Sunday, May 11, 2008

Nine into the rain: wet but worth it


The second in the series of SDCA monthly cruises went down May 10 with rain and a group of nine kaykers on the Missouri River, but a hoot was had across the board, and save for some bitter winds at the end of the event, it was a worthy endeavor and one the club will consider returning to in June and July. Hopefully, on a 72-degree day with mostly sunny conditions.

But even with 50-degree temps and a steady drizzle, the cruise reminded us all again and again that it is a living, untamed entity. The views at the start rocked. My buddy Jim and I made a mental list of "things on the cruise we are glad we didn't end up paddling over" as there are mean-looking stumps, trunks, and debris everywhere.
Our put-in spot is the Myron Grove Recreation Area, aka "High Lines," and as you can see, it has ample parking and a nice dock. The water levels were down quite a bit, but will soon rise when the Corps does their thing.

After we put in, we hugged the Nebraska shore, but soon found the 120-foot long steamship skeleton. P5100051Basically all of the stuff sticking out of the water behind the paddlers in this photo here are hull ribs, rudders, and wreckage. The current moves over the wreck, so it was hard to get great images, but I think Steven Dahlmeier may add some.P5100052

Our group dressed for the elements. It wasn't too bad, on the cruise, but the rain was continuous, and it certainly wasn't warm. P5100050We took a break at a sand bar and stretched our legs.

P5100080Cruise leader Rick Johns did a great job organizing this trip. We met at Holmes Welding as planned, loaded boats to a trailer, and P5100029
combined cars to go up (and to the bottom) with grace. Rick's knowledge of the river, along with Larry Braaten's riversmarts, really kept us in the channel and off the sandbar shallows, for the most part. In the rain, this was greatly appreciated. It felt good on this big water knowing Rick knew our way, and he wasn't too far away.


You here can see the rain, our constant companion. We did have a few other guests: geese, naturally, a few well-wishing humans who called out good luck from the Nebraska shore, the piping plover were abundant over some of the sandbars, darting and diving in the wind, and we saw at least three eagles, including this poor photo that roughly shows a yearling we saw on the ground, near the water. In the photo, there's a goose-colored mass, and that's him, I do apologize for the low-quality image, but I didn't want to get up on him and the current was not exactly permissive.
Godspeed, little eagle.

After the break, I think no one felt like lounging down the river, as it was simply unfriendly that day, rain-wise. There was little chit-chat or meeting up as we all just chugged downriver. The bridge was a charlatan image, we saw it and thought it'd be dry cars in no time, but alas, it was still 40 minutes (or more) distant.

Yes, that is an eagle is this telephoto-challenged image of my friend, Jim, who joined me on the trip.P5100088

This photo shows another "dot" that is an eagle. Of course, the weather pry kept a dozen eagles and ospreys from showing off for us.P5100085

At the end, we all pitched in to get the boats from the sand up the bank. Then we executed our shuttle plan and that's when the winds came up.

A high-winds warning was actually issued for Clay County near Vermillion at 4 p.m. and we were off the water about 3:15. So, in the middle of carrying and tying down, we were all in a 40 mph screamer, but we got 'em loaded and got out of there.

I know our "in list" for this trip was nearly 20 before the forecast became so grim, so I think the SDCA should seek to set a June date to revisit this stretch. In good weather, with some friends, it'd be even better than it as was on Saturday.

Post a comment, or contact Jarett or Rick, perhaps we can start kicking around "do-over" dates.

Big thanks to the eight aggressive, team-minded kayakers who jumped in and saw the river at its honest value during this cruise, and as mentioned, to Rick for his oversight. We had a safe, effective trip, and until we control the weather, that's pretty darn good.


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