Yesterday, Dave Finck called and asked if I wanted to go out
kayaking today, and I was quick to respond affirmatively. We decided to go to Scott Lake, near
Hartford. As I got my gear ready
this morning, I was a bit apprehensive about the wind conditions. The day was described as “breezy” with
winds 15-25 mph. Still, we set out
from Sioux Falls for Scott Lake at 8:00 a.m. and arrived there to find
whitecaps over the lake. Heading
out into the waves and strong wind on that open lake did not seem like a good
idea any longer, so we turned around and headed east to visit Split Rock Creek
and cruise upstream from the dam at the Garretson City Park.
The wind was at least 25 mph blowing upstream from the
dam. Spray from the water flowing
over the dam was blowing back upstream.
But, along this sheltered waterway, the high palisades
rising above the creek, the landscape of the creek bed, and the high banks
decreased the concern for high winds.
Indeed, as we launched into the creek and headed upstream, the wind was
at our backs and we were able to continue with very little effort upstream the
1.25 miles before reaching the rapids.
Winds may have well been above 25 mph as we made the cruise
this morning, the temperature upon departure upstream was about 60 degrees, and
the sky was an alternating series of dark and light clouds with occasional
shafts of sun coming through.
The wind was strong enough to make photography
difficult. As I would fumble out
the camera, wind would shift the kayak causing a lack of directional control.
We continued up into the palisades and enjoyed the new green
of spring growth, the range of birds viewed, and the drift of clouds that
produced alternating periods of deep overcast with relatively clear blue spots.
We ran into quite a number of wild turkeys this morning
along the left bank going upstream.
They seemed to be roaming in the grasslands and did not seem especially
startled to see us passing in kayaks. There were many other birds as well, including a
return of the cliff swallows that are already into their mud nests that adhere
to the cliff walls of the palisades along the course of the creek.
The palisades are always spectacular along Split Rock Creek as they loom high overhead with their fantastic variety of plant growth sprouting from cracks in the surface and atop the summits.
Coming back, we ducked under the arched bridge that leads
into the campgrounds of the park.
This entrance to Devil’s Gulch is secluded and nearly always calm. The wind does not easily penetrate into
We moved under the railroad bridge until running out of a
passageway. This little oasis of
tranquility is one of my favorite spaces along this waterway. Bird life is abundant along the cliffs,
and fish were swimming just under the surface as we crossed shallow spots.
After exiting under the arched bridge, we returned to the
launching area and loaded up. The
cruise this morning took us about an hour and a half and was really a fine
I gave written several narratives about Split Rock Creek
through the palisades, and an interested reader can review these by accessing
the menu of area waterways on the right side of the blog homepage.
For those interested in viewing the
complete set of photos taken on the cruise this morning, my Flickr account is
available for review at the following URL: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jayheath/sets/72157633837919310