Bridge City Marina & Resort

Mobridge, South Dakota

July 21, 2023

Dear Family & Friends:

The paddle from Liz & Frank’s home in Bismarck, North Dakota to Bridge City Marina & Resort was tough. Here’s the report

July 14. I had a good day after leaving Liz, Frank & Gus in Bismarck. Good current and I gained about 25 miles.

July 15. This was an especially tough day of paddling. I departed from my last campsite at approximately 8 AM and decided to move to the right (West) side of the lake to take advantage of the mild current and tail winds and stay close to shore. What I soon discovered was that access to the shoreline on the West side of the Lake was blocked by tall reeds that extend almost 1 mile out into the Lake. It was impossible to get close to shore to find a rest stop to have lunch and assess conditions. After hours of paddling, at 3pm, I finally found a point where I could pull off the Lake and set up camp. Not a great location, and I was stealth camping on the Indian Reservation, but I was glad to finish the day. Tomorrow, assuming good weather and calm waters, I plan to move to the left (East) side of the Lake where I hope to have more access to the shoreline.  Since I’m stealth camping on an Indian reservation I have another reason to move to the East side of the Lake
As I move deeper into Lake Oahe, I’ll lose all benefit of the current and will hope for tailwinds. I hope to reach Mobridge in two days. They have a marina with good food and lodging.
July 16. I was on the water at 9 AM, later than usual. I pulled off and set up camp at 5 PM, also later than usual. I paddled 23 miles.  There was no current, but I benefited from tail winds most of the way.  I stopped at Fort Yates, but it was Sunday and everything was closed. I hope to arrive at Mobridge the day after tomorrow.  I plan to spend the night at the Bridge City Marina & Resort.
July 17. This was a good day on Lake Oahe with calm waters and modest tailwinds. But, the long distances and absence of current made progress agonizingly slow. Still, I paddled 21 miles. I hope to reach the Bridge City Marina and Resort in Mobridge tomorrow. I plan to take a rest day at this Resort. At some point today, I crossed over into South Dakota.
July 18. Yesterday evening, before I hit the sack, I reported to my family that Lake Oahe is not living up to its bad reputation. It has been calm and cooperative. I should be in Mobridge tomorrow, sipping on a beer and enjoying food and lodging. I wish I could take that message back.
The winds blew all night, which was not a good omen. This morning I was on the Lake at 8 AM with great hopes for another tough, but fine, day. It was not to be. I was greeted by 15 mph headwinds, gusting to 25, whitecaps, and 2–3 foot swells. I was moving at around 1 mph. To put this in perspective, if you were crawling along the shoreline, I would not be able to catch up with you. A fishing boat passed by me, and  the wake of the boat, mixed with the swells, put me in a raging washing machine.
It was no longer safe to be on this Lake. The thick reeds along the shoreline made it impossible to reach the shoreline. God came to the rescue and opened a passage to a nice campsite. I grabbed this opportunity. To make matters worse, the weather report showed the possibility of heavy rain, perhaps accompanied by lightning. So, I had to set up my tent, rather than wait for the Lake to calm down. This was a wise decision anyway because that same weather report predicted these winds continuing the rest of the day into tomorrow. Looks like I’m stuck here for a long stay. July 18 was basically a zero day.
July 19. The wind almost always abates in the evening. I was up at 5:45 am and on the Lake at 6:30. The water was still and I hoped to reach Mobridge in the early afternoon. After four hours of paddling, I hit the wall of wind. The wind speed was over 20 mph, gusting to 47 mph, and the swells were enormous. I had no choice but to pull off the Lake and set up a temporary camp, with hopes that conditions would improve and I could resume my journey in the early evening. That did not happen.
July 20, 2023. I was up at 5:15 am and on the Lake at 6am. This was a much better day. The Lake was calm most of the way, and I even. enjoyed some tailwinds. I arrived at the Bridge City Marina & Resort at noon, just in time for lunch, washed down by a beer. Mike & Jessica Norder are welcoming and delightful owners. They set me up in cabin 9 where I enjoyed a long-overdue shower. They also gave me use of their Side-by-Side ATV to get around the Resort and travel to Mobridge to resupply. On July 21, I used the ATV to travel to Mobridge to have breakfast and pick up a few items. Tomorrow, I’ll be back ln the Lake.
When you start a canoe trip on the Missouri River, you sign up for these challenges and setbacks. I have encountered worse in the mountains. At times, it is really hard not to get discouraged. These last few days really tested me. But, I treat this as part of the adventure and try to make the best of it. I gave now passed the halfway point on my journey down the Missouri River.

First campsite after Bismarck

Slogging through the tall reeds

View of my campsite from the bluff

Rough water on Lake Oahe

Bridge City Marina & Resort

Bridge City Marina. Cabin 9 is on the other side of the bay

Mike, Bill & Jessie