“You are not a Cowboy until you are thrown off your horse.”-Norm Miller

Friday started off innocently enough, I was well on my way to the Headwaters to meet Mike, I actually was faster than he anticipated.  He was waiting for me at the 287 Bridge although I was already close to the 90 Bridge (further downstream).

I pulled to the side for a quick snack (tasty cheese and crackers and water) and he sent me a text saying he was at the Headwaters waiting for me…just 200 yards on the right after the railroad trestle.  This meant a degree of safety to me, the Missouri River, while no picnic, is a wider, less dangerous river than the Jefferson and I would have someone to paddle with too.

I approach the trestle and did not anticipate hearing a swirl similar to the Chain of Rocks or the Diversion Dam.  I hear loud noises, like rushing water loud noises.  Oh boy.  I see from about 200 yards that this is going to be quite difficult, but I have been successful so far so no reason to worry.  I negotiate my boat way to the right (and closer) to scout the situation out further.

I am looking at this trestle now with some concern. It has one middle beam and about 12 inches of room on each side to pass through,  at least that is what is looked like to me.  I think there may be 10 feet on each side, probably more but with the water swirling all around it seemed wicked narrow.  It was narrow, too narrow.

Let’s go, Custer took a chance right?  I swing the canoe out and try to make it inside the beam. Nice try.  Bam, I hit the beam (I swear I was about two inches from clearing it successfully) just on the left side of my boat.  I get pushed 180 degrees around the other side of the beam, some big log (Robert Plant) stuck on the beam hit my canoe and I am in the drink.

I try to stay calm and look for the canoe as I am getting taken down the last 200 of the Jefferson River.  The current was swift.  I grab the canoe but do not possess the strength to push it back over (It is now filled with water).  I am looking upstream, not good. I get turned around so I can at least see what is in front of me.  I am sure the tourist as the Headwaters enjoyed the show.  I finally get close to land and grab on for dear life and pull myself on shore.  Everything, I mean everything is gone. The boat, dry bags, coolers, my canoe cart, etc. (my dreams) are all making it’s way down the Missouri now.

Enter Mike Comer. He springs into action (he was waiting for me at the headwaters and observed the entire scene) and yells at me that he will try to retrieve my goods.  He thankfully was able to drive to the next boat launch and secure the boat and a few of my bags.  Please no comments on not lashing everything down, this was suppose to be an easy day.

I am now stuck on this island and have to swim across the Madison River to get to safety.  Mike tells me to suck it up and swim like Hell.  I do and I make it. As he is pulling me up I introduce myself, “Hello, Mike, nice to meet you!!!” he replies “Welcome to the Missouri River.”

Next objective, find my stuff.  Enter Norm Miller…..


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