Lake Sakakawea (Renamed Lake Black Cat)

The inches we need are everywhere around us. They’re in every bay of the lake, every eddy of the river.  I fight for that inch.”-Hybrid quote

Tuesday July 15th

Peg, the remarkable owner from Tobacco Gardens, was kind enough to allow me to spend the night in the grounds bunk house and it was special. I am now acclimated to sleeping in my tent although it was great to have a soft mattress to rest on last night. I waited until Peg arrived in the morning to discuss the plug situation. She had to go to Dickinson and thought there may be one in town-I was doubtful given my previous Great Falls experience. She called a few places and no one had the vaunted 45w MAGSafe 2 computer lifeline. She suggested I have one sent to Mckenzie Bay Marina (MBM) and called the owner, Ronda Logan, and she was fine with having it delivered there. Beautiful. I ordered one with 2 day shipping so by the time I arrive on Thursday (hopefully) it will be there waiting for me. I packed up and departed the really nice grounds of Tobacco Gardens around 10:30 after a fine breakfast. I left the bay and found myself fighting a strong NE headwind, it was tough sledding. I really wanted to make some distance so I can position myself to get to MBM on Thursday.  I made about 15 miles after some really hard paddling. Today I also realized that if I do make it to Texas, I may only have the boat and paddle with me…if I’m lucky. Yep, Sakakawea stole my rain jacket. I have been very conscientious about lashing my items down, I have a bucket in front of me with all my essentials-rain gear, suntan lotion, weather radio, photo of Tom Brady, etc. I kept taking out my jacket on and off since it would get warm and then cold. Since I kept taking my jacket on and off, I simply let it rest behind me…bad move. I arrived at my campsite and realized it was gone!!! Oh boy, I pray it doesn’t rain unto I get to MBM. I was livid with myself, a total idiot move.  Oh, and I forgot to mention I also left a pair of nice Sperry Top-Siders on shore back on Lake Cat 1 (peck). This can’t continue but probably will. I went to bed upset, plugless, jacket less, tired, and agitated.  

Getting prepared to leave Tobacco Gardens..looks calm.

Getting prepared to leave Tobacco Gardens..looks calm.

Not so much...

Not so much…

At least the scenery is nice.

At least the scenery is nice.

Home.

Home.

Home x 2.

Home x 2.



Wednesday July 16th

I may never have exerted more physical energy than today.  I was on the water for 16 hours with only a few short respites. I left around 6:00 and was determined to get myself relatively close to MBM. The morning delivered optimal conditions, no wind and comfortable temperatures. I paddled hard to New Town where I was able to pull off and run into the bait shop and pick up a candy bar and soda.  Again, they didn’t have a deep inventory of goods but it was nicely situated on the river.  I sadly didn’t stay to spend time at the casino  although this may have been my most prudent decision of the entire journey. As soon as I left New Town a SE wind picked up…how can I go north and the winds come out of the north and the day I start heading south the winds shift to the south? Ridiculous. I fought it hard ALL day. Also, boats started to appear on the lake. It was a wave of them heading north towards New Town as I was heading south. I felt like a Brooklyn NY 1940s pedestrian.  After a break to eat some instant pasta I soldiered on into the evening. Winds abated and I made some additional miles after a couple lake crossings (not crazy like Cat 1) eventually arriving back on the south shore. I scouted out a suitable campsite since it was now approaching 9:00. Lake Sak is full of perfect campsites and I now was pressured to find one. It proved somewhat difficult and finally after a long day, I found a questionable site which was way too sloped, too rocky, and not ideal for boat anchoring. I called it a night at 10:30. I must say the lake is beautiful, if this was in a more populated area there would be millions of people that would take advantage of the lake and would be much better known. North Dakotans like it this way, they are fortunate to have such an asset. It didn’t rain and the forecast is for dry (but probably windy) weather.

Heading out for a LONG day.

Heading out for a LONG day.

 

HERE'S....NEW TOWN!!!

HERE’S….NEW TOWN!!!

Here comes the wind again. Falling on my head like a memory.

Here comes the wind again. Falling on my head like a memory.

Can't paddle ALL day.

Can’t paddle ALL day.

Looking good!!

Looking good!!

Quick Lunch

Quick Lunch

Questionable campsite

Questionable campsite



Thursday July 17

Mckenzie Bay Marina Day. After over exerting myself yesterday I was feeling sluggish but was within striking distance of MBM. I headed out around 8:00 and conditions were relative calm in the morning. It didn’t last. South winds now started to prevail and, so far, the entire 5 days I have been on this witch she has delivered headwinds. I am renaming this lake to Lake Black Cat, a Mandan chief who was instrumental to the Lewis and Clark expedition during their winter in North Dakota. The one saving grace is that it was dry, not having a rain jacket was not coming back to haunt me. I was determined to make it to MBM today but really struggled in the afternoon. The tank was empty, it seemed like I was not making any ground with each stroke. I negotiated the turn into McKenzie Bay and the last 4 miles seemed to take forever. I also wasn’t thrilled with having to paddle an extra 8 miles(rountrip) to MBM to get the plug. Yes, after paddling 25 hours out of the past 35 I arrived to the pleasant surroundings of MBM. My back hurts, my hands are blistered, my arms are shot, and my mental state of mind is fragile. Ok, so it is always fragile but that is a discussion for another day. I walked into the marina and said “Help,help me Ronda”…and she shared the disappointing news the plug hadn’t arrived. I was crestfallen. 35 back breaking hours and no plug? My 20 followers want internet updates.  Also, I was unaware that the plug wasn’t sent since I had no cell coverage since back at Tobacco Gardens. Verizon is the preferred carrier in this section of North Dakota, I borrowed Ronda’s phone and called Vicki to vent. She informed me the item was never sent and agreed to personally buy it and send it to Dakota Waters Resort (DWR).  A nice hamburger and double scoop of ice cream helped settle me down. Ronda was very accomodating and provided me with prime tent access.  Ironically, I met a lady from Longview TX and I immediately asked her “Have you seen Hands on a Hardbody?”  She responded “Yes, that is one of my favorite movies.”  It’s not what you think, it’s a classic flick about mind over matter.  I liken it to American Idol before American Idol.  It’s about winning a hardbody truck..whoever can keep their hands on the truck the longest wins it. Only in East Texas but I digress….

Calm again in the morning.

Calm again in the morning.

It never lasts..moo moo buckaroo

It never lasts..moo moo buckaroo

Is that McKenzie Bay around the corner?

Is that McKenzie Bay around the corner?

It took forever...

It took forever…

My newest best friends...lots of East Texas talk

My newest best friends…lots of East Texas talk



Friday July 18

After two very lonng days on the lake, I took it easy in the morning. After a nice breakfast I headed out. Finally winds were with me out of the west. Well, after getting into McKenzie Bay I realized winds were TOO with me. Whitecaps were all around and I was getting battered around. It’s interesting when the wind is behind you, it’s harder to prepare for the waves since you can’t see them. You know they are coming but they can spin your boat turning you sideways into the next oncoming wave. I wasn’t up for the fight today so I landed safely just about the entrance to McKenzie Bay and waited it out. Normally, I would be upset with this situation but this was probably a blessing. I needed the rest. The winds were strong for about 7 hours and I was comfortably saddled on shore and hiked up the Black Cat bluffs which provide amazing views. Winds died down around 6:30 and I headed out to make a few miles and find a good camping spot. I paddled for about an hour and called it a day. Also, my package shouldn’t arrive until Monday at DWR so I didn’t feel pressure to make miles.

Getting ready to head out.

Getting ready to head out.

Too windy to canoe..my tribute to old Tampa Stadium

Too windy to canoe..my tribute to old Tampa Stadium

View from the bluff, can you see my boat?

View from the bluff, can you see my boat?



Saturday July 19

Headwinds. Black Cat isn’t much better.  I was still sluggish from killing myself earlier in the week so I took it easy today. I paddled about 15 miles and should easily (maybe not easily) make it to DWR tomorrow. I stopped multiple times exploring the bluffs, again the lake has been phenomenal outside of the winds.  I made it to within about 13 miles of DWR and sought shelter for the night in one of the coves. I hiked to the top of the bluff, called Vicki (I only get cell at very high locations) and headed back to my campsite for dinner. As I was firing up dinner I realized I was in a major cow pasture, only this one had major league black flies. These aren’t your garden variety houseflies, these things bite like hell. Also, there were hundreds swarming my boat so I decided to pack up and find a better night time resting destination. I paddled down the cove and found a less fly oriented location. I heard “moo” so I slept with my paddle- just in case.

Saturday at Black Cat

Saturday at Black Cat

Bluff

Bluff

sorry for the lack of variety in poses

sorry for the lack of variety in poses

Wicked cool bluff

Wicked cool bluff



Sunday July 20

I awoke to warm weather, it was one of the few days my tent had no condensation, and set out around 5:45 to ensure an early DWR arrival. The water was calm and I had a slight tailwind-thank you Black Cat. Black Cat is a big lake (not Cat 1 like) and I did get slightly disoriented. As I crossed one of the bays it seemed as though I should go into the bay although the suns placement seemed off. Perhaps it isn’t the sun..maybe it is me!!! I confirmed with a fisherman the correct route and made it across the bay and was almost home free. I can almost smell the Apple plastic packaging. I finally made it to the bay and canoed to where the boats were located and asked one of the boaters were the marina and sundry shop were. I was surprised when he responded “There is no marina or sundry shop here, you can go to the next bay where Dakota Waters Resort is located; they have amenities.”  Oh boy, I managed to fall 1 bay too short. I was very close to DWR but this was still psychologically disappointing.  I thought I was at my destination but still had to paddle for another hour. I landed at DWR and the staff gave me the red carpet treatment. Amber and Tom, owner and younger brother, set me up with a nice campsite-at no cost. I moved my canoe to a sheltered location, had a nice lunch and relaxed. I will be here for the remainder of today and tomorrow awaiting my delivery. I napped in the shade and listente to am radio.  At 6:00 all the boaters returned to their campsites.  I met my campsite neighbor Eric and his son Ronan. They were great, upon learning of my adventure Eric insisted on providing me with some top notch venison and beers. It is rewarding to met such nice folks. I concluded the evening chatting with another group about the upcoming walleye fishing tournament. My plans are to head out early Tuesday morning.

Morning Float

Morning Float

Disoriented...

Disoriented…

Made it to DWR

Made it to DWR

Eric and Ronan, thank you for the Venison. Quite tasty.

Eric and Ronan, thank you for the Venison. Quite tasty.

Dakota Lands

Dakota Lands

 

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11 Responses to Lake Sakakawea (Renamed Lake Black Cat)

  1. Donald Zinter says:

    MY, MY what an adventuresome tale you tell, one must remember though, Lewis and Clark did not have any of the wonderful amenities you talk about on their trip (paddling against the current), in the opposite direction. I really enjoy the subtle sense of humor tucked away in your narratives about the adventure you are experiencing. Keep up the dialog and keep paddling.

  2. Laurel Padgett says:

    Keith, you are amazing. Not only are you great at taking your adventure ‘head on’, you are also terrific about writing about your adventures & the photography is wonderful. I look forward to your book that you will publish about all your memoirs. (BTW: can you jut hear me pronouncing all those ‘abouts'””? Great job — you are our HERO. To Vicki, your support is outstanding for Keith to follow his dream!
    Laurel

  3. Patrick says:

    I wore my “Sperry Top-siders” all day yesterday in memory of you now departed “Top-siders” RIP big blues. Reading your post makes me feel better every day. Proceed my brother.

  4. J-Dub says:

    Keith, KUTGW! YDAGJ! Love reading about your adventure. You’re giving me a new perspective of sitting in my office, while others like yourself are out exploring America! Keep paddling….keep blogging. JW

  5. Kenny G says:

    Sorry I haven’t been in touch, but I just caught up on your journey and it sounds like you’ve been through a lot lately. I’m really enjoying your stories and am impressed with how you have pushed through your trials and tribulations and overcome so many challenges. You should be really proud of yourself. I’m glad to hear that you have taken some time away from the river the last few days to recharge and take in all the scenery. Make sure you rest when you need it. I’m sure you’re in no hurry to get back to the real world, right? Oh, a little news update for you – Johnny Football has the top selling NFL jersey since the first of April. Gig ’em! Happy paddling, my friend!

  6. Kent Schreyer says:

    Keith, two big lakes down and one to go! We are really enjoying your blog and the pictures. I wish we could experience some of this in person. It’s an incredible journey and something that we will be talking about for the rest of our lives. Glad to see that you are not pushing yourself too much and are taking rest days. One of these days we will be able to deliver your new cables with a quadcopter and lower your stress a little! Good luck and paddle on.

  7. Robster Walker says:

    Keith,
    Awesome post, best one yet. Very funny. And you have quite a stellar beard!! You will come back to Dallas a world traveler AND a hipster!

    Keep it up. Tom Brady (I’m certain) is following your exploits!

  8. Christopher Reagh says:

    Glad to see you across that lake. Its cool that you ran into son folks from my area out of Longview. Keep paddling.

  9. bacaruda73 says:

    Keith,
    You’re getting close to the 1000 mile mark! Excited for you!

  10. Michael Callaway says:

    I am not sure what is harder, a single man crossing America in a canoe or a single man crossing the country in an airplane with two toddlers.

  11. David Forbes says:

    The questionable campsite on July 16 looks very similar to where I camped last year during my descent of the Missouri. The biting flies can be wicked and they don’t get better until Nebraska. But then the Deer Flies start. Amber and Thomas were good to me too. I stayed an extra night there as the wind was too strong and the waves too big.

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