South Dakota
Missouri River Quest '07 - Page 12
6.15.07
I paddled to the boat ramp above the dam and called the Oahe Marina to arrange a
portage.  They said they would send someone, so I started unpacking the boat.  Within
minutes, a pickup showed up to haul me to the downstream marina.

Once at the marina, I was able to get a very good omelet and catch up on phone calls.  The
clerk offered to take my mail to the post office for me.  The Oahe Marina was a good stop!

I left the marina and paddled a short stretch of river before entering Lake Sharpe.  This
lake is nearly eighty miles long, but less than half as wide as Oahe.  It also lacks the big
bays that generate many of Oahe's waves.  The scenery is the same as it has been for the
last week.  The lake is lined with rolling green hills, but now there are houses along the
way.

I covered thirty five miles of lake today, and I saw very few good campsites.  I saw a
thunderstorm approaching around 7:00, and started to look for a place to stop.  Every flat
piece of land near the river had been trampled into a mud hole by cattle.

I paddled for over an hour before finding a very marginal place to set up my tent.  Some of
the amenities tonight's campsite has are a swamp for breeding mosquitoes, the skeleton
of a cow, and cowpies of every shape and size.

It started raining shortly after I set up a camp, which was good, since it didn't rain
yesterday, and some of the puddles were starting to dry up.  It rained for about an hour and
things are muddy again.  The wind has also picked up.  I wouldn't have it any other way!

I'm going to turn on my radio and try to catch the forecast.  It should be interesting to see
what kind of calamity tomorrow holds in store.
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6.16.07
Things didn't look good this morning.  There was a dark cloud on the horizon and I could
hear thunder in the distance.  The wind was calm and the rain didn't appear to be moving
very fast, so I packed up and hit the water.

I made it five miles before the rain hit.  It started pouring and the wind picked up.  I took
shelter under some trees.

At that point, I was ready to give up on the whole trip!  It's been raining for a month and the
forecast calls for more rain.  I reached my rain limit about six inches ago.

I thought about all the time and money I had wrapped up in this trip, the training, and the
1300 plus miles I've come to get this far.  I'm not in this alone.  There are lots of people
rooting for me.  In 200 miles, I'll be off of these lakes and onto a real river.  I got into the
boat and pushed off into the rain.

It rained hard for about two hours, stopped for an hour, then started again.  The wind blew
in my face all day.  I pressed on; I'm not a quitter!

The rain finally quit around 3:00.  I paddled harder.  The sun came out at 4:00.  I kept
going.  When I set up camp, I had covered forty miles.  I'm only ten miles from the dam.  I'll
start on my last big lake tomorrow.

Tonight's campsite is a nice one.  I have some trees to give me shade and shelter from
the wind.  I believe this is the first time on this trip I've camped under trees.  It is also free of
dead cows, which is a plus.
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6.17.07
I woke up this morning to wind, and lots of it.  The radio said it was blowing at 35 mph with
gusts over 50 mph, and it was supposed to blow all day.

I tore down camp and packed up in case the weather should happen to get better.  It didn't.
My campsite is in a small clump of trees next to a hayfield, so there isn't a whole lot to do.

I heard an engine running, and looked over to see a tractor baling hay in the field near my
tent.  The farmer was slowly working his way towards the tree line.  He would be bound to
see me and my kayak when he made it to my end of the field.  I could only hope he was
friendly.

I watched for the next two hours as the tractor drew nearer.  When the tractor was within 20
yards of my camp, I decided to show myself.  I told him about my situation.  He didn't have
any problem with me camping there, which was a big relief for me.  I didn't want to head
out into the big waves to look for another site.

A while later, a young man pulled up and asked me about my trip.  I can't remember his
name because I'm terrible with names.  He offered to haul me to the other side of the dam
in the morning, and said he'd stop back after he checked the cows.  He returned an hour
later with a pickup.  He informed me that the area was under a tornado watch and offered
me a place to stay for the night.  I gladly accepted his invitation.

He drove me to the Peterson Ranch where I was treated to a home cooked meal, a game
of pool, and a couch to sleep on.  The storm blew by with only a little rain, but I was glad to
have some company and roof over my head for the evening.
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