Tuesday, July 14, 2009

From Lake Sharpe to Lake Francis Case

Joe was short on his conversation today, exhausted from what he considered to be his most challenging day so far on the Missouri. He awoke early to paddle around the Big Bend, encountering fog and low visibility until late morning. Afterward, the fog cleared and was replaced by a 20 to 30 mile per hour headwind that did not stop until he set up camp after the Big Bend Dam. The wind made for huge waves and a difficult time paddling. Besides the great walleye fingers that the family from the West Bend camp left him, he did not eat too much. He had to keep paddling to make any progress because of the intense headwind. There was also an afternoon severe thunderstorm watch, so Joe wanted to make it as quickly as he could to the downstream camp at Big Bend Dam. That being said, the day was still long, taking him 8 ½ hours to paddle the 22 miles. It then took an additional 1 ½ hours to portage the Big Bend Dam.

I spoke with Joe right after he had pulled into camp, before his meal. He sounded exhausted and ready to set in for the night, although the weather is supposed to be bad tonight as well. If the weather hits as predicted, his goal will be to get to Chamberlain tomorrow. If the weather takes a turn for the better, Joe should be able to make it quite a bit further.

Joe did mention that the Big Bend Dam was pretty spectacular, as the many pelicans and turkey vultures that were riding the air currents gracefully would glide over the dam’s edge. Too bad it wasn’t like that for the kayaker!

As mentioned in the last blog, Lewis and Clark noted the Big Bend area as being rich in flora and fauna. Lewis and Clark reported their results scientifically, discovering and describing local flora on their expedition in this region. In the Big Bend region, on September 19, 1804, they characterized Broomweed (Gutierrezia sarothrae).

A photo of Broomweed (Gutierrezia sarothrae)

On September 21, 1804 in the Big Bend area, they characterized Aromatic aster (Aster oblongifolius), Bushy atriplex (Atriplex canescens), and Few-flowered psoralea (Psoralea tenuiflora). (All info taken from http://www.nwrac.org/lewis-clark/oregonian/176.html). The discoveries of local flora and fauna continued in their expedition up the Missouri.

A photo of Aromatic aster (Aster oblongifolius)

With the portage complete, Joe is now on Lake Francis Case. The lake is smaller than the big three (Fort Peck Lake, Lake Sakakawea, and Lake Oahe), but still significant. His time on it will last until his portage of Fort Randall Dam, located by Pickstown, South Dakota. Joe predicts the lake could take him around 2 to 3 days, but that is all weather dependent. I will hear from Joe when he arrives at camp in Chamberlain or further downstream, and look forward to updating you all at that time.

Paddle on,


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