Five Months on the Missouri River Paddling a Dugout Canoe Three Forks, Montana to St. Louis, Missouri by Thomas J. Elpel, Illustrated by Joanna Walitalo
"The Cascade Courier ran part of your series this summer; the fifth installment was published on August 1 under the headline "Ghosts of the Tower," and it was stupendous... You did your homework. You stopped. You saw. You read. You absorbed. You reflected, as pensive as Meriwether Lewis himself must have been in 1805 when finally reaching the Rockies. You got it, its spirit as well as its significance."
Have you ever dreamed of adventure?
Thomas J. Elpel had the rare opportunity to carve a dugout canoe with Churchill Clark, the great-great-great-great grandson of Captain Clark. Together they whittled a 10,000 lb. Douglas fir log down to a 500+ lb. canoe.
Enlisting friends with additional canoes to join the adventure, Tom led a five-month "Missouri River Corps of Rediscovery Expedition," paddling the 2,341-mile Missouri River segment of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail from Montana to St. Louis. A stray puppy joined the five-man expedition en route, growing up on the canoes as the adventurers proceeded downriver.
Instead of racing to the finish line, Tom and friends paddled the Missouri River much like Meriwether Lewis and William Clark did, as a conduit for exploring the land and meeting its inhabitants. Every campsite offered a new opportunity to hike and explore the geographical landscape and geology, identify plants, and forage for wild foods.
They enjoyed a leisurely pace paddling through the heart of America while diving into natural history, the fur trade, Lewis and Clark, and the history of Native American tribes along the route. They were assisted by many gracious River Angels who reached out to help portage the expedition around the dams.
Throughout the journey, Tom wrote a weekly column that was published in newspapers in Montana and across the Midwest. He fleshed out the story for the book, filling in additional details and whole new essays, accompanied by seven hundred stunning color photos from the adventure.
The finished book is both an uplifting adventure story and a coffee table book, making an easy read and an inspiring page-turner. Five Months on the Missouri River is tantalizing in its imagery, and anyone who picks up the book to look at the pictures will quickly be captivated by the story, following the expedition from the beginning until its conclusion.
Five Months on the Missouri River
Paddling a Dugout Canoe from Three Forks, Montana to St. Louis, Missouri Winner: 2020 Writer's Digest First Place Award for Nonfiction! Winner: 2020 National Indie Excellence Award for Best Travel Book! Finalist: 2020 Best Book Awards for Travel Guides and Essays
11"H x 8 1/2"W. 270 pages, 700+ photos, full color throughout.
ISBN: 978-1-892784-50-6. March 2020. Please scroll down to order.
Tom Elpel stepped back in time to 1804-06 and followed the Lewis & Clark Expedition's route down the Missouri river on a life changing, epic journey from Montana to St. Louis. Tom's extensive knowledge of plants and the natural world, his love of history and the river are expressed here on every page as if Lewis and Clark stepped into the 21st Century. The stunning images and narrative are breathtaking and inspiring, seen through the eyes of Elpel as he traveled aboard a beautiful dugout canoe through the heart of America.
We just ordered (and received) a copy of your Five Months on the Missouri River...and after receiving it we promptly ordered a second copy of your impressive book for my mother-in-law. What an amazing story!!! Our three boys eagerly thumbed through it alongside us immediately after receiving it. Then everyday since we received the delightful book I have found our young readers exploring the colorful book again and again--on the couch, over a bowl of cereal, beside the crackling woodstove. Today the boys gathered round while I began reading from the beginning this time. Each time I stopped they begged me to continue. Thank you for sharing your journey! Your story has captivated their young minds and inspired our boys to dream bigger and fall in love with nature on a whole new level!!
I am writing to express my joy of receiving your publication, "Five Months on the Missouri River" by Thomas J. Elpel and Joanna Walitalo. An exemplary publication of not only beauty but also very educational. I find true excitement and intrigue within the pages. It is well worth more than a singular reading. Now at the age of seventy-one I can reflect back upon many of my own personal ventures, and am well acquainted with much of your traveled territories within all of the covered states, except Kansas. Though your accomplishment was upon the waterway, and mine has been by saddle and packhorse, the feeling of camaraderie still exists to me. These are the experiences and education that the younger generations need to revive and explore instead of the wastefulness of video games. May I once again commend you in your endeavors, and wish you the best of luck. May we all venture in the wilds.
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