Ripsy Walkabout travel blog

The Great Falls

Depiction of the Portage

View of the Terrain the Expedition Faced

My Campsite

Another View from my Campsite

After deviating from the Lewis & Clark Trail to visit Glacier, I picked it up again in Great Falls, Montana--the place where the expedition first encountered some of its most grueling physical and mental challenges.

It was here that the expedition's travel up the Missouri was blocked not only by the Great Falls but also by a series of four other falls in close proximity. They were forced to portage their boats and gear 18 miles over rugged terrain, something that would take them almost two full weeks to complete.

I hiked in the surrounding area and, as you can see from the third picture, the terrain is extremely hilly and steep. These guys weren't just hauling a couple of canoes, but had tons of gear. During the course of my hike I would get winded just climbing one of the steep hills while carrying nothing.

The Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center in Great Falls is the best museum on the subject that I've encountered. Not only do they have great displays and information but a series of volunteers also offer brief 15 minute seminars on a variety of specialized and interesting subjects such as "Lewis & Clark--What If?" etc.

If anyone is in the area, especially with kids, the Interpretive Center is a must see.

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