September 27, 2009

Canoeing on the Little Sioux

This weekend my dad and I canoed 26 miles down the Little Sioux River in western Iowa along the Inkpaduta Canoe Trail. Starting out on our rental canoes near Quimby at the Silver Sioux County Park we would eventually make it to the Little Sioux County Park in Correctionville. Along the way we saw lots of wildlife, including the Osprey on the left, and worked our way around snag after snag while trying to avoid the hidden sandbars (this was due to the low water levels). The weather was perfect when we started and stayed that way throughout the trip. It didn't take long to find birds there. The Osprey (above) flew right over the river just a couple minutes out. Green Herons, Great Blue Herons, numerous sandpipers (we got really close to some), and lots of Eastern Phoebes and Belted Kingfishers accompanied us along our first day of travel. Great Horned Owls were also common sights as they flew from the trees along the river. A young Bald Eagle flew across the river as well adding to the already numerous bird sightings.

Just as it didn't take long to find birds, it didn't take long for a mishap to happen. About five minutes into the trip we tipped the canoe. A tree was crossing almost the whole river and a four foot gap in between the tree and the cut bank was the only way to go. Unfortunately we got going too fast and hit the bank. My dad began to fall in and he started to take the canoe with him. He went in and quite a bit of water got into our canoe but I managed to stay on. Luckily the water was only up to his waist. After bailing it out he got back in and we amazingly we made it through the rest of the trip with no serious problems. The snags (above) were in many spots along the river and they took a lot out of you (both physically and mentally) when you tried to navigate around them. In some spots you couldn't find a safe way to navigate around them meaning you would have to take the canoe out of the water and walk it along a sandbar to a place in the river without any.
After six hours and 13 miles we arrived at a place called Ranney Knob. We set up camp for the night there and did a little exploring and made a nice campfire. A cliff rose above the river giving us great views of the river below. It was made of sand and gravel and was very eroded so we didn't get to close to the edge for fear that it might give way. You can tell how eroded it was by looking at the picture below. The posts are dangling in mid-air and are connected by wire to posts that were still anchored into the ground near the cliff.
An Eastern Red Cedar (below), the only native conifer to the area, clings on to some soil near the top of the eroding cliff above the river.
The most interesting thing I saw there was a Northern River Otter which was floating in the river below me when I was on top of a small cliff. I had never seen one before and was very excited to see this very neat animal. Eastern Chipmunks were fairly common there and we even got to see a Woodchuck. When the sun went down we even heard a Northern Raccoon. The owls there were also of note, with Barred and Great Horned being very numerous. They called starting just before sunset and on through the night.
The next day we were not so thrilled to get up and go canoeing again because of the troubles we had encountered the day before. We got in the canoe and made it to Little Sioux Park a little before one in the afternoon. The paddle on the second day was fairly easy especially compared to the day before making it a very enjoyable time. The river was also wider and deeper making it easier to navigate than the skinnier and shallower upper portions. The trip came to an end and we were glad we went and ended up having a great weekend The river is a place of beauty and wilderness not far from civilization that is well worth exploring. Wildlife abounded there and was found at every bend making for a truly awesome trip.

1 comment:

Jann said...

That was one heck of a canoe trip! Sounds like it was very successful, birding-wise. Real nice photos of a pretty area.