“Spend as much time as possible on mountains, in small boats, or otherwise out in the weather; if you never get wet, cold, exhausted or scared, you won’t properly appreciate being dry, warm, rested and safe.” ~ Peter Jay

"I’m an adventuring river rat at heart. Put me on a floating piece of driftwood and I’m happy." ~ Christina Glauner

"There’s folly and foolhardiness on one side and daring and calculation on the other." ~ C.S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower novels

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Missouri River - Mulberry Bend to Bolton's Bend

Despite the cancellation of the Missouri National Recreational Water Trail cruise, John and I decided to go down anyway. From the forecast, we thought there would be a window of opportunity. We had initially wanted to try to also go from Clay Co. Rec. Area to Mulberry Bend to fill the hole from our trip last October. But we decided to not risk the "window" any further. Also, I had a friend come up from Lincoln, NE to paddle with us. I borrowed a WS Pamlico 14 from another friend for him to use.

View MR Mulberry to Bolton in a larger map
We began by meeting at the take out, Bolton's Bend. The rain had made it a muddy mess. I could feel it pulling my pickup as I drove through it. Also, there is not much space for taking out or shuttle vehicles. Maybe postponing was a good idea if over 100 paddlers were expected. At the take out, we loaded all three boats onto  my pickup and left John's Tracker behind.
The gravel road that leads to Bolton's Bend was in worse shape than the above location. The drive to Mulberry Bend is 20 miles; nearly twice the length of the river cruise (11.3 miles)! The one thing that stood out about Mulberry Bend was the length of the boat ramp. I am not sure how long it is but the river could be quite a bit higher and not submerge the access area.
And we were on our way.
The temperature was in the mid 50s. It got breezy for a bit, but was mostly calm during the cruise. I think we had a few sprinkles initially, but didn't see any rain after that. Between the early wind and mist and the overcast sky, my early pictures turned out a little blurry. Not too much exciting to report from the early portion of the trip anyways.
I found two significant places to specifically mention. First of all, we passed the mouth of the Vermillion River. Someone has a house right at the mouth and I couldn't help but imagine the benefits to it.
Not long after passing the mouth of the Vermillion we began to approach a wooded island. I have not found a name for the island though.
As we approached the island, my friend, Arne, and John took the north side and I took the south end. I feel like I chose the correct side; I made a cool discovery. As I paddled along, I noticed smoke coming from the island. I thought to myself, crap, there is a fire. I wondered if I should try to call out on my vhf radio or cell phone. I kept paddling, trying to keep an eye out for the source of the smoke. Eventually, I came to a couple of guys and three kids camping on the island. They had camped on Goat Island the night before and chose their current camp site because of a structure, some sort of fishing lodge maybe, that might provide shelter if Friday night's storm got too bad. They were a friendly bunch; we BSed a bit and they even offered me a cup of coffee. But I had to go and catch up with Arne and John, so I dispensed Pirates of the Missouri stickers to all of them and headed downstream.
Taking it easy...
Nice view.

We doing alright!
Whew, finishing up... what a day!
And time to head back to Mulberry Bend...

The next SDCA event will be in Pierre on June 20. I have a couple of ideas, first from the dam down to Farm Island which is 10-16 miles depending on which end of Farm Island. We could also try Lake Oahe. What we ultimately do will depend upon who and how many paddlers attend. If you plan to attend, leave a comment on my blog or email me; let me know if there is a specific route that interests you too. I'll decide on a route and place to meet based upon responses I get. Thanks.
There are plenty of places to camp around Pierre; also, this is the same weekend as Oahe Days in Pierre. There will be live bands playing in Steamboat Park on Friday (19th) and Saturday (20th) evenings. For anyone leary of carrying their boat from the SF area to Pierre, Steamboat will have free kayak rentals for Oahe Days.
Hope to see everyone on the water! 


  1. I just want to say that I enjoy reading about your paddling adventrues and find that I often am inspired to try new routes/locations based on your posts. I am new to the Pierre area and am finding lots of great places to paddle around town.

    Maybe we meet out on the water some day.

  2. if your ever up for a challange try going up river from mullberry bend to cottonwood cove. and haing out there for a bit. It's still watter in the cove so it is a great resting point and u will usually find me there in a green pellican kayak. if you stay in the slow water it's not too bad going up stream just be sure to shoot for the cove from up stream.

  3. Goat Island looks cool because of the tall trees with thin trunks. Looks like you can easily find your way in and out of the island. Cool adventure, I must say. I like the pictures you took from start to finish. I have tried european river cruises and I think you might like it too.