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Canoeist makes his way back to Butte after journey to the Pacific Ocean



Butte, Montana – A Butte resident completed an extraordinary canoe journey that started at Silver-Bow Creek in the mining city and ended at the Pacific Ocean.

In the middle of May, Robert Lester and his cousin Braxton Mitchell pushed off on the first of 52 days of paddling and walking to the Pacific Ocean, cheered on from the bank by well-wishers.

Lester claimed that on the first day, he was unable to fully grasp the enormity of the journey.

“It was more so just getting through that first day, getting through this area where it’s a little shallower, it’s a little faster, and where we couldn’t ride in the canoe as much and where we had to walk it kinda through the water and make sure we got through our first day,” said Lester.

In a routine, the two paddled and portaged their way 1,300 miles from the Clark Fork River’s mouth to the Pen Oreille River, which briefly enters Canada before joining the Columbia River and flowing into the Pacific Ocean.

“No day of the trip was as hard as I thought it was going to be but it was quite the grind and it was just quite the distance, you know?” Lester said as he reflected on his journey on the bank of Silver Bow Creek.

For the final 175 miles of their journey, the canoeists had to walk in order to go around 40 dams, beat the wind, and escape rapids. Although the two anticipated this much, others might wonder why they ever set out on such a challenging trek.

“A few reasons: Butte’s my home, this is where I grew up and it’s pretty cool to think that these same waterways-this water right here goes all the way to the Pacific Ocean. And, secondly, we have a rich, rich history in Butte, and that rich history has left some scars on our environment Butte has given a lot to this country throughout its history, so the people of Butte now deserve clean water, clean rivers, clean places to recreate,” said Lester.

Lester claimed that the incident taught him a valuable lesson.

“It’s the work that we put in that really made it worth it once we got there,” he said.

Lester shows the ocean to viewers in a social media video 52 days after leaving Butte, standing in the serf.

“It’s my pleasure to introduce to you the Pacific Ocean,” said Lester before diving into the waves.

“It was a really, really, unique, amazing moment for me to be wading out into that ocean to go swim after putting in 52 days of work to get there,” said Lester.


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