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Green University® LLC Presents...
A Jefferson River Adventure

Paddling by Sappington Bluffs on the Jefferson River.

Paddle Back in Time
with Thomas J. Elpel and the staff of Green University, LLC
Jefferson River, Montana. September 23 - October 2, 2023

Learning to start a bowdrill fire. Participating in Nature: Wilderness Survival and Primitive Living Skills.       Dip your paddle into the river and drift back in time as we canoe, camp, and craft our way down Montana's scenic Jefferson River. This expedition emphasizes basic wilderness skills everyone should know. We'll leave matches and lighters behind and create fire from the resources at hand, gathering cottonwood roots from driftwood piles for friction fires. Expedition leader Thomas J. Elpel will share many of the skills taught in his book Participating in Nature: Wilderness Survival and Primitive Living Skills. We'll make discoidal stone knives, craft split willow deer, forage for wild foods, and weave cattail visors for sun protection.

Botany in a Day.       Tom will also introduce basic plant identification skills using his best-selling book Botany in a Day, The Patterns Method of Plant Identification and the Shanleya's Quest Patterns in Plants Card Game. Learn the essential patterns to identify 45,000 species of plants to the correct families as taught in the video tutorial and put those skills to use botanizing and foraging on the river.

Playing jump rope with a grass rope.       Learn introductory canoeing skills, paddling strokes, and how to pack and balance your gear. The Jefferson is a Class I river for beginning paddlers, with the added challenge of navigating through or around diversion dams. We'll gather grass and make grass ropes for games of tug-o-war and jump rope, as well as more practical applications, such as tying your canoe securely to the riverbank.

      Our route follows the Jefferson River Canoe Trail, retracing by water an essential segment of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. In 1805 the Lewis and Clark Expedition towed dugout canoes up the Jefferson in search of a navigable water route to the Pacific. We'll follow their path in reverse, floating with the current while connecting with the history of the Corps of Discovery. We'll take a full week to explore the 80-mile length of the Jefferson River before it meets up with the Madison and Gallatin rivers to form the Missouri.

Soaking at Renova Hot Springs.       Late September weather can be unpredictable, varying from summer-warm to downright snowy cold or windy so be prepared for anything. Plan to soak at Renova Hot Springs on the banks of the river and hike up to a pictograph cave overlooking the Jefferson Valley. Experience the rugged beauty of the Jefferson River Canyon and take a predawn hike to watch the sunrise and listen for bugling elk.

      Each campsite is different with its own unique opportunities. Some nights we'll enjoy the solitude of our individual tents. Other nights we'll come together for the more tribal experience of camping together in wickiups or under the protective shelter of a rock overhang above the river. We'll provide the food and everyone can take turns preparing communal meals.

Paddling into Canyon Corner on the Jefferson River.       We'll gather wild dogbane and make natural fiber cordage and bone fishhooks. We are not fishing guides, so we cannot advise you on how to fish the Jefferson, but any participant with a valid Montana fishing license is welcome to try fishing on their own time. We will make throwing sticks to stalk and hunt cottontail rabbits and other nongame animals.

      The Jefferson River is rich with wildlife, with the potential to see deer, elk, moose, black bear, beaver, mink, otter, and more. We'll practice stalking skills to move more quietly through the landscape and see more wildlife. We'll celebrate life with group games and fun.

      The cost for the ten-day adventure is $950. To register, please fill out and mail in the Medical History (PDF) and Liability Waiver and Release (PDF) forms, along with a check for $300 to reserve your spot. Register with a friend and both get a $200 discount! The balance can be paid upon arrival. Or register online through the shopping cart system and send the paperwork separately. Plan to arrive at River Camp on the evening of September 22 to be ready to roll the following morning.

Canoe paddlers with the loaded canoe trailer. No Drugs, Alcohol, or Tobacco
      Green University®: LLC is a drug, alcohol and tobacco-free learning establishment. Our staff maintains a sober environment for individuals who are excited about nurturing a deeper nature connection. Anyone distracted with alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, or other drugs is not focused on learning or optimizing their experience at Green University® LLC. Therefore, we have a zero tolerance policy for drugs, alcohol, and tobacco in any form. Anyone violating this rule will be asked to leave. This is not a joke. Please read this paragraph again before signing up. Thank you.

Paddle Back in Time
      Group size is limited to 14 people including instructors. Priority placement goes to participants in our semester or yearlong Hunter Gatherer Immersion Program who will be arriving on September 21st and staying through the winter and beyond.

Sunrise over the Jefferson River.


Did you know?
Former Green University® LLC students
comprised the majority of the crew for the
Missouri River Corps of Rediscovery:

Five Months on the Missouri River: Paddling a Dugout Canoe
Five Months on the Missouri River
Paddling a Dugout Canoe


Interested in more classes and events?
See our full schedule!

Looking for an extended immersion experience at a discount price?
Join us for a six-month semester or a full year!

      Looking for life-changing resources? Check out these books by Thomas J. Elpel:

Green Prosperity: Quit Your Job, Live Your Dreams.
Roadmap to Reality: Consciousness, Worldviews, and the Blossoming of Human Spirit
to Reality
Living Homes: Stone Masonry, Log, and Strawbale Construction
Participating in Nature: Wilderness Survival and Primitive Living Skills.
in Nature
Foraging the Mountain West: Gourmet Edible Plants, Mushrooms, and Meat.
Foraging the
Mountain West
Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification
in a Day
Shanleya's Quest: A Botany Adventure for Kids

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