Rafting The Clark Fork & Riding The Hiawatha

What a weekend! Abigail and I had been looking forward to a rafting trip along the Clark Fork for a few months now. I, however, procrastinated as long as possible when booking a place to stay and when we arrived Friday night in St. Regis, MT we were staying in what one might consider a "Bates-esque" motel. The vacancy sign was even blinking for added effect. Thankfully Norman was nowhere to be found and honestly I'd give The Little River Motel a great review if you ever need a cheap stay-over in the area.

Day 1 we arrived at Wiley E. Water's, strapped on our PFD's (personal flotation device), and readied to hit the rapids. We were chosen as co-paddle captains to set the pace of the raft. A title I probably took far too much pride in. In total there were 5 class 3 rapids and one class 4. For context I guess it goes all the way to 6 which means "impassable." The picture above is the Class 4. We were able to make it through without anyone tumbling overboard, but at the peak of the rapid it nearly engulfed our entire boat and I was convinced while leaning in toward the boat to stay on board I would fall the other direction and take Abigail with me. For her sake I'm glad I was able to hang on...flip flops may have been a bad decision though. Along the way we also stopped on a beautiful, sandy beach for lunch and a swim. Our favorite part ended up being the "swimmer's rapids" where you could actually get out of the boat and ride the rapids down a stretch of the river. And to finish it off I got in on some cliff jumping and snagged a cold beer. A full day to be sure.

Day 2 was actually completely unplanned originally. We were simply looking for other things to do Sunday and realized the Route Of The Hiawatha trail was only 30 minutes away AND on the way home. So, we winged it! Rented our bikes, helmets, lights, etc. at Lookout and started in on the 15 mile long bike trail. It begins with a 1.6 mile long tunnel that's pitch black and 45 degrees. About halfway through it gets a bit chilly in just a tank top and shorts. However, it's an incredible experience riding inside the tunnel that long and seeing all the exposed rock and stalagtites that have formed over the years. Once we emerge we followed a beautiful, downhill trail full of breathtaking views as we passed through even more tunnels and over bridges that stand hundreds of feet above the trees.The whole route took us about two and a half hours where a shuttle was waiting at the bottom to take us back up to the top. You can ride both directions if you're a real trooper, but honestly the downhill trail would be a breeze even with kids.

We certainly packed in the fun and can't wait for the next weekend to head out and explore!

CJ

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