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Day: May 26, 2016

North Dakota!

May 26, Day 64

It was a nice morning. It seemed a little darker though, waking up underneath the trees. 

I paddled for about two hours before taking my first break. When I got out of the kayak I looked down and found a fossil of some kind of ancient mullusc  about as big as my fist. 

Later as I paddled past the green prairie I saw a couple of animals running towards the river: is that coyotes?  No, smaller and closer.  Prairie dogs! A small village of them. Later I spotted another village. 

I was supposed to be paddling on the protected shore but instead I had a significant quartering tailwind. That’s not as good of a deal as one might think because it’s difficult to keep the boat going straight in the waves, at least it is for me. 

A boat sped  across the river maybe 3 miles ahead. I noticed it’s wake appeared to be hidden behind the curvature of the earth. 

When I got to Fort Yates I was looking forward to getting out of the boat and walking into town and to get a hot meal. But when I drew even with Main Street riprap covered the shore, riprap washed by waves. It wasn’t practical to land by the time there was a beach, by then it was a long walk back so I sadly gave up my plan. 

A brisk wind had sprung up from the south west and  I had to cross a side bay. Waves started to build so I turned around and waited for a while. The wind finally died down some and I paddled quickly to the opposite shore which I followed, now with a nice tailwind. 

I cut the corner of another bay and when I got to the other side I saw that I was looking at an island not the other shore.  A large number of blue herons and geese flew up. When I got out of the kayak to verify that I was in fact on an island I noticed a dozen or more nests full of big eggs. It was clear from the behavior of the blue herons that it was their nests. I think I could’ve picked up a 5 gallon bucket full of eggs. I took a quick photo and left. 

I always like to get across the side bays as quickly as possible, so now I launched on my fourth “sprint” in fairly rapid succession. I was starting to get tired.  I landed for a break. I thought that I had paddled close to 35 miles but the maps said it was more like 32 river miles. With all my shore hugging during the day I likely had paddled a few extra miles. Regardless, I was getting tired and needed to call it a day. 

There are trees on this stretch here and there, in drainages primarily. I actually set up on a gravel bar mostly protected from west wind. Just this moment two last year’s whitetail fawns were playing just outside the tent!

As I set up the tent something much more remarkable happened. I heard what I thought was a pheasant in the brush. There was the flapping of big wings and a wild turkey flew by, but what was really amazing is it had an egg in its beak! It dropped the egg onto the rocky shore where it shattered,  the hen landing next to the water. It walked down for a drink, wading out to its belly in the water. 

I suspect it was an egg from the nest that wasn’t developing so it was getting rid of it. I saw that in one or more blue heron nests too, at least that’s what I had theorized. 

At some point this morning I crossed into North Dakota, another big milestone! Colter

Clark: 11th of October Thursday 1804… met the 1s Chief in Council, he Thanked us for what we had given him & his people promised to attend to our advise, and Said the road was open for us and no one Dare Shut it &c. &. we took him and one Chief on board and Set out, on our way took in the 2d Chief at the mo of a Small Creek… Those people gave us to eat Corn & Beans, a large well flavoured Been which they rob the Mice of in the Plains and is verry nurishing-all tranquillity
Clark: 12th of October Friday after Brackfast we joined the Chiefs & Indians on the bank who wer waiting for us…requested us to take a Chief of their nation and make a good peace with the Mandan for them, that they Knew that they were the Cause of the war by Killing the 2 Mandan Chiefs… he gave us 10 bushels of Corn, Some Beens & Simmins… we gave them Some Sugar Salt and a Sun Glass each, and after eating a little they returned on Shore leaveing one to accompany us to the Mandans… The Ricaras Are about 500 men Mr. Taboe say 600 able to bear arms, and the remains of ten different tribes of Panias reduced by the Small Pox & wares with the Sioux, they are tall Stout men corsily featured, their womin Small & industerous raise great quantites of corn beans &c also Tobacco… Their language is So corrupted that many lodges of the Same village with dificuelty under Stand all that each other Say—They are Dirty, Kind, pore, & extravegent; possessing natural pride, no begers, rcive what is given them with pleasure, Thier houses are close together & Towns inclosed with Pickets, thier Lodges are 30 to 40 feet in Diamuter Covered with earth … Small Willow & grass is put across to Support the earth

Lewis and Clark, October 13, 1804: 

the Court martial convened this day for the trial of John Newman, charged with “having uttered repeated expressions of a highly criminal and mutinous nature; the same having a tendency not only to distroy every principle of military discipline, but also to alienate the affections of the individuals composing this Detachment to their officers, and disaffect them to the service for which they have been so sacredly and solemnly engaged.”—The Prisonar plead not guilty… The court… are unanimously of opinion that the prisonar John Newman is guilty… and do sentence him agreeably to the rules and articles of war, to receive seventy five lashes on his bear back, and to be henceforth discarded from the perminent party engaged for North Western discovery… he shall be exposed to such drudgeries as they may think proper to direct from time to time with a view to the general relief of the detachment.-

Clark: 14th of October Sunday 1804… halted on a Sand bar and had the punishmt inflicted on Newmon, which caused the indian Chieif to cry untill the thing was explained to him Camped opposit an antient fortification which is on the L. S, when I explained to the Chief the Cause of whipping N—he observed that examples were necessary & that he himself had made them by Death, but his nation never whiped even from their bearth.

Trip overview and route map with position updates:


May 25, Day 63

It was quite a storm. I was pleased how well my tent held up to the rain and wind.

Just after 6 AM I walked into Burger King. Burger King might not seem like something to look forward to but when you’re eating  primarily cold food it’s a heck of a treat. I enjoyed a couple of outstanding cheese, biscuit and egg burritos. They were hot and they were loaded with calories and they were great.  I savored a large cup of coffee while I typed up yesterday’s post. I was surprised when they came around and topped off my coffee not once but twice. 

When I was packing up my stuff I found a bonus tent stake underneath my tent. It would be a good bet that another Missouri River paddler had camped there as well.  Happily the wind was much lighter than I expected in the morning, for a bit it was nearly calm. When the wind did come up it proved to be an easy headwind for a few hours. 

During one break I noticed shells on the shore. I found that interesting because I hadn’t been seeing clams. On closer inspection I found that they were all fossils. For 15 minutes I walked up and down the beach finding and inspecting fossilized shells and other long extinct sea creatures. It would be fun to know in what byegone epic they lay at the bottom of some warm ancient sea.

can anyone identify this fossil?

I saw a hen wild turkey, I haven’t seen a turkey in a while. Many times I startled fish that were resting just beneath the surface. 

For most of the day the sun shone brightly and it wasn’t too hot. The wind was now pushing me lightly. About 4 PM dark clouds begin building to the west, slowly moving my way. I’ve been remarkably lucky about missing significant rain during the day since I began paddling, but looked like this storm was going to keep me from reaching my 30 mile goal for the day. 

When it began to thunder and it looked like rain was imminent, I ran straight downwind toward the shore and a possible campsite. When I got there millions of flies had beat me to claiming it. Rain or no, I was moving on. 

Just around the corner there was a trail coming down the bluff. More importantly the trail came out of trees, from what appeared to be a fairly flat shelf. Trees or even brush can be hard to find around here, and are invaluable in dealing with wind. I landed the boat and hiked 20 feet up the steep trail into a little stand of oak trees. Oak trees! I thought I had left them behind me long ago. They weren’t very big but they provided 360° of wind protection and surrounded a beautiful patch of short grass. 

I made two quick trips hauling stuff up from the kayak and then dragged the boat farther up the shore where I tied it to a log. 

I quickly staked out the tent and raised the peak with its single pole. Only a few rain drops had hit me when I threw everything in the tent and zipped the door closed. 

Thunder rumbled louder punctuated by sharp cracks of lightning. Wind began roaring in the treetops and rain hammering down on the tent fly. 

You want to talk about fun? Stumbling onto this spot in the oaks, one of the best campsites on the entire trip, and then beating the storm by two minutes, now THAT was fun! Colter

Clark: 8th of October Monday 1804…our hunters discovered a Ricara village on an Island a fiew miles above we passed the 1s Ricara Village about the center of the Island, in presence of Great numbers of Spectators and Camped above the Island on the L. S. at the foot of Some high land. (Mr. Gravotine a French man joined us as an interpeter) The Island on which is Ricara Village is Situated, is about 3 miles long Seperated from the Main L. Side by a Narrow Deep Channel, those Indians Cultivate on the Island Corn Beens Simmins, Tobacco &c &c. after Landing Capt. Lewis with Mr. Gravelin and 3 men went to the Village, I formd a Camp on Shore with the Perogue crew & guard, with the Boat at Anchor, Capt Lewis returned late, a french man and a Spaniard accompanied him

Clark: 9th of October Tuesday 1804… all the grand Chiefs visited us to day also Mr Taboe, a trader from St. Louis—Many Canoes of a Single Buffalow Skin made in the form of a Bowl Carrying generally 3 and Sometimes 5 & 6 men, those Canoes, ride the highest Waves—the Indians much asstonished at my Black Servent and Call him the big medison, this nation never Saw a black man before, the wind verry high, I saw at Several times to day 3 Squars in single Buffalow Skin Canoes loaded with meat Cross the River…

Clark: 10th of October 1804… at 1 oclock the Cheifs all assembled under an orning near the Boat, and under the American Flag. we Delivered a Similar Speech to those delivered the Ottoes & Sioux, made three Chiefs, one for each Village and gave them Clothes & flags… after the Council was over we Shot the Air gun, which astonished them, & they all left us, I observed 2 Sioux in the Council one of them I had Seen below, they Came to interceed with the Ricaras to Stop us as we were told—the Inds. much astonished at my black Servent, who made him Self more turrible in thier view than I wished him to Doe as I am told telling them that before I cought him he was wild & lived upon people, young children was verry good eating Showed them his Strength &c. &c.—Those Indians are not fond of Licquer of any Kind-

Trip overview and route map with position updates:

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