Memorial Day Self-Support Kayaking


Early last week, I got a group email about someone looking do to a self-support kayak trip.  I was busy and simply ignored the email.  I also did not know the person who drew the permit.  Later that week, a close friend of mine sent me a text message saying he needed someone to drive to the put in for the Selway River.  My response was half serious and half joke “only if I can come.”. He shot me a text back within minutes informing me that I could, and should, join the trip.  So I grabbed my fancy smart phone and made a call.  One thing led to another and I was packing my bags.

Self-support kayak trips are great.  They bring out the minimalistic nature in kayakers.  Self support kayak trips allow you to only bring what you can fit in your boat.  The extra weight is another factor that affects boat speed, responsiveness, and portaging as well.   I like rafting, but it sure is nice doing multi-day trips without all of the rubber, and miscellaneous gear that looks like a yard sale at put-ins and take outs.  You  show up at the put in, pack your boat, slip into the river, and head downstream.

This trip made me realize a few important things.  First, I never do last minute, spur-of- the- moment things anymore.   I feel like everything I do is planned, timed, and calculated.  It felt great to step out of my comfort zone and just drop what I was doing and leave.  It also made me realize how lucky I am to have the ability to do that.

Second, I always paddle with the same people.  This trip there were four of us, but prior to the trip only two of us had ever met.  Luckily, we meshed pretty well and paddled great together.

Lastly, when the trip was over, I had no clue how I was going to get home, where we were going to camp, or what we were going to do for food and beer.  I really enjoyed not having a plan.  That was quickly resolved with a quick stop at Cougar Station in Lowell.  Next thing you know, we were heading up Highway 12 to camp, meet up with friends, and do some laps on the Lochsa River.

If you get the opportunity to do a self support kayak trip I would highly recommend it.   We have some of the best multi-day rivers in the US within a day’s drive from Missoula.  Turn off your phone, call in sick, pack your bags, and get out on the river.  Life is too short!

Like this blog by one of Missoula’s legendary kayakers?  Check out these blogs by Jason Shreder:  The Sellway River–A Preason Kayaking Treat or Go With the Flow and Get in the Know.

You may also want to check out our page on Missoula Kayaking, Canoeing, and Rafting.

See Jason Shredder’s “Go With the Flow” archive.


Jason Shreder, owner of local whitewater company Zoo Town Surfers. I love Missoula, the great community, and all the awesome water that surrounds it.  I’m constantly moving and 90% of that movement involves kayaking, rafting, working, and hanging out with my awesomely supportive girlfriend and dogs.