Chamois native paddling 2,300-mile Missouri River route

‘It’s just one big experience’

Brian Duncan shoves off the bank as he continues his journey down the Missouri River on his way home to Chamois for a couple of days. He stayed in Jefferson City overnight and returned to his paddle Friday afternoon. He started this journey in Three Forks, Montana on May 16 and is taking his time, enjoying the scenery, wildlife and people he sees and meets along his leisurely travels.

Brian Duncan shoves off the bank as he continues his journey down the Missouri River on his way home to Chamois for a couple of days. He stayed in Jefferson City overnight and returned to his paddle Friday afternoon. He started this journey in Three Forks, Montana on May 16 and is taking his time, enjoying the scenery, wildlife and people he sees and meets along his leisurely travels. Photo by Julie Smith.

It was a pretty windy day down by the riverfront in Jefferson City Friday when the Chamois native pulled his small canoe ashore for a rest from his three-month adventure on the Missouri River.

Brian Duncan and his one-passenger canoe has already spent 79 days on the Missouri River on the 2,300-mile route that began at Three Forks, Montana, and will end in St. Charles. He made a pit stop Friday in the Capital City to visit his sister and then planned to continue his trip to visit other family members in Chamois. From there, his final stop will be in St. Charles.

Duncan, who began canoeing when he was 17 years old, was inspired to take on the Missouri River route by a canoeing hobbyist in his hometown. Canoeing, he said, seemed like a perfect past-time for him because it pieces together his interests in outdoor activities and his hopes of meeting like-minded people to aid his future job search.

“It feels like one big day. There’s no big rush to wake up in the morning, no deadlines. Time doesn’t exist. It’s just one big experience,” he said.

Along the scenic route he’s taken, he has seen views of the Rocky Mountains and other natural landmarks, as well as natural wildlife along the river. Along the way, he’s also had opportunities to interact with others on the river. He says he’s found entertainment, relaxation and shelters with some of the families he’s met during his journey.

“I never thought about loneliness,” he said. “ I dined with about 20 families during my trip. There are so many people that you don’t have time to think about being lonely.”

In between his interactions with those along the river, there are long stretches where it’s simply the Chamois man, his canoe and the environment.

While Duncan is well stocked in food and supplies, he does keep it simple on the river. He tends to refuel himself with mac-and-cheese and ramen noodles, and he carries with him a small gas stove and solar panels to recharge his hand-held electronics and cellphone. When he is not canoeing, he likes to pass his time watching television series on Netflix, including the Walking Dead and Game of Thrones.

But canoeing along the Missouri River also has its challenges. Not too long ago, Duncan was caught in a severe rain storm. His tent was ruined from sinking in the mud as he camped along the river. Despite the dire situation, he pressed forward to Jefferson City.

Beyond the sometimes turbulent weather, he also encountered Asian carp. The fish are pretty aggressive, energetic and jumpy. For small boaters, they can be a drowning hazard as well as a threat to aquatic life in the Missouri River.

Duncan said he appreciates the Missouri River for its tranquil beauty and the challenge it presents for canoe hobbyists. But he said he has bigger goals for a future canoeing adventure.

“I hope to one day canoe the Amazon River.”

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