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Paddling The Paddling forum is for discussion that relates directly to wilderness paddling (canoeing, kayaking, rafting). Topics focus on trip planning and gear.

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Old 08-11-2011, 08:53 AM
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beekeeper beekeeper is offline
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Backpack: Golite Galaxy
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Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Fairview, TX
Posts: 106
Paddling Trip in South Dakota

My son and I were planning to go on a high adventure trip with scouts this summer on the Missouri River down from Yankton, South Dakota. We were planning to follow some of Lewis and Clark's route from their "voyage of discovery". Due to all the flooding, the river was closed to boat traffic this summer. The Lewis and Clark scout camp, as an alternative, offered our group to do the Big Sioux river instead. It follows more of a north/ south direction and eventually drains into the Missouri. The group who came the week prior to us were not allowed to pallde the Big Sioux because it too was flooded. Three days before we left for South Dakota, the Big Sioux river retreated back into it's banks and we were the only group able to do the high adventure canoe trip this year. It was hot as blazes (upper 90's) including the water in the river (don't know the temp but it felt like warm bathwater) and I personally count it as a blessing that we were able to shower each night. THe night before we started we spent camping at the Indian school in Flambeau SD. THey had a tornado come through a few weeks before and it was sad to see the damaged buildings and huge cottonwood stumps. It was doubly sad because they had just finished a 13 million dollar refurbishment of the campus and buildings as the tornado struck. We put in on the river the next morning at the bridge a block from the school. We paddled 27 miles the first day, and I am now looking for a marathon sticker which includes crossed paddles! If you have ever been in the southern part of South Dakota, they grow a LOT of corn there. I gathered that much of the corn was destined for a refinery to be turned into fuel. That first day, I was constantly imagining herds of buffalo or indians on horseback to show up around every bend in the river. Every bridge we passed under had loads of firewood stuck in the understructure from the flooding earlier. Gotta go for now but I will write more later.

We spent the second night in Trent South Dakota at a privately owned park on the river. We cooked pot roast and vegetables for 40+ people in three 12" deep Dutch ovens, and cobbler in two 12" regular Dutch ovens. One of the cobbler Dutch ovens was so rusty inside it was not useable without lining it with foil, which worked fine. The next morning we got back on the river and paddled 17 miles to Dell Rapids. This cool little town had a rose quartz quarry that had been mining rose quartz for at least 100 years. There was rose quartz buildings and curbs and blacktop with rose quartz in it all over the town. We saw a movie in the town theater which was built in 1930 and recently renovated. They had state of the art digital movie equipment and we got to see Harry Potter in 3d.
The next morning we went pistol and shotgun shooting at the city sportsmans club. I really enjoyed the shotgun when we lined up 4 across and shot the trap clays in competition. The first person called and got to shoot and then the second person could immediately shoot at the same clay if the first missed it OR at a piece of the first clay if it wasn't powdered. If they got it the third could shoot and then the fourth. LAst person to hit it, pushed the rest of the previous shooters out. We got back on the river and paddled through a cool rose quartz canyon after that and paddled a little way further then finished the trip with a trip to the University of South Dakota where we got to climb on the tallest indoor climbing tower in South Dakota, and tour the musical instrument museum. They have something like 80,000 instruments and can only display about 7% of their collection. Among their instruments, in just one case was a Stradivarius violin, GUITAR (only four ever made), cello, and lute (in a wooden Stradivarius lute box). THe value of the instruments in the one box was eight and a half million dollars!
I appreciated that the scout camp went out of their way to make our trip a fun and varied one, that we were able to shower each day, and I suppose it was a blessing that we didn't have to load all of our gear into the canoes and paddle it all downriver, but I was sorry we didn't get to do that. Overall, I liked the trip, but I wish the boys would sign up for a boundary waters trip next so we could get more of the flavor of relying solely on ourselves and our canoes to move everything, and get away more from "Civilization".

A little about how we set up our canoe. I had an onion bag that I tied to a thwart to put trash in. We had an extra paddle in each canoe and an extra life jacket. THe paddle, I put inside on the bottom of the canoe with the blade towards the front, handle towards the back.I then lifted the handle and taped it with a little duct tape to the thwart. If I needed to use it, I could hit the handle with my palm and the handle would rip free of the tape. Since the front was under a thwart further up towards the front, it wouldn't come out of the canoe if it tipped. The spare PFD, I snapped over the metal seat to give a bit more cusion to my butt. I had a little day pack that I wrapped the shoulder straps around the same thwart in front of me, which gave me a place to put a water and a snack. Since it wasn't my own canoe, I didn't glue down pads on the gunnels or down in the bottom for my knees, but I wore some knee pads instead. I brought a large sponge with a length of bungie also. I had intended to put the bungie through two holes in the deck behind me, but the deck didn't have any holes in it so I just tied the bungie on the same thwart and pulled the tails up and stuffed the sponge under it to hold it in place. I had a big plastic bleach bottle with a loop of cord and a little snaplink for bailing and I looped that around a thwart and snapped it. We tied a 20' painter up at the bow and we were done. I had brought several rubberized bags to put all my clothing and camping gear into but the scout camp brought vehicles and the canoe trailers along and met us in camp each day, so they really moved the cargo.

Last edited by beekeeper : 08-13-2011 at 06:09 AM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
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