Monday, June 29, 2009

End of Lake Sakakawea to Washburn, ND

(Uncle Dave Johnston collecting some firewood as the storm set in)

The great weather on Thursday changed on Friday night for Dave and Joe. As they were in camp, a storm whipped up, causing the weather to change significantly. The clouds began to swirl and a tornado was spotted two miles from their campsite. It began raining and Dave told me that by the end of the night, there was an inch and a half of rain in the bottom of the tent. The two of them had a poor night, but were only a day’s paddle away from Garrison Dam, so they pushed on in the morning.

(Storm clouds building around our campsite. This was the storm that produced the 70 m.p.h. gusts and the tornado. The sky turned a very eerie aquamarine!)

The waves were turbulent, stirred up from the changing weather, which made paddling very difficult. Only seven miles into Saturday’s paddle, Joe capsized. He attempted to roll the boat, but the rough waters made it very challenging. So Joe swam the boat to shore, recovering most of his gear, the lone exception being the cell phone. Luckily, our mother, Bonnie Forrester, will be meeting up with Joe in Bismarck with a replacement in hand.

(Delicious steak dinner courtesy of Uncle Dave after the capsizing incident. I am convinced this gave me the power to push through until 1:45 am. Steak Power!!!)

After the morning’s events, Dave and Joe decided it was best to try and wait out the storm in the tents. The weather did not let up enough for them to head out until 8:45 pm that night. Under a quarter moon they set out for Garrison Dam. The paddling was still arduous, with choppy waters and low visibility.

(Sunset as I was beginning to leave for the midnight run to Garrison Dam)

The green beacon near the dam, which is a navigating tool for approaching it, was not lit. Therefore, the two had to navigate the end section, full of trees, by starlight. At 1:45 am on Sunday morning, Dave and Joe made it to Garrison Dam. It took a total of 117 hours to paddle the length of Lake Sakakawea.

After a short rest that night, Dave parted with Joe after a great few days. Joe really wanted to thank him for the company, help, and companionship on Lake Sakakawea. He then set out down the river, fast approaching Bismarck.

(Uncle Dave and I before the put-in below Garrison Dam)

In his stretch today, Joe passed by some unique historical sites. Just downstream from the dam is a reconstructed Fort Mandan, which Lewis and Clark built and spent the winter of 1804-05. A little farther downstream, the Knife River merges with the Missouri. Upstream on the Knife River is evidence of hundreds of mound houses built by the Sioux Indians. The indentations in the ground are still visible and this is where Lewis and Clark obtained Charbonough and Sacajawea for their journey. (Much thanks to Norm Miller for the great facts on the region)

Joe is currently camped one and a half miles downstream from Washburn on a sandy island. He was very tired when I spoke with him today, as to be expected from the midnight run. But, he is in good spirits after paddling the second of the three large lakes (the last being Lake Oahe). Tomorrow, he will be arriving in Bismarck and will be able to update the blog with many pictures as well. He’ll be taking two rest days in town, Tuesday and Wednesday, and will be back at it on Thursday. In reaching Bismarck, he will have paddled 1007 miles!

(Camp on a sandbar outside of Washburn, ND)

Paddle on,


No comments: