This tri-point was an excursion during my visit to the Iowa highpoint during the 2015 convention. It is located on the outskirts of Sioux City, Iowa, in the confluence of the Missouri and Big Sioux Rivers. During my research I discovered that all land access to it goes through a master planned community called Dakota Dunes (which lies completely in South Dakota). The point of land between the rivers where the tri-point was located is part of Dakota Dunes own little nature park. I decided to contact Dakota Dunes management to inquire about getting access. Plan B would've involved kayaking to the point, but this trip was only two weeks after shoulder surgery and paddling would not have been an option (I had only taken the bandages off three days prior). As it turns out, Dakota Dunes management was more than accommodating. I contacted a woman there named Brandi who worked for the community association. She was most inviting and basically just told me to let her know a week in advance when I would be there.
I started the day by visiting the Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota tri-point about an hour and a half north of Sioux City. The morning started with cool temps and overcast skies. Perfect driving weather. As I got closer to Sioux City, the skies cleared up and the temperature rose. Keep in mind that my car does not have working AC. When I pulled into the offices of Dakota Dunes it was pretty toasty. Walking into their offices with central air felt sooooo good. I met with Brandi and she was very warm and inviting. I felt like a community member stopping in for a visit. The plan would be she was going to lead me to one of the maintenance buildings near the park. This would be as far as I could take my car. She called ahead to see if there were any maintencace vehicles I could use to go through the park with. This was truly a surprise. Aside from simply granting me access to the property, I had not asked for nor expected any assistance in actually getting there. It would be about a mile and a half from the maintenance building to the tri-point and it was all flat. Normally, I could do a flat mile and a half with no sweat, but considering that the temperature was climbing into sweltering territory and I still couldn't use my shoulder to carry anything (backpack, camera, etc.) this would be a welcome bit of relief. We set out for the 2.5 mile drive from the office to the maintenance building.
When we got there she tracked down the person who had the keys and set me up with my ride. They brought me out to the garage and there it was, a John Deere Gator (sort of a cross between a four-wheeler and a pick-up truck). I climbed in and fired it up. I thanked Brandi for all her help and said I would stop back when I was done. I stopped by my car to get my gear and I was off. There was a series of groomed trails running through the park. There was almost nobody on the trails, so I could get a little bit of speed up and fly down the wooded paths. The park was very pleasant; plenty of shade trees and quiet. Perfect for casual walking and running. After a few minutes, I reached the end of the trails. I was still about a half a mile away from the tri-point, so I would have to hoof it from here. I slung my camera and tripod over my left shoulder, which was very awkward since I always put them on my right. In the video below I mention that I'm about 50 yards away. I was actually over 800 yards. I underestimated just a tad.
The hike along the river bank was very slow going. It was over a narrow strip of rocks and boulders. I tried using my tripod as a walking stick, and I had to be careful since I couldn't really use my right shoulder to catch myself if I slipped or stumbled. Plus it was really getting hot now. Since I left the cover of the trees the sun was really beating down on me. I couldn't get my sunglasses to stay up as they kept sliding down from all the sweat. Eventually I had to get off the river bank and back into the trees, both for shade and ease of movement. I worked my way through brush, trees, and little patches of open area. This area of the park had seen very little development and there were no discernible trails to the point. I finally came out of the woods for the last leg of the hike.
Where the Missouri and Big Sioux Rivers meet is a spit of land that projects out from the mainland of the park. It was about 30 feet or so at it's widest and 200 yards long. It was also totally exposed. No trees except for a few skeletons of some long dead ones. At the end of it was the tri-point. There actually seemed to be something resembling a trail this time leading all the way to the end. It was still slow going as it wasn't a maintained trail at all. It looked more like a wild animal trail if anything. By the time I got to the end of the point I was drenched in sweat. In the video it can be seen that my shirt is soaked. And it wasn't like I was over exerting myself, it was just really damn hot. I believe I referred to it as "hot as balls". Normally I like to hang out at one of my destinations for a bit and take it in, but the heat was getting a bit much and I just wanted to get my shots and get out of the sun. So I got my shots and started heading back.
I stuck to the woods this time and avoided the exposed river bank. It was still extremely humid, but at least I was out of the sun. I made it the half mile back to the gator, fired it up, and headed back towards the maintenance building. I didn't want to turn the gator back in, it was fun bombing around those trails. I wanted to get back to the campground I was at and take a shower. I stopped in at the office to thank Brandi again for going above and beyond in accommodating me and my unusual pastime. She noticed that my shirt was soaked and I mentioned how hot it was. I said goodbye and headed out. On the way back I stopped at a Subway for lunch because I knew their air conditioning would be cranked. It was... and it was glorious.
Other posts in this series: