North Dakota
Missouri River Quest '07 - Page 7
It was cold and windy this morning and it looked like rain.  I set off early to beat the
showers, but they never came.  It never warmed up, either.

I made it to the North Dakota line around noon.  I'm proud of myself for making it through
Montana, and now have almost 800 miles of river behind me.  So far, North Dakota has
been flat, cold, and windy.  I hope it improves soon.

Tonight I am camped a few miles out of Williston.  Just beyond that lies Lake Sakakawea.  
It's a massive lake and I'm not looking forward to it.

I will have to cross a giant mud flat to get into the lake, much like the one I crossed on Ft.
Peck.  Crossing a mud flat requires a commitment of several hours on the water.  Once I
enter, I can't make it to shore until I'm through.  The forecast calls for heavy rain and
storms for the next two days.  If I take a chance, I might end up stuck like the deer I saw on
Ft. Peck.  I may be sitting a few days.

The weather has been cold and rainy for nearly two weeks, now.  I'm trying to keep a
positive outlook, but it's tough.  I want to be warm and dry for a while.
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It poured all night long and well into the morning.  I looked out of the tent at first light and
saw the river had risen several feet.  There was also a very strong east wind throughout
the day.

The rain tapered off in the late morning, but the wind persisted.  The river was a sea of
whitecaps all day and I was unable to paddle.  I spent the day in the tent reading, eating,
and sleeping.  The sun did peek out a few times, but it never did warm up.  I explored the
area around my campsite and all I found was mosquitoes.

The wind has died down considerably tonight and the forecast calls for rain, but less wind
tomorrow.  Hopefully, I'll be able to get in a good day on the water.  This lousy weather is
really getting me down.
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I was able to arrange a shuttle to the MOU office in Williston for the day.  MOU is the
company I work for, and they are helping out along the way.  Steve Rehak picked me up,
bought me lunch at Applebee's, and took me to the office for the day.  It was nice to catch up
on phone calls and email.

I found out that a friend of mine was almost killed in a roller blading accident and had to
have brain surgery.  Thank God she's OK.  Rita, wear your helmet!  I don't want to have to
come home for a funeral.

It didn't actually start raining today until around 5:00.  I could have made it onto the lake
today, but it's better safe than sorry, and it was nice to have a day off.

Steve brought me back to the river and I've set up at a nice campsite near a shelter.  It's still
raining now, and it's supposed to rain all day tomorrow.  At least if I can't paddle, I'll have a
dry albeit cold place to spend the day rather than the tent.  This lousy weather is supposed
to break Friday.  I sure hope it does.
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I looked out of the tent this morning and the weather was cold, windy, and it looked like rain.
 The whitecaps that had been raging on the river all day yesterday were gone and the
forecast called for conditions to improve throughout the day.  It was time to get out of

The river stayed mostly in a channel for the first 20 miles out of town.  The current was
quick and I made good time.  The banks were lined with thick willows.  I spotted several
patches of what appeared to be morel mushrooms and was going to pick them for dinner
tonight.  Then I realized I don't know if morels grow in North Dakota.  I didn't want to get sick,
so I left them.

I finally entered the mud flat delta where the river widens to a lake.  The flat was nearly a
mile wide and the channel was very hard to see due to a strong headwind.  There was a
strong current along the shore, so I followed it.

The water kept getting shallower and shallower.  I passed an old canoe that someone had
gotten stuck in the mud and had to leave.

I was going to turn around when I saw a moose on the shore ahead of me.  It wouldn't hurt
to go a little further to see a moose.

I ran aground and the moose ran away.  I tried to back up, but the boat was stuck!  I made a
stupid mistake and was mad at myself.  I couldn't get out of the boat.  The mud was like
quicksand and would trap me if I did.  I jammed my paddle into the mud, pushed back as
hard as I could, and rocked the boat back and forth.  I started to move.  It took nearly twenty
minutes to back myself out of the muck and find the main channel.  If I had turned around
when I knew I was going the wrong way, there wouldn't have been a problem.

Five miles later, I was in deep water and winding my way through a sunken forest of
cottonwood trees.  The Army Corps left the trees standing when they flooded the lake.  They
make great fish habitat, but they can be a hazard to boaters.  I wasn't worried about the
trees I could see.  It was the ones lurking just under the surface that made me nervous,
and to make matters worse, the wind was picking up and the lake was getting choppy.

The maze lasted nearly ten miles.  I ran into a few stumps, but managed to stay upright.  I
was glad to leave the trees behind me.

The sky cleared up in the afternoon and I even saw the sun a few times.  Aside from the
wind, it was turning into a pretty nice day.  Then around 6:00 a dark cloud rolled in and it
started raining.  I wanted to keep paddling, but the rain bummed me out so much I had to
stop for the day.  I heard on the radio that it had been the 4th rainiest May on record.  I'm
sick of rain.

The weather is beautiful right now and I am camped on a very pretty beach.  The next few
days are supposed to be nice.  I'm looking forward to some sunshine!
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For a map of Lake
Sakakawea, click to
Page 5
of my Photo Album.
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