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Tag: Niobrara river

Beyond the Niobrara

There was beautiful orange sunrise. I was paddling by 6:30. 

Missouri River  Sunrise

Missouri River Sunrise

Although the current was significant I was making steady progress. The river was braided, often with two or more channels split up by sandy islands, with some channels dead ends. 

Looking ahead I saw at least two channel options. I consulted the GPS app on my iPhone. I realized again how dramatically the channels change. It showed me on the left side, I was actually on the right.  

There was a spot where I had to sprint through some very fast water on a corner. I dug in. Compared to the water I was flying. I glanced at the bank and found I was going backwards. Cautiously I angled slightly across as I got slowly swept downstream. On the other side I jumped out and started walking my boat upstream. 

In places there was quicksand. The current moved the sand out from under my feet and I could feel myself sinking. No danger though, hanging onto the boat. For about 45 minutes I walked the kayak along one bank until it got too deep. Again I had to paddle across very fast water, then walked the kayak up the other side. I knew the railroad bridge marked the Niobrara so as I approached it I watched for the channel where the Missouri split off. Finally I could see: the Missouri had already split off. I was going up the Niobrara. 

That was a significant bummer, and confusing. How did I miss the confluence?  I knew it wasn’t far away, it had to be on this side of the line of bluffs, less than a mile away. 

The good news is I got to paddle downstream for a few hundred yards. I saw what looked like a side channel of the  Missouri, but after a mile found it was the main river. I’m not surprised I got fooled. The Niobrara had much more current. 

The Missouri was running clearer now. The Niobrara famously runs full of silt and debris. Now I was paddling in much slower current so I made steady progress. 

There were lots of eagles hanging out around the long ridge on the NE side of the river. 

I stopped at Verdel landing for water but the pump wasn’t working. I’ve got enough anyway. My mostly headwind turned into a sidewind. I used the high bank to escape it. For many miles there were cliffy bluffs on the left. With the moderate current I was making good miles. I stopped for a break on the fine gravelly shore. It was in the 80s so it was great having the shade of the cliffs.  

I had to get out and drag the boat through shallow water in places. Something I’ll be doing a lot I’m sure. 

I had to paddle a mile or two more than planned to find a good campsite. I must have come about 24 miles today! Colter

4th September Tuesday 1804 a verry Cold wind from the S. S. E, we Set out early and proceeded on the mouth of a Small Creek in a bend to the L. S. Called White lime, at 11/ 2 miles higher up passed a large Creek on the L. S. Called or white paint between those two Creeks (the latter of which is abt. 30 yds. wide) we passed under a Bluff of red Ceeder, at 4 mes. 1/ 2 passed the mouth of the River Que Courre (rapid R) on the L. S. and Came to a Short distance above, this River is 152 yards wide at the mouth & 4 feet Deep Throwing out Sands like the Platt (only Corser) forming forming bars in its mouth… [NiobaraRiver] Clark

Trip overview and route map with position updates:

Upstream, Upwind

I wasn’t quite as stiff this morning as I had feared, as a matter fact I felt pretty good. 

There was a very heavy dew last night but I wasn’t going to stick around until my tent dried. 

Not long after I started paddling there was a detectable current, which kept getting stronger as the river swung over to the Nebraska side. 

Finally the lake and the marshy maze just above the lake were behind me. I started paddling through a section of the river which has been described as one of the most well preserved, natural sections on the entire Missouri River. The river was still braided however so selecting the right channel was a skill I tested all day. 

There were many turtles today as well as waterfowl  and shorebirds. Many fish jumped including a big sturgeon. I saw a snake swimming across the river, can anyone identify it?

I took a break amongst some beautiful oak trees on the Nebraska side of the river, it seems strange to be back in Nebraska after I left it two weeks or so ago. 
It was the warmest day of the trip and made it in the 80s. I would paddle until I needed a break, when my arms, or my back or my butt needed it. One break I really enjoyed was on a grassy spot next to the river. What made it so delightful on this hot day was a piece of plywood lying there. I leaned it up with a big stick and it made perfect shade. Some kind of plant was blossoming and the air smelled sweet. 

At the end of the day the current was the strongest of all. After passing the first bridge I had to paddle hard to make significant progress. I set up my tent on a sand shelf well above the river in a spot protected from the wind by some giant species of grass. 

Missouri River camp

Missouri River camp

It is absolutely delightful to lie back on my air mattress, and to relax. I ate a cold can of turkey chili and it was awesome. I’m pleased with my progress on a genuine upstream paddle, with a headwind. Colter

Clark: 2nd September Sunday 1804…I went out and made a Survey of the antient works [forts] which is Situated in a level plain about 3 miles from the hills which are high…I am informed by our freench interpeters that a great number of those antint works are in Different parts of this Countrey…

September Monday 1804…Great quantities of Plumbs of a most delisious flavour, I have collected the Seed of 3 Kinds which I intend to Send to my brother, also Som grapes of a Superior quallity large & well flavoured, the river is riseing a little, Several wild Goats Seen in the Plains they are wild & fleet Elk & Buffalow is verry plenty, Scercely any timber in Countrey except a little on the river in the Points. Saw Some Signs of the 2 men who are a head, Colter has not over taken Shannon…

Trip overview and route map with position updates:

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