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Day: May 29, 2016

Peaceful morning, Road Warrior Afternoon

May 29, Day 67

I got a very early start. The winds were calm, the river foggy and peaceful, and the world slept.


Although there was current I made good progress upstream, dodging sunken logs and switching from bank to bank when it seemed appropriate to minimize the current, much like Lewis and Clark. There wasn’t another boat on the river and for a pleasant while almost no development.

I came around one corner to see the first houses of Bismarck. Fine, beautiful houses, well manicured yards, the bank carefully riprapped.

a fishing boat appeared, and another one and another one. These were the most serious fisherman, out early.

My first goal was for Abraham Lincoln State Park. It’d been many days since my last shower, shocking in the conventional world, standard procedure in the adventuring world.

At the park, people were calmly enjoying their Memorial Day weekend. Incredibly, the bathroom and shower house was empty. How that was possible with a campground with few if any empty spaces is beyond me.

I took a wonderful hot shower then gathered my dirty clothes, dumped some laundry detergent on them and then squished them in hot water in the sink until they were considerably cleaner than before. A campground volunteer came in and I asked if a mop was handy. We teamed up to mop the shower house which seemed only fair because I had just taken a free shower and scattered my share of sand around.

Many more boats had appeared while I was taking a shower and doing laundry. I paddled up to the first bridge where the Broken Oar bar is, landing my kayak in the back of the bar in the corner of the marina.

I hid my paddle, gathered my small valuables to take with me, and walked up to the road. A beautiful bike path crossed the bridge. I looked down the river to see a madhouse of power boats. I felt like a German soldier looking out over the Allied armada on D-Day.

The bikepath went past a beautiful golf course,  loaded with big shady trees and beautiful green grass. It seems strange to be in what felt like a forest again.

I stopped at McDonald’s, sorry you health food enthusiasts. When they ran my credit card their system failed, which apparently had been plaguing them. Luckily I had cash or I would’ve been very sad.

After chowing down I walked over to the sporting goods store. They had agreed to receive my new kayak seat back.  I had tracking confirmation that it was there but I always feel slightly uneasy receiving packages on the road because fiascoes are so common.

They seemed to know who I was and a fellow went off to get the package. The first box was the wrong package and I waited around as they tried to locate it. They could not have been nicer but the fellow who knew where it was was gone for the weekend. I went grocery shopping to get something done while I waited and when I got back the seat back was still missing. I picked up a couple of items I needed and went outside and ate a pint of Ben & Jerry’s hoping my phone would ring with good news as I ate. It did not. The ice cream was delicious however.

Back at the kayak I loaded the boat with my groceries. A party boat next to me was having a  raucous time which would’ve been annoying but there were several bikini-clad women dancing on the boat roof. The people in the marina were having a great time, socializing, at least some of them partying quite seriously, and wearing a minimum amount of clothing.  I on the other hand was wearing my long khaki pants, my long sleeve green shirt, and my hat with the wrap-around sunshade. I was the Amish farm boy at spring break.

I was hoping my phone would ring before I left town with the news my kayak seat had been found but no dice. Maybe I can have them forward the seat up the river to another town, if they can find it, or maybe a River Angel can meet me and hand it over. One way or another it’ll work out.

Getting back out on the river wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be,  it was much worse. There was much more current and wind to deal with and many, many, more boats. The standard speed seem to be top speed and the amount of consideration for paddlers seemed to be virtually nonexistent. Twice I had to cross through the main stream of boats and I was like a possum crossing a freeway.  Even though I was trying to square my boat to the waves at their worst, one big, powerful boat passing at high-speed close to me hit me with a wave so big that water sloshed in my kayak.

I paddled for a long time fighting serious current and trying not to get swamped. When I started to get away from the populated area I looked for a place to land and camp but almost all of it was steep banks on each side and any landable spot had a boat there. I was getting tired but if I stopped paddling I would get swept downstream.

At last I found a spot, kind of a steep bank but good enough. I almost started setting up in the willows right next to the river but spotted some cottonwood trees a hundred yards away across the sand. There I set up in the shade of some cottonwood trees on a nice flat spot on the leaves. Additionally it had the big bonus of being away from the chaos of the river.

This might be a pipe dream but I’m hoping in the morning the current will be slower. It seemed slower this morning and I suspect it came up when they started releasing more water at the next dam during the day. It must be 50 miles away though so I’m not sure if that timing makes sense. Regardless there’ll be far less boats and it should be more pleasant paddling in the morning. I do know for sure that this is a very comfortable campsite. I am dry, warm, well fed, well watered, and relaxed. Colter

Clark: …20th of October 1804… Saw an old Village of the Mandans… the Countrey thro which I passed this day is Delightfull, Timber in the bottoms, Saw great nos. of Buffalow Elk Goats & Deer as we were in want of them I Killed 3 Deer, our hunters 10 Deer and wounded a white Bear, I Saw Several fresh tracks of that animal double the Sise of the largest track I ever Saw, great numbers numbers of wolves, those animals follow the buffalow and devour, those that die or are Killed, and those too fat or pore to Keep up with the gangue

Lewis: 20th October Peter Crusat this day shot at a white bear he wounded him, but being alarmed at the formidable appearance of the bear he left his tomahalk and gun; but shortly after returned and found that the bear had taken the oposite rout.—soon after he shot a buffaloe cow broke her thy, the cow pursued him he concealed himself in a small raviene.-

Clark: 21st October Sunday 1804 a verry Cold night wind hard from the N. E Some rain in the night which frosed up it fell at Day light it began to Snow and Continud all the fore part of the Day passed just above our Camp (1) a Small river… this River is Situated a Stone which the Indians have great fath in & Say they See painted on the Stone, “all the Calemites & good fortune to hapin the nation & partes who visit it”—a tree (an oak) which Stands alone near this place about 2 miles off in the open prarie which has with Stood the fire they pay Great respect to, make Holes and tie Strings thro the Skins of their necks … a butifull &extensive plain—at this time Covered with Buffalow—a Cloudy afternoon, I killed a fine Buffalow, we Camped on the L. S. verry Cold ground Covered with Snow. 
Trip overview and route map with position updates:

https://bucktrack.com/Lewis_and_Clark_Trail.html

Two Worlds

May 28, Day 66

It was a quiet, calm, foggy morning. I had left my tent doors wide open (with the screen door shut of course) to maximize ventilation and reduce condensation, but under these conditions dew lay heavy on the grass and on the inside of my shelter fly.

I put on my wet pants and wet shoes but under these mild temperatures it’s only a minor discomfort, they soon warmed up.

It was nice to be on the river again and off that big, wild, windy lake. Route finding seems as if it would be ridiculously easy but it can actually be challenging. If I were in a powerboat I would probably be following the most current to stay in the deepest water. Instead I wanted to find the slowest current that will still float my kayak. Many potential channels were dead ends. Several times I had to get out and pull my kayak over into deeper water.

The shore was now often lined with cottonwood trees, likely looking, in the wilder stretches, much as it looked to Lewis and Clark.


My calm riverbottom experience changed dramatically for one stretch however. On one bank was a campground, packed with memorial day weekend campers. Some people had tents set up on the shore just inches above the water. They had far too much faith that the river wouldn’t rise.   In the vicinity were many powerboaters, as often as not rushing up and down the river in a rooster tail off speed.

Then, on the other shore, appeared a scene from Mad Max. Dirt bikes gunned it, rushing up and down the beach, disappearing in the cottonwood trees and then dashing out over sand dunes. Not to be outdone, they were joined by four-wheelers and dune buggies. Many fishermen lined the shore, seemingly oblivious to the clouds of sand being kicked up and the cacophony of loud engines. A boat with a waterskier roared up and down the river, blasting music  like Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack.

It was a relief to escape the area.  A rain cell was coming through and suddenly the wind hit. I landed on a sandy island tied my boat off in retreated into the willows. I covered my head with my rain jacket and it sprinkled just a bit as I had a nice little nap.

The river had more current now and I paid more and more attention to find the easiest paddling. Usually I paddled the inside bends.


I saw in my walk Several remarkable high Conocal hills, one 90 feet, one 60… Clark October 19, 1804

About 5:30 the sky to the north grew very dark and lightning begin flashing.  I was coming up to a nice point of cottonwood trees and I was past time for my break. I landed to explore for possible campsites. The storm’s wind hit and made the decision for me. I got a comfortable camp set up in plenty of time for the rain.

Tomorrow I should make Bismarck. Colter

Clark: 19th of October Friday 1804. Set out early under a gentle Breeze from the S. E. more timber than Common in the bottoms… observed great numbers of Buffalows, I counted in view at one time 52 gangues of Buffalow & 3 of Elk, besides Deer & goats &c… I also Saw an old Village fortified Situated on the top of a high Point, which the Ricarra Chief tels me were Mandans, we Camped on the L. S. I Killed a Deer & Saw Swans &c. our hunters Killed 4 Elk and 6 Deer to Day

Trip overview and route map with position updates:

https://bucktrack.com/Lewis_and_Clark_Trail.html

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