This blog is designed to highlight the paddling opportunities within South Dakota, mainly within a 50-mile radius of Sioux Falls. While Sioux Falls is far from the adventure of coastal regions, there is a certain satisfaction in utilizing the available waterways to observe weather, water conditions, and the landscape along the shoreline. In addition, there is a wealth of animal life on the waters of small South Dakota lakes, rivers, and creeks, including geese, ducks, pelicans, great blue heron, egrets, hawks, owls, perching birds, deer, raccoons, and beaver. Eagles, fox, and coyote are also sometimes spotted.
The sites described are places where I have kayaked over the past few years, mostly in South Dakota but sometimes including locations in Iowa and Minnesota. One of the best sources of information on the accessibility of small lakes is the South Dakota Atlas and Gazetteer, the large map book of South Dakota. Lakes with a public access are generally identified by a boat symbol marking the location of a launching site on public land.
You will notice the menu of paddling locations on the right side of the blog. Each of the postings is linked to one of the areas, and my intention is to provide a continuing review of the places where I paddle. Perhaps these narratives will help readers select waterways of interest to them. Please feel free to offer a comment regarding any of my postings; I would welcome the dialog.
I also maintain a companion blog that describes hiking opportunities within the Sioux Falls area. You can access that blog at: http://hikingsiouxfalls.blogspot.com
Monday, July 02, 2007
Grass Lake on a Windy July Morning, 2007
Last night I decided to head back to Grass Lake to check out any changes since my last cruise there in May. By 6:30 a.m., I was drinking my morning coffee and by 7:30 a.m. was at the public access area about 22 miles from my eastside Sioux Falls home. The morning was cool, about 68 degrees, with a stiff wind out of the southeast. The sky was mostly overcast with a hint of mist or fog about in the low areas. It looked to be a pretty grey day with waves over as much of the lake as I could see. There was a flock of six pelicans feeding within sight of the launch point.
Being mostly a creature of habit, I decided to take off on my normal route along the north shore heading from the eastern end to the western end of the lake. The wind was blowing across the lake, and I was in waves of 6-12 inches right away. Waves kept rolling into the north shoreline during this initial leg of the cruise, and I had to keep alert to wave and wind action on the kayak. The waves splashed up on the hull during most of this portion of the cruise, soaking my front: pants, shirt, and life jacket.
Toward the northwestern end of the lake, there is a rocky promontory where aquatic birds seem to spend a lot of time. The rocks are white from droppings over the season. There was a variety of birds at this spot, much as there has been on most of my cruises to Grass Lake. Today, the great blue heron were the most skittish of the bird crowd, and they flew off as I approached. The pelicans followed next, and finally the gulls departed. There were a number of other types of birds out along the shoreline. I did not see any mammals out today.
At the western end of the lake, I crossed over to the south side and found a nice lee to ease my cruise back toward the launching point on the northeastern end. This cruise back was a marked contrast to my outward route: the lee was very calm, and I could move slowly while looking into the shoreline growth for possible sightings of animals. There was a constant sound of the stiff wind blowing through the trees and other shoreline growth.
My cruise this morning took me about two hours. I decided to make my way back along the southern and eastern shoreline to avoid the heavy wave action that dominated the lake surface just off the banks of the lee side. As nearly always, the lake was deserted today. I rather like it that way, of course. Most of my paddling is solo, and I find the empty waterways to be a springboard to personal reflection. It is also very quiet and there is always a good chance to observe interesting wildlife: although, not today.
Grass Lake is a jewel for area paddlers.