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Month: May 2016 (Page 3 of 11)


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:

Two Months on the Lewis and Clark Trail

May 24, Day 62

When it was starting get light, while I was still in my tent, I heard swishing in the grass; I looked out to see two whitetail deer. One snorted and they ran. 

As I loaded the boat I noticed a band of buffalo grazing, a fine way to start the day on the Lewis and Clark Trail. 

The goal today was Mobridge. There I’d resupply with enough groceries to get me to Bismarck. When backpacking food-day estimates are pretty easy, miles/20=days will be close. There are so many more variables paddling this route: portages, wind, current. 

Two more goals in town would be silicone sealant for my tent seams and at least one hot meal. 

I was slower than normal packing, the real reason is I was still a little tuckered from yesterday. But when I was leaving it was 6:30. 6:30?  Mountain Time!

Strategizing wind direction vs lake orientation is a big deal. I wanted to cross before the wind came up. The calm dissolved as I crossed. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so slow packing!  As the wind picked up and the waves got higher I had to square the boat more into the wind, which increased the distance I had to paddle to the next shore. I’d put on the spray skirt though to keep the water out so it was no big deal. 

I paddled against a headwind all day, from minor to significant. Otherwise it was a sunny, beautiful day. 

The hardware store, the source of my seam sealer, closed at 7 Central Time. I’d considered staying at Indian Creek campground but that was three miles out of town. I better paddle straight to town. 

Allen Palmer had told me to paddle until I saw Burger King. That was good advice. I landed and followed the main road to the hardware store. The nice ladies there said I could fill up my water bottles with the garden hose outside. When I tried to detach the hose instead I found it had been tightened with a wrench and I didn’t want to ask to borrow one. 

Across the street was the grocery store, handy! I packed my haul back to the boat, then headed over to Burger King, again taking my small valuables with me. I talked to a young rancher as I feasted. He was trying to corral a passle of young boys. He was interested in my trip and said a thunderstorm was on the way. At that I filled my water bottles and skedaddled. 

I put up my tent and did a fast but hopefully decent job of seam sealing. By the time the wind hit I was set. 

It was close to midnight when I heard the waves rolling ashore. It had been raining for hours with flickers of lightning. My headlamp beam showed the seam sealing was a success!  Let’s see, the boat is plenty far up the shore? No doubt. Nothing can blow away?  Maybe I should secure my trash bag better. And my paddle? I DID carry that up, right? 

I put on my rain gear. I didn’t see my paddle. Through the dark and wind and rain I walked down and found my paddle just above the highest wave. Big mistake. Got in a hurry heading to the store before it closed. When I got back in bed it was nice to know everything was secure. Colter

Clark: 6th of October Satturday 1804 Cold Wind from the N. Saw many large round Stones near the middle of the River passed an old Ricara village of 80 Lodges Picketed in those lodges in nearly an octagon form, 20 to 60 feet Diameter Specious Covered with earth and as Close as they Can Stand, a number of Skin Canoes in the huts, we found Squashes of 3 different Kinds growing in the Village Shields Killed an Elk Close by-The Magpy is common here…

Clark: 7th of October…frost last night… Saw the tracks of white bear, verry large, also a old Ricara village partly burnt, fortified about 60 Lodges built in the Same form of those passed yesterday, many Canoes & Baskets about the huts—about 10 oClock we Saw 2 Indians on the S. S. they asked for Something to eat & told us they were Tetons of the band we left below on ther way to the Ricaras we gave them meat & wind hard from the South, passed a large open Island covered with grass and wild rye, I walked on the Isd & 4 men they Killed a Braroe & a Black tale Doe with a black breast, the largest Deer I ever saw, the great numbers of Grous on it, we call it Grous Island…

Trip overview and route map with position updates:

40 Mile Paddle

May 23 Day 61

[note: I just posted May 22 as well, check it out!]

It looked like the wind was going to be cooperating so I hoped to make up for some lost time and paddle a big day.

It is feeling more and more like the West. I went under a bridge and suddenly recognized where I was: I had crossed this bridge driving west four years ago.

Later there was the sound of prairie chickens making their strange dancing sounds,  so I veered over toward shore. I was delighted to see some displaying, wings dragging and heads low.

Watching me on the hill I saw an animal with more white than a deer, at least that’s what it looked like. I scrambled for my binoculars but it disappeared a moment before I could focus. Later however I saw another one and it was clearly an antelope. I saw more as the day progressed.

There was no bigger surprise though, then paddling along a wild looking stretch of river and looking up and seeing buffalo on the skyline. Now it really felt like the old West!

40 miles is a long long way to paddle on flat water for a mortal like me. I’m not really built for sitting in a kayak, my hamstrings are too short so I tend alternate between my back hurting a little bit or my butt hurting, or both. Not really suffering, just uncomfortable. Add in hot and tired and hungry and it can be challenging.

People often say that must be so much fun, walking and paddling the Lewis and Clark Trail. And it is often fun of course. But I think a much more accurate description is “adventure”.  Like most good adventures it is often difficult, and that’s one thing that makes it worthwhile.

When I finally stopped and was carrying stuff up to my camp spot I saw some trees up the drainage and noticed they appeared to be smooth. I got a kick out of it when my guess was right: there was hair hanging from the trunk and small piles of brown buffalo hair lying on the ground.

When I crawled into my tent at the end of the day I was one tired puppy. And I think it’s fair to say that few people would have enjoyed a warm sleeping bag, two tortillas heavy with peanut butter, a bottle of cold water and a chance to rest more than I did. Colter

Clark: 3rd of October Wednesday 1804 The N W. wind blew verry hard all night with Some rain, we Set out early, at 12 examoned our Stores & goods, Several bags Cut by the mice and Corn Scattered, Some of our Cloth also cut by them also papers &c. &c. at 1 oClock an Indian Came to the Bank S. S, with a turkey on his back 4 other soon joined him Some rain, Saw Brant & white gulls flying Southerly…
Clark: 4th of October Thursday 1804 the wind blew all night from the NW. Some rain, we were obliged to Drop down 3 miles to get the Chanel Suft. deep to pass up, Several Indians on the Shore viewing of us Called to us to land one of them gave 3 yels & Sciped a ball before us, we payed no attention to him, proceeded on and Came too on the L. S. to brackft one of those Indians Swam across to us beged for Powder, we gave him a piece of Tobacco & Set him over on a Sand bar…
Clark: 5th of October Friday 1804 Frost this morning, Set out early passed a Small Creek on the L. S. saw 3 Tetons on the S. S. they beged Some Tobacco, we proceed on passed a Creek on the S. S. I Saw a white brant in a gangue on the Sand bar Saw a large herd of Cabra or antelopes Swiming the River, we Killed four of them… I Killed a Buck & a Small wolf this evening, Clear pleasant evening, Camped on a mud bar S. S. refreshd the men with whiskey.

Trip overview and route map with position updates:

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