Missouri River Quest '07 - Page 11
I had hoped the wind would die down last night, but it didn't. I was kept awake for most of
the night by the sound of the wind trying to tear down my tent.
I looked at the lake at 5:00 AM. It was plenty rough, but not as bad as yesterday. I was on
the water at a quarter to six.
The wind picked up steadily and by 9:00 I was pushing into three to four foot waves. I was
only five miles from West Whitlock State Park. The conditions were worse than I would
normally paddle in, but I stayed within swimming distance of shore. There were plenty of
fishing boats around to rescue me if something unfortunate should happen.
I pulled up to the boat ramp safely at 11:00. There was a storm cloud rolling across the
horizon and dozens of fishing boats were lined up to get off the lake before the storm hit.
I pulled the boat ashore and walked up to the shelter house to wait out the storm. I was
hoping that the wind would calm down after the rain and I could make some miles yet
It started pouring and just wouldn't stop. I walked to the bait shop to check the weather. All
of South Dakota was covered in a thunderstorm. It's supposed to rain for the next two days
with three to four inches of accumulation before it's all over.
I waited all afternoon for a break in the rain so I could set up camp. It never let up. I finally
gave up and pitched the tent in the downpour. I'm soaked! All my stuff is soaked! This is
the rainiest year anyone around here can remember.
Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota all have semi-arid climates. I have to be careful
not to set up my tent on a cactus. It isn't supposed to rain every day here! I'm trying to stay
positive, but it's hard. I haven't spent two full days in a row on the water in over three
It will probably rain all day tomorrow. It could quite possibly rain all day the next day. At
least I'm somewhere I can go inside and get some real food. If it does rain all day
tomorrow, I'm going to see if I can rent one of the cabins at the park. At least then I can dry
out all of my stuff and be ready if the weather ever breaks.
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It was still raining when I woke up this morning, so I put on my wet rain coat and walked up
to the bait shop. Inside, all the fishermen were talking about the 3.75 inches of rain that
fell last night. The morning news was showing all the small towns nearby that were
The forecast called for the rain to be blown away by a strong north wind in the late
morning. The rain quit around 9:30 and the north wind quickly picked up. I packed up and
hit the water.
The lake runs west for about five miles from my campsite. I was on the south shore,
which meant I would be taking some big waves in the side until the lake turned south.
I made it about 100 yards and was completely soaked! I pulled into a bay ready to give up
for the day. I could see the point where the lake turned. If I could get there the waves
would be behind me for the next 20 miles. I knew I had the skill to make it those first five
miles. I just didn't want to be wet and miserable. I got back in the boat and headed west.
I was cold, wet, and miserable for nearly two hours, but when I finally rounded the bend, it
was worth it! I was flying as the big waves pushed me down the lake.
I covered 28 miles today and am only fifty miles from the dam. The forecast for the next
few days looks good. If the weather holds out, I could be done with this lake in two days.
Oahe is a pretty lake, with its rolling green hills and clear green water. It's just too big! I
can see for miles and I don't ever seem to get anywhere when I paddle. The wind always
blows, and it rains a lot. In two days things should start getting easier.
I finally had a nice day on Oahe. It was cool and cloudy this morning and there was no
wind at all. This was good, since I had to traverse the big bend. Oahe flows through a
twenty mile long oxbow and returns to within a half mile of itself. This feature is
surrounded by giant bays. If the wind picks up, giant waves can come from every direction
and the bend becomes impassible.
Luckily, the weather was on my side today, and the only waves I encountered were from
the wakes of passing boats.
It stayed beautiful all day, and I didn't want to waste this rare nice day. I paddled all day on
water as smooth as glass. The sun even came out in the afternoon. It felt great to just
paddle the boat and not have to fight the wind or the rain. By the end of the day, I reached
the Oahe dam.
I covered 51 miles today, the best I've ever done on a lake, and I'll be on the other side of
the dam in the morning.
I found some interesting facts about Lake Oahe on my map today. It drains approximately
243,490 miles. It has 2250 miles of shoreline, and a maximum depth of 205 feet. Its
power plant produces 595,000 kilowatts of power. It's a big lake!
I've been on the river for a month now. I'm over half way through and the hardest part is
behind me, now. I don't much of anything good to say about the weather, but the rest of the
trip has gone well. I haven't tipped over, yet, and the boat still floats!
St. Louis still seems like it's a million miles away, but I'll be there before I know it.