By Ron VandenBoom
Barbara Rice and Linda Sloss have undertaken a three-month perilous journey down the mighty Missouri River as they attempt to raise awareness and funds for two organizations serving people with disabilities.
The two charities are START (Specialized Transitional Activities and Rehabilitation Training) and the Prader-Willi Syndrome Association.
The trip began at the head waters of the Missouri on June 2 when the two ladies placed their canoes in the water near Three Forks and began what they expect to be a 2,300 mile trek to St. Charles, Mo. the starting point of the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804
Rice and Sloss expect to take three months to reach St. Charles and say that, to their knowledge, they could also make history by being the first women to complete a trip down the river alone.
The two women arrived in Fort Benton on Wednesday, June 14, after having completed a modern version of a portage around the Great Falls of the Missouri.
A deep appreciation of nature, the challenge of a new adventure, and a love of history are the other reasons the two women of 50 plus years give for attempting the journey.
Mostly, the women will be camping in modern tents, have the luxury of freeze-dried food and will not suffer many of the privations that plagued the Lewis and Clark expedition when it traveled up the Missouri River. But that does not make these two ladies any less stouthearted.
This is not the first time Rice and Sloss have accepted a challenge together. For 10 days in 1996, they lived in Mammoth Cave in Kentucky during an Earth Watch archaeological dig. The following year, they traveled to Alaska where they stayed in a cabin without electricity, running water, or heat.
They also learned how to drive a dog sled team.
In recent years, they have also traveled to the interior of Mexico and spent two weeks on a 19-foot ski boat between Portage Des Sioux, near St. Louis, to Hastings, Minn.
Rice was met on her arrival in Fort Benton by her brother Stuart, nephew David and another guest, all of whom traveled from St. Louis to meet the canoeing women. They all spent the night in their tents in the park.
For the next several days, Rice said, the men will be traveling with the women.
They also brought dried foods, first aid supplies, gloves, and even frozen custard, she said supplies that Lewis and Clark lacked when they made the trip.
Rice said that so far more than 70 people have made contributions to the charities.
The two women also have taken their adventure onto the World Wide Web at http://home.postnet.com/~brice.