The weather forecast for that morning called for clear skies and mild NNE winds. Instead, a thunderstorm started building just as I was about to shove off. I put on my rain jacket and donned my PFD and hoped for the best as I headed out of the inlet and onto Lake Francis Case. As I began my crossing to left river bank, the wind began to blow in earnest (9-10 mph) so I raised the sail. The next several hours were pure canoeing bliss. I had a strong tailwind that pushed me towards Chamberlain, SD, and I took full advantage of the opportunity to make some quick miles. The only downside was rain throughout the morning which required me to pull over and pull on my rain pants to go with the jacket. I also mounted my GoPro on the connection behind my seat and turned it on hoping to get some good footage of me using my sail; we’ll see how much is usable when I get a chance to view it on a computer.
|Red Rock, a landmark south of Chamberlain,|
My game plan for Francis Case was to do at least one high mileage day to get me in position to finish the lake in a timely fashion. Thus, I was back on the water on June 11th heading to Elm Creek, a paddle of some 32 miles. That put me in a good position to do shorter miles the next few days as I hopped from Elm Creek to Snake Creek then on to North Wheeler (one of my favorite campsites of this trip) and finally arriving at the Ft. Randall damn. Thankfully, the weather (wind!) cooperated. I faced SSE headwinds during my entire crossing down to Ft. Randall but they remained fairly mild each day. I was nervous the entire time that the wind would kick up and blow with the same intensity as it had on Oahe and Lake Sharpe leaving me windbound on shore. My luck held and I was able to arrive at the dam on July 14th.
|With Cheryl Pruett at Snake Creek|
So…one more lake to go and then the run on flowing river to finish my planned trip at Nebraska City. I won’t say that this trip has been easy and that at times I wasn’t ready to toss in the towel. I am now starting to savor the description “planned trip” for my summer adventure. Once I pass the Gavins Point dam I’ll be heading downstream to finish at the spot I always intended. A small part of me is starting to celebrate but not just yet, I don’t want to jinx things!