Life on the Plains – End of August 2016

August 20, 2016

Whitlock State Park, Lake Oahe, South Dakota


The sail solely works underneath a really sure set of circumstances: tail- or slight cross-tailwind. Wind should be between about 5-10mph, sustained. Much less shouldn’t be sufficient to drag the sail, extra and you could find yourself coping with an excessive amount of fetch (waves brought on by wind) for it to be protected. Lake Oahe is oriented North-South with out an excessive amount of meandering to the east or west (till the very finish) so we’d like the wind to be coming from the north to assist us out.

Yesterday it was an excessive amount of. We have been solely capable of journey about 5 miles earlier than the wind was pulling too exhausting on the sail and the waves made it too troublesome to manage the boat. The boat was shifting about 6 mph which was superior but in addition too near the sting for consolation. Determined to pull over and make camp at about 2pm simply as a light-weight rain got here in. I put my tent subsequent to Alyce’s  so we may spend the afternoon hanging out.


Alyce taking within the sundown after the rain.

We ate lunch and performed cribbage because the temperature dropped. I refuse to put on pants or too many layers whereas it’s nonetheless summer time. I’m attempting to maintain myself acclimated with out relying an excessive amount of on clothes till I’ve to. If I begin sporting an excessive amount of insulation when it’s 60, I’ll must depend on extra than simply layers (train, butter, and complaining) to maintain me heat when it’s within the 40’s in November. I don’t know if this has any scientific or actual logical foundation nevertheless it offers me a way of safety. 60 levels after you’re used to 90’s feels dramatic. Reasonably than submit and put on pants…I bought in my sleeping bag.


A visually stimulating part of shoreline. From this distance, pick the best place to camp. In that clump of timber, you assume? Properly, so do the cows. Seems shade is a commodity and the value is sleeping in, mainly sewage. #ilovecamping

The center a part of Oahe is extra visually stimulating than the areas nearer to Bismarck. Inexperienced rolling hills, giant bluffs product of darkish and lightweight soil. The river backside fluctuates between sand, rock, and dust. This morning, the mud on the shoreline was a ache within the butt. Each step had me in to mid-calf and didn’t wish to let me out. Footwear weren’t an possibility as a result of I wasn’t keen to danger shedding them. Add rocks to the barefoot-muddy combine and it was uncomfortable and hilarious loading the boat. One step at a time, stagger, sink, sway, attempt to not fall over whereas carrying gear to the boat.

We needed to take turns holding Drifty (our canoe) within the huge waves that have been coming at us. We assessed the borderline-too-big waves as a optimistic danger; they have been going the route we needed. Took us twice as lengthy to load the boat however as soon as we bought in, we solely bought out for a 45-minute lunch break over the following 11 hours. We coated round 35 miles with the assistance of a constant NW wind. The fetch bought huge once in a while – near 1.5 foot swells at one level – however nothing too outrageous.

We made one another snort all day. We’re actually moving into these (not precisely imitated) Irish personas we’ve created. The accents are poor however the banter is a ton of enjoyable. Alyce is basically humorous. Now we have found out flip the “afternoon uncomfortables” into delirium-induced comedy sketches which we carry out with and for each other.

Right this moment, I identified shapes within the clouds whereas Alyce cursed the boat and the wind. “I’m having the time of my life and I only have myself to blame.” I adore it when she will get in these moods. It’s the good-natured kind of distress that builds camaraderie. Swiftly, the expedition, or something that would principally be categorized as “retroactive fun”, turns into precise in-the-moment enjoyable. It’s the camaraderie that’s born when you’re in a united entrance towards the suck along with your expedition-mates.


Embracing the rain and cooler temps on Lake Oahe.

We made all of it the best way to West Whitlock State Park the place we discovered a campsite with some good neighbors. They allow us to software round on their orange and pink seashore cruisers for some time. I really like driving bikes. I’ve been lacking that facet of summer time right here on the river.

– Lisa

August 20th, 2016

What a day. Tailwind and an intense 33 miles paddled to the state park, with a whopping 10 hours within the canoe!
We meet Tom and Heather, on the state park and so they allow us to journey their bikes to see if the restaurant was open. It was not. Extra prairie and fewer timber. A lot prairie. It’s really lovely watching the amber waves of grass rippling within the wind. Like an invisible hand stirring the blades and making them whisper amongst themselves.

August 21st, 2016

Wow, one other totally lived day on lake Oahe. I awakened drained and irritated that’s it was already time to pack up. After a protracted day like yesterday and solely having arrived on the state park round 6:30pm, I actually didn’t wish to stand up at 6am. Alas, the wind is predicted at 5-10 mph out of the south east. Our speedy first 5 miles have us heading west, northwest, because the lake is turning into a snake.

Getting on the water early is all the time a good suggestion, because the wind picks up within the afternoon. Although it’s exhausting solely being on land for not even 12 hours and eight of them in my tent. In order that’s what I did. Obtained up, packed, ate breakfast; went into auto pilot mode. I used to be falling asleep within the bow by 8:30am; not signal while you simply bought on the water at 7:45. Alas the day glided by actually quick. Round Lunch time the wind picked up and as we got here round a nook we discovered a tremendous enormous tree, log caught off the shores of lake Oahe. Stunning, smoothed from years of water and bleached from sunshine and chicken poop.  As we ate our conventional fare of tort, meat stick, cheese and mustard (but once more the garlic has not made it into the lunch bucket).

The wind elevated. A leasuirly lunch as a result of nicely the winds already blowing and can for a while, replenish now. Swimming and leaping off the tree into the water. A lot enjoyable! Crucial on days when the wind howls in my face, I can’t actually hear and the solar beats down. It’s not likely that dramatic, although typically it actually does really feel that manner.
But the prairie and environment are lovely. I had by no means been to South Dakota earlier than this journey. A harsh existence for certain and luxurious all on the similar time.


Our lunch spot for the day! Enjoyable occasions leaping into the water from the log!

The timber have gotten father and farther aside, till only some lone timber stay. What’s should take to outlive, plant, animal and nonetheless human. Earlier than it was dwelling off the land, homesteading and farming. Now it’s financial alternative; actually one in the identical, in the present day it’s simply timber turned to paper with ink stamped on them. A number of of the rambling ideas that run via my head whereas paddling for Eight hours a day.

The panorama really is one thing to behold and I discovered myself getting misplaced wanting into the hills and grasses. Additionally cows. A lot of cows; it looks like they’re in all places. We’re additionally beginning to see haybales. One thing new. The remainder of the afternoon glided by rapidly, the wind elevated.

By 4pm I used to be spent and we had discovered a pleasant little spot, with a rocky seashore and respectable safety from the wind. Boat unloaded, tent setup and kit explosion. The absence of the ever-present sand permits us to air our gear and meals buckets out. Our dinner bucket lid seems to be leaking and had made the bucket a little bit nasty, to not point out all the things being coated in sand. Nothing a little bit solar and shake gained’t repair. Together with cleansing the bucket within the lake and letting the wind/solar dry her out. Fortunately now we have an additional giant plastic bag to line the bucket with (we figured this trick out when our lunch bucket lid started to leak a number of weeks in the past). Our gear bag was stuffed with sand and days outdated moisture, not wanting that mildewy odor all the things got here out and the frost river pack bought shacking and time within the solar. It regarded like an ideal yard sale. Although we’re actually good at making ourselves at dwelling. A pleasant later afternoon, taking part in playing cards and calling a number of of our Kickstarter helps as a part of their rewards. Dinner and the sunsetting, one other nicely lived day on the river.


August 22, 2016

Simply south of Sutton Bay, Lake Oahe, South Dakota


Over 100 days of rigorous expedition and it’s not shocking that gear begins to interrupt down. Alyce shifting on to Plan B: sunscreen when her shirt failed.

Oahe pulsates. She is her personal dwelling, respiratory being. The wind appeared to return from a number of instructions in the present day, giving Oahe a confused type of sea. Stunning to look at from shore however too stressed to paddle.

We swam greater than 15 occasions. Each 20 or 30 minutes we needed to get again within the water to maintain methods from shutting down. 100 levels. Warmth index hotter. Holy oppressive warmth. Wind was sizzling too.

We inflated our sleeping mats and rode the waves. A lot enjoyable. If the water had been salty, we would as nicely have been within the Gulf of Mexico.


A number of of my favourite issues.

A band of horses got here down and performed in water too. I grew up spending a good period of time round horses however haven’t actually ever seen them play like these characters. They have been rolling within the rocks, working, leaping, and attempting to get one another to play. Everybody was having enjoyable within the waves.

We had an ideal day regardless of the warmth. Performed a variety of cribbage, I bought a bunch of writing achieved, and we did a variety of laughing. The delicate pink, purple, and blue sundown was the best backdrop to spherical out the day.

– Lisa

August 24, 2016

Sundown Haven, Lake Oahe, South Dakota


The colourful layers of South Dakota.

So pleased with the day!! Actually loved the problem of the cross-wind. Stored me alert all day however not in an exhausting manner. Simply sufficient to keep away from boredom which is sweet as a result of the music isn’t engaged on telephone proper now.

We paddled 10 miles in about Eight hours. It was grueling solely touring about 1.5-2mph all day. Like being on a extremely huge water treadmill. The surroundings did change a little bit. Someday there could be cows, typically solely grass. Then different occasions there could be extra grass and cows.

After we hit the boat ramp, Alyce flagged down some individuals in tremendous ATV and requested them if they might drive us to get ingesting water. Subsequent factor we knew, we have been consuming fried walleye and corn fritters and sleeping in beds in an air-conditioned constructing. Excellent ending to an ideal day.


Huge because of Wade, Joel, and David for serving to us get water! A brief journey became new mates, fried walleye, and an ideal place to get out of the solar and wind for a few days.

– Lisa

August 25-28, 2016

Bush’s Touchdown to five miles S of Pike Haven, Lake Oahe, South Dakota


We solemnly swear to by no means once more take climate-controlled environments with no consideration once more. It’s so a lot simpler to assume and work when sweat isn’t dripping in your eyes and mind. Thanks, Kelly and Carol for the unbelievable workplace house above Lake Oahe and your whole hospitality. It’s unbelievable what seeing issues from a distinct perspective can do.

Had a wonderful time hanging out with Kelly, Carol, Bob, Phil, David, Wade, and Joel at Sundown Haven resort. Kelly is a fishing information and wonderful cook dinner and he and his spouse, Carol have been internet hosting the blokes for a number of days and added us to the visitor record as quickly as we confirmed up. Once more, such unbelievable hospitality and enthusiastic firm.

The wind was an excessive amount of the following day so we stayed an additional night time in paradise. Thanks once more, Kelly and Carol!


Sunflowers above Lake Oahe.

We paddled on the following day making it Little Bend Recreation Space the place we met our good buddy Jack Hilbrich and his brother Tom. The 4 of us camped on the market and I can’t bear in mind the final time I laughed so exhausting for thus lengthy. These two picked up on our outrageous senses of humor and personalities immediately and the banter was continuous.


Wonderful firm on the one day it rained a little bit on the Plains. Thanks for bringing the enjoyment to us, Tom and Jack!

We have been additionally in a celebratory temper after having accomplished the voyage round Little Bend. There’s nothing “little” about Little Bend, by the best way. Right here is how Dave Miller describes it in “The Complete Paddler”:

“Here some cautions are in order…The Cheyenne River flows into the lake on the downstream right side, and a southeast wind will generate large waves and confused seas near the confluence. There are few places along the shore where there is any shelter if a storm blows up and you have to pitch a tent. Further compounding the difficulty is the fact that you cannot see the horizon to the south and west as you work your way along the upstream side of the point…Also, because of Little Bend’s NW to SE aspect and because prevailing winds are from either of those directions, you probably will have to work against headwinds for half the distance around the bend.”

He goes on to explain the choice of a guide portage throughout Little Bend as “very difficult but not impossible.” The “healthy population of rattlesnakes”, mud, and steep hills made this sound like an actual winner of an possibility. Type of a final resort possibility, in case you ask me.

Properly, we crushed it with some good paddling circumstances to begin, shifting into rain and chilly, and rounding out with a powerful headwind as we made the bend again east. It was all value it, although, to get some of the infamous components of essentially the most infamous reservoir achieved.

The subsequent day was brutal. It was within the excessive nineties and there was just about no wind. That’s what we needed, proper? It’s a tradeoff. Typically that warmth makes it simply as exhausting to paddle because the wind. It was a couple of four-mile paddle to Pike Haven Resort the place we had plans to fulfill one other buddy of ours, Iggy.


Good to see our nice buddy and deep dialog grasp, Iggy!

Iggy may solely keep for a few hours, so she bought proper to the purpose. After bestowing a number of presents – a necklace I had forgotten at Outward Certain, a brand new seat cushion, and a number of other luggage of chai tea – she requested us, level clean, what we’ve discovered about ourselves.

For me, I stated I’m studying higher discern my intuitive voice from my ego-driven voice. One sounds loads nicer but in addition makes me do issues which are exhausting (however good). For Alyce, she’s gained the information that that is what she desires to do for the remainder of her life. Good query, Iggy.

After Iggy left, we paddled on till darkish and I didn’t hassle establishing my tent. I simply rolled out my sleeping bag 10 ft from the water. The celebrities have been unreal.

– Lisa

August 29-31, 2016

The Ferris Home, Pierre, South Dakota

Again in a headwind.

Really feel robust; gettin’ after it.

End Oahe.


Kissing the shore after finishing the 231-mile lengthy Lake Oahe.

I didn’t really feel as pumped as I believed I’d to complete Lake Oahe. We struggled towards an east wind that pushed us sideways as we made our technique to the tip of the lake. It felt good to get to the boat ramp and pull all of our stuff out of the lake for the final time, however I believed I’d really feel like dancing or one thing.

As an alternative, we adopted the treasure hunt a fellow through paddler, Kris Laurie, had left for us and came across a cache of sweet and a few stylish South Dakota wine. Kris additionally left a observe telling us how B-A he thinks we’re and the way he’s sorry he’s a lot quicker than us as a result of he actually desires to fulfill us. I’m simply kidding about that final half, however he did categorical that it’s a disgrace we can have paddled all this manner on the similar time and never run into one another even as soon as. We thought the identical factor.

We left a observe, some Supply of Confidence buttons and another treats wrapped up within the 14 plastic bag system that Kris had used, buried it underneath the identical rock, and despatched the identical treasure map to Lance and Gary, the blokes subsequent behind us paddling all the river. Hopefully they may go away one thing for Mike and Cookie, our mates from July on Ft. Peck who’re headed to St. Louis. It is a enjoyable custom. The neighborhood of paddlers is unbelievable. So supportive and adventuresome.

In actual fact, we stayed with essentially the most rad household of river rats for 2 nights in Pierre, SD. Man Ferris and Mitch Kleinsasser took the Missouri River from Three Forks, MT again dwelling to Pierre in a pontoon a few years in the past. They made a film too. Can’t wait to see it.

Man and Mitch helped us out with the portage across the dam- really Mitch simply straight up gave us his van. Since we by chance left one of many wheels for our portage cart in Bismarck, by no means to be seen once more, we needed to get again to our Boundary Waters roots and carry the canoe on our shoulders.

You probably have by no means portaged an 80-pound canoe in your shoulders, let me inform you, you’re lacking out. The primary time I ever portaged a canoe was in 2011 once I began as an intern for Voyageur Outward Certain. We have been within the Boundary Waters and portaging was horrible.

Let me reiterate: horrible. The stress brought on by the portage pads resting between my shoulders and neck was like a therapeutic massage from an excellent pissed off gorilla. I believed I’d for certain lose an inch in peak from being so compressed underneath that boat after 10 days. Each time I’d take a step ahead, one finish or the opposite would begin to take a dive and I’d must appropriate it earlier than it smacked the bottom or my portage companions head. It was nerve-wracking and exhausting. Plus, the terrain was stuffed with rocks, uncovered roots, fallen timber, and biting bugs.

“How am I going to do this as a job?” I bear in mind enthusiastic about midway via the expedition. “I can’t force, er I mean, teach other people how to do this if I don’t even want to do it myself.”

To be honest, I used to be being dramatic. It was additionally a 10-day expedition supposed to push us interns manner exterior of our consolation zones. It needed to be one of many hardest issues we’d ever achieved as a result of that’s what expeditions really feel wish to most of our college students. Verify and mate. Constructing grit and empathy.

It took the remainder of the summer time for me to begin getting snug with portaging. It’s all within the steadiness. If the boat is balanced from bow to stern, you’ll be able to transfer fairly fluidly over most terrain. When you do it lengthy sufficient, your shoulder muscular tissues ultimately develop into completely desensitized to the stress and you may go for for much longer intervals of time earlier than it turns into uncomfortable.

I really adore it now. It’s a sport for me to see how lengthy I can go with out a break. I feel the longest I’ve achieved to this point might be round a mile.

Now, we had a two-mile fun-fest forward of us. I turned on some music (Brandi Carlisle, clearly) and we went for it.


Working makes the portage go by quicker.

IT IS ALWAYS WINDY ON THE PLAINS. For these of you who’re aware of portaging a canoe within the Boundary Waters, even on windy days, you get a break within the woods. Not right here. The wind was like, “give me that canoe” and we have been like, “NO”. It’s tiring having to battle that drive.

Mid-way via the portage, I bought a telephone name from Lee Zion with the Capital Journal – South Dakota’s premier newspaper. Sidenote: Do you know that Pierre is pronounced PEER? Properly, it’s. Nobody can say why. Anyway, Lee needed to swing by and get some photos and do an interview. We casually waited on the facet of the highway with our canoe for Lee to point out up; this has develop into our M.O. with regards to getting media protection.

He requested us concerning the expedition as we completed the portage. I couldn’t take part in totally within the dialog with a canoe on my head, so we continued the interview over BLTs on the Oahe Marina. He requested us what it was wish to paddle the Missouri River. Fairly fundamental query, however I didn’t have a solution immediately.

What’s it wish to paddle the Missouri River? Is dependent upon the day. It may be exhausting. It may be superior. It’s the most effective time and the worst – typically inside the span of a half an hour. It’s lovely – mountains, alpine wetlands, and grasslands; scenic canyons, cottonwood groves, and farmland; sandstone-limestone-claystone-coal bluffs of white, black, and vermillion; sand dunes, cattail marshes, and prairie. We’ve solely touched 4 of our fourteen state whole and have already seen a remarkably numerous and provoking, albeit harsh, panorama.

We work together with the weather of the panorama on a each day basis- wind, water, solar, plant and animal life, and wind. I do know I stated wind twice. These components add magnificence and adversity in virtually equal measure. It’s the individuals who dwell alongside the Missouri River that tip the scales to the facet of superior.

This brings me again to our latest mates. Mitch is a form man with a everlasting smile whose chief goal in life is to emulate the Animal Home life-style. Rock on, Mitch, it looks like you’ve bought it down. Man is an natural farmer/on line casino proprietor with a wisecracking humorousness and a vault of impressively outlandish and much more impressively true tales. After I walked into his storage, the very first thing I observed was an indication advocating towards spraying pesticides proper subsequent to a fair greater NWA poster. “Welcome to Pierre”, the storage appeared to say.


Mitch and Man’s film poster.

We met Man’s spouse, Beata (Bee-Ah-Tuh), and children Abby and Jack and had dinner and stayed two nights at their place. Beata is an unbelievable lady too. She’s a science trainer and simply began a brand new job doing distance studying by way of her dwelling workplace with college students throughout South Dakota. She’s a hard-working, fun-loving, caring and beneficiant lady. It was actually a pleasure to spend time in her firm.

After dinner, Man and Beata took us out for time on the Legion. Right here is the place I bumped into an actual dwell Irishman. Excellent time to check out the accent! (That is sarcasm. Don’t do that.) Listening to the accent switched me proper into my Irish-banter-with-Alyce mode. I caught myself rapidly however not earlier than he requested me the place I used to be from. “Minnesota…” I stated sheepishly. We turned quick mates regardless of the fake pas. He was taking part in guitar and the following factor I knew, I had a guitar too.

At Alyce’s request, Spencer, one other buddy of our hosts, had run out to his truck to seize his guitar for me. I actually appreciated that. She does job of looking for alternatives for me to play. We performed for the following few hours and took a break for discuss radio interview with Man, Mitch, and their mates on the Absolute Outside Present.

That was hands-down essentially the most entertaining interview I’ve ever been part of. I hope we are able to get our arms on that recording. The spotlight of the dialog was Mitch confessing to us that after he and Man had first met us, they talked about how we may in all probability kill them. We agreed and had , maniacal snort about it.

I do must say that it feels fairly good to be seated at a desk surrounded by males who’re and invested in what it’s important to say. For actual, that’s not a typical expertise. Thanks, guys, we had a blast!

– Lisa


Man grabbed a pair copies of the Journal with Lee’s article for us. You’ll be able to learn the article right here.