This whole canoe trip was one big disaster, starting with the fact that I drove five hours to get there only to find the water was less than a half foot deep in most places. (Not the 8 feet I had read to be reported by the NOAA website!) Sandflies tormented us for an entire two days. No amount of bug spray could keep them from biting us; thus our only protection was to clothe every part of the body from head to foot. Not that this would have been so miserable either, were the temperatures not recored those two days at 117 degrees Farenheit. We cooled off with frequent ‘dips’ (fully clothed) in the shallow, hot water.
Amongst these hardships we also suffered blasting winds, bad-tempered cattle (we were threatened by a bull staying cool mid-stream and a cow giving birth on the riverbank). The ground was too hard to drive tent stakes into and the wind blowing so hard that we had no way to anchor it but with our body weight. Rattlesnakes were a hazard. There was no shade, only dead trees. And on the wind all night only the moan of coyotes and the hair raising sound of a mountain lion screeching! No relief anywhere. Finally shortening our three day trip to two, we were rescued by a cowboy 17 miles into the trip who gave us a ride back to our car. He had to haul our canoes out of the river with a lariat rope up a 15 foot steep enbankment. This cowboy was the owner of the first and only ranch we saw on the Cheynne Indian Reservation during that trip. Because I had lost my shoes in the river trying to dodge the bull in the water, I had to pick my way across 1/2 mile of cactus strewn prairie wearing my daughters too small flip-flops while I carried her (13 at the time) piggy back on my back so she wouldn’t burn her bare feet!
Our rescuer’s only advice on the (air conditioned) ride back to Bridger, South Dakota: “next time you should call us before you canoe the Cheyenne river”.