North Dakota/Lake Sakakawea

My Apple plug fried today…so I apologize no photos will be included and my next update may not be for about a week.  Lewis & Clark are laughing somewhere right now.

July 10th cont…

After concluding my meal and loitering at the pizza joint, I walked back into the grocery store and bought a few items and refilled 3 gallons of water.  The prospect of walking back down a dusty dirt road did not carry significant appeal so I asked a lady in a big truck for a ride….she took one look at me and politely said she “wasn’t going that way.”  I then asked a local construction worker, Rhett, and he agreed to cart me down the bumpy, dusty road.  Yes, The Helinda was safe and sound, looks like the show must go on.  I continued on for about 15 miles and found a nice camping spot….tomorrow I say “Hello, North Dakota.”


July 11th

Somehow it rained again last night, I went to bed without a cloud in the sky.  The stretch from Culbertson MT to North Dakota was quite beautiful, the skies cleared and I had a nice float all the way out of Montana.  Fort Union, a trading post back in the 1800’s, marks the Montana/North Dakota state line and I was intent on checking it out, I understood it was relatively accessible from the river.  Not exactly.  It turned into somewhat of an undertaking to access the historic post.  I pulled off the river multiple times looking for a pathway to the Fort, finally I did locate the secret passage.  The problem was that I wanted to bring my video camera and tripod so I “scouted” out the best way to the Fort.  Well, to access the Fort you must walk through a mosquito infested swamp (think Everglades) but their was a lagoon that appeared to go right to the grass pathway.  I figured the lagoon was upstream (I easily could have missed it), so rather than cart all my stuff back and walk through the swamp I decided to canoe back upstream to locate the lagoon.  I thought “well this will be good practice for the Red River”, uh, yea, I hope the current on the Red is not as swift as the Missouri!!  I did canoe upstream and realized the lagoon doesn’t connect to the Missouri, so I headed back downstream and carted my stuff across the swamp. The banks of the Missouri at this location were extremely muddy, I sank about 2 feet into the muck.   The folks at Fort Union were enjoyed my visitation, they suggested I had everything in my canoe except a bar of soap.  The Fort was a neat experience, it is amazing how goods were exchanged years ago. I paddled on and stopped at the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri.  Great campground. I spent the evening with the campground host Blaine, we discussed the oil boom in nearby Williston.

July 12th

I wanted to try to get to Lake Sakakawea today. It turned out to be too windy, so I settled for a sandy beach island in Williston.  After I left the campground, I made about 20 miles when winds kicked up to about 30mph so I landed on river left to wait it out.  I noticed a path through the muddy marsh and ended up on a river cul de sac, this place seemed a bit scary, clearly a river party spot.  I felt fortunate about having shade and a hard ground to wait out the windstorm…until a truck arrived.  This could be the end, who knows who these car could be, I should have just fought thru the wind.  They asked me why I was at this locale and after sharing my story, they were like my best friends.  One of them was even familiar with Twin Bridges, he had knowledge of the Beaverhead River.  After a nice chat, I waited another couple hours before the wind subsided.  It is frustrating to be wind bound on the river with current, just hangin’ out doing nothing while I could be on may way to Lake Sakakawea.   I made my way into Williston, I knew there would be a campground on the downstream side of the 85 bridge.  I pulled up to the campground after flashing a couple cool canoe maneuvers (I am sure I look groovy making all these nifty turns now) and checked out the scene.  Not a good place to call it a night.  I have heard so much about the Williston boom, it has somewhat of a tainted reputation.  This was clearly a party spot so I decided to head across the river and stay at the nice sandy beach which was somewhat disappointing since I really wanted a meal in town.  I will have to wait until tomorrow where I hope to reach Tobacco Gardens on Lake Sakakawea. Tobacco Gardens has a restaurant and a friendly paddler reputation.  I fired up some Beefaroni and polished off a couple twizzlers and called it a night.  Wish I would have made more miles.

July 13

Off to Lake Sakakawea, hopefully I would make it to Tobbaco Gardens by nightfall.  Instead, I enjoyed the company of an intimidating herd of cattle.  To arrive on the lake you must go through a marshy maze and eventually you end up on the big lake.  Everything was going well until about 2 miles from the lake.  Yes, you guessed it. Wind. I had to battle the wind on the river and then after going through the maze I found myself in the middle of Lake Sakakawea dealing with less than ideal conditions.  I was in no position to continue on the Lake, so I battled whitecaps and made it to the south shore as quickly as possible.  I arrived on solid ground although I was in a cattle country. I observed a dirt road that appeared to go to one of the oil refineries or derricks and I attempted multiple times to make it to the road so I could perhaps walk to the refinery and maybe ask for a ride to a convenience store or simply enjoy conversation with another human. No chance.  Each time I attempted to outflank the cattle heard, they became spooked and stared me down.  I must have tried 5 times before realizing this was a fruitless effort.  I spent eight hours hanging out hoping the wind would die down, it never did.  I finally setup my tent and called it a night.  Very frustrating day, the weather was perfect save the wind.  Looks like the ghosts of Fort Peck are rattling around.  According to my weather radio, conditions should be better tomorrow.

July 14

It started off promising, it ended well but today was as draining of a day since I started this journey.   I woke up at 5, the lake appeared to have calmed down, there was no cattle attack in the middle of the night (I setup my tent around a bend out of their site) so life should be good today.  I can almost taste the hamburger at Tobacco Gardens. Well, after about an hour of paddling the winds kicked up.  It took me 11 hours to go 20 miles, I was dealing with significant headwinds (NW) and 1-3 foot swells pretty much all day.  I felt relatively safe since I was close to shore and if I capsized my boat would be washed nearby given the wind direction.  In some ways today was rewarding because I am starting to feel more comfortable out there in tough conditions.  It would be nice to have a couple days where the water is like glass although I am doubtful this is possible.  After battling it all day, I finally arrived at the much anticipated Tobacco Gardens campground & marina.  Yes, shower number 4 was in order, laundry was executed and a great hamburger was consumed.  I was crestfallen when I plugged in my computer cord and it fried.  Ugghhh…I have a couple videos I wanted to post and pictures to upload. I spent the evening with a group of oil workers, I thought my industry had jargon…you haven’t heard jargon until you sit around a table with a group of energy men.  I felt lost and I was despondent since my plug is toast. Time for bed.

Looks like plug 3 will need to be acquired, perhaps not until Bismark.  Stay tuned. Here is my conversation with Sakakawea from my hour break this morning.

KL “Hey Sak, any chance you could calm down and give my a break?”

SAK “No Keith, I am upset with you.”

KL “Why is that?”

SAK “You have been disrespecful of my merits, and my place in American history.”

KL “That’s not true, you are an American icon.  Probably the most iconic woman in our history.  I simply mentioned that you overshadow other feats of great Indians, particularly the Mandans, who were critical to the success of the Lewis & Clark expedition.  You represent the necessary assistance they received, but at the same time, you get all the glory.”

SAK “Yep, that is why I will make passage difficult.”

KL “Please, just a couple days of calm weather.”

SAK “We’ll see.”

KL “C’mon now, we would have gotten along famously back in the day.”

SAK “Maybe I’ll grant you decent weather, not sure though.”

KL “Thank you!!”


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7 Responses to North Dakota/Lake Sakakawea

  1. bacaruda73/Roger says:

    Don’t get discouraged, they call it Mother Nature for a reason. She can be very hard on her children. Like all moms she challenges her children in order to allow them to learn and grow stronger. Also every now and then she even has to discipline them now and again. At the same time when she is calm, nice and helpful she is the most beautiful woman in the world.

    Keep paddling Bro

  2. Donald Zinter says:

    Over the edge for sure, Keith is now talking to the mighty lake and weather gods because he cannot understand the special language of the energy workers who make this such a great and wonderful country. The poor boy has spent way too much time in the sun paddling that canoe of his trying to outdo the mighty feat of Louis & Clark, even though he is traveling in the opposite direction (with the current). Congratulations Keith you finally made it out of Montana, a noteworhy say the least. Keep paddling and don’t tempt fate.

  3. Will Garvin says:

    Today – 16JULY2014 – you should reach Reunion Bay. Spirits reside there – read about it … a very special place.

  4. James Harper says:

    early signs that Keith will be living in a cabin in the woods of Montana soon. (if you know who I mean?) Keith, it is OK to talk to yourself but just don’t document your conversations, it makes your alternate personality too real and for you it is a woman which is truly sad. Give me your man card.

  5. Amy says:

    @James Harper…. Funny!!

  6. Kerry says:

    I enjoyed the conversation. Reminds me of old times….

  7. Sean says:

    Hey uncle Keith!!!!!! i am so proud that you made it this far with many more states to come. But i think hallucinations have come. clearly because you talked with the river. any medicine around?

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