FORSYTH — From Gardiner to Terry, that’s the journey one Missoula man is making but not by foot or car. He’s paddleboarding 400 miles along the Yellowstone River to his destination.
For 35-year-old Mike Richardson, paddleboarding isn’t just a hobby. It’s an escape.
“Every now and then I need to hit the reset button and get out into nature a little bit,” Richardson said on Sunday.
This time, Richardson is resetting with a 400 miles paddleboarding trek across Montana. It’s a trip that took three months of planning since he camped along the way.
“I set up on islands and sandbars, public land all of these areas I’m able to camp on,” said Richardson.
For the past two weeks, he’s carried all his supplies with him on his paddeboard and has seen a ton of stuff along the way.
“Going from the mountains up near Yellowstone, to ranch land, to rocky cliff overlooks, to some badlands sorts of area. It’s been a really cool experience to see the shift in terrain that Montana has,” Richardson said.
He was initially supposed to take the trip in June, but Mother Nature had other plans.
“Along the river, there’s definitely evidence of that flooding, and it kind of differs in every area that you’re in,” said Richardson.
Near Yellowstone Park, he saw the debris left behind from houses and structures torn apart from the floods.
“Just yesterday, I passed through a mile-long stretch of river where there had to be 20 or 30 trees down in the river, just floating about in certain areas, lodged down in the middle of the river, sticking up,” Richardson said.
The trip hasn’t been without challenges. Richardson said he felt socially isolated during the first leg of the trek, but he found a solution.
“I have an evening social hour where I sip a beer on the side of the river, and I talk to friends and family, and that really helps a lot,” said Richardson.
He said the highlight of his trip was the Montana hospitality he experienced along the river.
“Everybody I’ve met along the way has been super friendly, very supportive and outgoing,” Richardson said.
He hopes to complete the trek by getting to Terry on Oct 1, and he said if he can do it, so can you.
“I encourage anybody else out there who’s got an ambitious dream to go and pursue it. If you don’t do it this year, you’ll be one year older when you do,” said Richardson.