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Tag: Little Bend

Portaging Little Bend

May 19, Day 57

It is been a great camp spot with my tent nicely protected from the wind by the thick cedar tree. The wind was blowing though and the waves rolling onto the nearby shore.

I looked at the map once more. Portaging Little Bend made perfect sense.  I would soon be stopped by wind and waves after the portage, so I was in no particular hurry to pack up. It was nice to laze. around a little bit in the morning. Despite that I was packed and ready to go by 8 AM.

I took a pack load of heavy stuff to scout the route over to the other side. Usually when I look at a map and find what looks to be a route following a series of gentle ridges, I find that there is some rough going that I hadn’t anticipated, things like little gullies and brush that don’t show on the map. I was delighted therefore to find a route up a gentle, slightly meandering ridge clear to the top.  But what about the other side? It was only maybe 300 yards to the water and I followed a drainage down and dropped my pack. There’d been some brush but not bad.

I scouted out a ridge next to the gully. It was brush free with only a very short steep spot. At the top of the ridge I noticed my phone had coverage so I posted yesterday’s journal update and downloaded the weather. It looked like I would be having some wind days.

The kayak towed pretty well on the cart, the key was avoiding the high grass and any low brush. It was remarkable luck to find such a good route right where I wanted it. The other side was steeper so I turned the kayak around and let gravity pull it down the hill. At the steep spot I was just especially careful. When it flattened out I turned the boat around and pulled it to the beach. Now, it took considerably more effort than if it had been a paved road, but it was an absolute piece of cake compared to packing everything over by hand.

portaging Little Bend

Top of Little Bend

I broke down the cart and packed the boat once again. I was going pretty much into the wind but I still had a little protection from the peninsula in places. The hard part was crossing little bays. But then I got to the big bay, maybe 2 miles long with the wind blowing right down it, creating whitecaps. There was no way I was going to try to paddle across that with big waves hitting me sideways. I planned to paddle up the bay until I got to a point where I could safely cross.

I couldn’t even turn the corner without getting big waves. There was a gravelly looking beach though that would take me around the corner for about a half a mile. I was loathe to partially unpack the boat and put the cart back together again but that’s what I did. I soon found that this gravel was awfully loose so the cart tires wanted to sink in enough to make the pulling much harder.

I hiked down to the next big point, maybe a half a mile down, and climbed the bluff to see if any of this made sense. I sat down among some windblown yellow wildflowers and looked at the white caps blowing down the bay. Usually I’m pretty decisive but I kept changing my mind. I hated to quit so early, I hated even more taking any chances. I decided I would go as far is it felt safe. With the boat finally pulled down to where the waves diminished, I got in and paddled around the first point. And that was the confusing part, there were bays within the bay  with different winds. Headwinds, side winds, brief tailwinds, waves from almost nothing to impressive. Near the head of the bay I made a short foray to see if I could cross yet.  I didn’t get far before I turned around and sprinted back to hug the shore.

After a long struggle I made it to the head of the bay, turned the corner and began paddling downwind. It might seem like the perfect thing to have a strong tailwind, and it was to a point. I was paddling hard to try to keep up with the waves and for the rudder to get a bite in the water. If I wasn’t going 10 miles an hour it was mighty close. I really don’t like big waves chasing me though, not even near the shore. I was watching for rocks lurking near the surface and keeping an eye on how the waves looked rounding that first big point. They didn’t look good. I found a little cove and swung over to land the boat. It was another surf landing and like all surf landings I got wet getting out of the boat.

At the top of the next big point I looked around. The wind was getting ridiculous. Time to camp. There was a good spot, no trees or brush to protect me but the terrain did a good job.

I had just struggled for maybe three hours for little or no forward progress as I was still a considerable distance down the side bay. Still, with the mileage I had saved with the portage and the miles I paddled before my side bay fiasco, I must’ve made nearly 16 miles forward progress, not too shabby on a windy day.

The silver lining was that I now had several hours to simply goof off. I grabbed a book and hiked up the hill to a place out of the wind, under the shade of a nice cedar tree. Colter

Clark 27th of Septr. Thursday 1804 I rose early aftr a bad nights Sleep…the man who Steered not being much acustomed to Steer, passed the bow of the boat & peroge Came broad Side against the Cable & broke it…the bank was lined with men armed the 1st Cheif at their head, about 200 men appeared and after about 1/2 hour returned all but about 60 men who Continued on the bank all night, the Cheifs Contd. all night with us—This allarm I as well as Captn. Lewis Considered as the Signal of their intentions (which was to Stop our proceeding on our journey and if Possible rob us) we were on our Guard all night, the misfortune of the loss of our Anchor obliged us to Lay under a falling bank much exposd. to the accomplishment of their hostile intentions P. C—our Bowman who Cd. Speek Mahar informed us in the night that the Maha Prisoners informed him we were to be Stoped—we Shew as little Sighns of a Knowledge of their intentions as possible all prepared on board for any thing which might hapen, we kept a Strong guard all night in the boat no Sleep

Clark…28th of September…Made many attemps in different ways to find our Anchor but could not, the Sand had Covered it…with great difficuelty got the Chiefs out of our boat, and when we was about Setting out the Class Called the Soldiers took possession of the Cable the 1 s Chief which was Still on board & intended to go a Short distance up with us, I told him the men of his nation Set on the Cable, he went out & told Capt Lewis who was at the bow the men who Set on the Roap was Soldiers and wanted Tobacco Capt. L. Said would not agree to be forced into any thing the 2d Chief Demanded a flag & Tobacco which we refusd. to Give Stateing proper reasons to them for it after much difucelty-which had nearly reduced us to hostility…I am Verry unwelle for want of Sleep
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Paddle for Little Bend

May 18, Day 56

The campground was asleep as I packed up. I filled all my water containers and loaded the boat. 

I had a 3 mile portage ahead of me, mostly uphill. Once again I loaded the boat putting most weight towards the stern to nearly balance the weight over the cart wheels. I looked high and low for the skid plate I had made that protected the stern of the boat from scraping on the road if I lifted the front too high, but it had disappeared mysteriously. I made another out of a plastic bottle. 

It was a pretty morning, mild and with fog lying over low areas.   I love the morning light.  

The cart pulled remarkably easy, the grade was gentle and the road paved. With only brief breaks I marched steadily up the road switching hands from time to time. 

At the top there was an interesting historical sign, telling of some of the early traders in the area and the Indian fortresses that existed and the passing of Lewis and Clark. 
It was an easy downhill walk to the boat ramp. I reloaded the boat with the weight evenly distributed front and back. Once again I checked the predicted winds and consulted the map. With mostly southeast winds predicted, picking up in the afternoon, and similar stronger winds tomorrow I bee-lined for the end of the first point across the lake, planning to stay near the east shore. 

After that first long crossing I spent most of the day paddling hard for an hour and then taking a brief rest before continuing on. Today for the first time I saw lots of deer in mid day, mostly if not all mule deer. 

Lake Oahe has the reputation of being the toughest lake on the Missouri, often with strong strong winds building into big waves. Good judgment at all times is necessary. I added several miles today to limit my open water crossings. Still I crossed numerous mile-wide side bays that I would not have a crossed in a higher winds. 

I expected the winds might come up later in the day to stop me cold, so every time I turned a corner it was a small victory. Late in the day I studied the map again and it looked as if I might be able to make Little Bend by the end of the day, much greater progress than I had hoped for. 

At the end of the day the wind was coming up. With my route turning more westward I had to fight to keep the boat straight in the angled waves. Now I was staying near shore to hedge my safety bets. 

I was looking for the Little Bend boat ramp but I could not see it yet and I had one more point to go around, a point I wasn’t going to attempt in the rising waves. I looked ahead for potential camp spot in the bay I was in. I saw a nice wide,  low, thick cedar tree that I could camp behind escape the wind. I headed straight for it and now all I had to contend with was landing in waves breaking on the shore.  It was no surprise I got a little wet with waves splashing over the boat but it was no serious problem. 

I carried some of my gear up to the tree and then put on the kayak cart and wheeled the boat and the remaining supplies right to camp. 

It was flat and grassy downwind of the tree, which did a remarkable job of blocking the wind. 

This was one of the toughest days of the trip, near 40 miles, and it was glorious to crawl into my tent for a good rest. There was the smell of sage, a scent I associate with many great adventures. 

With strong winds coming up for the next three days or so, making it to Little Bend will allow me to make some small progress where I would likely have been stuck otherwise. Now tomorrow I can at least do the portage across Little Bend, and perhaps even paddle a short distance on the lee shore. Colter

Clark: 25th of September…raised a Flagg Staff and formed an orning & Shade on a Sand bar…we invited those Chiefs & a Soldier on board our boat, and Showed them many Curiossites, which they were much Surprised…as Soon as I landed 3 of their young ment Seased the Cable of the Perogue, one Soldiar Huged the mast and the 2d Chief was exceedingly insolent both in words and justures to me declareing I Should no go off, Saying he had not recived presents Suffient from us-I attempted to passify but it had a contrary effect for his insults became So personal and his intentions evident to do me injurey, I Drew my Sword at this motion Capt Louis ordered all in the boat under arms, the fiew men that was with me haveing previously taken up their guns with a full deturmination to defend me if possible—The grand Chief then took hold of the Cable & Sent all the young men off, the Soldier got out of the perogue and the 2nd Chief walked off to the Party at about 20 yards back, all of which had their bows Strung & guns Cocked…we proceeded on abot a Mile, and anchored near a Small Island, I call this Island Bad humered Island…

26th of Septr…Set out early and proceeded on—the river lined with indians…I was in Several Lodges neetly formed, those lodges are about 15 to 20 feet Diametr Stretched on Poles like a Sugar Loaf…We Smoked untill Dark, at which time all was cleared away & a large fire made in the Center, Several men with Tamborens highly Decorated with Der & Cabra Hoofs to make them rattle, assembled and began to Sing & Beat—The women Came forward highly decerated with the Scalps & Trofies of war of their fathes Husbands & relations, and Danced the war Dance, which they done with great chearfulness untill 12 oClock…I saw 25 Squars & Boys taken 13 days ago in a battle with the Mahars, in which they destroyed 40 Lodges, Killed 75 men & boys, & took 48 prisones…

Trip overview and route map with position updates: 

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