Just south of the town of Three Forks is the Missouri Headwaters State Park ($5 per car for day use), where Lewis and Clark identified the source rivers that formed the Missouri River--one of the assignments Meriweather Lewis was given by President Jefferson.
The volunteer at the park told us that the confluence of the Madison and Jefferson rivers is the official start of the Missouri River, but that locals consider the source to be at the point where the Gallatin River joins in. We went to the official source point. The Madison River comes in from the lower left of the picture, and the Jefferson River comes in from the upper left. Together they flow to the upper right as the Missouri.
Along the Madison River, before the confluence, was this beautiful eddy. The main current is running from the left to the right, but downstream from the little rocky outcropping, the water is running slowly upstream.
Way back before we had kids, my then-husband and I took a white-water canoeing class. They taught us to read the river, so we could spot submerged rocks and avoid them and take the routes with downstream-pointing "V" formations.
My favorite part of canoeing was doing eddy turns, and this eddy in the Madison would be perfect. When you see an eddy coming up, you paddle hard to get up some good speed, aiming for the eddy. As soon as the bow crosses into the eddy, the person in the bow (that would be me) reaches with the paddle as far into the eddy as possible and then pulls the paddle hard, back to the canoe. At the same time, the person in the stern (my husband) would steer the stern hard and away from the eddy. The slight upstream movement in the eddy catches the bow, and couples it with the fast downstream motion of the stern to turn the canoe on a dime and leave it pointed nicely upstream in the middle of the eddy. Those turns are SO MUCH FUN!
But my mom and I didn't have a canoe, so we didn't get to play with the eddy.
In the parking lot where we paid, my mom noticed a man wearing a Seeley Lake T-shirt, and she struck up a conversation with him and his friend. They had just left the Seeley Lake area, and it's still on fire. The people around Jocko and Placid Lakes have been evacuated, as well as the people south of Seeley Lake. The roads into Seeley Lake are closed to all traffic except residents, so our plans of returning there to the pastor's house for a couple more days are nixed.
My mom called her friend in Missoula, who would love to put us up for a night or two, and then we'll head up to Kalispell until the class reunion.