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:

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Third Big Sioux River Clean-Up this Fall

Earlier this week, Cory Diedrich, the secretary of the SDCKA, put out another call for the third Big Sioux River clean-up in three weeks.  Last week a fleet of eleven kayaks and one canoe spent a couple of hours cleaning the river as it flows through Sioux Falls from 26th Street upstream to the bicycle trail bridge, a distance of about 2.5 miles round trip.
Last night, four of us answered the call and assembled at the Minnesota Avenue bridge on the eastern end of Yankton Trails Park in Sioux Falls for this latest phase of the project.
There is no designed put-in at the Minnesota Avenue bridge, only a steep rock-strewn and weedy slant down to the water’s edge from the bike trail. 
Mary Finck and Cory Diedrich were in the kayaks, and Dave Finck and I were in the canoe.  Last week, Dave and I cruised down the channel of the river and served as the hauler for debris gathered by the kayaks. 
I was assuming that we would have the same role, the geezers just gathering the junk picked up in the river and along the shoreline by the kayaks.  With only four of us, though, that role changed.  Instead, we were also collecting debris as well as transferring loads from the kayaks. 
We worked the shorelines from Minnesota Avenue nearly up to Western Avenue, a distance of about a mile.  There was a significantly larger amount of debris in the water, stuck in tree strainers in the stream, and along the shoreline than we found on the section downstream last week.
The current was surprisingly fast in the river, although the depth ranged from a few inches to about three feet.  The river is about 50 to 75 feet in width along the section we worked, and the channel was sometimes difficult to locate.
The kayaks had no difficulty with water depth, but in the canoe we sometimes scrapped along and had to backtrack to get into water deep enough to continue.  As the debris load increased to three hundred pounds or more, the canoe settled into a deeper draft, making the passage more difficult at times.
We thought that we would move upstream, turn around, and then head back down, picking up litter and debris as we went.  As it happened, though, we were unable to resist grabbing trash on our way upstream as well.  The big items remained for the return trip, including a plastic swimming pool, one tire, a big section of lawn edging, and larger pieces of plastic.
By the time we made it back, the canoe and kayaks were heavily loaded.  We figure that we picked up about 500 pounds of debris in this short section of the river. 
All of us were beat with the work of paddling upstream, fighting through strainers to collect plastic bags and bottles, and hauling the debris back downstream.  At times, we had to drag the loaded boats across shallow sand or gravel bars.

We finished our work as night was falling with lightening flashing and thunder rolling across the northern skies; we had spent about two hours on the river. Even though we were all tired, we still felt good about our river clean-up project.   

The complete set of photos of this clean-up event can be found on my Flickr page at the following URL:

No comments: