Saturday, November 15, 2008

Catching up and a few items from the meeting

Welcome back to the SDCA blog and Web site, there's news afoot, and here's a brief glimpse at a few things we'll be developing in the near-term:

1) The board met at Dick's place last week, and we discussed plans for the 2009 South Dakota Canoe Association annual meeting. It'll start around noon, Jan. 24, 2009, at the Outdoor Campus in Sioux Falls. All members are welcome, and bring a friend or two, newcomers to kayaking and canoes, perhaps, we will have a jam-packed program including:

Pat Wellner, a Pierre member, will take us through a few routes in the Pierre area for travelers. Remember, the water stays open all year there, so Pat's presentation might help dial you in for a little Nov. through Feb. paddling excursion.

Jay Heath and Jarett Bies will each present some recon reports on new lakes and new ideas they developed in their exploration over the last summer and fall. Jay purchased a after-market sail for his kayak and may explain some insights on its use, while Jarett's got some more info on a great small town to use as a base for Lake Superior exploration.

Dick Davidson will narrate and show slides from one of his many northern Canada/Arctic adventures.

There will be two paddlers who will have roster space and information about Boundary Waters Canoe Area adventures in 2009, for paddlers who might want to target that famous paddling spot next year.

Plus much more to be announced, along with the SDCA business meeting, to include the election of officers for next year. The board has a few openings and the club as a whole almost always benefits from fresh blood at the top. Write any board member with questions on that part of the meeting.

In addition to the Jan. 24 event, we'll plan a pool training session in Sioux Falls between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and we'll probably have another one after that but before the meeting. Those details are to be announced, but we will seek to set it up for a Saturday afternoon, probably Dec. 6, 13, or 20. Still working out the details on that, and when we have them, we'll post it and get the word out.

The SDCA newletter will be back in the mail next week for all members, highlighting these ideas and a few others.

In the interest of community, we hope to get feedback from paddlers about winter storage and add it to this blog in the next week or two. If you have some insights on what to do (or not to do) when it comes to keeping a boat over winter, share for newcomers.

Hope everyone is warm, happy, and ready to do some pool training, and to the hardy souls still paddling this late in the season, please do so with care, we want to see you on the water next spring, or at the pool.


It's alive!

Hi friends, and yes, this blog is not dead, news is coming, with a new posting today, so don't forget us the way I have forgotten blogging for way too long.

The board met Thursday and we'll have some news about upcoming pool events and the annual SDCA meeting, that's coming up January 2009 in Sioux Falls at the Outdoor Campus.

Apologies for the long delay, more news coming as soon as I get some plastic on the windows.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Another cruise (or two) coming up

Rejoice, paddling Sodak nation-state: Temps will be back in the 78 to 81 range, this weekend, so here's to hoping all get out and paddle.

Regardless of your plans, there's news to announce on upcoming trips:

Pat Wellner and John Adler are heading up a multi-day cruise the Missouri River between Yankton and Vermillion the weekend of Oct. 10.

We are a tight-knit group, so many of you may already know about it, but for details, hit Pat's site:

As mentioned, Gene will lead a Split Rock/Big Sioux cruise out of Brandon Oct. 4.

Larry Braaten and I want to put another cruise on before Gene's, perhaps as early as this Sunday if people have ideas.

The weekend of Sept. 27-28 is another possibility. E-mail me, or call Larry, if you'd like to join us.

Targets include a Mo River run, Burbank to Elk Point, or High Lines to Clay County. Or perhaps Clay County to Burbank.

Lastly, the Big Sioux River Recreation Corridor Council is having their annual fall run, but it is in October. No date or link here as their site is not updated.

It's a good time of year (when it's not like last weekend) to get out and suck up as much Zen-time on the water as possible. It will soon be too late. And yes, the newsletter is upcoming, asap.

Please post/share/call/pass it for those without e-mail/Internet.


FYI, the "short-notice cruise planner" is no longer; it was a spambot magnet.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Oct 4th: Split Rock / Big Sioux Cruise

Come and join us for a Fall Canoe Cruise from McHardy Park, in Brandon, to the Highway 38/42 bridge at historic East Sioux Falls (The Arboretum) on Saturday, October 4, 2008.

Meet at 1:00 P.M. at McHardy Park in Brandon. This route has short stretches of flat water with gentle class 1 rapids. A pole is useful on Splitrock Creek when the water is low such as last year when we divided into two groups with one going down Splitrock as planned and one going from the Madison Bridge south of Brandon. Deer, fish, muskrat, ducks, owls and other wildlife may be seen. The cruise takes about 3 to 4 hours depending on the water conditions and the skill and goals of the paddlers. Bring a camera, snacks, and some drinking water and enjoy an afternoon on the water. An alternate route is planned in case the water on Splitrock Creek is low. The put in and takeout may be altered depending on conditions. Life vests are required. For more information contact Eugene Preston 605/582-2573.

Monday, August 25, 2008

James River

A big thank you to everyone who traveled to Mitchell and participated in Sunday's paddle down the James River. The weather - and the company - was perfect. It's always fun to experience new waterways in South Dakota.

For more photos from Sunday's paddle, visit Jay Heath's blog

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

James River trip set for Aug. 24 near Mitchell

The August SDCA cruise will tackle the James River, and we'll launch boats at 10:15 a.m. on the 24th at the put-in located on state Highway 38, just north of I-90, just a couple miles east of Mitchell. (The highway is also called E. Havens Avenue and 254th St. on various online maps.

View Larger Map

The route will cover about 12 to 17 river miles, downstream, heading towards the colonies located southwest of Alexandria. The free SDCA shuttle service will be in full effect, and we're hoping to get a good group for a trip on this "new-to-many" river.

The put-in is located on the south side of 38 and should provide plenty of space for assembly.

The take-out point is located at a bridge located on 257th St. There are additional potential take-out points further south along the river, and it'll be a game-day decision on the length of the route. A dam at Rockport Colony would probably be the stopping point, marking the maximum distance for this cruise.

The river is somewhat low and it will run more slowly than the Big Sioux River does, even now, so if we have high temps, it will be a bit of a marathon. But there are plenty of places to rest, rehydrate, and perhaps grab a bit of grub.

I spoke with the GFP chap for Davison County and he said there's little if any debris and slow flow, so it should not pose any increased risk. I hope we'll have a great turn out for the event. E-mail me ( if you have questions or if you want to confirm your spot. No registration is required, naturally.

The map I included in this post should be "scrollable" meaning you can click on it and move in, out, etc., to see where we're paddling. If it's not your style, directions are included below.


From the west: Take 90 to the second (eastern most) Mitchell exit, head north to 38, head east to the bridge.

From the east: Take 90 to the Riverside exit, head north to 38, head west to the bridge.

Planned route to the take-out: 38 back into Mitchell to 37, take that south to 257th St. Head east to the bridge. (I will scout the route in advance and assure we have a place to put the cars. So look for updates, or just come out.)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Maps for July 26 Big Sioux River cruise

Originally uploaded by Iron Bieso
I'm posting an overview map of the cruise for July 26. Just a reminder, we'll start the cruise at noon and hope to get the shuttling of vehicles completed before that, so come early to get that wrangled.

I'm including images of the start and end points as well. Remember, you can click on these images and see them in a larger size. Also, using Google maps, you can dial in all the information you might need, don't forget to use their satellite, terrain, and map features together, it's what I do. E-mail me, Jarett Bies, at with any questions.



Monday, July 14, 2008

Wonderful scenery on tap Saturday, July 19

Originally uploaded by Iron Bieso
Mary Finck of the SDCA board will host a cruise starting at 7 a.m., July 19, (this Saturday) starting at the Dell Rapids City Park and heading down the Big Sioux River to Baltic.

Mary said she has a few people already coming, but everyone is welcome to take part in this scenic, not-too-long trip on the Big Sioux.

As this picture shows, the Dells of the Big Sioux are splendid for photos. The trip will also take the rapids of the Dells, unless Mary is planning to skirt them or portage around them.

Water levels make those rapids pretty tame, and they last for only a few dozen meters before the river returns to its chug-chug tameness.

If you're an early riser and feel like paddling the river, join Mary and the gang in Dell Rapids. To reach the park, take the Dell Rapids exit off I-29, then travel east into town. At Garfield, take a right, you'll be in the park, the river runs right alongside it, and there's a nice gravel access point.

Email Jarett with questions, or Mary directly at

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

News: Site change coming, more

Originally uploaded by jayalbionheath
Larry Braaten has been on the Big Sioux River lately, and we're not going to take the Klondike to Canton route on July 26 due to debris.

Instead we'll reprise the route from the put-in shown here in this nice photo, located just north of Lake Alvin, and paddle down to the Klondike. Last year this was our biggest event, about 40 boats and 50 paddlers, and everyone had fun. Shuttle will be provided. It starts at noon, Saturday, July 26, 2008. E-mail Jarett with questions.

In other news, the father and son who lost boats but safely crawled from a BSR strainer are still fine, and now their boats are, too. Again, props to Larry for helping them track 'em down and get them back, he found one on a recent outing. That's what I call a good paddling community.

Don't forget to check out the post below, or hit Jay Heath's blog,, for full details on Saturday's water monitoring operation at Grass Lake, just west of Sioux Falls.
It starts at 9 a.m. July 12.

On July 17 at 6 p.m., SDCA members, following Mary Finck's lead, will meet in Sioux Falls at the BSR access right off 26th Street East, near the 229 loop. Those who gather will sweep the banks (in the boats) and clean up trash.

Plans are in the works for the SDCA newletter to be out this week. Sorry for the delay, but this issue will cover June and July. We'll augment with a late-July mailing if we need to do so.

On the waters downstream front, we are scouting sites for a James River August cruise, and we'll post details as soon as they are solid.

In review: Saturday, 9 a.m., Grass Lake; Thursday, July 17, 6 p.m., Big Sioux clean-up in Sioux Falls; July 26 cruise starting point moved to Lake Alvin, ending point, Klondike; two chaps who lost their boats got 'em back.



Grass Lake Monitoring Saturday, July 12


The SDCA in association with Dakota Water Watch, a water resource monitoring program of the East Dakota Water Development District, will participate in a bacteria monitoring project at Grass Lake on July 12, 2008. This will be a single event carried out to establish a base line of water bacteria levels linked to fecal material and disease-causing organisms. This event will involve collecting samples from 20 points around the lake for analysis in a “mini-lab.”

SDCA volunteers will gather at 9:00 a.m. at the Grass Lake public access point and receive training in the collection process and be provided some basic background information on the project. The training will last an hour or so, and the SDCA participants will then set out in their boats to collect samples from assigned points around the lake. The training, collection, and preparation of the samples will be lead by Jeanne Fromm, project manager for Dakota Water Watch.

After training, the SDCA participants will set out and collect their water samples. There will be enough time for kayaks to take a circuit of the lake if desired before returning with the samples. A complete circuit of the lake takes about an hour, although it is possible to spend a couple of hours checking out the islands, shoreline, and bird life. The participants will have their samples back at the “put-in” site sometime around 11:00 a.m. Jeanne Fromm will collect the samples as the boats return, and the SDCA participants will be able to help prepare the samples for analysis. That process takes only five minutes or so. The lab preparation will be done as boats return, so it should be possible for participants to finish their lap around the lake, drop off the samples, and have their assignment completed between 11:00 and 11:30 a.m.

The SDCA is participating in this project as a public service. It is also a good opportunity for members to get a closer look at how water analysis is completed. So, this project ought to offer a nice morning on Grass Lake, a chance to network with other SDCA members, and provide a feeling of contribution to environmental management.

Grass Lake is a wonderful and secluded body of water in close proximity to Sioux Falls. There is a lot of bird life to observe, especially pelicans, great blue herons, geese, and ducks. Other wildlife is often seen along the shores, including muskrat, raccoon, and deer. From Sioux Falls, the lake is reached by going west on Highway 42 (12th Street) past the Wall Lake turnoff, on to 459th Street. At 459th Street, turn right and go north about 2.5 miles. The road enters into a curve around the east end of the lake after about two miles. On the left, there is a small white sign that identifies a gravel road leading into the public access area, located just a short distance along that entrance. The public access point is on the northeastern end of the lake. There is a “turn around” area and a very primitive launching point. No SD parks sticker is needed to use this site.

For this event, there are 20 samples to be collected, and there is activity for about 10 volunteers. We would like for people to “register” in advance so that we know that there will be enough, and that there will be an assignment for each boat. If you would like to participate on this 9:00 – 11:30 a.m. event on Saturday, July 12, please e-mail or call Jay Heath at or 371-3622 by July 5. If there is any need to cancel the event, calls will be made to those registering.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Boats afloat - paddlers are safe

Originally uploaded by Iron Bieso
Jay Heath tipped me to a situation that happened on the Big Sioux River Sunday.

A father and son duo was paddling when they got caught up in the branches of a submerged tree. They were able to get free, but their boats floated downstream.

They were paddling between the Klondike and Canton. Here's Jay's information on the missing boats:

This afternoon, Sunday, June 29, a father and son were in two kayaks on the Big Sioux River heading south past the Klondike toward Canton. They came across a big tree that was positioned as a sweeper across the river; while trying to get past it, they both got caught up in the branches and capsized their kayaks. They made it out by working their way across the fallen tree to the shore. Their kayaks, though, were swept downstream and were not recovered.

So, sometime around 1 p.m. today, two orange Dagger kayaks, one 9 feet long and the other 11 ½ feet, were lost and last seen floating down the river between the Klondike and Canton.

Jeff has contacted the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, but he has also asked if the word might be put out regarding these kayaks. He is hopeful that someone will find them and want to get in touch with the owner. If any of our readers catch sight of these kayaks or hears about them, Jeff has asked that he be contacted at (605) 338-0147.

-Jay's entry ends-

So, folks, if you live in that neck of the woods, keep an eye out for two orange kayaks. I'm sure all of us would like to have help if we were in the same situation.

Thank goodness the duo ended up wet and boatless. It could have been worse. It's another warning that even a mellow river like the BSR has danger.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

This should be you - this Saturday @11

Originally uploaded by Iron Bieso
Hola chaps:

Our bloggo has fallen on summer times, not as much hurry-scurry as earlier in the season, and for that I offer this: Come to the Pow Wow grounds one mile north of Flandreau on 13 Saturday, we're running a nice route in good weather with friends. Should more be said? Well, sure.

We'll gather between 10 and 11 a.m. and launch before noon. The route is similar to the April 20 "Earth Day" one, we'll go past the Flandreau City Park down to a take-out near the low-head dam, about an hour or so downstream of park.

The route hits the fattest parts of the Flandreau-area Big Sioux, and it's supposed to be a bit cloudy but nice and warm, so come out and have some fun with the club.

On a side note, the June newsletter is way behind schedule, but with luck it'll come out on my birthday, if not before, that's next Tuesday. We have a busy July shaping up, so look here for more word as the newsletter gets published and remind your paddling friends who don't come here to do so.

Bies, J.C.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sunday at 1 p.m. - let's paddle

Originally uploaded by jayalbionheath
You can join Mary Finck of the S.D. Canoe Association, and others, at the Garretson City Park, it rests along the Split Rock Creek, where a fun-loving group will do some light paddling on the creek.

Mary, her husband, and a few other members will be at the park about 1 p.m. Sunday and the weather reports are positive. This is a bring-your-own-boat cruise, but as usual, the SDCA welcomes those who wish to learn more about the sports of paddling, so come out and join them.

The total cruise time from the put-in to the "end" of the creek, it becomes too shallow to paddle at one end, is about an hour, and as Jay Heath's photo shows here, there's plenty of pretty scenery.

If you have questions, e-mail Jarett and he'll relay them to Mary.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

We are back ... with plenty of news

Originally uploaded by jayalbionheath
Apologies to all who visit regularly for the week-long desert of S.D. paddling info. I was out of town.

But first, the news:

The South Dakota Canoe Association will host a Big Sioux River cruise, starting at 11 a.m. sharp, June 28, 2008, at the Pow Wow grounds on the Big Sioux River, located about one mile north of Flandreau on Highway 13. The event is free and open to the public, the route is about one hour longer than the cruise on the river in April, so it should take about three hours to complete.

The Earth Day paddle started at the same put-in, but this time we'll paddle to the low-head dam in Flandreau proper. The route leads past a tributary stream that might be full enough to entice exploration, and unlike the Earth Day event, we'll have higher temps and we'll paddle at least another two miles.

The river widens and twists as it goes under the Highway 13 bridge again, and we'll be paddling past that point to a easy-access take-out spot on the bank before the dam.


But wait, there is more news on cruises:

On July 26, Larry Braaten will host a cruise for the SDCA on the Big Sioux from the Klondike down into Canton. It's a nice leg of the river, and we'll start at 11 a.m. that morning. There's an organized benefit paddle in Canton on July 19, too, so call Mac's in Canton, the bar there, and get information if it piques you.

Before Larry's cruise, there are two eco-events on the docket: July 12, at Grass Lake, we'll be doing a lake water monitoring project, and Mary Finck of the SDCA is hosting a BSR clean-up on July 17 in Sioux Falls.

Lastly, we are taking submissions for stories for the June newsletter, it'll be out with more details about all of these events, and more, within a few days.

Paddle on, South Dakota.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

No disrespect intended

A family member of the man who died kayaking posted a comment on our blog. It is listed in the comments in the post below.

In mentioning his death, I had no intention of making light of or being disrespectful in the face of this tragedy. My post mentioning this accident was meant to remind everyone who kayaks and canoes that conditions are currently dangerous. It was not meant to cause harm.

As the writer of that post, I apologize to the family for an unintentional harm the post may have caused. The post has been updated to omit the gentleman's name.


Monday, June 9, 2008

An unhappy reminder

Sad news for paddlers today. As the Associated Press reported over the weekend, a kayaker drown in the Bad River when he was trapped between trees.

High water levels across the state make any and all river trips dangerous. In this case, conditions were deadly and sadness descends on all of us who travel the water.

Here is the information from the AP:

Kayaker Drowns on Bad River

A man drowned in a kayak accident Saturday in the Bad River about 70 miles southwest of Fort Pierre.

Jones County Sheriff Fred Koester says the man was in a kayak following two female staffers in a canoe.

The women were about one mile ahead of him and waited. They saw a paddle float by and later found the kayak submerged between two trees in the river.

His body was recovered in the kayak.

Please let this be a reminder to everyone who paddles, regardless of skill, experience, or talent: flood-level rivers are dangerous.

The earlier report said the rushing water forced the paddler into two trees and that the boat was bent or crushed, trapping him in the cockpit.

God bless the family and friends of the man who lost his life on the river. Let us all paddle with caution in the days and weeks ahead.


Saturday, June 7, 2008

Dangerously high

Originally uploaded by Senor Velasco
The SDCA wants to remind paddlers to beware the Big Sioux River, along with other waterways in the state, due to all the recent rain. It doesn't take a meteorology degree to know the ground is soggy, we've had a lot of precip, so the river could be dangerous.

The USGS link on the National Weather site reports BSR river levels southeast of Brookings are now past seven and one-half feet. Flood stage is nine feet, and the projection says the water levels will increase over the next 24 hours.

It may seem counterintuitive to think more water is bad, esp. with a river like the Big Sioux that gets downright dry later in the summer. But when it is near flood stage, like it is now, more debris, strainers, and other potentially dangerous elements are more common.

Plus the water will be really rapid, so a mistake that'd be no big whoop in lower water could be something that ends up getting you wet or worse.

Take caution and hit a lake this weekend, or use extreme caution on any river you might run over the next few days. Better to paddle again later this summer than to toss dice and end up trapped under a newly submerged cottonwood branch.


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Like no other

Originally uploaded by Iron Bieso
Sunday's weather - look at the sky in this photo - made the annual paddling fair out at Alvin a blast, tons of people came out and tried a few different boats, or paddles, and a kid had a birthday paddle, and the sun shone and wow, it was just a hoot. This photo shows one of ShaRon Kelly's canoes with an outrigger attachment.

We do it every year, but don't always get such a nice day!

Waters downstream: We need to set a SDCA cruise for late June. I propose an 11 a.m. Saturday, June 28, 2008, Big Sioux Cruise, from Flandreau Pow Wow grounds to the take-out near the low-head dam.

The put-in is the exact same one used on Earth Day cruise. The June 28 cruise would go past the Earth Day take-out, about one river mile, under the Highway 13 bridge, where the Big Sioux braids.

It would at least an hour to the original cruise, more if paddlers explored the river area before the take-out.

We'll hang it on our calendar if people can make it; e-mail me if you want to join this cruise.





Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

Originally uploaded by jayalbionheath
The ground is not already shaking, but the annual South Dakota Canoe Association paddling fair kicks off at 1 p.m. sharp Sunday, June 1, 2008, at Lake Alvin. Bring a buddy, bring a boat, bring a smile, because we plan on making hay while the sun shines, people.

This annual event is a showcase for boats, paddlers, paddles, anything and everything paddling, and we hope to entertain you.

SDCA members will bring as many boats as they can haul, then allow curious public, or other members, to try different craft. If weather allows, we hope to sponsor a couple of demonstrations, including an assisted rescue.

This image I posted is SDCA board member Pete Larsen executing a roll at the 2007 event. There had been several 80-degree days that year, so it's hard to say if Pete will be rolling this year.

Regardless, the event is free, and we'll gather at the northwestern edge of Lake Alvin, where there's a dock and parking area, even a vault toilet, so please come out.

If you know anyone who paddles or who is a member of the SDCA who does not visit this site regularly, call them and remind them or invite them, please.

To get to Lake Alvin, drive to Harrisburg, then take the main road (273rd St.) out of town to the east. You'll approach the southwestern tip of the lake, there's a gravel road there going north (479th Ave.) so take it, then follow the road until you see the parking area, it's on the right/lakeside of this gravel road.

Do not use the main entry to the park that is on Highway 135. If you come that way, continue south to 273rd, turn right, and drive about one mile to the gravel road, which is marked as 479th Ave. Then follow above directions.

SDCA president Eugene Preston and board member ShaRon Kelly will serve as "beach masters" and assist any and all who need it. Both will bring canoes, so anyone interested in learning a few strokes or techniques, come with questions for them.

Bring friends who have asked about kayaking or canoes and want to take a test drive. Ask to borrow someone's boat. It's a fair, after all.

But flotation devices are required for anyone on the water, and we recommend children younger than 16 come with an adult.

We're due some break in this unpleasant spring weather, and forecasts call for sun and high 70s that day, so we'll see you out there, it will be fun.

Who knows, perhaps we'll all be rolling, catching fish, and taking photos. See you Sunday.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Pool training session rollin' good time

Originally uploaded by Iron Bieso
About 10 kayakers showed up at the YWCA today for two hours time on the controlled, warm waters of the pool. Much was learned, and Pete Larsen was the event MVP, patiently teaching roll techniques to those who sought 'em.

Others practiced exits and self-rescues, assisted rescues, and various other moves. It was a workout! I know I left with a few scrapes and bruises from fighting my way back into my boat.

It was certainly a good first-time event, and we will set another session date soon. We will have it in the newsletter, and we'll post about it here, but if you know any paddlers who might not be on the Net much, pass the word.

We are hoping to get 10 or more new paddlers to the next session, i.e., we'll only have those individuals who paddled May 17 back if we have room, to share the water time.

With luck, we hope to plant a twice-monthly regular YWCA event for paddlers through the winter. Keep coming back here for more info on the next session.



Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Pool Session Details

What: SDCKA Pool Session
When: Saturday, May 17th @ 11:30am
Where: Downtown YWCA in Sioux Falls
Why: To practice safety techniques, wet exits and rolling

What to bring:
  • Clean (inside & out) kayak
  • PFD
  • Paddle
  • Spray skirt (if you have one)
  • Dry clothes / Water clothes
  • goggles, nose plugs or any other underwater device that you prefer

Please park on Dakota Avenue (see map below) and enter through the back alley door (also see map). Jarett or I will be at the YWCA around 11:15 to make sure that the door is open. If you'd like to drop your boat off next to the door and then park, that is fine with the Y. There is open swim/lessons until noon, but we'll want to maximize our two hours by getting boats-on-deck as that ends.
Parking along the street is free on weekends.

Due to the tiles around the pool area, metal/aluminum canoes are not allowed.

The pool is very large and will easily fit 5 + boats in the water at a time. Everyone will get plenty of time to practice up.

The pool temp is currently at 85 degrees - and it slopes from 4 feet to 10 feet. We will have 4 lanes to work in.

Signed up for this event so far is:

  1. Jarett
  2. Laura
  3. Jay
  4. Mark H.
  5. Bruce W.
  6. Rick J.
  7. Shel B.
  8. Steven D.
  9. Pete L.
  10. Mary F.
  11. Mike Z.
  12. Ed H.
  13. Kay H.

If you have not signed up yet - please email me at to RSVP. We are limiting this session to 15 paddlers.

Please let me know if you have any questions. Thanks.

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.


Friday, May 9, 2008

Use the 50 Bypass to Polaris factory

Traffic cone
Originally uploaded by stupz

If you're coming into Vermillion from the east, on 50, there is a nasty rash of road construction just as you enter town. It's nasty.

Take the 50 Bypass around that mess, but make sure you turn left at the Polaris plant, then go back to Cherry Street and continue west.

If you don't turn left, you'll continue towards Yankton and have to backtrack further than you'll want to.

The traffic was one-lane, either way, and it was cones everywhere.

On a brighter note it is not raining now, and the hospitality in Vermillion is excellent.

Also, gas in town here was $3.49; in Sioux Falls at the Flying J it as $3.63, fyi.

See you tomorrow, 11 a.m.


Thursday, May 8, 2008

Waters downstream ... May 31 Big Sioux River trip

Here's some news on an upcoming event.

The Siouxland Heritage Museums will host their second Big Sioux River Fur Trade Canoe Trip on May 31. The 14-mile downstream trip goes from the Big Sioux Recreation Area near Brandon to the Grandview Road boat ramp, near Lake Alvin.

Museum staff provide history of the fur trade in South Dakota and the role of the Big Sioux in the industry in the Midwest.

From their Web site, "Admission for the day will be $22 for adults and $15 for kids 12-17 accompanied by an adult."

It's a bring-your-own-boat event. But they say:

"Rentals can be acquired based upon availability of the suppliers. Space is limited for this unique river tour. Call (605) 367-4210 to register."

I assume this means byob, i.e., the fee does not include a boat rental. Just to clarify. But call 'em up, we had members who did this trip last year and enjoyed it.

Did you take part in this event last year? If so, post to the comments and tell people if it's worth the price, if you would be so kind.


Two days out: This won't be us

But it will probably rain, most recent National Weather Service forecast for Vermillion:

Saturday: Occasional rain, mainly after 1 p.m. High near 54. East winds between 10 and 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80 percent.

The cruise is still a green-light GO, so pack rain gear, extra hat, a spare towel, anything you might like to have for a less-than-ideal-conditions paddle.

Rick Johns said paddling the route in the rain, mild rain, often is very relaxing. As we used to say in the marines, "If it ain't raining, we ain't training."

But this is no training session or "mission," it's a cruise, so we apologize in advance if we all arrive and the conditions are hopeless.

Please come out if the May rain is not a buzzkill for you.

Originally uploaded by

Bring rain gear, and call or e-mail Rick or me if you have questions.

See you Saturday!


Missouri River Cruise
11 a.m. May 10
Holmes Welding and Manufacturing parking lot, at the junction of Timber Road and Highways 50 (Biz) and 19, just west of Vermillion, take Cherry St. through town.

Honcho: Rick Johns,

More info: Jarett Bies, 605-941-4940,

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Time changed for May 17 pool event

Originally uploaded by chaffneue
Just got off the phone with the YWCA. They have swimming lessons at the time agreed to earlier, so we're moving our event back two hours. It will still be in the same pool, same date.

May 17
YWCA Pool, Sioux Falls
11:30 a.m., set-up time and bring in first set of boats
Noon: We're on the water until 2 p.m., when open swim begins.

Call or e-mail Jarett,, or Steven Dahlmeier,, to reserve a spot or get more information.