Wednesday, April 28, 2021

North Dakota, here we come!

Well not exactly we, more like a bunch of a food items heading out via UPS.  This week’s major goals for trip preparation include shipping out the second month of freeze dried food and assembling reading materials.  Hopefully, when I reach Tobacco Gardens (located outside the metropolis of Watford, ND) my food will be waiting.  I tossed in a special treat as a reward for making it through Montana and the first reservoir in the Dakotas.  I hope that by the time we meet again that I’ve settled into a good grove and the paddle is going easy...

My second task this week is assembling maps, books, and music/entertainment to bring along on the trip.  The great thing about carrying an iPad is that it has lots of storage room to include reference books and items to read for pleasure.  I hope to do a little wandering while around camp and on shore encountering plants, insects, and other wild creatures.  I’ve also been warned that the winds on the big lakes can be overwhelming and to expect to be windbound on shore for several days.  Having some good reading material will make the hours pass by a little quicker while waiting for conditions to improve.

Two weeks from tomorrow I’ll be departing Lincoln.  I’m trying to wrap up my to do list which mostly includes loose ends around the house.  The canoe, food, and equipment are all ready to go.  I know I’m forgetting something important, I just can’t remember what it is! 

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Shaking it down, the final packing list, making decisions...

Way too much stuff!
I'll be paddling for 8 weeks and traveling almost 1,800 miles; that means I need LOTS OF STUFF, correct!?  Clearly, I'm a product of western civilization as I have well over a hundred items on my packing list and all of them are absolutely critical 😂.  Then again, Grandma Gatewood hiked the Appalachian trail three times carrying her required essentials in a pillow case!  Last weekend's activity was to dump all my gear out on the living room floor and toss out what I don't need.  Unfortunately, the discard pile ended up being woefully small.  I just have TOO MUCH STUFF!

Where will I sit!?
After repacking my bags I went about the task of seeing how it will ride in the canoe.  I quickly deduced what's already been said, too much stuff.  The problem is my original intention to carry my entire eight week supply of food instead of doing a food pickup halfway through the trip.  If I stick to that plan my boat will be overloaded on the upper Montana stretch of the river above the Missouri Breaks.  An overloaded canoe going through rapids is hard to control, even in minor ones.  Thus, I've made the decision to mail month two of my food bill to Washburn, North Dakota, for pickup when I pass through.  I don't, however, like the idea of trying to time my food rations, especially if I get wind bound on Lake Sakakawea but that's how she rolls sometimes. 

Click here to view the entire packing list
Thus, the current plan is to carry five weeks of food and ship the remaining to North Dakota.  The trip from Three Forks, MT, to Washburn, ND, should be about 30 days (assuming a travel rate of 30 miles/day) which will give me an extra week of food before the pickup.  Carrying all of my supplies would have been much simpler but now I'll be back to the streamlined packing profile I had 10 years ago on my Lower Missouri River trip.  Each day that passes on the river makes the food bag a bit lighter and the paddler (me!) a bit more trimmed and efficient.  It's a good tradeoff in the end.

And in case you're wondering, here's my complete packing list.  I developed it for my last big mileage trip using a couple of resources including Cliff Jacobson's book Expedition Canoeing and my own experience over the last few decades of outdoor travel.  Enjoy reading!

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Numbers, what's in a name, and decals

The countdown to the May 15th put-in continues!  This week I'm working on itinerary and thinking about the details of traveling to Montana.  I've loaded the boat on the truck a few times and she seems to ride nicely but I did need to purchase some new anchors for the hood/front tie down straps.  I guess it never hurts to work out those kinds of loose ends before the actual day of departure.

This week's blog update is a short one as all the major packing and planning is done.  I thought it might be a good time to talk about boat registration and decals.  Nebraska law doesn't require registering a canoe and the same is true for the states of Montana and North Dakota.  Unfortunately, South Dakota regulations state, in part, that "non-motorized boats over 12 feet in length must have a validation sticker, but boat numbering is optional."  A bit confusing, especially for a river through-padder.

My take when reading the regulation was that if I didn't want to worry about being hassled I should register my canoe.  Of course, doing so turns out to be harder than you'd think.  After locating the proper form on the Nebraska DMV website, I made my way over to the nearest office.  I was told by the clerk that I wasn't required to register my canoe and she was a bit surprised at my response of "yes, but I want to."  Evidently, there are few idiots that insist on filling out paperwork, standing in line for over an hour, and spending $27 when they aren't required to do so. After three supervisors were called for assistance and I was questioned several times about why, I left with my pink registration form in hand (yeah me!).

The next step in this odyssey was to locate stick-on decals.  Google being the friend that it is, a quick online search yielded a couple of companies with online tools for designing and ordering the correct setup.

While ordering my registration decals I decided it would be good to throw in an order for my boat's name.  One of my blog posts from my trip down the lower Missouri ten years ago highlighted my decision to name her the "James Caird."  I have long been intrigued with the 1916 Ernest Shackleton led open boat rescue voyage from Elephant Island to St. George Island (800 miles across the roughest waters on the planet!).  Since my boat is about the same length as that craft and will be occasionally under sail, I figure I'm justified in giving her an official name.  After all, I will be living in her for about 8 straight weeks and she's more than a weekend sit on top canoe.