Kayaking Great Falls to Fort Peck

Kayaking

Great Falls to Fort Peck, Montana

GF to Fort Peck 1May 16th 2003

 

The following May (2003) James and I returned to continue our route kayaking the Missouri from Great Falls to Fort Peck. But first came Fort Benton some 46 miles further down the river. This section consisted of two segments. Like most of the kayak trips it involved some hiking too. The first would be a 20 mile hike from the Great Falls take out, around the city named for it, past five dams to a put in below Morony Dam. Then a 31 mile paddle from here to the town of Fort Benton. After driving to Great Falls on May 15th we started our hike at 8:45 on the morning the 16th under bright sunny skies. Our route followed the riverfront road on the right shoreline for 0.5 miles and then crossed a bridge over the river and followed the left shoreline on a developed trail for several miles before turning inland and going around the Black Eagle community and Black Eagle Dam before returning to the river and continuing on past Rainbow Dam.

 

From here the trail rose and followed the rugged bluffs along the river for about 3 miles to Cochrane Dam. While we were hiking the trail between the two dams we kept a sharp eye out for rattlesnakes which we were told are common along the trail. At one point I was about thirty yards ahead of James and lost in thought reciting ‘The Cremation of Sam MacGee’ to myself when suddenly about three feet in front of me I saw a well camouflaged snake slither quickly off the trail. As I remember it, I jumped a good eight feet to the side, just from the shear sudden movement. The snake continued on into the brush and coiled menacingly, but was by now well away from trail and presented no threat. After the initial shock of the encounter I thought about how interesting it was that even though I was casually looking for snakes at the time, he blended in with environment so well that I didn’t see him until I nearly stepped on him. At any rate, take note, rattlesnakes are hard to see!

 

After the snake encounter we soon came to Ryan Dam and then continued on along the side of the river alternating between the trail part way up the bluffs and the river bottom until we finally reached Morony Dam. It was then just a short hike past the dam to the put in site we would start from the next. I would describe this hike as pleasant but long and I would definitely not want to undertake it on a hot summer day.

 

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