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
Thursday, July 05, 2007
Loss Lake - July 2007
This morning I headed west on Highway 42 to Loss Lake, just north off of Highway 19 a couple of miles. Like many of the area lakes, it would be difficult to find this spot without some detailed directions or a good map. Just north of 263rd Street, there is a small sign off to the right, heading north, that indicates a public access area to an unnamed lake. There is a minimally maintained gravel leading up into a stand of trees where a launching area is provided by the SD GFP. There is a decent parking area and a primitive boat ramp; no toilet facilities are provided.
This was a pleasant morning in the midst of a hot July; at 8:30 a.m., the temperature was in the 70s, there was a light breeze, and the skies were clear. As always on this lake, I was alone for my contemplative paddle around the circumference. Today, I took about 70 minutes to paddle along the entire shoreline. There was plenty of depth to the water, although there was considerable algae growth along some of the shoreline.
I did not see any waterfowl today, unlike most other times on this lake. I did run across a beaver, and a pair of large owls flew up out of some trees on the south end of the lake as I approached them.
There are swaths of the lake with a dense growth of cattails. I tucked the bow of the kayak into the reeds to sit quietly and observe the bird life. While the initial approach tends to spook them off, birds tend to return if the paddler sits quietly waiting. Also, I saw clusters of little black fish often. One of the attractions of Loss Lake is the opportunity to move slowly along the shoreline and closely observe details of the life forms that inhabit the lake community.
At the north end of the lake, where I believe the feeder creek must enter, there is an electric fence line stretched across the outlet where cows seem to stand around to escape the heat. I saw this herd of cattle on my trip to Loss Lake last year as well. Such a sight is not uncommon on these prarie lakes where the shoreline joins farm land. It is a sight often seen along the Big Sioux or Split Rock Creek. The cows only gaze at the paddler, however, and they keep to themselves.
I looked again at the old dilapidated structure that I was told had been the reviewing stand for officials when small hydroplanes used to race on Loss Lake.
While taking a cruise on Loss Lake is not exactly high adventure, it is a tranquil time to mull over events, to observe life within and alongside the lake, and just to enjoy a little time alone on the water. As I drove west and then back east on Highway 42, I had the windows down, enjoyed the green scenery, and had Bruce Springsteen cranked up loud as I sang along with him and the E-Street Band about “Glory Days.”