I chose an out of the way fishing access site for my first Montana camping trip of the year—the Dearborn Fishing Access. This site nestled among willow and rocks with a steep scramble down to the Missouri River offered me the perfect getaway. The security of riverfront houses just a hundred yards away was also a draw—especially for a lady camping solo.
Hitching up Gina was a breeze as I did the mental checklist to get on the way. Since it was only one night out I didn’t have to think too hard about supplies. Propane: check. Battery: check. Ice: check. Water: check. Eggs and sausage: check. Tamales: check. Fishing pole: check. Wine: check. Ready to roll!
Heading south on the interstate I started to unwind and feel the freedom. There are a multiple of camping opportunities offered at the Fish Wildlife and Parks fishing accesses. Some are open spaces right next to the river where many campers can camp. Some are just single sites equal to a dirt pull off and that’s about it. But they all have in common the pit toilet, picnic table, and campfire ring. As well as a nice shoreline to cast your line and hope for a lunker.
After I had Gina set up I grabbed my fishing pole and scrambled down the short cliff for a little relaxing, fishing, and contemplating. My fingers were crossed that I wouldn’t catch anything since I didn’t want to have to watch the poor thing die and then cut off its head and gut it (that’s EmBee’s job and he wasn’t there). Weeds were abound close to the shore so each time I felt a tug it was just a hook full of sedges. So I moseyed upstream just a bit where the water was faster. My first cast made its way nicely into the current and I reeled in nothin’ but water. I was determined that my second cast would make it even farther into the river so I gave it my all. Which jiggled my prescription sunglasses off my nose and down toward the river. I managed to snatch my glasses from a downstream float, but at the expense of my cast! There was my only spinner hooked securely in a willow tree overhanging the river. Hmmm…..maybe I shouldn’t have placed myself next to large vegetation; but at the time I figured I had the grace to stay out of harm’s way. Not so (for anybody that knows what a clutz I am they are probably chuckling right now).
After about three minutes of indecision I decided to try to step gingerly on the downed tree branches and reach out over the river to reclaim my hook and spinner. The good news—I got it! The bad news—I soaked both feet up to the ankles in the river. More bad news—I hadn’t brought along an extra pair of shoes and socks. Oh well, not a complete disaster. I’ll just get a campfire going to dry them out.
After gathering enough wood from the shoreline I scrambled up to the campsite and proceeded to go through a whole box of *strike anywhere* matches trying to get that water-logged wood to light. Abandoning all hope of a campfire I retreated inside and seriously considered putting my sneakers into the oven at 250 for an hour. Better minds prevailed and I just gave up hope of having dry feet.
After a very laid back evening of outdoor reading and enjoying the scenery it was time to bed down. I knew that wind was forecast for the area but I wasn’t prepared for the gale force winds that hit at about 1:00 am! Since I didn’t unhook Gina from the rig I didn’t set the jacks up. That Montana wind swooped down the canyon and jostled and wiggled my poor little Shasta like it was a sapling in the wind. It finally settled down a few hours before sunrise so I did manage to get some sleep.
Morning came and it was time to head home and back to reality for the regular household chores. All-in-all I’d have to say it was a successful first camping night in Montana with the promise of many more to come.