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Marias River, MT
mini location map2019-07-14
41 by photographer avatartibber
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Marias River, MT 
Marias River, MT
Kayak avatar Jul 14 2019
Kayak12.22 Miles 6 AEG
Kayak12.22 Miles
6 ft AEG
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Check. I finally got to float a part of the Marias River by the Romain Farms. It's something I've wanted to do since the 2013 Romain Homestead Reunion. The weather has been very tenuous during my whole stay in Montana and today wasn't any different. There were clouds here and there; it looked a bit iffy but I said, "Let's go." So after lunch we drove over to cousin Brian's where they were loading up the four kayaks in the back of the pick up. Connie and I would drive them to the bridge and Brian and Kim would set up the shuttle at the Coulee near the pumphouse where we would pull out.

Connie and I waited longer at the bridge than we thot we would for them to come meet us. Come to find out, the road was a little more treacherous (see photos) than they anticipated; especially for Kim's little SUV. Connie and I would see what they meant in a few hours. Connie and I thot the river looked like it was running high and fast. Brian agreed. He said it is actually the highest he has ever paddled it. He said they were probably releasing water from Tiber Dam that they had been holding back due to so much water down stream from late winter and spring weather. So I did my Chumley imitation and checked the cfs chart for Tiber Dam when I got home and it showed 1900 cfs for July vs the normal 600 cfs (Oct-Mar); altho I suspect for the summer months the release is a little higher. The chart showed 1647 in Jun, 982 in May and Apr with 701.

So off we went. Me on my second kayaking trip ever, first time on a river. I was a little apprehensive especially since Brian insinuated that the worst that could happen if I tipped over is I could stand up. That was before he saw the river. Well not today cousin, not today. He gave me a few pointers, mostly to paddle three times on either side; not sure why but it seemed to work. For the most part, the river just took us so we didn't have to paddle a lot except to change direction or go from one side to the other. After several switchbacks, just after Wolfe Coulee we came to an outlet for Cottonwood Creek that we paddled down a little. However, you can no longer access the creek from the river via kayak as there is a road across. There is a culvert but you can't get thru it.

From here the Hoodoos started to appear in earnest. We did see lots of ducks and geese and some pelicans and hawks along the way. We would also see deer and eventually a Bald Eagle. Brian says it's mostly the Goldens that hang along the Marias so this was rare. We also saw a section full of swallows and their nests. Occasionally there are little islands so you have to pick your route. To the north there were more roads down here than I thot and it is farmed more than I thot. Of course, irrigation logistics are easier down here.

In the distance we could make out something white. At first I thot it was on land but as we got closer it appeared to be more in the air. Then we saw the power lines across the river but it wasn't until we were almost upon it that we saw an electrified pelican :o . It was really quite the site! Looked pretty good for being electrified. A little past this, around 6 miles we paddle by Hay Coulee where there appears to be a ranch operation. After the coulee the cliffs spring up again so we get to enjoy the Hoodoos. Brian feels by this time that the storm is heading north so we can relax and dawdle. About the 8 3/4 miles we paddle by Horse Coulee.

It was most intriguing when you got to paddle right under the Marias cliffs; especially with all the various rock formations and colors. Of course, the sky would be changing colors off and on and we were still keeping an eye on it. Well as you will see by the photos, they sky started to get dark and Brian said, "we gotta move". So as much as we wanted to continue to enjoy this river and its scenery at our leisure, that time was over. We paddled a little more quickly now not knowing what we would be in for in just a few moments. Brian wasn't exactly sure how far we were from our "get out" point but soon he remarked we were pretty close. It seemed from the moment he said that, the weather changed and we were all paddling a little faster now :scared: .

Then the wind.... it came so fast you hardly had time to react plus it got really cold. Luckily for us, the wind blew us to the south shore which is where we needed to go. For the most part, any paddling you tried to do was fruitless. I was trying to avoid getting stuck on shore when I still had a bit to go to get to the pumphouse. Since the river was high, we were able to paddle a little bit through the high grass until you could get close enough to jump out in almost knee high water and carry your kayak.

At this point Brian barked out orders as he helped to get his 70 year old sister out and to shore. I helped carry Kim's kayak and then went and got my own. We loaded the kayaks and roped them in while the storm was going off all around us. Little did we know that just across the river, it was getting pummeled with hail. Here is the weather review: ... _14th_2019. I cannot tell you how lucky we were as we had no protection. We were also lucky that when the storm hit we only had 1/2 mile or so to go. Then we had to get the vehicle out through some difficult road conditions. By the time we got up on the bluff, the storm had more or less dissipated. That's how fast it was moving.

We encountered a farmer from the north side of the river that was out surveying the damage. He said his harvest wouldn't take as long now. :( He said the storm took out a couple trees at the farm too. We would later see one of the downed trees as we drove a little north of the river to survey the damage once we saw there was hail where we had put in at along with broken branches. It looks like the storm cut about a two mile swath. We were so lucky.

Here is video of the drive around our farms from the day before if you're interested: [ youtube video ]
This is the video from Wendy's tour of the Romain farms with Brian including our old place in 2017: [ youtube video ]
This is video from Dead Indian Coulee with my cousin Brian and Ambika in 2010: [ youtube video ]
Historical Photograph
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated
lots of milkweed
For me, sometimes it's just as much about the journey as the destination.
Oh, and once in awhile, don't forget to look back at the trail you've traveled.
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