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Tag: Lewis. and Clark Trail (Page 1 of 5)

Tumbling Geese

June 21, Day 90, Mile 1731

The east was bright orange, another beautiful sunrise. There was no dew. This had been a fine camp spot. 

packing the kayak in the morning

I had three quarts of river water settling. After pouring the clear water off the top I treated it with Aqua Mira. When I set the container on a log I noticed a slow leak from the seam. Three out of four of my main water bladders were now leaking. 

Paddling upstream the current is a given, the wind is the main variable. At first it was nearly calm, but a southeast wind built as the day progressed. 

I created a few gosling panics when the were “trapped” along bluffs. In one instance the parents managed to scramble up a 15 foot bluff, but three of the half grown young tumbled into the water from near the top. None the worse for wear it appeared. I paddled wide in this case and many others to calm them. 

Whitetail deer came down to drink. Yesterday I’d seen a mule deer swim the river. Rooster pheasants stood sunning themselves, dashing into cover the instant I spotted them. 

During one break I noticed a buffalo scapula on the bluff next to me. From time to time I’d see other bones, some buffalo, others unknown. 

A pickup pulled up to the river and three young people from the Reservation got out and waved when I passed. Just then I hit some extremely strong current. I paddled hard trying to find the slowest water, but there wasn’t any nearby and now I was committed unless I wanted to back the kayak downriver. 

I made it around the corner and drove for the tip of an island. Just then I heard three shots from a high caliber semi-auto. I glanced back. Just a coincidence. 

I made it to the island, nearly spent, where I found slack current. In a mile I landed the kayak for a break in the shade but the mosquitoes were thick. A tried to snooze in the sun by the boat but the biting flies sent me on my way. 

At times I had a strong tailwind which was a big help. Eventually the wind was creating big waves in places, especially where there was current. I put on the spray skirt. 

Ahead was the glint of a paddle or oar. There was a little catamaran style inflatable with oars and a motor, then another and another, maybe eight total! I paddled towards them in the big waves, coming as close to flipping as I have the whole trip. 

“It’s a great day to be paddling upstream!” One shouted 

“Yeah!” I said, not meaning it. “Who are you guys?”

“We’re with a company mapping the river!” I noticed some type of sonar/radar device on each boat. 

Late in the day the sky to the NW grew dark. I checked out three campsites and didn’t like the feel of any of them, I found  some combo of bees, cattle, dead branches hanging above, partially beaver chewed-off trees, mud, one spot had a deer skeleton. 

Finally, around a bend, I found a spot in some young ash trees, flat and grassy. Two thunder cells loomed. I’d done about 24 miles, 50 in the last two days.  

As I set up my tent I noticed my right zippered pants pocket was half open. Oh oh. My ID and credit card in their plastic “wallet” were gone.  I have followed my route to and from the boat, and checked around inside the boat with no luck. Bummer. Not a disaster though. I had cash and another credit card in my pack, and photos of my ID and passport on my phone. I’d have replacements mailed ahead of me. 

Just before dark a small herd of cattle grazed right past my tent. They couldn’t see me behind my zippered door, or smell me because of the wind. It was fun watching the little calves troop past. One especially little guy stopped to chew on some grass, apparently not meaning to actually swallow any. I was glad when they all kept going to feed upriver somewhere. 

Both thunder cells missed me. Colter

Clark: 5th of May Sunday 1805 We Set out verry early and had not proceeded far before the rudder Irons of one of the Perogus broke which detained us a Short time Capt Lewis walked on Shore this morning and killed a Deer, after brackfast I walked on Shore Saw great numbers of Buffalow & Elk Saw also a Den of young wolves… The Countrey on both sides is as yesterday, handsom & fertile—The river rising & Current Strong & in the evening we Saw a Brown or Grisley beare on a Sand beech, I went out with one man Geo. Drewyer & Killed the bear, which was verry large and a turrible looking animal, which we found verry hard to kill we Shot ten Balls into him before we killed him, & 5 of those Balls through his lights This animal is the largest of the Carnivorous kind I ever Saw we had nothing that could way him, I think his weight may be Stated at 500 pounds, he measured 8 feet 71/ 2 In. from his nose to the extremity of the Toe, 5 feet 101/ 2 in. arround the breast, 1 feet 11 Ins. around the middle of the arm, 3 feet 11 Ins. arround the neck his tallents was 4 Inches &3/ 8 long, he was good order, and appeared verry different from the Common black bear in as much as his tallents were blunt, his tail Short, his liver & lights much larger, his maw ten times as large and Contained meat or flesh & fish only—we had him Skined and divided, the oile tried up & put in Kegs for use. we Camped on the Stard Side, our men killed three Elk and a Buffalow to day…

Trip overview and route map with position updates:


June 15, Day 84

Mosquitoes were plentiful as I begin to pack up. These are mosquitoes that take pride in their job. There’s no messing around, wishy-washiness about them, they go right for the blood. I wore my raincoat which is completely bite proof.

There has been more irrigation pipes coming out of the river in Montana so far. I noticed the same thing on the lower Yellowstone when I paddled it four years ago.

I passed a hen wood duck with some fuzzy little ones trailing behind. I get a kick out of how when they get to a beach the little guys start sprinting up the beaches as fast they can go. It’s humorous for me, but I suppose they think they’re running for their lives.

I was noticing also how when I passed a hen mallard and some little ones she would get lower and lower on the water and put her head flat down, so her beak is right along the surface. When I overtook some geese and fuzzy goslings, the goslings would often suddenly dive, and stay under for remarkably long time.

The river was often lined with beautiful high banded badlands-style bluffs sometimes, with visible cold seams.

I saw a canoe coming down the river and I thought I was going to see my first fellow long distance paddler, but it turned out to be two canoes and a keelboat(?) style craft headed down for the rendezvous at Fort Union. The big boat had paddlers and a sail.

Another mark of westward progress is that I’m now in the Mountain Time zone. Of course I’m still operating by the solar day on the river. I paddled a little later than I might have looking for a nice campsite. I finally found one on the same bend as the Lewis and Clark campsite of April 28, 1805.

Usually I find a more protected spot but this was a beauty, right along the river and no unusually strong winds were predicted. The sun came out late, bathing the Bluffs in the river with that beautiful low evening light. Colter

First Montana Camp

Clark: 28th of April Sunday 1805… wind favourable from the S. E. and moderate, I walked on Shore to view the Countrey, from the top of the high hills, I beheld a broken & open Countrey on both Sides, near the river Some verry handsom low plains… great numbers of Elk antelopes & 2 Gangues of Buffalow, the hills & Bluffs Shew the Straturs of Coal…

Trip overview and route map with position updates:

Wayside Exhibit, River Angel

Another chilly, breezy, rainy morning, but nothing like yesterday. Still, I wore my  jacket and rain gear.

Lewis and Clark Sign

Lewis and Clark Sign

Ahead about five miles was the tiny crossroads of Burbank. One thing I’ve found on this trip is most of these smallest “towns” have lost their cafes and gas stations and the like. I didn’t have much hope of finding anything here.

Just as I was passing a building a guy stepped out and I saw a bar/grill sign. I got coffee and an omelette. A nice bit of luck.

In Vemillion I took an alternate route, a bike path, along the Vermillion River. That was a nice route. I saw wild turkeys and a very high river.

The rain stopped and off went my rain gear. I was eating some crackers leaning back against my pack in a wide, grassy ditch when a Trooper stopped. Someone had called me in.  I cheerfully answered all his questions. But after he asked for my license so he could call it in I said:

“Am I legally required to?”

“You are supposed to when asked,” he said. Legally of course, that was a no.

“Am I doing something illegal?”


“Am I suspected of something?”


“Then why would you run my license?”

“If there was a BOLO later for a murder I could get in trouble if I didn’t.”

I disgustedly handed him my license. I still think it’s pathetic that walking cross country is suspicious behavior. As a matter of fact I think it is illegal to demand ID in South Dakota, under those conditions .

If the person is not reasonably suspected of committing a crime, they are not required to provide identification, even in states with stop and identify statutes. 

There were very long stretches with nowhere to camp. In Meckling there was a place called Toby’s, famous for its chicken. It’s a town long past its heyday, but Toby’s was hopping. I ordered some chicken and asked about camping.

“You can camp right across the street there, we own that land,” said the waitress cheerfully.

The chicken dinner was great, as was the hot fudge sundae.

I called Chuck, the “River Angel” that has been holding my kayaking gear, then set up my tent in the grass.  It was 6:30 and the sun was out.

Chuck showed up right on time. He gave me keys to his pickup and to his shed with all my gear. Chuck also shared a vast amount of knowledge on the river. I plan to make it there, Yankton tomorrow. Thanks Chuck!

Chuck and Max

Chuck and Max

Clark August 23, 1804 23rd August Thursday 1804 Set out this morning verry early the two men with the horses did not Come up last night I walked on Shore & Killed a fat Buck—J. Fields Sent out to hunt Came to the Boat and informed that he had Killed a Buffalow in the plain a head Cap Lewis took 12 men and had the buffalow brought to the boat in the next bend

24th August Friday 1804…I killed a Deer which york Packed on his back In the evening I Killed two Buck Elk…Capt Lewis and my Self Concluded to visit a High Hill Situated in an emence Plain…this hill appear to be of a Conic form and by all the different Nations in this quater is Supposed to be a place of Deavels ors that they are in human form with remarkable large heads and about 18 inches high; that they are very watchfull and ar armed with Sharp arrows with which they can kill at a great distance; they are said to kill all persons who are so hardy as to attemp to approach the hill; they state that tradition informs them that many indians have suffered by these little people and among others that three Maha men fell a sacrefice to their murceyless fury not meany years since—

Trip overview and route map with position updates:

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