In a perfect organized and non-forgetting world – yes. Yippee, Friday is here. I called my friend Doug to see if he was up for a paddle; he was game. Neither of us have paddled the Zumbro River before and decided to give it a go.
I knew of a parking lot near Kellogg, MN in the Krueger Recreation Area from back-roadin’ around the area. This was our exit point [our original one anyway (B)] and where we would leave Doug’s truck. We pulled in, parked and started to transfer his gear from his truck to my car; then it happened. An “oh snap” moment heard around…well our immediate area anyway. I didn’t see Doug pull out his life jacket and paddle from behind his truck seat; so I asked. “Aren’t you going to grab your jacket and paddle?” To which he pulled the seat back and the look on his face was priceless – as was the string of expletives that followed. No paddle; no jacket. These things happen.
After a brief discussion on how improvisation of the missing integral components of kayaking would not be possible, we began to brain-storm on how to avoid the trip all the way back home to retrieve the forgotten items. Our first mission was to acquire a signal – no service in this valley. Back out to Hwy 61. After much calling around we now knew that there wasn’t a paddle to be bought any closer than our drive home. There was hope though. In researching the area of our current adventure (<– always a smart plan as you never know what your day will bring) I ran across an outfitter in the area that has rentals and does shuttles on the Zumbro. Zumbro River Ratz was located in the vicinity of acceptable paddle-plan deviation. A rental paddle was secured in short order and our plans adjusted accordingly. We relocated Doug’s truck to Theilman [A] and drove to Millville [C] to retrieve the paddle. If you are in the area and ever find yourself…well up a river in this case, without a paddle, Zumbro River Ratz has you covered. Thanks Lisa!
We launched out of Reads Park in Millville. The Zumbro is a very clear river. There were numerous times I saw small mouth bass swimming along side my kayak. I was pleased to also see that there wasn’t as much trash as the Cannon. Although the Zumbro was a lot shallower than the Cannon, the current was nice and it was a great paddle. We didn’t encounter even one spot where we had to drag the boats. There were lots of eagles on this stretch, both immature and matures. I missed a great photo op as the immature was so well camo’d when I passed directly underneath – a mere ten feet away. Needless to say I was a bit startled when it decided to fly. We encountered a noisy lot of geese in a few different areas. They didn’t pay us much attention because they were two busy monitoring the eagles swooping from overhead. There was plenty of young tender geese with the bunch. There was no shortage of wildlife. Songbirds galore, king fishers, and even a young whitetail deer on the edge of the river munching away.
After a few miles of wonderful relaxing paddling, Doug decided to bring some excitement to the drift. You’ll notice in one of the photo’s Doug appears to be wrestling with some downed trees in the river. Well…the current does funny things at times and if you get too close to an obstruction it will pull you in and pin you down. That was precisely what occurred; I narrowly missed the same fate. I heard from behind me, “oh OH,” and I had a pretty good idea what was going on. With camera in-hand I turned around to see Doug wrestling with the downed trees and his boat taking on water, not to mention the paddle slipping off the bow. About face – paddle paddle paddle – retrieve paddle – giggle – paddle paddle. The boat finally released from his grasp and I managed to push the half-sunk craft to the sandbar to which Doug had a refreshing swim to.
A wonderful afternoon filled with adventure on the Zumbro!