Sunday, May 31, 2009

What happened to May?

the month of May will be marked on the Blog this year with only a few posts..My trips and short hikes have been had this month, but without a working camera.

The big digital that died in Yankton was returned to life with A new lens and a lot of delicate cleaning, but was lifted from the back of my car only a week later. The ol'e Minolta monster destroyed it's last roll of film with a faulty shutter and has been put into retirement...
The other (older) ol'e Minolta monster is still down without a light meter..
It seems that I was left camera-less for too many weeks this month. I couldnt collect the money to replace my favorite stolen camera, but was able to find a sweet waterproof point-n-shoot to begin shooting replacement photographs...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I started off at the Cabin, near Squaw Creek on Big Lake. We had only sun until late, but the area was constantly under a new Severe storm or tornado watch. Some very cool clouds popped up at dusk- they sat underneath a bright moon. I walked down the the cemetery to take a photo with the old 35mm. The trees are beginning to look very green! Thunder and far-off lightning arrived after sunset, but we got no precipitation. I woke up in a thick, wet fog-mist and drive north under menacing clouds and through several short showers- I met Vicki in Yankton on Friday afternoon- just as the Educational event was coming to a close. I hung with Vicki, John and Alex and helped where I could. Yankton was rainy and rather soggy until hours after I arrived. Blue skies shown bright for an hour or so and I got my things into one of the steel boats; the rest of the crew would arrive later in the day to meet us on our island-camp! I set upstream on my short kayak- The camp was only a half-mile or so from Yankton's ramp.

I paddled and worked to compete with the oncoming flow, and made it to the double-decker bridge before a great, ominous shelf cloud boiled it's way over the city. i saw the thing coming and paced myself carefully to make sure that I would be in a shallow spot under the bridge in case the storm became too wicked. It hit with force- a cold northerly wind blasted at, according to one weather report, 45-60 mph, with damaging gusts exceeding 80mph...

Being on the water quickly became a dangerous idea and I worked against a miserable wind to beach the boat. the dark shelf-cloud passed- I took some dramatic photographs of the storm over the bridge on the city from the water, but the driven rain turned into hail and I sought refuge under my life jacket- removing it from my body meant I would become very cold. The rain slowed and I regrouped and took hold of the kayak's front handle- I wanted to walk to regain my body heat.- I know that I should have been better prepared, but I cant imagine that anyone was prepared for the storm that battered the upstream portion of the city! I wondered how John was doing with the boats.

The wind continued, and formed large white-capped waves that sped downstream with the storm. The persistent stinging rain became miserable pretty quick, but I drug my boat to at least some relief; the shore was all flat sand and mud until I needed to cross a slim, deeper braid in the river. I started to wade across. Already wet, I was not afraid to sink stomach-high in the milky water, but I carried my camera with me and returned to shore to hop in the oat and battle the wind across. About halfway across I caught a good gust and sailed onto a sandbar- I had to get out to launch the kayak again. The rain was gone after another tenth of a mile or so- just as my legs began to tire from towing the kayak. The clouds were obviously breaking up and I got out onto the main channel as winds slowed. I made it to the camp where only one tent stood sideways with a shattered pole. With the kayak secured high on the sand I entered camp- I tried messing with the crippled tent for a second; I stood it up, but did not want to make matters worse and left it. I began collecting firewood- the wind was still intense, but it was surprisingly dry- it felt warm. I stumbled into a pair of juicy Yellow Morels and immediately became distracted...
I jogged back to the kayak and grabbed the camera; it took me the length of the short trek back to the mushrooms to realize that the lens had been temporarily rendered useless by bubbling condensation. I picked the mushrooms and walked another few steps to find one more. I stashed them in the mess kit that I had brought over. Nobody came, and I wandered down the beach -towards the bridges with the wind at my back- Maybe there was a cool stone or fossil to be found? Many fossilized bone fragments sat amongst the largest gravel-

I got to the tip of my island-far downstream of camp, where that deep braid returns to the river. The sharp, shallow point was repeatedly overcome by the wind's largest waves. The slightly-green water is still cold from northern snow melt and cool nights. A large, ancient vertebra sat in the shallows of the point- I stubbed my toe on it while only ankle-deep!

I ignored time and made my way back towards the camp and my boat. The wind whipped at my face kept my hair horizontal. It felt good, but just as I began to feel that I must be close, I caught a glance of my bright orange kayak- rushing over a log and propelled by an unusually gust of dry wind. Immediately I thought of the camera that I had let to dry on the anchored boat, and the thing rolled into a tree not far from me- nearly 30meters from where I had left it! The wind hit me with a blast of stinging, blinding sand- My camera was dead- the lens was lodged under a large drift-wood trunk and the unprotected body was partially cracked and filled with camera-killing sand. I was frustrated and saddened by the loss, but the sun came out again and I couldn't feel bad in such a beautiful place. I still had the 35mm........

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Glade Planting

Rocky Point got a makeover today when a small group of volunteers braved the mud to plant a variety of natives; Dozens of flats of flowers were planted- I saw Larkspurs, Blazing stars and Coneflowers among them.
Everybody seemed to have a good time- and the weather, for the most part, cooperated. I'm calling it a success!