Kayaking season in South Dakota lately has been lackluster at best. In fact, last summer was rather tough as well. It's because we haven't had sufficient rainfall for quite sometime. When the rain does come, you have to be ready to rock.
It was early Sunday morning when I decided to hit the Big Sioux River. While the rain was wrapping up I packed my gear for a solo trip though the bluffs of Sioux Falls. As soon as the last drip fell from the sky, I was off.
I dropped my boat in the water at 57th & Western at about 7:45am.
Right away, I knew this was going to be a great trip. Not only was the water flowing faster than it has in years, but the morning was shaping up to become a perfect day. The remainder of the rain clouds were heading east and the sky opened up to reveal a warm, morning sun. The surface of the river was as smooth as glass and nature was waking up all around me.
Birds were chirping, fish were jumping and who knows what other creatures I was close to. Every now and then I would hear a random splash. Something was looking for breakfast. I saw quite a few different kinds of ducks introducing their new ducklings to the water. This was Mother Nature in her full glory.
The only bad part about the river running so high and moving so fast is the lack of rapids to tame. As you can see in the picture above, these rapids are far from extreme. This particular area is known for eating boats. The rocks typically scrape and sometimes poke through your kayak. Not to worry this time, the water was so high that I didn't feel a single bump.
Shortly after I passed under that bridge I had an incredible encounter with a deer. Now, it's not unheard of to see a doe or two bounding down by the river. But, rarely do you ever encounter a big 'ol buck! I just happened to look to my right, and there he was. He was hanging out in the dew drenched grass, staring at me as I floated past. Once I was finally able to fumble open the waterproof case I keep my phone in, I was already 100-yards downstream. But, this was not an opportunity I wanted to miss. Nobody would believe my story. I needed visual evidence! So, I paddled against the current back to where I originally ran into this beast. Lo and behold, he was still there! I snapped as many pictures as I could before he got sick of the paparazzi treatment and pranced in the opposite direction. Sadly, the picture below is this is the best shot I could muster. You can make out his nose and eyes in the center of the picture. He still has plenty of tan velvet on his rack. My best guess is that he's a 10 or 12-point buck. Not bad for being in the middle of the city. Not to mention, that is literally just feet from the bike path that circles Sioux Falls.
I finished my trek a little under three hours from when I started. Needless to say, it was another incredible journey. Not many people realize that nature is all around us. That's the case even if you live in a major metropolitan area. And now, I have the blurry proof to prove it!