My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Sunday, June 22, 2014

A Little Water Threrapy

Most of you know how much I love to paddle, so I was devastated when my old canoe broke down.  I need new thwarts and gunnels. I left it behind in Houston and plan to find someone to fix it while I'm recuperating from surgery this fall.

So imagine how I perked up when I looked up from a bluebird box to see a rig coming on to the  refuge  carrying THREE boats. The people stopped to take a picture of the refuge sign, giving me time to run up and talk to them." Hi!  Are you the new volunteers? They are expecting you at headquarters. How can you paddle three boats with only two of you?"  Of course they politely invited me to paddle with them.

Wednesday I was talking to Cheri in the Visitor Center/Office and found Friday is the only day we have off together. She invited me to paddle with them on Friday.  Of course I accepted and stopped by their trailer Thursday evening to confirm, as I staggered home from thirteen hours of work.

Friday, we drove over to Elk Lake which is in the Beaverhead National Forest,  just off the refuge.  Steve unloaded all the boats (he is the only one that can reach them) while Chari and I got out the rest of the equipment. I was immediately on the water, trying out the little Pack canoe while they finished loading their boats.

At the put-in

The patient - by Chari Maier
The lake is in a beautiful setting and curves around so you get different vistas. There were lots of bird life around including a bald eagle, an osprey, scaup, golden eyes, mallards, red-winged  blackbirds, yellow-headed blackbirds, swans, red-necked grebes and raven babies in the nest.

Chari and Steve

Rimrock near boat launch

Raven nest in the rimrock

Common golden eye family

And the scenery was constantly changing.  We started out under rimrock and had forested sides as well a mountain meadows full of wildflowers.  Oh yes, and snow-covered mountain ranges visible from  both ends.

We paddled close to the shore to enjoy the wildflowers, butterflies and bees

A large stand of phlox among the trees

Closeup of phlox flowers

The partly cloudy skies added to the beauty.  We enjoyed paddling together and separately and spending some time visiting and some time off taking pictures or just looking and listening. Just as we got to the marshy end of the lake, the wind picked up and we had a challenging paddle back. But I loved getting to pit myself against the wind and winning.

Steve enjoying the view

Lesser scaup pair in front of a large patch of spatterdock

Another beautiful view and my picture even has a kayak in it

Oh that light, those clouds

The end of the paddle

We did about a three hour paddle and then went on to look at Hidden Lake which is only five more miles down the dirt road.  We came to a place so beautiful that we had to stop the truck.  Both Steve and Cheri are photographers.  So we all got out and started taking pictures. I got carried away by a piece of Elk Lake in front of snow-covered  mountains.  However I was sure the best picture was down hill and off to the right. I never found the best place to get that picture but finally realized I was quite a distance away from Steve and Cheri - couldn't even see the truck.  So I walked to the road and back up it for almost a fourth of a mile. I was sure they were sitting in their truck, regretting they had ever met me.  Then, after I reached the empty truck, I spotted them some 400 yards away, STILL taking pictures. WHEW!

We finally got to Hidden Lake and found it is so named because you have to hike in to see it.  I did get a peek of it's very blue waters through trees. And the dirt road was very slow with some steep hills and sharp curves so we didn't get back home until 4:00PM.  They invited me for supper - I brought the salad and they made the Tortellini.

Thank you, I feel MUCH better now. 

All in all, it was the best day I've had since I arrived here.  And hopefully the first of many excursions with new friends.  (And the pictures of our trip to Hidden Lake?  I'm saving them for  Wordless Wednesday.)