The Greatest High
After customs checkpoints, aerial surveillance planes, and having to convince Homeland security officials that they were indeed going to canoe across their nation, the Paddling Bryans learn that the greatest challenge of their journey only leads to the greatest renewal of their hopes and dreams.
It was three weeks before departure, and we had driven down to customs to get I-68 forms. (These are the forms that would allow us to cross into the United States by boat for three days before getting checked out by Homeland Security.) The customs officials granted us the forms despite their obvious disbelief to our insane story of canoeing across their nation.
We knew the 20-mile round trip portage from the river to customs would be the greatest challenge to date and possibly the greatest challenge of the entire journey. Getting spotted by aerial border patrol actually saved us 18 miles of that round trip, although getting all the gear to the top of the hill was a challenge all in its own.
I wanted to get more footage of the aerial surveillance plane, but Adams had a good point when he told me that the video camera may look hostile when pointed at a plane (kinda like a rocket launcher, perhaps).
It was noon, and by the time we got all our gear a mile up hill and we still hadn’t found the road. The pickup truck and officer with his firearm drawn over the door of his vehicle coming towards us actually gave me hope that we could be cleared on location and avoid another delay. With our story of canoeing from Canada to New Orleans being as unbelievable as it was, the officer proceeded to search all our gear and make sure that our green tea and sugar were actually green tea and sugar.
With all our gear checking out and the officer confirming our I-68 forms, we hit the greatest high of our journey to date! We thanked the officer for all his help and portaged all our gear back downhill to the river with new hopes for our journey.
It was late in the afternoon, but we decided to pack and hit the river to track a little distance. Our decision
to keep on paddling that late afternoon proved to be amazing. As we swerved on down the Milk River, spotting hundreds of elk and deer, our reason to be paddling became evident again. We crossed the border into the US and
reached the point of no return.
Now the journey felt real. We were going to make it to New Orleans…or at least, die trying.
Catch the Paddling Bryans tonight at 10 p.m. ET on Travel+Escape!
Missed last week’s episode? Watch it here!
PROGRAMMING NOTE: Missed the first three weeks of Paddling Bryans episodes? Good news! Starting Nov. 24, the first three weeks of Paddling Bryans will encore on T+E. New episodes return on Dec. 14.