Flathead Lake Circumnavigation | Day 3

Doesn’t get much better.

Day 3 | Wayfarer’s State Park - Goose Island | 19 Miles

There is a special kind of silence before the sun makes its move toward the horizon. This time is best. Feathered friends break the silence. Their call permission to move. Stiffer than yesterday but not as stiff as a body could be, my body crawls out into the world.

Like the phoenix, the paddler is reborn with the day.

Camp breaks in methodical fashion. A thought slips into view. Burying the thought, I assure myself that the way wasn’t too rough yesterday. Surely they saw me as a speck on the horizon; surely they saw me disappear around Cape Merton. Surely.  The past day plays back as camp breaks and finds its way into the depths of a  #4 portage pack.

Around Cape Merton, the winds once again becomes a friend. Even with a tailwind it would be faster walking; but then again, you’d have to be Jesus to do something like that. Walking on water and all. A mouthful of raisins can be good for at least three or four miles; and with a thousand pound weight limit, the canoe remains one of the most efficient tools for moving a man and his stuff over water. This is only an opinion, but I’d say there are more than a few out there who would stand by it, the late Bill Mason being one of them.

“The canoe is the simplest, most functional, yet aesthetically pleasing object ever created. In my opinion, this is not a statement that is open to debate.” 

- Bill Mason | Path of the Paddle

The afternoon drifted by with each stroke of the paddle. Not too fast, not too slow. New scenes appeared right when you’d finish feasting on the last. At times, you just stared at the clouds - lost in the smooth rhythm of life on the water.

My attention comes back to the moment. This campsite is a few hundred yards from the water. Signs of sunrise are being painted in the sky. Eagerness creeps in. I shoulder the pack and snatch the canoe off the ground leveling the center yoke over my shoulders. Half blind and weighted down - progress is slowly made through the pale morning light. At the waters edge, it’s uncertain who is more excited to be back - the paddler or the boat. The sun finishes its artwork just as canoe and paddler enter the heart of the bay. Numb - they glide through a masterpiece.

Morning joy.

Dancing through a world of light, it isn’t hard to be lost in it all. Lost in the simple pleasure of being. The past was gone forever and thoughts of the future evaporated in an anxious flurry. Perched near the surface, an eagle reinforces the freedom found out here in the moment. This high from the morning show gets ridden late into the afternoon. It’s no surprise. Three days traveling by boat is enough to recharge even the most stubborn.

laying low with ducks and eagles.

The canoe floats up to West Shore State Park, the layout is less than ideal. I fill water and make a move for Goose Island. The mid-day heat is brutal. 

Splash. That should take the edge off. 


Cut-off jeans drape on the canoe, the cotton fibers struggle to dry in the evening light. Thoughts of tomorrow creep in. Shoo! The mental doorway closes. Those thoughts are best saved for their own time. Notions of food drift in through an open window. Hunger is always welcome. 

Life is good.

Island life.

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