I took a boat ride today.
On the Missouri River.
Through the canyon of the Gates of the Mountains.
The Missouri runs downstream to the north here.
The ONLY way to see this is by boat.
You can camp in the wilderness area but you must either arrive (and leave) by boat
or by hiking 21 miles to the nearest road.
Limestone cliffs line the canyon
Except for the river being 15 feet higher
it is very nearly the same as when Lewis and Clark traveled through.
It was Lewis who named the canyon.
Traveling upstream it really does appear as if the way is blocked by cliffs,
only to open up as you get closer.
Creating a "Gate."
The cliffs are riddled with the solution holes.
A few create arches.
They also create (aided by man's imagination) rock formations with names like
The Elephant's trunk
The devil's slide and
The Rhinos horn
We came to the after effects of two major forest fires.
First the 2007 Merriwether fire.
(See open area to right at top of ridge)
Started by a lightening strike in late July of 2007
The terrain is too rugged to put boots on the ground and it was fought by
helicopters with water buckets and airplanes with slurry drops.
It was fought until December of that year
When SNOW finally put it out.
The Second was the Mann Gulch Fire of 1949.
The deadliest fire in Forest service history.
13 smoke jumpers died, only 3 survived.
From this fire and this loss came modern methods of fighting forest
fires- in particular "out of the green and into the black."
Behind this sign is a box canyon.
In it are 13 granite monuments
One placed where each body was found.
I was quite moved.
Especially since a smoke jumper from Montana was killed fighting a fire in Idaho
since I've been in Montana.
Also along the canyon walls are prehistoric drawings.
No story told
Believed to the work of Shamans over many years.
I just kept snapping shots of rock formations.
(Mostly thinking how much my Son-in-law, Lucas, would love this boat ride!)
And then we are back where we began, at Lake Holter.
Where Loons were diving
and osprey were catching fish.