“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

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Dam To Dam Labor Day Paddle

This past weekend Roger Debates, Matt Story, and I set out to complete the last 70 mile of the Missouri River between the Oahe Dam and Sioux City that we have not covered yet. We would be joined by David Mays and Rebecca Cruse with logistical support from Steven Joseph. The course would be from the Ft Randall Dam to the Gavin's Point Dam.

We met at Steven Joseph's house in Utica, SD on Friday night and camped in his yard. On Saturday morning, we began our shuttle which included dropping my pickup and my kayak off in Springfield. Rebecca needed to be back in Pierre by Sunday afternoon, so the plan was for her and I to paddle a tandem kayak borrowed from Katie Engle on Saturday and on Sunday morning we would swap boats at the Springfield boat ramp and Rebecca would return to Utica, SD with my pickup to retrieve her car.

Once at the Ft Randall Dam boat ramp, we unloaded our boats and began loading the remaining gear into them. Steven road along with us and would return to Utica with Matt's truck with Roger's trailer.

The river flow is quick below Ft Randall. It is a section of the MNRR; extending to Running Water, SD. We were maintaining 6-7 mph early in the trip. We took three breaks throughout the day, at sandbars near Sunshine Bottoms and Verdel and at the Running Water boat ramp. During the second break, it was very warm out and our motivation was low. So, we took a little break to cool off in the river. It felt great and seemed to re-energize everyone.

We reached our planned campsite, a sandbar just upstream of Springfield by sunset. We covered about 44 miles on Saturday. Bugs were bad, so after preparing and eating our suppers we didn't stay up too long before calling it a night. During the night we got hit by a T-storm. Since we set out tents up on a sandbar, the stakes were just about useless. We were the only things holding our tents down. Thankfully, we weathered the storm just fine, as did the boats.

After a quick breakfast in the morning, we loaded our gear back into the kayaks and headed for Springfield. Once we had the overnight gear and the tandem loaded into my pickup (and my boat unloaded), we headed back out towards Gavin's Point and Rebecca took my pickup back to Utica to retrieve her car. We covered 3.5 miles to Springfield on Sunday morning.

As expected, we lost the current as we made our way into Lewis and Clark Lake. We also gained a slight tailwind. The benefits of the tailwind were short lived though. As we progressed, the recreational motorboat traffic began to increase. The tailwind wasn't even a thought while we fought through boat wake coming from every direction. I believe we took two breaks on L & C Lake, one was just downstream of the Lewis and Clark Boy Scout Camp and the other was on a rocky beach about 5 miles from the dam.

Steven met us at the marina boat ramp at the face of the dam and we loaded up to head back to Utica. We straightened gear out and showered before heading into Yankton to reward ourselves with supper at JoDean's (a large buffet). We covered about 21 miles from Springfield to the Gavin's Point Dam and totaled about 68.5 miles over the weekend.

It was a great trip and I believe everyone enjoyed it. Pictures can be seen at https://www.facebook.com/roger.debates/media_set?set=a.10153207685650131&type=1

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