Pottsluck-Olympic Dreams travel blog

2018-08-29.Lewis and Clark Portage

We are still at Oahe Downstream Recreation Area. Did I mention previously that the shoreline of Lake Oahe, formed as a result of the damming of the Missouri River, is more than 2500 miles going from the capitol of South Dakota, Pierre, to the capitol of North Dakota, Bismarck? This entire area was explored by Lewis and Clark and, in homage to them, Bob and I launched the kayaks into the mighty and intimidating Missouri River near the campground. It was sunny and breezy. We decided to kayak downstream with the current, but against the wind; in hindsight, not a good choice. As we approached Diver’s Point, (the local dive spot and a peninsula jutting into the river), the river was forced into a smaller channel and needless to say, it was quite a ride through the whirlpools and swirling current. Once we escaped the whirlpools and the river broadened out, we were able to make our way to the tailrace, a canal leading to the outlet valves for the dam. Along the way, we saw at least two immature bald eagles and a golden eagle diving for and catching fish, perching on tree branches above the river and even landing on the river bank itself. We had never been able to identify a golden eagle before and for both of us, it was a thrill to see this magnificent bird posing with his fish for a photo before ripping the fish to bits. We were able to see what we identified as golden eagles in the sky over the dam as well; they are so huge with downward curving wings. After the thrill of seeing these eagles, we headed back upriver to the campground. Or rather, we tried but the current around diver’s point was so strong and swirly that neither of us could make any headway past the point. So, we let the river take us backwards til we could paddle again. We had two options at that point: (1)paddle to campground 3 and walk several miles back or get a ride from a friendly host or camper; or (2) paddle back to diver’s point where we could see the Jeep in the distance. There was a path from the point back to the campground and it wasn’t that far but, I suggested that we simply try to get out of the kayaks onto the rock-strewn peninsula, portage the kayaks across the peninsula, a matter of only about 15 feet, and get back in and paddle to the Jeep. So, that’s what we did and we made it!!!!

We will not make the same mistake again. Always paddle upstream so if you get stuck or approach rapids, you can float back to your starting point.

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