Saturday, June 14, 2014

June 11th Missouri River Paddle

We finally got to paddle a section of the river-WOO-HOO!!!! Ignore the road line on the map above-the circles at the start (left side) and end (right side) show where we started and ended. You can change the view to satellite and zoom in to check the river out if you want.

We did this 22 mile section of the river on Wednesday, June 11th. The day before, we moved the kayaks up to the boat ramp and locked them to a sign post, then packed the camper up and drove it and the car to the takeout point, left the car and returned to the campground. As we were leaving for Fort Pierre (locals pronounce it "pier") the day after the paddle, it worked out great.

We were up at 4:30 and on the river at 6, as strong winds were predicted (and are the norm in the Dakotas), and we wanted to have plenty of time, having never kayaked on a river this size. By 6:55 we had covered the 4 & 1/4 miles to the Yankton/Rt. 81 bridge, and in another mile, left civilization mostly behind. Where we started, the river was maybe 600 feet wide, but now was the size of a good-sized lake-you could barely make out the shoreline looking downstream at the far side. For all you New Hampshirites-Lake Sunapee wide-it was an overwhelming sight! Throw in islands of varying sizes and numerous channels, and it was difficult to know just where you were at times. And in the middle of all that are sandbars where you least expect them, and snags everywhere-most visible, some only noticeable because of the eddy they're causing on the river's surface. We DID know that the river in the area of the take out was narrow, and will have just turned a sharp left and will be flowing due east, so that was easy to find.

The river itself had a 4 & 1/2 mph current, so paddling early on was usually very easy. We ate lunch early, and by 11:30 or so, that wind had appeared, blowing straight at us, and making keeping the boats pointing downstream a full time job! It worked itself up to about a 20 mph headwind, blowing directly into us and the current, making for quite a chop that was going in multiple directions. The last couple of hours were steady, hard paddling, and we finished up at the takeout around 1:30-just right, as were we getting a bit tired with fighting the winds. Saw some bald eagles, possibly cormorants, numerous other birds, but no wildlife. There is a link below to a 9 minute video of the trip (good shot of Kirk paddling right at me and going sideways!) and a bunch of pictures below that