Wide Open Spaces

By Shannon Leonard-Boone
Staff Writer
The News Enterprise, Sunday, June 27, 1999                                                      
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A unique toadstool-like formation.

Many beautiful plants like these cacti could be seen in the rugged trails of Montana.

Jack Scott said he tried to sleep in a hammock some nights, instead of on the ground.   He said insects were plentiful but didn't bother him much.

The travelers came into rugged territory, some of which was occupied by snakes such as this rattlesnake.  Elizabethtown physician Dr. Paul Gerard, a snake enthusiast, attended the Montana trip and told his co-travelers about snakes they encountered in the wilderness.

Below, the group of people who recently toured the wilderness of the Upper Missouri Rive area of Montana are pictured with their canoes.  Many of the travelers were from the Elizabethtown area.

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Breathtaking scenery under a big sky was a welcomed view to the traveling group who explored the terrain recently.


      Paddling canoes, 16 of Elizabethtown's more adventurous residents recently embarked on a journey full of history, beauty and nature's mystery.
     A group led by Elizabethtown resident Jack Scott returned June 20 from the Upper Missouri River area of Montana. The group has taken trips together for about a decade, including trip last year to the Rio Grande, Scott said. On this week-long excursion, the band of modern-day explorers included Scott's three grown children, a nephew, a great- nephew and various friends.
     Scott said the scenery was nearly too beautiful for words.
     "It's the least populated area in the United States" with the exception of Alaska, he said. "You just see all kinds of wildlife and no people."
     The travelers covered just over 100 miles of  river via canoes, each of which held two people and camping gear. Their travel guide was Glen Monahan a school teacher and owner of the Upper Missouri River Guides of Anaconda, Mont.
     The camaraderie among campers was warm and friendly, Scott said.
     "Every night we sat by the camp fire and we sang old songs and told stories," he said. "It was so nice to do that and we bad such a congenial guide."
     The group members saw natural wonders Citadel Rock, the White Cliffs, the Hole in the Wall and Steamboat Rock. Their thoughts turned to explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, who were commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson in 1802 to explore the American west.
     "In a small way, we gained a better understanding of the trials Lewis and Clark faced 200 years ago," Scott said.
     Along with her 65-year-old husband, Bob, Ella Mae Wade, 64, was also one of the travelers. Avid canoeing enthusiasts for more than two decades, the Wades were eager to navigate the river. Ella Mae Wade said that the group may have been camping and canoeing in the same spots as Lewis and Clark.
     I think that was kind of cool," she said of the notion.  
     Ella Mae Wade said one of the most interesting aspects of the trip came whenever group member Dr. Paul Gerard, an Elizabethtown physician who is knowledgeable about reptiles, pointed out the characteristics of the different types of snakes encountered.
     But what she didn't anticipate was encountering an old friend.
     The Wades used to go canoeing with former Elizabethtown resident Bill West and his wife, now of California.  They were pleasantly surprised when the Wests tapped them on the shoulders and announced that they, too, were on a river expedition.
     "Who would have ever guessed we were doing the same river at the same time?"  Ella Mae Wade said. 
     The Wades were able to celebrate their 41st wedding anniversary in the company of their old friends and campi8ng group.
     Next year's travel itinerary includes a trip to the boundary waters between the United States and Canada, Scott said.  Ella Mae Wade said that she and her husband will likely participate.
     "We haven't gotten that far yet," she said. "I'm sure if there's a way we can, we probably will."