacious home, Jim and Selma review my maps for the next few days as I busy myself scratching notes.

The hills and river Cliffs which we passed today exhibit a most romantic appearance. The bluffs of the river rise to the hight of from 2 to 300 feet and in most places nearly perpendicular; they are formed of remarkable white sandstone. [Lewis, May 31st, 1805]
Sunday–July 25, 2004
Trail Day–74
Trail Mile–24/1815
Location–SR200/US87, Hobson, Montana

What kind and gentle people, the Willems. The rough times they’ve endured have neither dimmed their spirit nor diminished their joy for living, not in the least – and they certainly have no problem spreading that joy. Oh yes, what good fortune for the old Nomad. He’s been the happy recipient of late. Through it all they’ve managed to raise six kids. “Boy, girl, boy, girl, boy, girl,” as Selma related with more than a glimmer of pride. The array of pictures that adorn the living room wall tells the story. The first group picture there was taken many years ago. Selma pointed to the little, bright-eyed fellow less than two — “He’s in Baghdad Iraq now, be there almost two years,” she said with the least catch in her voice. Jim flies the flag above their home. “Got a light that shines on it at night, never comes down. It’ll fly 24/7 till my boy comes home again,” little hitch in Jim’s voice, too.
And so, this morning it’s picture time. I hate picture time. That means more sad good-byes. I just hate good-byes; why do they have to be sad? Selma gives me a big hug, then wishes me well. I load my pack again and Jim drives me back through town. “See you tomorrow,” he says. “Got deliveries out that way.” “Don’t forget to bring the Pepsi,” I shout as he drives off.
Lewistown has a prospering downtown business district; no WalMart here, yet. Their pride and joy are the gold-domed courthouse and a most impressive Carnegie Library. Believe it or not, there’s a fine drive-in movie still operating on the outskirts — and a drag strip. This area is famous for Yogo Sapphires, whatever they are. They’re mined from a lode, the only one in the world.
Out of Lewistown, there are still patches of sagebrush in the fields that lie back against the hills, but this area, the Judith Basin, is much better watered than lands to the east. To the southwest and west I can see the snowcapped Big Snowy Mountains. Today I cross Cottonwood and Beaver Creeks, the first clear-running, spring-fed streams. I’m on my way to the mountains. More mule and whitetail deer today, some in pieces on the road.
The little village of Hobson is off the highway. I take the walk in. Nice little town, mostly shut down, but there’s a beautifully restored old building that houses the bar. On down the street there’s a general store and a restaurant — and a fine little park with a swimming pool.
I pitch in the park just at dusk. The deputy who keeps an eye on the place got a call from one of the locals, so he’s stopped by to run a make on me. Kind chap, Ray Clark. We sit and chat the longest while. The pool closes; the kids go home. It’s been a long day — I’m down for the count.

The shoaley places are verry numerous and some bad to get around we have to make use of the cord & Poles, and our tow ropes are all except one of Elkskin, & stretch and sometimes break which indanger the Perogues or canoe… [Clark, May 28th, 1805]
Monday–July 26, 2004
Trail Day–75
Trail Mile–23/1838
Location–SR200/US87, Stanford, Montana

First stop this morning, the downtown mom-n-pop. All the locals are coming and going; get to meet and talk with a few. I fuel up on eggs, hash browns, and a platter of biscuits and gravy, compliments of Don Wade. Says he, “I’m the one that called the sheriff on you — least I can do is buy your breakfast.” Happy fellow, big smile. Sitting next is Virgil Hay. His card reads, “Train Man.” We talk trains.
A short ways out of Hobson the highway crosses the Judith River, a beautiful, rocky, mountain-fed, stream. This river was named by Clark in 1805 in honor of his sweetheart, Julia Hancock, whom he’d left behind in Virginia. Upon returning from the Pacific, William married Julia and they lived happily ever after in St. Louis.
The Judith Basin country was the early-day stomping grounds of Charley M. Russell, beloved Montana cowboy and artist. On an historic marker facing the mountains here is written, “Charley is now camped somewhere across the great divide where the grass is good and there aren’t any fences.” On my way through Great Falls, I’ll sure stop by to see his work.
I’m back in grain country again, fields to the horizon both sides of the road — wheat, oats, barley, maturing in the warm Montana sun. All along now are many storage bins, elevators and grain silos. There are also numerous underground silos, home of our Minuteman missiles.
By four I’ve banged out the 23 to Stanford. Into town time, to the local bar for a burger and fries — and a couple tall frosties. Folks have seen me walking the road through the Judith Basin these past days, and there’s lots of interest in my story. Thanks, Pete and Ben for your kindness to me. And thank you, Georgiana (chief cook and barmaid), for my supper and spirits, compliments of the house! Vicki comes in from the local weekly. Wants an interview, so I stop by her office.
Got a really nice, totally unexpected email yesterday from some folks, Don and Margie Smith. They live in a town I’d passed through in North Dakota. They’ve been keeping up on my journal entries, were on their way to Great Falls and wanted to meet me. We get together in the evening for a most enjoyable time.
Oh, what great energy from all these kind folks today. It’s been a dandy!

This morning we set out at an early hour and proceded as usual by the Chord. at the distance of 2 ½ Miles passed a handsome river which discharged iself on the Lard. side, I walked on shore and ascended this river about a mile and a half in order to examine it. the water in this River is clearer much than any we have met…Cap. C. who assended this R. much higher than I did has thought proper to call it Judieths River. [Lewis, May 29th, 1805]
Tuesday–July 27, 2004
Trail Day–76
Trail Mile–27/1865
Location–SR200/US87, Raynesford, Montana

The great energy I received yesterday from new friends and well-wishers has put me in good spirits and that energy is literally propelling me along this morning. Jim caught up with me again yesterday, at a wide spot in the road called Moccasin. He was on his delivery route west. Another cold Pepsi, another warm, friendly smile for the old Nomad. Good energy from both, but the smile energy has lasted the longest.
Today, for the first time in a long time, there’s a place between where I start the day and where I end it — the little village of Geyser. I head to the Cabin Creek Bar for a sandwich and a Dew to wash it down — and as is not uncommon, comes a little upbeat conversation, this time with bartender, Brian. I just love these little bergs with their gathering places — and the good people always found there.
It’s a 27 to Raynesford and I’m in by five, just as the rain comes. Nice old truckstop. I stay in till the rain passes, then hit the road for a few more miles before dark. I pitch just across the tracks, there to be rocked to sleep by the eastbound passing through as it chugs for the pass.

Leaving the Breaks, the Corps of Discovery faced a major surprise – and their biggest puzzle yet. On June 2, they came to two apparently equal rivers that seemed to form the main Missouri, one flowing from the northwest and the other from the southwest…Lewis was certain that the north fork….was not the Missouri, and he named it in honor of his cousin, Maria Wood. [Fifer]
Wednesday–July 28, 2004
Trail Day 77
Trail Mile–33/1898
Location–I-15 Business, Great Falls, Montana

The grass was wet where I pitched last night, and there’s been a heavy dew. So today, I’ll be toting an extra few ounces, what with my wet tent.
Another cool, clear day in Montana. I’m hiking down Otter Creek Ravine/Canyon, around and down, then around and down some more.
As I drop off the plains (here, the high countryside rolling about is called a “bench”), and coast down the remaining slope into Great Falls, pulls over this car with “ABC-KFBB 5 Great Falls” on the door. Here I meet Brenda, Executive Producer, and Frank, Cameraman, Channel 5, Great Falls. They want to interview me for the evening news. I’m always reluctant to do these interviews, but the folks, I have found, are always gentle and kind, so it is with Brenda and Frank. We’re still chatting away after nearly half an hour. “Can we take a break,” asks Frank, “This camera is getting heavy.” Brenda has asked some very neat questions, different than the top ten T-shirt ones. It was fun.
The past three days out of Lewistown this minivan has been passing me, heading west in the morning, then back east in the evening. The couple (back seat full of kids) started waving and giving me the thumbs up, I believe, yesterday morning it was. They go by again today, honking and waving. In a few minutes they’re back, to pull off ahead of me. As I approach, I’m greeted by more cheering and waving — and I meet the Olson family from Lewistown. There’s Merrit and Beth, and their cheering section, Jared 14, Kalyn 12 and Aaron 10. Pop’s on vacation this week I’m told, and they like spending time in Great Falls. A beautiful family, all bright, sunshiny faces — with boundless energy to share. I sponge it up. Thanks, dear new friends, for your kindness to this weary old man!
At the bypass just east of Great Falls, I turn north toward the river and the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center there. As I cross the highway to make the turn, a shiny black SUV pulls off in front of me. Out jumps this lady, a container of food in one hand and a pop in the other. “Here’s your lunch and a cold Pepsi. I know you like Pepsi, been keeping up with you on your website. I’m Debby,” she says with a smile. Then just as quickly, she jumps in her vehicle and she’s gone, leaving me standing dumbfounded in the intersection, holding a steak, baked potato — and an ice cold Pepsi! I head for the “Welcome to Great Falls” sign and the shade of the spruce trees there to enjoy a grand meal. Debby, please email me your full name and address so I can thank you!
The bypass is a busy place, mostly ripped up and under construction. After eating more than my share of dust, I make it to the Interpretive Center. After a good look around, and a few pictures, I hit the bikepath upriver to Black Eagle Dam. The dam’s been built right on top of the falls in order to harness the water energy for hydropower. Great Falls is also called “Electric City.”
This entire section of the river around Great Falls bears not the least resemblance to what the Corps saw 200 years ago. The falls are no more. It’s depressing. There’s just no other way to describe my feelings.
From the fine mom-n-pop motel downtown, I watch the old Nomad on the ten o’clock news.

I had proceded on this course about two miles with Goodrich at some distance behind me whin my ears were saluted with the agreeable sound of a fall of water and advancing a little further I saw the spray arrise above the plain like a collumn of smoke which would frequently disapear again in an instant caused I presume by the wind which blew pretty hard from the S.W. I did not however loose my direction to this point which soon began to make a roaring too tremendious to be mistaken for any cause short of the great falls of the Missouri. [Lewis, June 13th, 1805]
Thursday–July 29, 2004
Trail Day–78
Trail Mile–27/1925
Location–Frontage Road at exits 254/250, I-15, Cascade, Montana

Out of Great Falls I hike the shoulder of I-15 for about a mile to reach Frontage Road. From here I’ll closely follow the river. Yesterday I passed the south entrance to Malmstrom Air Force Base. And today, here at Frontage Road I’m at the north entrance, plus the entrance to Great Falls International Airport. Here, on display and gracing the entrance for all to see, are three old, retired jet fighters, one set atop a revolving pedestal. I move to the intersection and take a picture. As I turn toward Frontage Road, comes screeching to a halt an Air Force security vehicle. Out jumps an officer. He motions to me, then shouts, “Get your I.D. out and get over here right now.” “Oh yes sir, mister officer,” I whisper under my breath. As he copies the name and number from my outdated drivers license, he informs me, in a voice of great authority, that I could be in a lot of trouble for taking pictures around the base. I mention that the planes are on public display. He tells me that doesn’t matter. Then in the most demeaning voice, and for some reason, he asks, “Do you remember where you were on 9-11?” I reply, “Of course I do — everyone does.” Thinking, “What the heck,” I ask him if he remembers where he was when President Kennedy was shot. He nods — yes. “How about when Ford was shot,” I continue. He nods — yes. Oh my, he remembers where he was when President Ford was shot — Ha! He reprimands me sternly again before getting in his van and driving away.
With the episode over, and collecting myself now, I realize he’s not even regular Air Force. He wasn’t wearing the uniform. Probably working for some outfit contracted to do security around the base.
Don’t you find, and isn’t it interesting that individuals like this boob, who enjoy ordering other people around, tend to migrate to positions of authority? The bullying aspect of this whole ordeal becomes evident in the fact that he never took my camera!
As I hike on out Frontage Road, I come into direct alignment with the launching end of the main runway, where four fighters are taking off two-by-two. When watching commercial jets lift off, they soon disappear somewhere above the horizon. These fighters disappear — straight up! Yup, proud to be an American, though it seems that just moments ago I was accused of trying to sabotage our Air Force.
What a joy to be back near the Missouri again. Above Great Falls, the river stands 3,320 feet above the sea. And today, as usual, I’ll keep climbing. From here, as I hike on up (down) to Helena and Three Forks, I will be able to experience the Missouri – natural and free-flowing. The reservoirs aren’t all behind me, but they’re much smaller now.
As to the Corps, they were progressing quite nicely upriver during the summer of 1805, much as am I progressing — until June 2nd when they reached the mouth of the Marias River. It took from then until mid July to advance above the Great Falls and continue on.

Finally, on July 14, the two new canoes were finished and the Corps of Discovery could set off again upriver. They needed to cross the Rockies before winter. And they still had no idea how wide that mountain barrier would be. [Fifer]
Friday–July 30, 2004
Trail Day–79
Trail Mile–30/1955
Location–Old US91, Exit 226, I-15, Wolf Creek, Montana

I was hoping to pass the post office on my way out of Great Falls, but no luck. I need to get some cards off to friends and family again. Same luck here this morning as I pass the post office in Cascade — too early, it’s closed. I hit the post office in Ulm a few minutes past twelve — yup, closed! Hiker’s hours and post office hours just never seem to mix.
I’m hiking Old US91 today. It’s now the I-15 frontage road, so the traffic has moved over to the interstate. That pretty much leaves the highway to me for a change — a very welcome change.
For the past two days I’ve been able to see the low gap in the mountains from where the river tumbles, and this morning I enter the Missouri River Canyon. What a remarkable, heart-stopping beautiful place. Sheer rock walls rise to nearly take over the sky. When the Corps pulled their boats through here in 1805 only the river passed. Today, besides the river, there’s Old US91, the Great Northern Railroad (now the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe), and I-15.
At this point in their journey, Lewis and Clark experienced what they had been greatly anticipating for weeks; they were entering the Rocky Mountains — but to the south, not the west. This meant they were paralleling the main backbone of the Rockies, which would eventually have to be crossed — hopefully before the coming of winter’s blast in the range now know as the Bitterroots.
If you have traveled with me on any of my previous treks, perhaps during “Odyssey ‘98,” through my book entitled Ten Million Steps, or during “Odyssey ‘00-‘01,” that book entitled Where Less the Path is Worn, you’ll know that I’ve been blessed with a mysterious and remarkable skill, that being the ability to break the bonds of captor time. That ability was bought and paid for through an arduously long task, that of honing the senses — and the mind, the end result of spending thousands and thousands of hours alone with Mother Nature and Father Time, hiking the sacred temples of the mountains. As if by magic carpet (at times, but not at any whim), I am able to return to places and to join people of the past.
And so it is this morning, at this grand portal to the mountains, do I lift my head, and with arms outstretched and eyes to the heavens, am I whisked away (though I remain very near this very spot), back to July 1805, to be with Lewis and Clark and the Corps of men as they gaze in awe and disbelief at what they see. I am one of them, to share in the excitement and jubilation of that day. I have my own cord with which I labor and toil the boat. Here, the river is clear and sweet, the bottom firm. Bending my shoulder to the task, and in the heat of the day, I need but submerge a moment to refresh myself in the cool, ever-rolling current. In the afternoon I am relieved and sent to hunt with G. Drouillard and R. Fields. Moving upland from the river, and with fixed purpose so as not to startle the game — over a rolling, carpeted meadow, and in a grove of young cottonwood, we interrupt a grizzly busy picking goose berries. Catching our scent he turns to stand erect. In that instant we fire, the fire-hot lead from our muskets hitting their mark, driving deep into his chest and shoulder. He lunges toward us leaping and bounding. Our shots have discouraged him not the least. Drouillard turns for the river. Fields and I dive left and right, to scurry through the underbrush. As I work frantically to reload, the maddened grizzly comes nearer. Now in a frenzy, flailing and thrashing about, he’s snapping off tree-sized saplings as if not an ounce of energy has been spent. At one point he comes so near I can see his crimson-soaked coat, the blood pumping from gaping cavities in his chest. As flat as I can get now, I secret my way through the underbrush. Somehow — a stroke of luck perhaps — the three of us get back together. Venturing from the safety of the thicket, the grizzly sees us and charges again. This time we aim for the head. I’m the last to fire. Two balls strike. One enters his forehead, the other his jaw, exploding it. He finally halts, staggers, trumpets a blood-curdling howl, then collapses
into a heap. In disbelief we look at the bear, then at each other. Not a word is uttered as we quarter the beast. We would have preferred buffalo tongue or elk steak for dinner, but tonight it’ll be grizzly stew. Drouillard and Fields each lug a shoulder. I drag the loin. We find the Corps upriver where they’ve set camp. Clark is shooting the stars and working his maps, fixing this special place. Lewis is busying himself with journals. Sitting now, in the lingering glow of the evening light and by the firelight rising, and as I gaze across a small bay encircling the serene and tranquil waters of the Missouri, do I feel that familiar tug from Father Time, the clutch of which cannot be denied. In what I can only describe as “God’s Eternal Moment,” I am returned again to this beautiful day on Old US91, climbing ever upward through the canyon of the Missouri.
Late evening I arrive Wolf Creek to be greeted by the happy people there.
More about them tomorrow.

After breakfast I determined to leave Capt. C. and party, and to go on to the point where the river enters the Rocky Mountains… [Lewis, July 16th, 1805]

I camped on the head of a Small Island near the Stard. Shore at the Rockey Mountains this Range of mountains appears to run NW & SE and is about 800 feet higher than the Water in the river faced with a hard black rock… [Clark, July 16th, 1805]
Saturday–July 31, 2004
Trail Day–80
Trail Mile–32/1987
Location–Junction SR279 and N. Montana Ave., Helena, Montana

At the Oasis Bar, Grill and Restaurant in Wolf Creek, I was greeted last by owners, Tara and Joe. My evening began in the restaurant, then moved to the bar to be with them and with Jim, a guide from Havre, Bubba, and bartender, Scotty. Tara’s mother, Cathy, lives right next the bar and Tara set me to pitch for the night right in her mother’s yard. This morning I’m awakened to the aroma of bacon on the grill, Tara’s wakeup call. She’s now the Oasis’s breakfast cook. Oh yes, I’m up pronto and right in for bacon, eggs, biscuits and gravy. Ahh, and is the coffee ever so good — made with “Goodwater” water. And what’s that?
Well folks, the little village of Wolf Creek reminds me of a place in Alabama called Goodwater. There, the cool refreshing water comes from the Appalachian Mountains; here it comes from the Rocky Mountains. You’ve read my journal entries about the water east of here, heavy in alkali, gives folks the trots. If you want to live in Montana – and have “Goodwater” too, then you’ll be looking toward the mountains.
In the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia there’s a very special place called Grayson Highlands State Park. It’s one of the most picturesque spots along the whole of the Appalachian Mountain Range. Locals describe the place as “A bit of Montana dropped on the rooftop of Virginia.” Indeed it is true, for virtually anywhere here in the Canyon of the Missouri, towering above the spruce, are those same lichen-covered spires of granite. Passing through Grayson Highlands on the Appalachian Trail created moments of magic for me that have remained in my memory. Here, as I ascend the Canyon of the Missouri, do those same magic feelings return. How can one speak or write words to describe such mountain majesty as this, that rises to the sky before me here? The spires are as if sentinels, standing with such grand dignity, age defying towers of time. As they reach toward the sky, so am I also inspired and uplifted. With them my spirit soars. So, you must come to this place, to see and experienced it for yourself. Only then might you understand such works of our Divine Master.
My hike today turns me from the river into Little Prickly Pear Canyon. It’s either the railroad tracks and the dirt road through the canyon, or it’s a twenty-plus diesel-fume-choking trudge on the interstate (out here it’s permissible to hike the interstate highways). I choose the canyon!
Along this section of the river, the Captains were eagerly watching for Sacagawea’s people, the Shoshone.

as we were anxious now to meet the Sosonees or snake Indians as soon as possible in order to obtain information relative to the geography of the country and also if necessary, some horses… [Lewis, July 18th, 1805]
Sunday–August 1, 2004
Trail Day–81
Trail Mile–9/1996
Location–US12, Helena, Montana

From Little Prickly Pear Canyon yesterday, and as I gained its upper reaches, opened a wide and expansive plain, as dry, hot and barren as any previously seen to the east. Near Silver City, a mostly abandoned railroad town of yesteryear, the plain divided, and as I descended toward Helena and Prickly Pear Valley the land became much better watered. In the valley, water has been diverted from Lake Helena, through canals, for the purpose of irrigating alfalfa fields. The contrast from barren plain to lush, fertile valley — such a rapid change in such a short distance — is most remarkable.
Today, I hike past many hay fields, sprinklers running. In a short time I’m standing before the Montana State Capitol. Such a handsome, grand structure. Lewis and Clark would certainly have approved. No doubt, they would have been pleased, too, with the name chosen for the county — Lewis and Clark!

the grass near the river is lofty and green that of the hill sides and high open grounds is perfectly dry and appears to be scorched by the heat of the sun. the country was rough mountainous & much as that of yesterday untill towards evening when the river entered a beautifull and extensive plain country of about 10 or 12 miles wide which extended upwards further than the eye could reach. [Lewis, July 21st, 1805]
Monday–August 2, 2004
Trail Day–82
Trail Mile–33/2029
Location–US12 and US287, Townsend, Montana

You can motor the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, or you can bicycle it. But by either of these modes you will be traveling entirely too fast to appreciate what is playing out here, the drama that is unfolding day-by-day. I’m into it because I’m walking, making about the same progress upriver as the Corps did by boat. At this pace, even though it’s nearly 201 years later, I’m beginning to have the same misgivings, as Lewis and Clark most certainly must have experienced. I am climbing the river day after day — but I’m also moving south day after day.
Out of Helena this morning I’m traveling southeast along the river. This is frustrating. I’m certainly wondering where this river is leading me. My ultimate destination is Cape Disappointment, which is north and west of here. I am and have been traveling in the opposite direction. Think about it though, at least I have the reassurance of knowing how this whole mysterious adventure will play out — the Corps had not a clue. Certainly, they would have preferred to see this river emerge from the mountains many, many miles north of here. When they entered the mountains on July 16th, 1805, it was a time of rejoicing. But shortly, the canyon opened again into an expansive prairie. Then in Gates of the Mountains, a six mile sluice, the vertical walls of which offered not the least place for a man’s foot, they rowed through only to enter another seemingly limitless plain, the main range of the Rocky Mountains visible to the west — as they traveled ever south. As each day passed and as each stream entered from the west — beginning with the Sun River just above the Great Falls, to the Dearborn River, Ordway’s Creek, Pott’s Creek, Pryor’s Creek, White Earth Creek, Indian Creek and Gass’s Creek, above each, the main channel of the Missouri becoming narrower and shallower, Lewis and Clark would have had to have been frustrating the realization that the Northwest Passage did not exist. As this amazing drama was playing out, presented more and more the disappointment of it – thus the name they chose for the final point west at the Pacific Ocean — Cape Disappointment. They had hoped that by traveling up the Canyon of the Missouri, they would have emerged in a vast valley within the very heart of the Rockies, with lesser rivers and streams feeding it from the north and south, then from the headwaters there, to have only a short portage up and through a low pass across the Great Divide to the headwaters of the Columbia, and from there, to glide down the western slope to the sea. But day after day were their hopes for such a passage being dashed (as are mine now) as the Canyon of the Missouri continued south, being perhaps no more than a grand collector stream for all the tributaries emerging from the mountains.
Destiny (and the mountains) were to be gentle with the Corps, however, providing some solace — that being the existence of a place to become known as Three Forks. There, the remaining three major rivers which combine to form the Missouri (the Jefferson, the Madison and the Gallatin), come together, instead of entering at intervals hundreds of miles to the south.
And so, by mid to late July, 1805, Lewis and Clark knew (and by mid to late July 2004, I knew) there was no Northwest Passage.
As I hike south again today, with the crushing traffic of US Highways 12 and 278, and with all the intervening changes over 200 years, I am living this sad and disappointing time just as Lewis and Clark lived it.
Although the journey of the Corps of Discovery is unquestionably one of the greatest exploratory expeditions in all of recorded history, both Lewis and Clark considered their journey a failure. They returned to much grand celebrating — but not with the news President Jefferson had hoped for. That day the naysayers had their way.
Meriwether Lewis never recovered. He was never able to put the feelings of failure behind him. Deviled by ever increasing, longer and deeper episodes of melancholy and bouts of depression, at a place called Grinder’s Stand, along the Natchez Trace in southwestern Tennessee, he took his own life.
Beth at Winston Quickstop treats me to lunch. I manage to stay ahead of the afternoon storm coming off the mountains as I reach the little village of Townsend by late evening.

The captains soon would name the Three Forks of the Missouri: from the southeast came the Gallatin River, for Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin. The ‘middle’ fork was the Madison for Secretary of State, and future president, James Madison. The third fork, which flowed from the southwest, they decided correctly was the main branch. So they named it for Thomas Jefferson. [Fifer]
Tuesday–August 3, 2004
Trail Day–83
Trail Mile–34/2063
Location–US287, Three Forks, Montana

Today I’ll trek along with a heady feeling of accomplishment. It will be a memorable and happy day, for today I’ll complete my journey up the Missouri River, from its mouth, where it enters to take over the Mississippi, to its headwaters at Three Forks. By the meandering river of 1804-5, it was a journey of 2,464 miles for the Corps of Discovery. For me, by road and trail, it will amount to only 2,063 miles.
As a child, raised “Across the wide Missouri,” I always wondered and fascinated with where this “Big Muddy” came from. Today I’ll find out!
I’m into another beautiful day as I cross Montana. By mid-afternoon comes the little berg of Toston. Here I cross the (not so wide) Missouri for the final time. I pause on the bridge to take in the beauty and to reflect on all the crossings of it these past two and one-half months. During this time the Missouri has slowly been transformed from a roiling cauldron of mud, capable of uprooting and swallowing full-grown sycamore and cottonwood, to this boisterous, rollicking, clear-running mountain stream before me now. Dear “Old Muddy,” this has been a time of transformation for both of us — the better for me — this journey with you.
By late afternoon, a storm again crosses the mountains, this time overtaking me. I don my poncho and hasten along. The rain intensifies, bringing hail; no shelter in sight, lightning flashing, thunder resounding. Finally, ahead I see a tractor by a field, one with the huge tires all around. I hasten there and crawl under as the hail drums down in buckets. Under its hulk, I am protected from the raging storm — but not from the dripping mud, formed by the rain and the dust that’s caked on the tractor. After an hour, the storm moves through and I emerge, cold and covered with mud.
This storm has not dampened my joy for the day, though. Late evening, along a road shoulder of drifted hail, I reach Three Forks, headwaters of the Missouri.

we are now several hundred miles within the bosom of this wild and mountainous country…not knowing how far these mountains continue, or wher to direct our course to pass them…however I still hope for the best… [Lewis, July 27th, 1805]
Wednesday–August 4, 2004
Trail Day–84
Trail Mile–18/2081
Location–SR2, Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park, Montana

Oh, is my right foot giving me fits as I limp out of Three Forks this morning; but no wonder, and I can’t complain with the miles hammered these past two weeks. After an hour, the old jitney gets crankin’ and I’m striding once more at my usual pace.
The past three days I’ve been fighting the traffic along both US12 and US287, which run together. The semi’s have been grinding especially heavy and hard. But the shoulder’s been wide and I’ve stayed out of their way. Today, however, the shoulder quits — but the trucks don’t. Look out Nomad; head’s up!
The Missouri behind me now, and ever climbing, I’m following and ascending the Jefferson River. At Three Forks where I started up the Jefferson, the rivers stood at 4,045 feet above the sea. By the time I reach the Beaverhead River in Dillon, I will have climbed another thousand feet.
For the past number of weeks I’ve been in touch with dear friends and fellow members of my Florida Trail Association home chapter Western Gate — George and Annette Brinkman. This has been possible as a result of the PocketMail device I carry with me, an indispensable little eight-ounce email gadget provided by one of my kind and helpful sponsors.
George hiked with me some, and he and Annette took me into their home where they fed and pampered me during Odyssey 2000-‘01. They’ve been touring the Yukon and are on their way back now and want to meet up with me. They were in Idaho yesterday and yippee! they’ll be staying at Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park tonight — as will I. It will be such a joy to see these dear friends again.
George is a visionary, one of the founding members of the Western Gate Chapter, FTA. For years, the short but classic segments of trail developed by Western Gate simply hung out there in the Panhandle, miles from the main path that is the Florida National Scenic Trail. But true to the role of visionaries, those short Panhandle segments have now become the backbone (just as George and others at Western Gate knew they would), to a grand system of connecting trails that link together to form what has become known as the Eastern Continental Trail, the longest, continuous hiking trail in the world. It runs over 5,000 miles, from the southernmost point on the eastern North American continent in Key West Florida, to the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula in Newfoundland, where the Appalachian Mountains plunge to the Labrador Sea, and where the Vikings first landed over 1,000 years ago. Just as was the Appalachian National Scenic Trail the trail of the 20th century, it is my firm belief that the Eastern Continental Trail will be the premier trail of the 21st century.
Just as the Gates of the Mountains served as the portal to the trails across the great divide and beyond, so has the Western Gate provided the portal to the remarkable trail system o’er the breadth of the eastern North American continent, the Eastern Continental Trail.
It’s another cool, clear day as I hike on through Montana, and it’s a short eighteen to the park. In a short while the road moves beside the Jefferson River to climb with it. This river reminds me of rivers along the Appalachians — such as those in the south: the Hiawassee, Etowah and the French Broad. And in Canada, the Matapedia, Madelaine, Upsalquitch and the Kedgwick. This is like being at home again in the Appalachians, that is except for the snow-capped crags that loom on the horizon, the massif that forms the Bitterroot Range of the Rockies. In just a few days they will be full around.
Sacagawea had been recognizing familiar landmarks for the past few days, and she knew of the dividing of the waters at Three Forks. Thus, it was not an unexpected discovery to the Corps when they reached there. Three Forks is where Sacagawea was taken captive, and where most of her party were killed by the Hidatsas. In this area, the captains hoped to make contact with Sacagawea’s people, the Shoshone. The Corps needed horses to continue their journey into the mountains, and the Shoshone had horses. So they hoped for the good fortune of meeting the Shoshone soon.
Early evening, I reach L&C Caverns State Park, to be greeted by grand smiles and hugs from the Brinkmans. They treat me to a wonderful dinner and we have such a good time together. Back at camp we’re entertained by a “dry” thunderstorm — lots of racket — little rain.

The Indian woman recognizes the country and assures us that this is the river on which her relations live, and that the three forks are at no great distance. this peice of information has cheered the sperits of the party who now begin to console themselvs with the anticipation of shortly seeing the head of the missouri yet unknown to the civilized world. [Lewis, July 22nd, 1805]
Thursday–August 5, 2004
Trail Day–85
Trail Mile–15/2096
Location–SR2, Whitehall, Montana

Annette fixes me ham and pancakes. Then that dreaded time comes once more – I hate it — more sad good-byes. On the road I get to meet a lot of very nice people, but I’m away from family and friends so very long, and I miss them so very much. So long, George and Annette; thanks for taking the time to track me down. It has meant so much to me.
Right foot still complaining. A couple more Ecotrin finally quiets it down. Only a 15 into Whitehall, a maildrop there.
The Canyon of the Jefferson is quite spectacular, dark, brooding mountains crowding in from both sides, the river snaking through. I see elk for the first time today, four of the magnificent animals. They’re still here, just like when the Corps passed.
Whitehall is a fine little trail town. They’re into this Lewis and Clark thing, huge murals painted on nearly every building. This is Sacagawea country. Folks are proud of that.
In just a few more days, I’ll be an entire year ahead of (plus 200 years behind) when the Corps came through here.

Shortly after I left Capt. Clark this morning he proceed on and passed through the mountains; they formed tremendious clifts of ragged and nearly perpendicular rocks; the lower part of this rock is of the black grannite before mentioned and the upper part a light coloured freestone. these clifts continue for 9 miles and approach the river very closely on either side. [Lewis, August 1st, 1805]
Friday–August 6, 2004
Trail Day–86
Trail Mile–27/2123
Location–SR41, Twin Bridges, Montana

And so the drama continues to play out, so it seems to me. For as I make my way up the canyon of the Jefferson it opens into an expansive valley. Until reaching the valley, the river trended from the west, however, slowly but surely the last few days it has turned south. The mountains to the east are not remarkable, but to the west looms the high, massive range of the Rockies, the Continental Divide. And like the valley below Three Forks, the Jefferson is simply paralleling the Divide to the southwest.
The captains hesitated little in choosing which of the three rivers to ascend from Three Forks. They chose the northernmost trending one they’d named the Jefferson rather than the one they named the Madison, although each was of equal size. They did so because they knew they were far south of the headwaters of the Columbia River.
The captains also knew they were constantly climbing, for they had to drag their boats through rapid after rapid, =ut they probably didn’t know that they were already above 4,000 feet elevation, leaving only a couple thousand more feet to climb to reach the Divide.
And so, by the end of July, first of August 1805, the captains had to begin wondering if they were even on the right river. Yes, they were told by the Indians that the river tumbling over the Great Falls was the Missouri, and they knew that Sacagawea’s people lived somewhere above the falls. But the Indians that gave them this information were the same ones that had no knowledge whatsoever of the existence of the Marias River! At the mouth of the Marias, the captains spent days deciding which fork to take, they being of equal size. Certainly they must be wondering now if they made the right choice.
Perhaps the Northwest Passage does exist after all — at the headwaters of the Marias.
And so, as each day passed and as the Corps continued south, the Jefferson River was becoming shallower and narrower, making progress increasingly more difficult — and they were yet in a grand valley, nowhere near the Divide. Was the Marias really the Missouri after all? Did it come from a high valley deep within the Rockies, from there an easy portage to the Columbia? The captains did not write about this in their journals, but I can’t help but wonder if they didn’t discuss it and frustrate over it.
The traffic is heavy and there’s no shoulder as I make my way up the Jefferson Valley — and south toward Twin Bridges.

the river continued to be crouded with Islands, rapid and shoaly. these shoals or riffles succeeded each other every 3 or four hundred yards; at those places they obliged to drag the canoes over the stone there not being enough water to float them, and between the riffles the current is so strong that they are compelled to have recourse to the cord; and being unable to walk on the shore for the brush wade in the river along the shore and haul them by the cord; this has increased the pain and labour extreemly; their feet soon get tender and soar by wading and walking over the stones. these are also so slipry that they frequently get severe falls. being constantly wet soon makes them feble also. [Lewis, August 3rd, 1805]
Saturday–August 7, 2004
Trail Day–87
Trail Mile–28/2151
Location–SR41, Dillon, Montana

As the Corps ascended the Missouri, and upon entering the mountains, they had passed the Belts, the Judiths and skirted the Snowys, these mountains being hundreds of miles to the north and to the east. To their dismay, I am sure, the captains were realizing that the Missouri did not emerge from the main backbone of the Rockies, but simply skirted them to the south and southwest as lesser streams entered. At Three Forks they were still in the high prairie having traveled for miles and miles to the south and the southwest through wide, expansive valleys. There, the Jefferson led them into more wide valleys as they continued south, southwest. At today’s Twin Bridges, the Jefferson River forks. There the captains chose the one they continued to call the Jefferson (today’s Beaverhead). It also led them yet further south, into another wide, expansive valley. It is in this valley that Sacagawea recognized a familiar landmark known among her people as Beaverhead, today’s Point of Rocks.
I’ve a 28 to knock out to reach Dillon this evening, so I’m up and moving early from the fairgrounds in Twin Bridges (thanks, Dave, for letting me pitch there). At two I cross the Beaverhead River at Point of Rocks — it does resemble a Beaver’s head! I’m in Dillon by six.

Sacajawea has recognized a landmark which tells her that they are not far from the place where her people are accustomed to cross the Bitterroot Mountains (whose crest is here the Continental Divide) to westward-flowing waters. [DeVoto]
Sunday–August 8, 2004
Trail Day–88
Trail Mile–35/2186
Location–SR324, Grant, Montana

The old Nomad began Journey of Discovery 2004 the exact same day as did the Corps of Discovery begin their amazing expedition, May 14th — only his departure was 200 years late. Now, during this first week in August, he’s hiking with them again, this time only 199 years late.
I have been so fortunate to have maintained my good health so far these 88 days. I’ve suffered no illness, no injuries. The members of the Corps, however, were not so fortunate. Many suffered from a myriad of sores, injuries and other ailments. But at this point in their journey they’d already been out here for 453 days, me, only 88.
Tomorrow, and as I climb along with Lewis, we will reach the uppermost waters of the wide Missouri. Just above there we’ll cross the Continental Divide at Lemhi Pass, to begin our circuitous descent to the Pacific. Thank you Lord, for your grace, for your continued blessings, and for providing me safe passage, an angel on each shoulder guiding and protecting me all these days.
My hike today takes me past Camp Fortunate, the location of which is now submerged beneath the waters of Clark Canyon Reservoir. Late evening now, comes Mark who’d bought me a cold one yesterday at the Lyon’s Den in Dillon. He’s been keeping Fred company on a trip over the Great Divide to Tendoy. Fred invites me to come with them to the Buffalo Club by the dam for a steak dinner. Oh yes, I load right up with Fred and Mark and we’re off to the Buffalo! Just before sunset they have me back to where they’d picked me up and I’m on my way again to the little wide spot in the road called Grant. In Grant, Ned lets me pitch behind the Canvas Cafe for the night. Thanks Mark, Fred, Ned; it’s been a fine day!

Lewis ‘determined’ to take a small party to ‘pass the mountains to the Columbia’ and find the Shohsones…The next day…Lewis left with Drouillard, and Privates John Shields and Hugh McNeal. They camped that night near today’s Dillon. On the 10th, they found an Indian trail and followed it…They soon arrived at splits in both the Beaverhead River and the Indian trail. From the west came today’s Horse Prairie Creek, and from the east Red Rock River {where they joined is now under Clark Canyon Reservoir). [Fifer]
Monday–August 9, 2004
Trail Day–89
Trail Mile–31/2217
Location–SR28, Tendoy, Idaho

Before making today’s entry I must digress a moment. Anytime one has a steak dinner provided them by a complete stranger, that’s at least something to mention. But when it happens three days in a row, well, then it certainly is noteworthy! Here, within a natural cradle in the Continental Divide, which nearly encircles this remote area in western Montana, live some of the kindest, friendliest folks one could meet anywhere. And I must say it’s been my good fortune to meet a few of them.
Last Friday evening in the little village of Twin Bridges at the beautifully restored old hotel, simply named “The Old Hotel,” now a fine dining establishment, and at the encouragement of waitress, Dena, I was treated to a deal of a lifetime steak dinner by their bright-eyed shiny-faced chef, Paula. Throughout the evening, and busy with many other guests, both Paula and Dena made frequent stops by my table. Thanks Dena and Paula, for your kindness and generosity.
After what seemed an unusually long day of hiking last Saturday, and on a dusty, ripped up road, I entered the little town of Dillon. First place, the Lyon’s Den Supper Club. Oh yes, I veered over, my doggies barking. This old jitney, now little more than skin and bone, and from the message center there, I’d been getting a few not-so-subtle signals — “We’re tired, we’re hungry, we’re thirsty, stop, Stop, STOP!” Folks hereabouts aren’t accustomed to seeing hiker trash such as the old Nomad, decked out in shorts, gaiters, and toting “ski poles.” But as I entered, and after the usual inquisitive looks, I was greeted by Donnie, the bartender, and Mark, one of the locals. They welcomed me with firm handshakes and that warm Montana smile. Here in Dillon, an exact mile above sea level, deep in the mountains of western Montana, there’s plenty of warmth to be found, though I’ve searched not the least for it; it dwells in the hearts and souls of the people here. So, I am asked the usual questions. And after my short, canned summary of “Odyssey 2004,” Mark has Donnie set me up with a cold one. Then comes a salad, baked potato, and a fixed-just-right steak, compliments of the Lyon’s Den Supper Club. Thanks so much, dear new friends from Dillon!
Fred, who treated me to the steak dinner last evening had certainly heard about me from Mark. But he’d also been told about me by his nephew, Troy, whom I’d met earlier atop the Clark Canyon Dam. Troy and two other firemen with the Beaverhead County Fire Department were on their daily assigned run to the top of the divide. Happy fellows they, all suited up in perfectly pressed uniforms. Troy offered me water and had told me about Grant and the Canvas Cafe.
It was a grand evening with Fred and Mark — and another great steak dinner!
Oh, and the Buffalo Club? Well, it’s perfectly situated above the reservoir. Large picture windows in the dining room overlooking the reservoir and the sky-high mountains of the Great Divide. The timing was perfect to experience the full panorama, the Bitterroots, rising with such majesty and grandeur, their profile perfectly set in relief by the evening sun as it dipped to the western horizon. As we dined, Mark brought my attention to the elk head mounted on the wall. “Shot that years ago,” he said casually. Fred then offered a toast for a safe and successful conclusion to my journey. “God speed to you,” he smiled!
Sure needed my Feathered Friends down sleeping bag last night. Here, over a mile above sea level, and in this thin air, the coolness of the evening sets in hard. As I break camp this morning, comes Bob, brother to Dee, wife of Ned who run the Jeff Davis Canvas Cafe and Lodging. “You gonna have breakfast, better get over to the house,” Bob exclaims. Oh yes, I get right over!
Yet again this morning am I treated to more fine Montana hospitality. This time by Dee and Ned. Plenty of hot coffee and a full breakfast, compliments of the house — and Dee would hear nothing of me paying for my campsite. Thanks, Ned and Dee.
Today it’s up and up some more as I climb toward the Continental Divide at Lemhi Pass.
By the time the Corps reached Camp Fortunate, they were a sad looking bunch. They were worn and bone-weary tired from dragging the canoes against the swift current of the Beaverhead. At the forks of the Beaverhead, it became immediately clear to Lewis that they could proceed no further by water. Here, indeed, the Corps was fortunate, thus the name. From here, and shortly, did the Corps make contact with the Shoshone. As they and the Shoshone came together did there occur a most remarkable reuniting of sister and brother — Sacagawea and Cameahwait, Shoshone Chief.
To have attempted further progress into the Bitterroots without horses would have been foolhardy and would have doomed the expedition to failure. And so, how fortunate the Corps to finally make contact with the Shoshone, who had horses to trade.
After 88 days, I reach the uppermost waters of the Missouri. At the Sacagawea memorial, and at the springhead there I straddle the mighty Missouri, then drink directly of its pure, clear waters.
I’m over the pass and into Idaho at five. Descending only a short distance, and as did Lewis, I drink from near the uppermost waters of the Columbia River. It’s dark by the time I reach Tendoy.

at a distance of 4 miles further the road took us to the most distant fountain of the waters of the Mighty Missouri in surch of which we have spent so many toilsome days and wristless nights. thus far I had accomplished one of those great objects on which my mind has been unalterably fixed for many years, judge then of the pleasure I felt in all[a]ying my thirst with this pure and ice-cold water which issues from the base of a low mountain or hill of a gentle ascent of ½ mile…two miles below McNeal had exultingly stood with a foot on each side of this little rivulet and thanked his god that he had lived to bestride the mighty heretofore deemed endless Missouri. [Lewis, August 12th, 1805]
Tuesday–August 10, 2004
Trail Day–90
Trail Mile–21/2240
Location–US93, Salmon, Idaho

Lewis, Drouillard, McNeal and Shields crossed the Continental Divide at Lemhi Pass on August 12th, 1805, in advance of the main expedition. There they left the headwaters of the Missouri and entered the upper Columbia River Basin. At 7,373 feet, Lemhi Pass is the highest point on the Lewis and Clark Trail. Standing in the pass yesterday, looking west to the legions upon legions of mountains to the horizon, the Bitterroots of the Rockies, I could sense, most assuredly, what Lewis must have felt as he stood in that very spot, the emotions that finally overcame him. He already knew there was no Northwest Passage. From that vantage, mountain stacked upon mountain, there could be no further doubt. Doubt most certainly remained, however. And that doubt concerned how and where their journey would end.
I pitched last next the little store at Tendoy. Viola and her son, Kelly, tend the store and the post office. Vi has coffee and toast ready, and Kelly handles my outgoing mail. I hit the road to Salmon by nine. More heavy traffic; no shoulder again, but I’m in cruise mode.
Here in the upper reaches of Lemhi Valley, Sacagawea, the Indian girl, was born in 1786. She was taken captive by the Hidatsas at age 14 and sold to a French trapper as a slave. She was but 19 when she gave birth to Pomp, and served as guide to the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
It’s tourist season. Salmon Idaho is a zoo. I have supper, water up and hike on out, then pitch for the night in an alfalfa field.

This day I completed my thirty first year, and conceived that I had in all human probability now existed about half the period which I am to remain in this Sublunary world. I reflected that I had as yet done little, very little, indeed, to further the hapiness of the human race or to advance the information of the succeeding generation. I viewed with regret the may hours I have spent in indolence, and now soarly feel the want of that information which those hours would have given me had they been judiciously expended. but since they are past and cannot be recalled, I dash from me the gloomy thought, and resolved in future, to redouble my exertions and at least indeavour to promote those two primary objects of human existence, by giving them the aid of that portion of talents which nature and fortune have bestowed on me; or in future, to live for mankind, as I have heretofore lived for myself. [Lewis, August 18th, 1805]
Wednesday–August 11, 2004
Trail Day–91
Trail Mile–21/2240
Location–US93, North Fork, Idaho

I somehow misplaced my sunglasses while setting camp last, and I fretted myself to sleep with the worry of it. Breaking camp, I find them immediately this morning. So much worry for nothing.
It’s another beautiful, clear day in the Bitterroots. I’m passing these mountains at a much better time than did the Corps, but I know which way to go, so there is no loss of time.
Agency Creek begins just below Lemhi Pass. This creek empties into the Lemhi River, which joins the Salmon River at the city of Salmon Idaho. The valley through which these rivers flow soon pinches down into a rugged, narrow canyon. It’s through this canyon that I hike today, some twenty miles plus, into North Fork. Here the Salmon turns west and begins its descent through boiling rapids and falls.
I’m in North Fork by early afternoon.

Over the next four days, Clark’s group went down today’s Lemhi River, reaching the Salmon River near Tower Creek on the 21st. He named the Salmon River ‘Lewis’s River.’…these four days took Clark far enough down the Salmon River to see how dangerous its rapids were. Toby [their guide] told him the river only got worse farther west; even today, its nickname is ‘The River of No Return.’ [Fifer]
Thursday–August 12, 2004
Trail Day–92
Trail Mile–31/2293
Location–US98, Lost Trail Hot Springs, Montana

I had a grand, restful time in the little village of North Fork. My batteries are totally recharged. Today it’s back to climbing, as I turn from the downriver canyon of the Salmon, to ascend the valley/canyon of North Fork toward Lost Trail Pass.
I am hiking alone today, ahead of the Corps’ scouting party. Clark, a few men, and old Toby their Indian guide, continued on down the main canyon, to the repeated objection of old Toby, I am sure. Toby had told Clark that the canyon of the Salmon turned into no more than a chasm; that the further they went the worse it got, until nothing remained but shear vertical cliff walls through which the river crashed — nearly straight down. But Clark had to find out for himself. It took another whole day of descending the river, with the difficulty ever increasing, to finally convince Clark. Can’t you just hear old Toby complaining to Clark as the canyon became more and more treacherous: “See, I told you so; I told you!” Clark finally realized they were going to have to put the axes away. They would not be chopping out any boats to go down this river. Old Toby was right. They were going to have to do it the hard way — up and over.
On August 24th, 1805, Clark

…wrote a letter to Capt Lewis informing him of the prospects before us…The plan I stated…if he agrees with me we shall adopt it. to procure as many horses (one for each man) if possible and to hire my present guide [Toby] who I sent on to him to interigate thro’ the Intptr. and proceed on by land to Some navagable part of the Columbia River, or to the Ocean…

Fortunately, Lewis had been constructing wooden pack frames and making cargo bags for the horses to carry their essential gear and provisions, having cached much by burying at Camp Fortunate, there to be available for the return trip.
Clark had left a note for Lewis at North Fork before proceeding down the canyon of the Salmon, instructing Lewis to wait there for his return.
On September 2nd 1805, and together again, the Corps continued their journey to the Pacific — by walking and by horseback. My journal entry for today will close with a quote from Clark’s journal for September 2nd.
Proceeding up North Fork by a well-used road (US98), I don’t have to cut any brush. Nonetheless, it’s a long, steady pull for me, over 24 miles to Lost Trail Pass. Along the way I stop at the Lost Trail Cafe where Priscilla treats me to homemade cherry pie and an iced-down glass of Dew. Later, I see Jim again. He gave me some fresh apricots yesterday, then today I’m treated to a chilled bottle of water and a power bar. I reach the pass by late evening. And woe is me — I’m back in Montana again.

we Set out early and proceeded on up the Creek [The North Fork of the Salmon River], Crossed a large fork on which we were pursuing…and proceeded up a West fork without a roade. proceded on thro’ thickets in which we were obliged to Cut a road, over rocky hill Sides where our horses were in [per]peteal danger of Slipping to their certain distruction & up & Down Steep hills, where Several horses fell, Some turned over, and others Sliped down Steep hill Sides, one horse Crippeled 2 gave out. with the greatest dificuelty risque &c. we made five miles & Encamped. [Clark, September 2nd, 1805]
Friday–August 13, 2004
Trail Day–93
Trail Mile–24/2315
Location–US98, Darby, Montana

What an amazing climb yesterday — first steady, then more steady, then most steady — from the North Fork of the Salmon River, all the way to Lost Trail Pass. The upper reaches of North Fork Creek, and for a considerable distance below this divide, does the canyon become so narrow and precipitous that the highway has to move out and onto the near-vertical face of the mountain, there to cling precariously before turning on a hairpin back again into the canyon — in and out and up. Ascending, I often paused to gaze with ever-increasing amazement as to how the Corps ever managed to get through. Here it’s so steep that trees 40-50 feet tall have their tops no more than 15 feet from the ground.
Old Toby, their guide, finally pulled them out of it to claw their way to the ridgetop nearly 1,000 feet above, from there to work their way along and finally over.
I’ve ascended two high passes now and must climb over another at Lolo — because I’m following the path of Lewis and Clark. Oh, but would they have taken a little more direct and less strenuous route!
During the winter of 1805-06, and in the process of detailing their maps (from the mouth of the Missouri to Fort Clatsop), both Lewis and Clark must have wondered as to why they had climbed to such great heights three different times. Of course, had they not pursued the headwaters of the Missouri, there to have met the Shoshone from whom they obtained horses — to have taken any other of the shorter routes across the Divide would certainly have doomed the expedition to failure. They would have had to have passed the legions of mountains on foot, not by water as they’d hoped (a fact they did not know at the time), carrying only what little they could.
Certainly, during that winter at Fort Clatsop, they must have studied different return routes. Indeed, on their journey home they followed a shorter and much easier route. They did ascend the pass at Lost Trail again, but turned east there, to descend into Big Hole, past present day Wisdom — to Three Forks.
For me, today, it’s a cruise on down beside the East Fork of the Bitterroot, the majestic sharptops of the Bitterroot Mountains to the west. Kind traffic; wide shoulders. Of all the people I chance to see today, none are flat-headed. I am not the first white man through here — but I’m on the trail of the man who was.

Ground covered with Snow, we assended a mountain & took a Divideing ridge [Probably the ridge leading to Lost Trail Pass] which we kept for Several Miles & fell on the head of a Creek [East Fork of the Bitterroot] which appeared to run the Course we wished to go, prosued our Course down the Creek…where we met a part[y] of the Tushepau [Flathead] nation…we Encamped with them & found them friendly…I was the first white man who ever wer on the waters of this river. [Clark, September 4th, 1805]
Saturday–August 14, 2004
Trail Day–94
Trail Mile–17/2332
Location–US93, Hamilton, Montana

It’s another beautiful day for the old Nomad to hike — and for the tourists to tour the spectacular Bitterroots of western Montana and eastern Idaho. US93 is choked with traffic, autos with out-of-state tags, motorhomes, campers and motorcycles. Never thought the day would come that I’d be annoyed by the thrumping sound of a passing Harley, but these past few days the incessant racket they’re making has become completely unnerving. The bikers seem to run in packs, six to ten or more. Here in the mountains, they’re either hard on the gas as they climb or they’re shifting down, descending, engines belching and backfiring. I hear them coming long before they pass, the roaring vibration reverberating and ricocheting across the canyon walls – then back — the echoing clamor resounding in stereo. The biker’s headbands, cool shades, black leather, the wind whipping their ponytails, all are symbols designed to make us feel envious of their free-spirited lifestyle. Sadly though, they’ve ended up no more than hapless captives to the hypnotizing, brain and body-numbing clamor they create. My senses would do well to become more numbed. I don’t know how the wildlife puts up with it.
The extraneous noises Lewis and Clark and the Corps had to deal with were the least of their problems: the bugling call of the elk, the howl of the coyote or wolf, the occasional roar of a grizzly, the lulling sound of the rapids, and the splash of the salmon and steelhead there.
Today I must endure the constant snare-drum roll of tires to pavement. Oh, I am so looking to get past all this noise and confusion, into the quiet of the highlands by the Lolo and Nez Perce Trails. I sense their call as they beckon me, much as would the far-away melodic Pipes of Pan, their gentle lullaby drifting through the cirques and across the moraines and arêtes that form the jagged sky-piercing peaks of the Bitterroots. But this gentle calling is drowned out today by the never-ending cacophony, the hammering grind of the eighteen-wheelers.
I’m further entertained by my jangling nerves as I enter the town of Hamilton. A couple of longneck frosties at the local pub quiets them down nicely.
At these high elevations, though it only the beginning of September, the Corps was having to endure the early throes of winter. Cold, bone-chilling rain and wet snow came to join them, unwelcome companions as they struggled to endure.

at dusk it began to Snow, at 3 oClock Some rain. The mountains to the East Covered with Snow…Snow about 2 inches deep when it began to rain which termonated in a Sleet [storm]. [Clark, September 6th, 1805]
Sunday–August 15, 2004
Trail Day–95
Trail Mile–20/2352
Location–SR269, Stevensville, Montana

From the gap at Lemhi, and looking west, each member of the Corps no doubt stood in total silence as they looked west, struck with not only awe and amazement, but with doubt and fear. As they searched the vastness before them, for the shadow of a valley, for a low gap west to show their way, they saw neither. There was no westward-leading valley, no break in the range, just wall after wall of ever-reaching mountains — to the horizon. There they would “proceed on.” Somewhere in that vastness are we now.
Today I continue hiking north as I descend the ever-widening valley of the Bitterroot. I’ve nearly completed the long, difficult horseshoe-shaped loop taken by the Corps. To their dismay, the Corps had been told by the Salish Indians that where they had just struggled for 52 days, they could have passed easily in only four, by a well-used trail across the Continental Divide to the buffalo plains.
The Bitterroot Valley passes between the Salmon/Bitterroot Divide to the west and the Great Divide to the east. As I proceeding down this wide, expansive valley, does the Bitterroot River also become wider and deeper, now easily navigable. The captains must certainly have wondered, should they move to the river and proceed on by that route to the sea? Here again old Toby told them that the Bitterroot River was not the way to go. How it flowed to the sea old Toby did not know, but he told the captains that it was far distant and that the route they must take led through the mountains. This time Clark took his word for it. So did Lewis, but Lewis was convinced not only by Toby’s words but by an observation that he had made. There were no salmon in the Bitterroot River. To Lewis that meant only one thing: the Bitterroot River below had to be unbelievably treacherous. If there were salmon in the Salmon River and it was too risky to run, then what must the lower Bitterroot be like! So once again it would be up, over and through.
As I hike along this morning I can see through gaps in the range to the west. Past those gaps I see nothing but snow-capped crag after snow-capped crag.
Through here in mid-September of 1805, in the bitter-cold rain and wet snow, that time must have been one of the most demoralizing of all for the Corps. It is indeed a blessing that we’ve been struck dumb to any knowledge of times and events ahead. In just days, as the Corps turned into the mountains once more, would they be faced with the most trying conditions and the most harsh, desperate circumstances heretofore know to them.
But to the old Nomad, what lies ahead, over these closing few weeks, will be the gems of this journey. I do believe that I have paid my dues — the seemingly endless days of sweat and toil as I ascended the mighty Missouri. Then in the western Dakotas and eastern Montana, the highways there bending and warping, distorted by sweltering, heat-generated mirages. Through these mountains, then down the Columbia to the sea, my heart will be lifted by the joy of all the triumphs during this journey. Where the Corps passed, their lives in constant peril, with no apparent mercy for their continued suffering, I will pass with relative ease, for they have shown the way.
The traffic on SR269 is crushing — and there is no shoulder. My arrival is late into Stevensville.
There will be more serene and peaceful days ahead, over the trails of the Nez Perce and the Lolo.

….that they now receive unmistakable information about a route west to the Bitterroot Valley from the Gate of the Mountain. The informant says this route requires four days; they themselves had required 52 days to get here by the route they had taken from the Gate of the Mountain.” [Thwaites]
“….the stream appears navigable, but from the circumstance of their being no sammon in it I believe that there must be a considerable fall in it below. our guide could not inform us where this river discharged itself into the columbia river, he informed us that it continues it’s course along the mountains to the N. as far as he knew it… [Lewis, September 10th, 1805]
Monday–August 16, 2004
Trail Day–96
Trail Mile–18/2370
Location–US12, west of Lolo, Montana

The traffic in and out of Stevensville is anything but kind, but the folks in the village certainly are, and last evening and this morning I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a few of them. I absolutely love these little bergs with their downtown business districts still intact (no five acre chain retailer merchandiser here yet — you know the one), where the road comes right in one end of town, down the main drag, then right back out. That’s Stevensville, known to the locals affectionately as “Stevi.” My hosts last were Gene and Robbie at the Stevi Hotel, and what generous and kind hosts they were. We sat in the old hotel main room, there chatting for the longest time. They listened to my carryings on about Odyssey 2004, the Corps of Discovery, and the perils of Lewis and Clark — as if they had nothing else better to do. Thanks Gene, Robbie, and all kind folks of Stevensville, I had a wonderful stay.
At Lolo I finally turn west again after hiking for weeks south — before finally turning north once more. From here it’s less then 700 miles to the sea.
The heat of the afternoon is finally broken by the arrival of an overcast sky, which brings a gentle, soothing rain. I pitch by Lolo Creek, there to be quickly delivered to the land of nod.

…..they moved north the next day [September 8th, 1805] and camped near present Stevensville. There they suffered ‘a hard rain all the evening we are all cold and wet.’ September 9 brought them to Lolo Creek – which they called Travelers’ Rest Creek – near today’s town of Lolo…for the day the men rested and the captains made astronomical observations to establish the latitude and longitude of the location. [Fifer]
Tuesday–August 17, 2004
Trail Day–97
Trail Mile–31/2402
Location–US12, Lolo Pass, Montana/Idaho

It’s a steady pull as I hike past Lolo Hot Springs today. Almost a mile high now, I’m in the conifers: grand fir, subalpine fir, western larch, Englemann spruce, white bark pine and lodgepole pine. The gentle breeze through their boughs, along with the melodic serenade of the cascading creek, they keep me company — when the eighteen-wheelers aren’t drowning them out. Logging trucks are running steady here; first time on this journey. But as in odysseys past, where we’ve been together sharing the roadway, they are all most kind, jake-braking and giving me the entire lane when they can. As they pass, I am treated to the sweet fragrance of the just-harvested evergreen, much better company than the cattle trucks early on.
I’ve found that one of the hardest things to give up out here on the trail is my morning coffee. This morning for some reason my mind dwells on this sacrifice, and I’m thinking: “Oh, could I ever go for a steaming-hot cup of coffee.” Ahead, a motorhome has pulled to the shoulder. As I approach, comes this couple to greet me – Bruce and Cathy from St. Petersburg. “We saw you way back on the road. Where you headed?” asks Bruce. Oh, and then they invite me in for — yup, you guessed it — coffee! Isn’t this amazing? I must be ever cautious when I wish for something from now on!

As I depart their company, I say my morning prayer, the same prayer I’ve been reciting this entire journey. It was composed for Odyssey 2002, “From Sea to Shining Sea,” but it fits this journey too, so I’ve brought it along. I’ve found that when I pray the words, come then the angels to rest atop each my shoulders. Perhaps today, in addition to my usual quote concerning the Corps, I’ll include “A Path by the Side of the Road.”
On attempting to build a railroad through the Bitterroots in 1854, Lieutenant John Mullan had this to say about the mountains of the Bitterroots: “It is thoroughly and utterly impractical for a railroad route…an immense bed of rugged pinnacles and difficult mountains can never be converted to any purpose for the use of man…I have never met with a more uninviting set of mountains.” The railroad was never built.
Indeed, where I’m headed now are rugged and remote lands, lying on the northern fringe of the Selway/Bitterroot Wilderness, one of the largest wilderness areas in the lower forty-eight.

The Corps were entering mountains more difficult to pass than any American had ever attempted. The country is so remote and rugged, nearly two full centuries later, it remains basically uninhabited. [Ambrose]

A Path by the Side of the Road

Lord, set me a path by the side of the road.
Pray this be part of Your plan.
Then heap on the burden and pile on the load,
and I’ll trek it the best that I can.

Please, bless me with patience; touch strength to my back,
then cut me loose and I’ll go,
just like the Burro toting his pack,
the oxen plowing his row.

And once on this journey, a witness for You,
toward Thy way, the truth, and the light.
Shine forth my countenance steady and true,
o’er the pathway to goodness and right.

And lest I should falter, and lest I should fail,
let all who know that I tried.
For I am a bungler, feeble and frail,
when You, dear Lord, I’ve denied.

So blessed be the day Your judgment comes due,
and blessed be the mercy You showed –
and blessed be this journey, all praises to You,
o’er this path by the side of the road.

[N. Nomad]

Wednesday–August 18, 2004
Trail Day–98
Trail Mile–16/2418
Location–US12, near Powell Ranger Station, Lochsa River, Clearwater River, Idaho

Last evening at six I entered Idaho to finally put Montana behind me for good this journey. What an incredible distance up, down and across Montana, nearly 800 miles. The early days spent there are now just a faded memory. Indeed, crossing Montana has taken a long time and been a fair distance.
The Lolo Pass Interpretive Center is one of the finest along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, and I’ve seen most all of them. The Corps’ journey across the Bitterroots and back is one of the most amazing and captivating stories of hardship and triumph in all of human history — and it’s been captured (from time) and is on display for all to see. Thanks, Krystal, Correy and Colleen, for your help, your kindness to me. I had been concerned about venturing deep into the mountains for five days on my own, but with the current map of the Clearwater Forest provided me and your assistance on where to find water, I know I’ll get through just fine. So, as the Nez Perce helped the Corps, you have helped me.
Ahh, and what a sad story, how it all played out between the white man and the Indian — especially how life in this land came to an end for the nation of the Nemi’pu. Their great chiefs were Chief Looking Glass, Chief Joseph and Chief Lean Elk. This is a quote from Chief Joseph:

Tell General Howard I know his heart. What he told me before, I have in my heart. I am tired of fighting. Our chiefs are killed. Looking Glass is dead. Toohoolhoolzote is dead. The old men are all dead. It is the young men who say yes or no. He who led the young men is dead. It is cold and we have no blankets. The little children are freezing to death. My people, some of them have run away to the hills and have no blankets, no food. No one knows where they are – perhaps freezing to death. I want to have time to look for my children and see how many I can find. Maybe I shall find them among the dead. Hear me my chiefs. I am tired; my heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands I will fight no more, forever.

By early afternoon I have descended beside the Lochsa River, past the DeVoto western red cedars to the Clearwater River at Powell Ranger Station. This is a glorious place. Except for the highway, it remains basically unspoiled. At the grand Lochsa Lodge I’m given my own little rustic cabin for the night. Tomorrow I’ll climb to the ridge to “proceed on” on the Lolo Trail.

The next day [September 14th] ‘In the Valies it rained and hailed, on the top of the mountain Some Snow fell…’ and their Shoshone guide, Toby, led them down to the vicinity of the present Powell Ranger Station. Camping on the Lochsa River that night, ‘we were compelled to kill a Colt…to eat for the want of meat.’ Having passed the mouth of a creek two miles before, the captains named it Colt Killed Creek… [Fifer]
Thursday–August 19, 2004
Trail Day–99
Trail Mile–12/2430
Location–Cayuse Junction, LLT, Nez Perce National Historic Trail, Lolo Motorway, Idaho

The Lochsa Lodge, what a delightful place to stay before entering the trails of the Clearwater National Forest for the next four or five days. The main lodge is a grand affair, constructed of hand-fit logs, all whiz-bang new. My place for the night was a rustic old log cabin, dusty and leaning just the least. What a comfortable room for me — and for many other sojourners for the past half-century. They’ve a neat old general store where I was able to get supplies for my hike up and over the mountains. All who work at the lodge were kind and most generous, making my stay a memorable one. They have seen many passing through on the L&C NHT, but I’m the first hiker. Thanks all, at Lochsa Lodge.
Today I enter the treadway (hiking section) of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail in the Bitterroot Mountains of Idaho. It’s a short roadwalk to the trailhead across from Wendover Campground, where old Toby led the Corps from the Lochsa River, back up precipitous slopes to the ridgeline. On this ascent, one of the horses fell, breaking Lewis’ desk and scattering his belongings down the mountain. As I climb, I can certainly see why the horses had trouble – as I grope and climb, only to grope and climb some more, for the better part of seven miles.
I have company on the trail for the first time in many a mile, Bob, Charley and Bob. I’d met them two days ago on my way toward Lolo Pass. They’re here hiking sections of the L&C Trail in the Bitterroots. I catch up with them near the ridge and we enjoy lunch together. Wish they were going further, but they turn and head back down to their vehicle.
Descending late afternoon now to Cayuse Junction, comes bounding toward me this happy pup, followed by its master. Here I meet Molly Eastman. She and husband, Gene, have spent many years researching and locating the trail followed by Lewis and Clark. Gene is somewhere on the ridge above us now, on Pond Mountain. With him is a young man I’ve been hoping for weeks to meet, Norman Miller. He has canoed the Missouri River from Wood River to Three Forks, then mostly hiked from there to the Bitterroots. He departed March 23rd and hopes to reach the mouth of the Columbia River at Astoria, Oregon on September 25th.

…here the road leaves the river…and assents winding in every direction…Several horses Sliped and roled down Steep hills which hurt them verry much the one which Carried my desk & Small trunk Turned over & roled down a mountain 40 yards…broke the desk…after two hours delay we proceeded on up the mountain Steep & ruged as usial…we could find no water and Concluded to camp and make use of the Snow we found on the top to cook the remns. of our Colt…From this mountain I could observe high ruged mountains in every direction as far as I could see. [Lewis, September 15th, 1805]
Friday–August 20, 2004
Trail Day–100
Trail Mile–28/2458
Location–Bald Mountain, LLT, NPNHT, Lolo Motorway, Idaho

Well, after much pleasant conversation with Molly last, she invited me to stay at their camp at Cayuse Junction and to have supper with them. “It will be a shame if you don’t stay,” Molly said. “Gene has a great slide presentation about our work in locating the Corps’ trail through the Bitterroots.”
I thanked her kindly. Still having made no decision, I headed on down the gravel road to Cayuse Junction. Once there, the sky began darking over and I could hear thunder across the mountain. “That’s it,” I said to myself. “You’re staying. You’re in too big a hurry anyway. Meet these folks, enjoy their company and spend some time with them.” I no sooner set camp than the heavens opened and the deluge arrived, accompanied by pelting, pea-sized hail the likes and intensity of which I’ve seldom seen. The hail played taps on my little Nomad tent for nearly half an hour, leaving a pile of ice clear around.
Molly came in and rigged a tarp, and after the storm she invited me for coffee. In a short while the cold, wet trail-finders arrived. Gene prepared a salmon feast with all the trimmings, then entertained me with his slide show. What a grand evening.
This cool, clear morning it’s more piping-hot coffee, along with a full breakfast prepared by Gene. And so, now comes that inevitable time I hate so — time for sad good-byes. So long, Gene, so long Molly; thanks for your kindness and generosity. I’ve had a great time. And to you, Norman, dear new friend – God speed on the remainder of your journey to the Pacific. Sure hope our paths cross again.
From Gene’s slide show, I’ve pretty much learned how to identify the old treadway and the tree blazes there. It’s amazing how these old trails have survived for centuries and can still be identified. During Odyssey 2002, “ From Sea to Shining Sea,” and on the Santa Fe Trail segment of that trek, it was exciting to locate, then walk in the old wagon ruts made almost 200 years ago. Then on the Natchez Trace last winter it was an easy task finding that old trail along the ridges, and there to walk beside history again — on another old trail over 200 years old.
Gene showed many pictures of old existing blazes, notches that have been hacked in the trees along. The normal life expectancy of the lodgepole pine is around 80 years, but here along the ridgetops, these same trees can live to be over two-hundred years old, Gene explained. So some of the old blazes that were hacked out hundreds of years ago can still be found.
This morning, a short way into my hike, I’m able to identify two distinct old blazes that marked the historic Nez Perce Trail, the trail followed by Lewis and Clark. And the treadway itself? Ahh yes, why it’s still here too, along the ridgeline and beside the road. One only need look for it!
This Lolo Motorway lets me have it today. Though it seeks the ridgeline, at times that’s not so easy a task. For the ridge is made up of peaks and gaps — over 7,000 feet at the top, and often it seems, less than 5,000 feet in the saddles. So there I go, up and over, down and back, then up and over again — time after time. I constantly wonder at how the Corps ever made it.
I’m very tired, ready to call it a day by the time I reach Bald Mountain. I’d been concerned about finding water, but water is plentiful. Below Bald Mountain I water-up, then ascend the mountain to pitch there, in the waning light of day.

at 12 oClock we halted on the top of the mountain to worm & dry our Selves a little as well as to let our horses rest and graze a little on Some long grass which I observed. I have been wet and as cold in every part as I ever was in my life, indeed I was at one time fearfull my feet would freeze in the thin Mockirsons which I wore. [Clark, on Bald Mt., September 16, 1805]
Saturday–August 21, 2004
Trail Day–101
Trail Mile–31/2489
Location–LLT, NPNHT, Eldorado Canyon, Idaho

Vistas along the ridge offer views all across the rugged Bitterroots. Those into the Selway/Bitterroot Wilderness to the south are especially remarkable. Certain of those sites along are Snowbank Camp, Indian Post Office, Devil’s Chair, The Smoking Place, Bald Mountain and Sherman Peak. It was from Sherman Peak that Clark first saw the western prairie.
It’s another day for letting the old Nomad have it. More, many more ascents and descents, some in excess of 1,000 feet, as the trail seeks the ridgeline, only to dive off again into another saddle. There are many “Deep” gaps along the Appalachian Mountains. There’s one here, too. Only here it’s called Deep Saddle. Seems the Deep family really got around!
Ranger Larry Paul stopped to chat with me the other day — was checking to see if I needed water. Said he’d seen a Cougar recently. I think I saw some paw prints today, but they were more than likely made by a dog. I can’t tell the difference.
By late afternoon I’m making one of my last major descents, along the trail that plummets down through Eldorado Canyon. Here are some of the most majestic trees of all that I’ve seen so far — western red cedar. Some of those here exceed ten feet in diameter at their base. Some are perhaps 2,000 years old. There are old, old blazes on them too, 200 years old or older. It is believed the Nez Perce followed a trail across the mountains to the eastern high plains to hunt the buffalo for countless centuries. That trail likely went through Eldorado Canyon. It is an amazing place. I pitch beneath the mighty cedar for the night.

The main party, with Lewis, had had five bad days while Clark and his men were gone ahead. On September 18, they had eaten the last of the second colt in the morning, with small portions of the ‘portable soup’ bought in Philadelphia for dinner and super. From Sherman Peak the next day, they too saw the prairie far ahead. But the men were weak from hunger and dysentery. [Fifer]
Sunday–August 22, 2004
Trail Day–102
Trail Mile–30/2519
Location–SR11, LLT, NPNHT, Weippe, Idaho

It rained off and on all night, and this morning I break camp in it. I must not complain, though. What a blessing to have had many cool, clear days for the Bitterroot traverse — certainly better luck than the Corps had.
The rain stays with me, and it’s turned cold, so I hasten along. The final descent into Weippe is along Forest Service roads. There is no traffic.
What a feeling of accomplishment to have the Bitterroots behind me. From Weippe, it’s a straight shot to the Pacific.

the pleasure I now felt in having tryumphed over the rockey Mountains and descending once more to a level and fertile country where there was every rational hope of finding a comfortable subsistence for myself and party can be more readily conceived than expressed, nor was the flattering prospect of the final success for the expedition less pleasing. [Lewis, September 22, 1805]
Monday–August 23, 2004
Trail Day–103
Trail Mile–25/2544
Location–US12, Orofino, Idaho

At Weippe, the Corps had the good fortune of meeting the Nez Perce, who befriended them. The Indians fed Clark and his men, then provided food for Clark to take back to the main party still starved and struggling to get through the remainder of the rugged Bitterroots. Although the Corps suffered near-continual hardship, they were charmed in the process. Each time the expedition appeared doomed to failure, came a turn of good fortune — Divine intervention, no doubt.
There are still fine folks in Weippe. During my stay, I was provided shelter from the all-night rain, and I was fed well. Ahh, does the daily hardship and toil I’ve experienced pale in comparison to the constant and near-inhuman conditions the Corps had to endure.
This morning, and only a short four miles or so west of Weippe, I’m already in the western high prairie — open fields and meadows, and bales of new-mown hay. A few more miles and the road pitches off, down into the canyon of the Clearwater. The road winds and drops around hairpin switchbacks, back and forth for the better part of seven miles before reaching the canon floor and the Clearwater River. Here I’m back to the grinder called US12. For more than two hours I could hear the motorcycles rumbling and the eighteen-wheelers jake-braking as I descended.
About halfway into my descent, up the canyon comes the Eastmans and Norman. They see me waving and haul it down by a turnout. Mollie unloads the folding chairs and we have a grand get-together right on the side of the canyon. They’ve decided to take a couple of days off. The deluge last night flooded Norm’s tent and all the Eastman’s gear is soaking wet. So they’re headed home for Weippe to dry things out.
It’s an enlightening experience talking to Gene and Mollie. I’m full of excitement as I tell them about finding the old blazes and treadway. They’re excited to tell me about finding two Indian graves. Gene and Mollie are both authorities on the Lewis and Clark Expedition through the Bitterroots. Their first book published a few years ago entitled Bitterroot Crossing, Lewis and Clark Across the Lolo Trail, is authoritative. And they’re now working on their second book coming out soon to be entitled Nez Perce Trails Across the Clearwater Followed by Lewis and Clark. Oh what a joy seeing all these dear friends again.
When I entered the upper reaches of Eldorado Canyon two days ago — the springs there being the beginning, one of the many headwaters to the Columbia River, I was at 5,000 feet above sea level. Crossing the bridge over the Clearwater River here at the base of the canyon I’ve dropped to less than 1,000 feet. I’m on my way to the sea; oh yes, slowly but surely, I’m headed there.

September 20 saw Clark’s party down from the mountains to ‘leavel pine country…a butifull Countrey,’ today’s Weippe Prairie, where they found a camp of Nez Perce Indians collecting camas roots…The Nez Perce welcomed them with a feast of fish, a little bison meat, some fish, dried berries, and camas roots cooked various ways…Clark sent Private Reuben Field, with a Nez Perce, back to Lewis and the main party with a horseload of roots and three large salmon. [Fifer]
Tuesday–August 24, 2004
Trail Day–104
Trail Mile–26/2570
Location–US12, Thunderbird Smoke Shop, Valerie Dunn, Nez Perce Indian Reservation, near Myrtle/Lenore, Idaho

Nee-Mee-Poo, The People

Long before the arrival of Lewis and Clark, the Nee-Mee-Poo, known today as the Nez Perce, occupied a vast area of north-central Idaho, southeastern Washington and northeastern Oregon. Flourishing for thousands of years in the river valleys and plateaus rich in game, roots and other resources, they used the waterways as highways and lived seasonally on river terraces. Centrally located in a vast network of trade routes between native peoples, the Nez Perce developed a rich, complex culture and became a powerful people. [Interpretive marker at (Nee-Mee-Poo) Canoe Camp Park, Clearwater River]

It rained steady and at times, hard, all night. I should complain! My stomach’s full, I’m well, got my poncho on to keep me warm and dry, a smile to keep me happy, and so I’m out and into it this morning, heading down Clearwater Canyon.
After leaving the mountains and entering the high prairie, every member of the Corps became sick. Lewis was so ill he couldn’t walk for days. It was thought they suffered from amoebic dysentery. Perhaps the dried salmon they’d been given by the Nez Perce was tainted. But had that been the case, the Nez Perce would have been no more immune to the condition than the Corps. The culprit more than likely was the camas. The Corps’ diet for nearly a year and a half had been the meat from game taken. In the food family, the camas root (quamash bulb) is more closely related to grain — and the Corps was certainly not accustomed to eating cereal!
Down the canyon a short distance from the North Fork of the Clearwater is the last overland camp used by Lewis and Clark as they journeyed west. Here from Canoe Camp the Corps “proceeded on” by water, leaving their horses to the care of the Nez Perce until their return the following spring. At Canoe Camp, they felled a number of large trees, most likely ponderosa pine, from which their dugouts were hewn. From these logs they tried to build their canoes — yes, “tried.” All the members were still so weak from their extended illnesses that they had little strength for the task. So they called upon the Nez Perce for help. Instead of chopping to hollow out the trees, the Indians had an easier method. They set fires and burned the wood away.
On October 7th, 1805, most members still ill or weak, they launched their dugouts and set out, down the Clearwater River to the Pacific Ocean. Before reaching more tranquil waters they were tested by many rough rapids. There were many boulders to dodge. The first few days were perilous.
My days through here are also perilous. At least the boulders the Corps met with didn’t move. The ones I’m having to dodge and deal with are rolling — on eighteen-wheels. They’d had their run-ins with the bear. US12 IS a bear! Blind curve after blind curve, around bluff after bluff, no shoulder, and everyone’s late. Stay with me today, Angels; this old Clearwater Canyon is sure enough a bumpy ride!

As they move down to the forks of the Clearwater River, accompanied by the Nez Perces, Clark’s journal is practically a hospital daybook. ‘Capt. Lewis scercely able to ride on a jentle horse…Several men So unwell that they were Compelled to lie on the Side of the road for Some time others obliged to be put on horses…3 parts of Party sick Capt. Lewis verry sick…most of the Party Complaining…I am a little unwell…Drewer sick…Our men nearly all Complaining of their bowels.’ [DeVoto]
Wednesday–August 25, 2004
Trail Day–105
Trail Mile–18/2588
Location–US12, Lewiston, Idaho

Rain all night again. Breaking camp, I shake as much water as I can from my dripping tent — a wet tent is a heavy tent though, so I’ll be lugging an extra pound or two today. Plenty of hot coffee at Thunderbird Smoke Shop to get the old jitney crankin’ and I’m out and into it again.
US12 is shaking and rattling this morning. Heavy traffic both directions. Clearwater Canyon is trying to open up, but just as it does, comes another bluff to shut everything down. First thing to go is the road shoulder. With the wet pavement, I can hear the tornado pushers coming and I must constantly drop off toward the ditch. Clark talked about the many islands and rapids in his journal entries. I pass many of both today as the river tumbles down through the canyon — US12 tumbling along with it.
The rain finally slacks by early afternoon. But then the wind moves in to take its place. The canyon finally opens up, the shoulder comes back and I’m in Lewiston by mid-afternoon.

at 8½ miles we arrived at the heade of a verry bad riffle at which place we landed near 8 lodges of Indians…haveing passed two Islands & Six rapids Several of them verry bad… [Clark, October 10th 1805]
Thursday–August 26, 2004
Trail Day–106
Trail Mile–32/2620
Location–US12, Pomeroy, Washington

Lewis and Clark glided their boats into the Snake River on October 10th, 1805. I crossed the bridge over the Snake River (near its confluence with the Clearwater) between Lewiston Idaho and Clarkston Washington this morning at nine. A major event for the Corps; a major event for the old Nomad (another state behind me — nine down, two to go!).
At this point the Corps must have known for certain they would succeed, that they would reach their planned destination, the Pacific Ocean. The Nez Perce, who had lived here for thousands of years gave the Corps detailed information about the Snake and Columbia, landmarks to look for, obstacles to avoid, and the remaining distance yet to travel. Accompanying the Corps from Canoe Camp were two of the Nez Perce chiefs, Twisted Hair and Tetoharsky. So as they descended the Clearwater and the Snake, at each Indian village, the chiefs served as ambassadors for the Corps. Indeed, both Lewis and Clark wrote in their journals that the Nez Perce were the friendliest and most helpful of all the Indian nations met during the expedition.
Hiking along the Snake this morning, do I realize just how formidable a river is rolling here. In size and volume I’d say it compares to the Mississippi above St. Louis, before the Missouri takes over.
Once on this mighty Snake River, the Corps must have been filled with jubilation. For as they descended, gliding along effortlessly, not having to fight the river every foot of the way, making double, triple, and sometimes even quadruple the daily mileage — those days down the Snake and Columbia Rivers must have been glorious days. At that time they may have also felt bolstered and braced for the return trip — by the knowledge that once past the bitter Bitterroots and over the Great Divide, that the Missouri, the river they had fought against so long and so hard – would carry them home.
Beside the Snake, and for some distance, US12 follows along — until the canyon pinches down, forming near-vertical walls, forcing the highway to move away and ascend to the tableland prairie above. Climbing the Missouri, and for that great distance, I certainly had the advantage over the Corps. But here at the Clearwater and the Snake the tables have turned. From here to the Pacific, the Corps was swept merrily along. Now, and as I climb about these deep-cut canyons, I’ll “proceed on” — behind them!

The Snake is a big river and from the mouth of the Clearwater most of the way to the Columbia it flows through a series of canyons. The party reached it in the season of low water, which meant that the rapids were at their least dangerous…Twisted Hair and Tetoharsky continued as guides…There were a lot of Indians but they remained amiable; Clark attributed their friendliness to the presence of Sacajawea, which ‘we find reconciles all the Indians as to our friendly intentions a woman with a party of men is a token of peace.’ [DeVoto]
Friday–August 27, 2004
Trail Day–107
Trail Mile–27/2647
Location–US12, Dayton, Washington

US12 is a Jekyll-and-Hyde highway. In Idaho, through the Clearwater Canyon, it was one of the most treacherous roads I’ve ever hiked — narrow pavement, no shoulders, blind curves, crushing traffic. Here in Washington, it is one of the most gentle — wide and nearly straight, fully paved shoulders, sparse traffic. There remain a number of days yet to walk its way; I had dreaded it, but that has all changed.
One of the previous traffic problems had been the summer vacationers. Campers and motorhomes choked the roads. The motorhomes were especially problematic. These days, they’re the equivalent of rolling palaces, near the size of large, commercial trucks or buses. Most folks have never driven anything so big, and most don’t have a clue what they’re doing. Commercial drivers are trained professionals; they can handle almost any situation — like the old Nomad hiking toward them on their side of the road. All move right over, giving me a full lane when they can. But the RV drivers — oh no! They can’t handle it, and the panic shows on their faces as they pass me by, sticking their rearview mirrors right in my face and nearly blowing me off the road, not giving an inch when they’ve got the whole highway. Summer vacation time’s over now and the RV traffic has dwindled to a fraction of what it’d been — thank you, Lord, thank you!
Out of Lewiston/Clarkston yesterday, and as the highway moved from the river came a steady climb of over two thousand feet to the summit of Alpowa. It was a tiring day. Today, more climbing. I’m taking a shortcut, up and across the high prairie, down into Tucannon River Canyon, then back out again to climb to the prairie. This is the return route used by the Corps as they headed home, leading pack horses along old Indian trails. Beside the gulches and on the sidehills, the grooved-in remains of these old trails are still visible in the prairie grass. I move from the gravel road awhile, to walk in the shadowed imprints of time — footsteps of the Corps of Discovery.
Atop this tableland high prairie and along its boundless rolling contour are thousands upon thousands of acres of wheat fields. These fields are enormous, filling the viewshed full to the horizon — three-sixty. The machines used to till these fields are equally as large, pulled by rubber-tracked bull dozers! It’s harvest time and the farmers are all busy, the eighteen-wheelers with full trailers hauling the grain out as fast as they can. By the end of the day, I’m caked with the gray dust from the road, appearing much ghost-like against the fields of gold.
It’s been another long, hard day — so glad to reach Dayton by early evening. I’ve said before, a city’s welcome sign that reads “town of friendly people” doesn’t make it so. Yesterday’s had that sign — it wasn’t. Dayton’s doesn’t — it is!
Saturday–August 28, 2004
Trail Day–108
Trail Mile–29/2676
Location–SR12, Walla Walla, Washington

There isn’t a square foot of sod that hasn’t been busted within a hundred square miles of here. From any high vantage, of which I have a few today, the landscape is uniformly and entirely huge patches of either tan (wheat stubble or unharvested wheat) or gray/black (plowed ground). Through these fields wind the ribbons of gravel roads, no uncultivated margins beside, no fences, just wheat or raw dirt. The narrow gulches, ravines and scant valleys may have patches of green, perhaps immature cottonwood, a little willow, some rushes, but that’s pretty much it. The towns and villages are along the narrow, winding creeks and rivers. This is wheat country, nothing else, just wheat, millions of acres (billions of bushels) of it.
I take the high ground again today to escape the traffic of US12 and to find a shorter route, which goes up, over and back. Farmers have their Goliath-like machinery running all across the hills, dust clouds to the horizon where they’re either harvesting the grain or plowing the earth. The harvesters appear as moving buildings, the plows monster-like, pulled by bulldozers. There is no hillside or slope that hasn’t been managed and tilled.
This scene is not the least unpleasant to the eye. The uniform monochromes of either tan or gray are visually striking, like so much clothwork laid down. Where the hills mound up, the horizon is close, placing all this against an enormous expanse of cirrus-tufted blue.
By late evening, and as the hill crowns part I can see the green ribbon of valley below, glistening there, the city of Walla Walla. I’m in just at sunset.

This river [Snake] in general is very handsome, except at the rapids,…and even these rapids…add to its beauty, by interposing variety and scenes of romantick grandeur where there is so much uniformity in the appearance of the country. [Gass, October 15th, 1805]
Sunday–August 29, 2004
Trail Day–109
Trail Mile–23/2699
Location–US12, west of Touchet, Washington

On the outskirts of Walla Walla, the day is already heating up. As I proceeded beside neat-kept homes along, I pass a lemonade stand — a little table complete with cloth, sign, cups and a chilled pitcher of pink lemonade. Oh yes, I apply the breaks and hit reverse. The family sees me from their front window. Soon comes Mandy and her mom. I get a refreshing iced-down lemonade — and a picture with the proprietor. Thanks, Mandy!
In a short while, and as I’m daydreaming along comes this young chap to greet me. Name’s Don. “You’ve got a story to tell,” he says. “Mind if I walk a while with you?” And so Don comes along. Inquisitive chap, lots of questions. He then tells me about his relationship with the Lord, the happiness in his life. He walks a mile with me. Fine company; great conversation. Thanks, Don!
Had I gone through Prescott, toward the Columbia, that direction, I would have more closely followed the return route of Lewis and Clark. However, another old trail passes this way, the Oregon Trail. It went through present-day Walla Walla, then west by the route I’m following today. I wanted to walk that old wagon path some. The pioneers who opened the Oregon Territory in the mid 1800s followed in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark. I am following — too!
The desert-like terrain has returned. I’m in the western high plains — sagebrush and baked earth. Even the weeds have thorns. Finding a suitable place to pitch is a prickly proposition.

They left the canyons but not the rapids behind, coming out to a wide sagebrush plain. Considering that the Columbia was the great objective of their journey, the log records very little emotion when they reach it on October 16, the first white men who ever saw it east of the Cascade Mountains. [DeVoto]
Monday–August 30, 2004
Trail Day–110
Trail Mile–34/2733
Location–US730, Umatilla, Oregon

Remarkable moonrise just after sunset last. You’ve seen these spectacular shows I’m sure; a moon so huge, brilliant orange, an orb that fills near the entire eastern sky. Doesn’t the Lord gives us so many miraculous natural things to wonder about! Certainly this phenomenon is one of them. Science has a logical explanation for it; light refracted through the lower lenticular atmosphere — but what does that really mean when you actually see and experience it!
A full moon all night, illuminating my tent as if a mercury-vapor streetlight right by. Early morning brings the moonset, across the great plains of the western high prairie, a hundred or more power-generating wind turbines standing the ridges, first light showing them front and center. Quite remarkable.
Don’t know why at times I’m compelled to hammer the miles so hard. Today is one of those days. Guess I’d rather be in town than out in the boonies coddling up to rattlesnakes and scorpions — so I hammer. Folks tend to ask, “What do you eat when you’re in the woods?” My answer, “Pizza and beer.” That reply always brings a quizzical look! Then I tell them that I just hike to the next town.
At eleven-thirty this morning I’ve another state behind me — almost. I’m in Oregon now, but I’ll be back in Washington for the final day in a few short days, to cross the sound from Fort Clatsop to Cape Disappointment.
If you’ve been following my itinerary, these final days won’t make any sense. When I planned this route I didn’t realize it was permissible to hike the interstate highways out here. Now, since I know I can, I’ll hike the interstate. It’s safer — oh yes it’s much safer! Fully paves shoulders, no blind curves, no inconsiderate yahoos coming at me from my blind side (passing from behind) trying to rip my head off. Oh yes, I’ll gladly hike the interstate!
When Lewis and Clark reached the Columbia they were cruising, just like the old Nomad. Don’t know if I’ll be able to keep up with them now as they head for the ocean. But danged if the Corps hasn’t earned a ride, don’t you agree! — I’ll gladly follow.

after we had our camp fixed and fires made, a Chief came from this camp which was about ¼ of a mile up the Columbia river at the head of about 200 men singing and beeting on their drums Stick and keeping time to the musik they formed a half circle around us and Sung for Some time, we gave them all Smoke, and Spoke to their Chief as well as we could by sign informing them of our friendly disposition to all nations, and our joy in Seeing those of our Children around is. [Clark, October 16th, 1805]
Tuesday–August 31, 2004
Trail Day–111
Trail Mile–11/2742
Location–US730, Irrigon, Oregon

This is a short day, much needed. I want to avoid the heat of the afternoon, so it’s get out and go — till noon.
It rains here, but not much and not often. All along the Columbia River yesterday were there pump platforms with huge electric pumps, all running, lifting the life-giving waters of the river to the dry plains above. The soil of eastern Oregon is fertile, but without water it remains as a desert, as it has been since time. Semi trucks loaded to overflowing with corn and onions that have passed me these last few days give testimony and great credit to those who would risk their fortunes to undertake the task of irrigation — to prove the goodness of the soil.
Tonight I will stay in Irrigon. Don’t know where that name came from, but without irrigation — “Irri” would sure be “gon!”

last night we could not Collect more dry willows the only fuel, than was barely Sufficient to cook Supper, and not a Sufficiency to cook brackfast this morning. [Clark, October 21st, 1805]
Wednesday–September 1, 2004
Trail Day–112
Trail Mile–12/2754
Location–I-84/US30, Boardman, Oregon

A short hike to finish up US730 and I’m on the interstate. I’d been the least apprehensive about hiking here, but that concern is quickly dispelled. I-84 has traffic, but it’s light and not flying like I’d expected. Turns out the worst problem is the wind — steady at 25, head-on out of the west. It works me over good before I reach Boardman. Joy of joys, another short day.
Been looking long and hard for those snowcapped peaks to the west, but no luck yet.

The river to day is about ¼ mile in width, this evening the countrey on the Lard. Side rises to the hight of that on the Starboard Side, and is wavering [near present day Arlington] we made 42 miles to day; the current much more uniform than yesterday or the day before. [Clark, October 20th, 1805]
Thursday–September 2, 2004
Trail Day–113
Trail Mile–28/2782
Location–I-84/US30, Arlington, Oregon

I hit the interstate at seven. The wind hits the interstate at seven. As I proceed on it becomes necessary to lean in as the wind steadily increases in intensity, nothing in miles to hinder its progress — not a single tree in sight, just barren hillsides that form the canyon walls.
There are huge whitecaps on the Columbia. Not a good time to be down there. The Corps made great mileage days through here.

Passd. a Small Island at 5 ½ miles a large one 8 miles in the middle of the river, some rapid water at the head and Eight Lodges of nativs opposit its Lower point…we came too at those lodges, bought some wood and brackfast, Those people recived us with great kindness… [Clark, October 21st, 1805]
Friday–September 3, 2004
Trail Day–114
Trail Mile–26/2810
Location–I-84/US30, Rufus, Oregon

I’m up and going at six in an attempt to beat the wind, which is forecast to return to the canyon. The morning is cool, only a slight breeze and light traffic to begin the day, but by eleven the situation changes. The wind arrives and the three-day holiday traffic shows up right along with it. As the wind comes at me, it gets plenty of encouragement from all the traffic, especially the eighteen-wheelers as they go whipping by.
The interstate is dropping as the canyon drops. At Port Kelly where I picked up the Columbia, the river stood at 348 feet above the sea. At Biggs Junction, which I’ll pass early in the morning, it will have dropped to 157 feet. It’s easy to see how the Corps made such good time through here. The swift current was propelling them and they were running most of the rapids. I just keep plodding along — another 26 today.
Rounding a bend toward Rufus, for the first time, I see snow-capped Mount Hood, some 70 miles distant.

The next day [October 21st], the Corps met Indians who sold them wood and, notably, wore some articles of EuroAmerican clothing. The wood-sellers warned the Corps of a great falls head on the Columbia. Near that falls, they said, stood that large conical mountain visible in the distance – Mount Hood. [Fifer]
Saturday–September 4, 2004
Trail Day–115
Trail Mile–27/2837
Location–I-84/US30, The Dalles, Oregon

The wind usually calms down in the evening and remains calm during the night. Then, if it decides to kick up next day, it usually begins again late morning. At least that’s been my experience over the years. But that’s not Nature’s way here in the Columbia Gorge; oh no. When the wind gets to blowing here — it just rips, no matter what time of day.
And so, this morning, in an attempt to get out ahead of the wind, I’m up and hauling by six. But the wind’s been howling all night, and it’s here to greet me at six. As I proceed on down the canyon, the wind is proceeding up — and it doesn’t matter which way the canyon may turn! If I’m hiking west, the wind’s from the west. If I’m going north, the wind’s from the north.
As long as I’m complaining, might as well get a lick in about the traffic. This is Labor Day weekend. Seems like the place to be this holiday is the Columbia Gorge. The motorhomes and campers are back with a vengeance. The traffic was nonstop yesterday, and the ones that didn’t make it here then are definitely getting here today — everybody is literally flying, the wind propelling them. For me, here today on I-84, it’s two steps ahead then one step back as I hug to the crash guardrail.
This is a windsurfer’s paradise and with school starting again this coming week, this weekend’s the last hurrah for these kids, so seems they’re all here on the Columbia. When I can take my eye away from the onslaught for a moment, it’s fun watching them fly across the water. Instead of using sails, some have parachute-like kites they’re tethered to. These rigs work just like a tow plane. It’s amazing how fast they’re moving. The wind lifts them completely out of the water from time to time. Definitely a sport for the young and daring — I’ll stay right here on dry land and take my chances with the semis, thank you very much!
I’ve a dear friend who lives in Portland now, Dawn. She goes by the trail name, Belcher (yes, she was given that flattering name — you guess how she got it!). Our paths have crossed each of my last two hikes. In ‘98, we met on the Appalachian Trail way up in New England, and during my “Sea to Shining Sea” odyssey, in Kansas City, where she lived before moving to Portland, Belcher came out to cheer me on. I’ve been in touch with her again and this evening she and boyfriend, Paul, are coming to The Dalles to greet me once more. I hasten along despite the wind, in anticipation of seeing this dear friend.

October 24 brought the Corps to the Columbia’s Short Narrows – one quarter mile long and 45 yards wide – followed by the Long Narrows, five miles long and 200 yards wide. Since then, The Dalles Dam has raised the Columbia above this dangerous stretch…The next morning, men on shore stood ready to throw lifeline ropes to the canoeists. Men who couldn’t swim walked halfway around the Long Narrows carrying guns and important papers. With Indians watching from the rocks, the first canoe, and then the second, came through the worst stretch of water to this halfway point. The third filled with water but got to shore, and the last one had no trouble. After reloading the canoes, the Corps proceeded down the Columbia. At the mouth of Mill Creek, the Corps camped on a rock at today’s city of The Dalles, Oregon. [Fifer]
Sunday–September 5, 2004
Trail Day–116
Trail Mile–23/2860
Location–I-84/US30, Hood River, Oregon

What a grand time last, seeing my dear friend, Dawn, and meeting her boyfriend, Paul. It’s been so long since I’ve seen anyone I know. I jabbered and yapped, couldn’t shut up! It was indeed a delight to seem them — and they both enjoyed my company.
I’ve an opportunity to get away from I-84 for awhile today, where the interstate hasn’t buried US30, to hike a remaining section of that old highway over the mountain. Up and around is four miles further, but the climb is definitely worth the time and effort. Lots of winding, around hairpin curves, the old hand-laid, arched rock wall crash rails adding their part to the nostalgia. Many of the scenic car commercials we see on TV are filmed here. Lots of folks out on bikes today, huffing their way up, then whizzing down. It’s a beautiful day, just the least breeze. Thank you, Lord, thank you!
Wind River would be a more appropriate name for Hood River. Many businesses here rely on and are based on the wind. Many manufacture and sell windsurfing equipment. You can purchase all the necessary gear and take lessons to learn how to use it — right here in “Wind” (Hood) River. It’s definitely a touristy place — you know the place — Gatlinburg of the West. The main street is packed. Everybody’s happy. I can’t stand this kind of chaotic confusion for long. I move to the western outskirts to find a little not-so-new place that rents by the week — Yogi a room for the night.
Ahh, it’s quiet! It takes an hour for my ears to stop ringing. Both the Corps and I endured the incessant roar, me the racket from traffic (and people), the Corps, the continuous noise of the falls and the rapids. I’d sure trade mine for theirs!

A cool windey morning we loaded our canoes and Set out at 9 oClock, a. m. …at four miles we landed at a Village of 8 houses on the Stard. Side under some rugid rocks…here we purchased five Small Dogs [a diet mainstay], Some dried buries, & white bread made of roots, the wind rose and we were obliged to lie by all day… [Clark, October 28th, 1805]
Monday–September 6, 2004
Trail Day–117
Trail Mile–18/2878
Location–I-84/US30, Cascade Locks, Oregon

Last day of this vacation weekend and the wind has also taken a vacation. It’s so enjoyable hiking today without having to lean into it for a change.
Today I’m steadily descending as the Columbia River drops to the sea. Where I entered the canyon, it was little more than a desert. Nothing but rocks and a little sagebrush here and there. Since then, the canyon has made a slow and steady transition. Where I’m hiking now, the canyon is well-watered — lush grass, mats of green moss over the rocks, evergreen lacing the canyon walls.
Little of this great river remains as it was during the times of Lewis and Clark. It’s been dammed up and stopped up. Historic places like the Narrows and the Cascades are no longer visible, gone forever, buried hundreds of feet below the waters of numerous reservoirs.
I’m following not only the Lewis and Clark Trail now, but also the river route of the Oregon Trail, where the early pioneers headed for the Willamette and other lush, fertile coastal valleys.
Fall is definitely here. Leaves are dropping. So, too, the temperature. It was in the low 40s this morning — hiked with my sticks under my arms and my hands in my pockets for the longest while. The timing for this odyssey has certainly worked well, and though I tend to complain from time-to-time, I have been blessed with consistent and remarkably good weather. A fellow sure enough shut me up the other day when I complained about the wind. “Yeah,” he said, “When it’s this windy, there’s usually cold rain along with it.” Shut me up good!
Early afternoon, I’m in Cascade Locks to be greeted again by Dawn and Paul. They’ve been up the canyon hiking the numerous trails the last two days and are headed back to Portland. When I first heard from Dawn weeks ago, she said we would have to visit the Walking Man Brewery in Stevenson. It’s right across the river here from Cascade Locks, so over we go. Yes, you read it right, Walking Man Brewery — what a hoot. The old walking man at the Walking Man! We get lots of pictures. Thanks, Dawn and Paul, I’ve had a great time! We’ll get together again when I reach Cape Disappointment.

A verry cool morning wind hard from the N. E. The Indians who arrived last evening took their Canoes on ther Shoulders and carried them below the Great Shute [The Cascades], we Set about takeing our Small canoe and all the baggage by land 940 yards of bad slippery and rockey way. [Clark, November 1st, 1805]
Tuesday–September 7, 2004
Trail Day–118
Trail Mile–25/2903
Location–I-84/US30, Troutdale, Oregon

Biscuits and gravy at the little mom-n-pop, a trip to the market for a another throw-away camera, then across the street to the post office and I’m back west. Beside the highway and the interstate runs the old road built in the 1920s. It’s now the Columbia River Highway State Trail. I go that way!
A week from today, good Lord willin’, the old Nomad will complete this amazing odyssey, at Cape Disappointment Washington, mouth of the Columbia River at the Pacific Ocean. 125 days, 3,055 miles. For those of you who’ve been following along, reading my journal entries about this adventure here on my webpage, thanks so much for being a part of it! My final maildrop will be in Astoria. There’s time to write me a line if you’d like. I’d sure enjoy hearing from you! Please send to: M. J. Eberhart, c/o General Delivery, Astoria, Oregon 97103.
As to this old highway I’m hiking this morning — and at a kiosk by, is written:

A Requiem for A Romantic Byway…Today, recognizing what has been lost, Oregonians are reconstructing this and other sections of this historic highway…Yesterday’s bubbling conversations fade into the sounds of nearby Ruckles Creek and the roar of Interstate 84. Gone are the frolicsome days of the 1920s when automobile travel was a novelty. Sunday drivers bounced, bumped and backfired out of the cities and onto the open highways, wooed by miles of scenery within a day’s drive. The Historic Columbia River Highway, one of the first paved highways in the Pacific Northwest dazzled travelers with authentically designed engineering marvels and spectacular scenery.

Also here, a quote by Oral Bullard, about the road-builders, Sam Hill and Sam Lancaster:

Their purpose was not to conquer, but to enhance. What they built was a Camelot, an ideal. It was, without question, a road right for its time, but that time was so short, so fleeting, that progress rushed by it without pausing hardly to glance at their creation.

The lands below the bluffs of the canyon where this old highway passed was later purchased by the Union Pacific Railroad. In the 1980s the Railroad dedicated it to the people of Oregon as part of Mount Hood National Forest. And so, today, the old Nomad passes here, traveling slower even than the old Model-Ts. What a remarkably beautiful old road; what an historic place. This old, old US30 was replaced later by the straighter, wider and faster old US30, which is now mostly buried under Interstate 84.
This morning I pass the Cascades Fish Hatchery where they raise Coho Salmon. Other fish along the great Columbia include Chinook (king salmon), steelhead (rainbow trout that go to sea), and the cutthroat, rainbow and brook trout.
A section of this old highway should be called “Falls Road,” for along here are three spectacular waterfalls. First, Horsetail, then Multnomah, and finally, Wahkeena.
Leaving the gorge now, I must return to I-84 for the last eleven miles to Troutdale. I’m in by late evening.

The day after the Great Chute portage, the Corps carried their baggage around another rapid…In the area of today’s Cascade Locks of the Columbia, the Cascades of the Columbia is now under the waters of Bonneville Dam…Here, at last, they could see the Columbia River rising and falling with the tide of the Pacific Ocean. [Fifer]
Wednesday–September 8, 2004
Trail Day–119
Trail Mile–22/2925
Location–US30, Portland, Oregon

This day is a hiking day I’ve not been looking forward to with great expectations, for today I must walk through Portland, from east to west — all day.
It’s interesting how I’ve found you can pretty much size up a place as soon as you hit the city limits. The city fathers and Chambers of Commerce work hard to project a positive image for their communities. They dress up their downtowns and their main streets in an attempt to put on a good face. But in most cities, like I’ve found with Portland, their leaders would be utterly ashamed if they had to walk from their “Welcome to (name of town)” entrance sign on into town. It never ceases to amaze me the garbage and junk scattered all along these entrance roads. Here in Portland there’s so much garbage and trash along the shoulders and lining the curbs that they’re literally covered up. If these municipalities have street sweepers, they never use them. This place is an amazing mess, and it goes on all day! Gee, mom, I know, if I can’t say something nice, then keep my mouth shut. But dang, Portland — C’on!
The US30 Bypass is a pub-crawl. If I’d stopped in every pub and tavern it’d taken me a month to get through this place. I stopped in two — that’s about every tenth one.
On the west side, US30 Bypass crosses the Willamette River via the St. Johns Bridge. They’re working on the bridge, have been for a long time. And looks of it, it’ll be a along time before they’re done. The place is a zoo. Sign at the bridge reads “no pedestrians.” I actually get across faster than the vehicles — which are backed up for miles in both directions. A hapless lady has a flat right on the bridge, front wheel drive car — front tire flat. No one will help her. I finally direct traffic around and stop the rest so she can get off the grinder and make a call home.
Once across the bridge and heading west again, sign reads “Leaving Portland.” Yippee! So long, Portland.

The Indians which we have passd to day…[differ a little] in their language from those near & about the long narrows their dress differ but little, except they have more of the articles precured from the white traders, they all have flatened heads both men and women…They are thievishly inclined as we have experienced. [Clark, near present day Portland, November 4th, 1805]
Thursday–September 9, 2004
Trail Day–120
Trail Mile–21/2946
Location–US30, Scappoose, Oregon

Heavy dew last night. I shake what I can from my little Nomad, but as I lift my pack to go, it loads me down. US30 is a very busy commercial highway, undivided four-lane, the eighteen-wheelers running fast and hard. I trudge into it.
Not much redeeming about my hike today. Guess I’m just tired of the noise and confusion — ready for the ocean to get here.
I do see many geese, ducks and other water birds.

I [s]lept but verry little last night for the noise Kept [up] dureing the whole of the night by the Swans, Geese, white & Gray Brant Ducks &c. on a Small Sand Island close under the Lard. Side; they were emensely noumerous, and their noise horid. [Clark, November 5th, 1805]
Friday–September 10, 2004
Trail Day–121
Trail Mile–26/2972
Location–US30, Rainier, Oregon

Another night of heavy dew. Another day of lugging a wet tent. Another day of pushing against the crushing commercial traffic on US30. I’m suffering a sinus-like headache, had it all night and am unable to shake it this morning. According to their journal entries, the Corps has been very disagreeable recently. With this headache, I wouldn’t be much fun to be around today either. It’s the exhaust fumes/carbon monoxide, that’s what’s causing the problem — a literal haze over the highway.
From vantages along today I see lots of barge traffic on the Columbia. I think the ocean is near. It’s time for the ocean to be near!

The Indians leave us in the evening, river about one mile wide hills high and Steep on the Std…Cloudy with rain all day we are all wet and disagreeable… [Clark, November 6, 1805]
Saturday–September 11, 2004
Trail Day–122
Trail Mile–23/2995
Location–US30, Westport, Oregon

Perfect little trail town, Rainier. Motel with hiker trash rates right smack downtown. Pitch a rock to the northwest and it’ll hit the post office, to the southeast, the library, due east hits two restaurants and a bar and grill. Great folks there, too. Special thanks to Victor and Scott — yup, neat trail town.
Forecast has been for rain and it came in hard during the night. The streets are wet this morning, but the rain seems to have passed. It’s another day of enduring the grinding traffic along US30. One more day of this and I’ll be in Astoria — near trail’s end.

Going downstream, they easily traveled 30 miles in a day…After stopping near today’s Rainier, Oregon, the Corps arrived at the upper end of the Columbia estuary on November 7. They set up camp on the Washington side, opposite Pillar Rock, watching the tide play of the Columbia and hearing waves break on the shores of Gray’s Bay off to the west. [Fifer]
Sunday–September 12, 2004
Trail Day–123
Trail Mile–26/3021
Location–US30, Astoria, Oregon

Distance-wise this will be just another average day, 26 miles. Otherwise, it will be a very special day.
Friends are coming to share the joy with me at Cape Disappointment. From Missouri, Dwinda, Mary and John are driving out. They left this past Friday to be here. They should catch me sometime today near Astoria. From North Carolina, Dan Sheltowee and Nina Waterfall Rogers are flying out to be with me when I finish. I should see these dear friends sometime in the next two days. And from Portland, hopefully, Dawn and Paul will be able to come to the coast. Yes, this is such an exciting time.
Journey of Discover 2004 has been short, comparatively — but it has been a long, hard hike, nonetheless. Oh yes, I’m ready to see the Pacific Ocean. I’m ready to see my friends again.
Late afternoon I descend along US30 into Astoria. In the shadow of the grand Astoria-Megler Bridge I finish the hike today at Triangle Tavern. Here I am greeted warmly by Sharon, Triangle barmaid, and Wizard, one of the locals. We talk strategy on how to cross the four-mile bridge, looming 100 feet directly above. In a short while come Dwinda, Mary and John, and we share a memorable time.
I am near completing this hike through Oregon. The challenge that remains is the bridge approach and the bridge itself, which spans the mouth of the Columbia River – the final obstacle facing me in this amazing journey. Indeed, this has been a blessed day.

We are now of the opinion that we cannot go any further with our Canoes, & think that we are at an end of our Voyage to the Pacific Ocean. [Pvt. Whitehouse, November 16th, 1805, Point Distress (near Chinook Point, just across the bridge from Astoria)]
Monday–September 13, 2004
Trail Day–124
Trail Mile–11/3032
Location–US101, Ft. Clatsop National Memorial/Astoria, Oregon

Today I’ll attempt to cross the Astoria/Megler Bridge. If I’m stopped, there’s still tomorrow. If I get across today, my friends will pick me up on the Washington side, bring me back to Astoria, and from here I’ll hike down to Ft. Clatsop and back. Then tomorrow — remaining, will be the last 15-20 miles to Cape Disappointment in Washington.
The Astoria-Megler Bridge is closed once a year, no vehicles. On that day people are permitted to walk across. Thousands come; otherwise, at all other times it’s a violation to set foot on the bridge. Unfortunately, today is not that day, for the old Nomad, or any other sightseer to be walking around up there, but my plan is to cross the bridge anyway. I’ve come this entire way by foot, o’er the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. I’m less than twenty-five miles from my final destination. I’m not taking a ride now, not after 3,000 miles and 123 days.
As I start the winding climb up the bridge approach it’s still early morning — pitch black. The Oregon State Police Post is situated directly at the base of the bridge. Across is the first sign reading “No Pedestrians Beyond This Point.” Not a soul is stirring at the Post and I pass unnoticed. It’s a cool, starry-sky morning, just the least breeze, little traffic — hardly any northbound from Oregon. Halfway up the approach I come to the second sign, “No Pedestrians Beyond This Point.” I reach the top of the main span at first light. So far, so good.
Fully loaded logging trucks are coming at me from Washington. As they pass, the entire bridge structure lifts and drops, then (in sine-wave fashion) lifts and drops again. I first experienced this alarming occurrence while crossing the Seven-mile Bridge in the Florida Keys. There, an Oakley tanker truck caused the pavement and bridge superstructure to rise and fall. Why this scary sensation isn’t felt while riding in an automobile I simply don’t know, but it isn’t. You can appreciate what a strange feeling this is, having solid concrete moving up and down beneath your feet. I was sure that the tanker, the bridge, me and everything along with it would go crashing down — 125 feet to the Straits of Florida below. This morning, here again, I experience this same wild, earthquake-shaking sensation.
In the village of Rainier the other morning, and at the Cornerstone Cafe, a little mom-n-pop there, I overheard locals talking about the unusually heavy helicopter traffic about. One fellow said to the other: “Aww, that’s the Coast Guard, they’re keeping a close eye on the bridge (The Rainier/Longview Bridge crosses the Columbia River at Rainier).
Oh, isn’t this just great, I thought at the time — the Coast Guard flying over the Astoria/Megler bridge, there to discover a long-haired, bearded form stalking around — with a backpack on!
So that’s why I’m up here in the dark. At first light I’m descending the main arch to the three-mile pier section. Just as I approach the flats, comes this vehicle behind me. It slows and stops. I turn to see the official markings on the door. The passenger window comes down and I hear, “Get in, I’ll take you on across.”
This is what I’d feared and it has happened. I’m caught walking the bridge. No doubt, one of the folks who’d seen me earlier became concerned and called the authorities — rightfully so — and here he is. My pleading to the officer: “Please, let me walk across.” His reply: “Get in, I’m not going to give you a ticket.”
Fortunately there is no traffic, as the officer is stopped right in the middle of the bridge — and I’m standing here, pleading with him. I ask, “Please listen for just a minute.” In that minute I explain why I’m up here and what’s going on. The officer listens, hesitates, then smiles: “Okay, go ahead!” Amazing, isn’t this amazing! Oh yes, I hasten on across.
By seven I’m in Washington again. Doo Dah! Has this journey not been absolutely charmed!
By eight, my dear friends, Dwinda, John and Mary, have me back to 8th Street in Astoria (near Triangle Bar), and I’m on my way to Ft. Clatsop, the Corps’ winter quarters during the winter of 1805-06.
By three I’ve completed the loop hike, down to the fort and back to Triangle Bar. Wizard is here and shares my exuberant delight in having successfully crossed the bridge. In the evening comes Dan and Nina. What a day — what a day!

Clark took York and 10 others on foot to see the Pacific, November 18-20, and explore north up today’s Washington coast. The men, he wrote ‘appear much Satisfied with their trip beholding with astonishment…this emence ocian’….The party also planned to explore the south, now Oregon, side of the estuary….The captains decided to poll members of the expedition for opinions about the winter’s camp. On November 24, everyone voted. Six men voted to return to The Dalles, nine chose Sandy River, Oregon, and fourteen plus the captains wanted to explore further. Sacagawea voted for any place with plenty of wapato roots to eat…On December 7, the whole Corps moved to where they would build Fort Clatsop… [Fifer]
Tuesday–September 14, 2004
Trail Day–125
Trail Mile–23/3055
Location–SR100, Cape Disappointment Lighthouse, Cape Disappointment, Washington

Rain’s been forecast for the past four days, but it holds off again for this the final day of my (Nimblewill Nomad’s) remarkable adventure. Dan, Nina, Dwinda, John and Mary whisk me back across the Astoria/Megler Bridge, to where I ended yesterday, and at nine I’m on my way to Cape Disappointment. Ten states behind me now; one day left in this the last — Washington.
As I hasten along, descends a literal flood of grand memories, memories of the many experiences over these past 124 days. What to write now? What to say now — how to bring closure and finality to this remarkable odyssey…
First, I must thank my many loyal and steadfast sponsors, folks who’ve stood by me, who’ve supported me, who’ve had unwavering faith in me. Dear friends, your trust in this old man — to be your advocate — has been and ever continues to be most humbling.
Thanks Justin, friend and Webmaster for the old Nomad, for your countless hours spent keeping our website current for our many faithful readers. To Travel Country Outdoors, Mountain Crossings at Walasi Yi; to Leki, New Balance, thanks. To LRI/Photon, PocketMail, Olympic Optical, thanks. To GVP Gear, Wanderlust Gear, Feathered Friends, what great lightweight hiking and backpacking gear you’ve provided. To NBTY (Rexall/Sundown — Osteo Bi-Flex) who’ve kept these old knees and joints working — to Brian Holcomb, DPM, who fixed these tired old feet and kept them going another 3,000 miles, thanks. Yes, thank you one and all for your generosity, for all you’ve done — thanks from the bottom of my heart.
By two I’ve made the final climb to the bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Here is the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, one of the finest most complete anywhere along the entire extent of this journey. Sheltowee joins me now, as he has joined me previously — as we shared the final steps of my last two odysseys. We hike the remaining distance, a short trail around and up to Cape Disappointment Lighthouse. Here we are joined by Nina, Dwinda, John and Mary. By the Lighthouse, and as I change from T-shirt to T-shirt, having pictures taken for my sponsors — finally comes the rain. We hasten from the bluff to a sand and driftwood-covered beach in a sheltered cove below. Here, in the surf, in the surging waters of the mighty Pacific “Ocian,” this grand “Odyssey 2004, Journey of Discovery,” comes to an end.
During the past four months I’ve written much about Lewis and Clark, about the Corps of Discovery. Their amazing odyssey has so much intrigued me since childhood that, when the opportunity presented — I just had to go, to travel with them, although belatedly, 200 years late. Please, and you must accept the fact that I’m but an amateur as to the Corps’ related history. There are errors and mistakes in what I’ve written over the past four months. This I regret — and for those mistakes and errors I apologize. For example, I’ve attributed quotes to Lewis, when, in fact, they were from Clark’s journals, or visa versa. As to Cape Disappointment, that landmark was not named by Lewis and Clark as I’ve previously attributed. It was discovered and named years before, in 1788, by John Meares, an English Captain.
However, and although my knowledge about the historic aspects of the Corps may be limited and lacking, I can tell you this without the least equivocation: There is no individual alive today that could possibly speak from more experience or with more authority, nor from a more direct and personal standpoint as to the daily hardship and toil endured by the Corps — no one else, save this old hiker; for no one else to my knowledge has walked the walk — o’er this, The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.
Finally, for all you who’ve followed along on this odyssey, dear family and friends, thanks for your loving kindness, for your continued support and encouragement. Your ongoing presence has indeed brought joy and fulfillment to this old man — for all these many days — thanks!

…he [Lewis, and indeed Clark and the entire Corps] had seen wonderful things. He had traveled through a hunter’s paradise beyond anything any American had ever seen before known. He had crossed mountains that were greater than had ever before been seen by any American…He had seen falls and cataracts and raging rivers, thunderstorms all but beyond belief, trees of a size never before conceived of, Indian tribes uncorrupted by contact with white man, canyons and cliffs and other scenes of visionary enchantment…And he had been first. [Ambrose]

Deer Hunter

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