Chippewa River – Low & Fast.

Another 2x kayaking weekend – woohoo!  Cyndie and decided to check out the Chippewa River.  Our in/out point was off of Hwy 35 just East of Pepin, WI.  There is a nice landing just East of the bridge.  The right side of the first island up from the bridge is hardly navigable (most of the way); we quickly turned around an opted to go around the other side.   The water was very shallow which made paddling in this swift current rather difficult, hence the very short up-river paddle.  There are plenty of sandbars on this river to stop and rest at and take in the beautiful scenery.  The eagles really like these shallow tributaries to the Mississippi; at the furthest point North that we went, there were no less than a dozen eagles flying about and hanging out on the shoreline.  There were another dozen of so down by the railroad trestle.  As you can see by the map, we didn’t make if very far.  It was a lovely day with great weather and big white poofy clouds filled the sky.

I think our next trip to the Chippewa will be coordinated with Will ‘n’ Jill’s Great Adventures.  They offer a shuttle to two points up river:  Ella, WI (8 mile run) and Durand, WI (15 mile run).    They also rent tubes, kayaks and canoes.  They also offer outings on Lake Pepin.  Reservations are highly appreciated.

Will ‘n’ Jill’s Great Adventures
210 Lake Street, Suite #3
Pepin, WI 54759
715-402-0104
willnjill@yahoo.com

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B follows A right?

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!

Water & Wieners

Double-good weekend; x2 for kayaking.  Cyndie and I took the wieners for a paddle on Saturday.  Strong swimmers they are not, but they ride mostly fine once they get that jumping out idea out of their heads.  Tindra and Audrey were all eyes on the shorelines of the WI Mississippi back channel, all ears for every bird tweet and call and nostrils flaring at all those interesting river smells.  It was a great couple-hours paddle and the girls certainly enjoyed their time on and off the water.  We had a short 10 minutes ride home afterward; I don’t think their eyes were open after the first five.  Lots of excitement makes the wieners tired.

Kayaking Cannon River – Hwy 61 to Hwy 35

With a wonderful Friday afternoon out in front of us – Doug and I decided to explore the Cannon, down-river from the Hwy 61 bridge.

Several kingfisher were darting about the river banks and there was a bald eagle perched in a tree around every bend.  Well…it was the same one that we kept moving along as we came into sight.  For the most part the only sounds were song birds, insects, the waters current as it cleared an obstacle and the occasional oar paddling.  We only ran into a couple of people fishing and that was early in the stretch.  It was absolutely gorgeous weather.

 Lots of trees down along this stretch and in the water.  There are many just below the surface that sneak up on you.  The driftwood and trash rafts were plentiful here.  We stumbled upon the usual artifacts – sunglasses and flip flops, but to my surprise…we even found the kitchen sink.  Even with the amount of trees in the water this was a great paddle.  The trees gave you something to paddle around and play with.  FYI – it isn’t a good idea to do the limbo with tree branches in your kayak.  I didn’t roll, but I listed enough to take on a very refreshing bit of water that stayed with me for the rest of the ride.  Oh yeah…see those orange dots on the map towards the top – that channel isn’t connected and there are sandbars throughout that track.  That section is mostly knee-deep mud with 6″ – 1′ of water on top.  It looks like some downed trees cut off the current on the one end and filled it in.  Next time I will head out to the main Mississippi channel at that point.

Cannon River – Welch to Hwy 61

Well…this kayaking thing is pretty fun.  It does resemble backroadin’ a lot; which is likely part of the reason I enjoy it so much.  I can only guess that it is extremely hard to have a bad time as I have yet to have one.  Last Friday morning I headed out to Welch with my buddy Doug.  It was time to rub some dirt on his new kayak and scuff up the hull a bit.  After the initial acclimation instance (minor flip over situation and the subsequent chasing down of a dry box and paddle downriver) we made our way away from Welch Village and toward  the Hwy 61 bridge.

This is the quiet and relaxing stretch, devoid of tubers, but not of all their trash.  We came upon a shallow spot – a sandbar of sorts I guess, that was covered in aluminum beer and soda cans (last two photos).  It wasn’t just a few either – the Cannon River has trash all up and down it.  Some of it from tubers/canoe’s/kayaker’s and some just from flood water carrying things around I suppose.  At any rate it looks very unsightly.  It would be wonderful if someone would implement an adopt a river program similar to the adopt a highway one.  A little bit of effort would go a long way.  Perhaps the rental establishments in that area would provide the watercraft for volunteers to retrieve this debris…hmmm.  Welch Mill does have ample receptacles at the landing for you to dispose of your trash.  There just isn’t a receptacle for stupid on the river though.

Shortly after garbage sandbar we were treated to a Bald Eagle sitting on the river bank.  I was able to get very close; at the very last moment before it took off, I was about 12′ from it.  By “took off” I mean that it hopped away from the river bank.  It was hard to tell if it was hurt or too full/heavy to fly or what the deal was exactly.   It was a pretty close encounter.  You never know what you are going to stumble upon out there.

Mississippi Backwaters

From the backroads to backwaters.  Kayaking is great; I can’t believe it took me 37 years before I tried it.

The Mississippi backwaters are immense; especially in the area we live.  There are so many aquatic avenues to paddle.  Here are some shots from our weekend trek from Bay City to Goose Lake.  It is a lovely stretch of water with a gentle current.  Although I liked these in color, I think black and white was a better choice to showcase the scenery of this perfect morning of paddling.

Kettle River Kayaking – Easy [and relaxing] Mode

A wonderful paddle was had by all this past Sunday afternoon.

Cyndie and I were in Pine City, MN on Saturday enjoying the weather; soaking up the sun and swimming in the Snake River with friends.  Since we were already in Central MN, I figured we could check out a river in the area.  As luck would have it, I have a co-worker that lives in the area just North of Pine City in Kettle River country.  A few pre-weekend emails and it was all set.

Cyndie and I met Bonnie and her husband Dale along with Bonnie’s sister, Anita and her husband Mike in Rutledge, MN.  We were a titch late after I completely missed some details on the map and we toured Interstate 35 for 20 extra miles or so after dropping the car off at the Hwy 23 bridge.  When we did get river-side, the mosquitoes motivated us to get settled and into the water.  They were vicious, but once we hit the water it was fairly bug-free.


If you Google the Kettle River you will likely run into information on the rapids in Banning State Park.  The likes of Blueberry Slide, Dragon’s Tooth, and Hell’s Gate look pretty exciting, but that really isn’t our speed though.  That whole stretch of crazy water lies South of the Hwy 23 bridge; there is a nice orange warning sign on the upstream side of the bridge advising every one of what is in store for you if you proceed.  This is exactly the spot we planned on exiting the river.

 

The stretch of the river we paddled began in Rutledge, MN just off Hwy 61.  The drop-point is down a short road just across the street from the Endzone Bar & Grill.  This is an excellent stretch for beginners like myself or for anyone who enjoys a leisurely paddle down a mostly calm section of river.  I say mostly because there where a few rapids, but nothing major.  Well…I guess I was the only on in the group that got hung up, turned sideways and pinned to the rocks on Rustlers Bend (rapids on the left side of picture below).  They don’t look like much, but if you are not paying attention – they will get your attention.  It’s too bad Cyndie didn’t have one of the cameras with her to capture my folly.  I did get a bit nervous initially when I got pinned against the rocks and I started to take on water with my camera around my neck and not in the dry sack.  I was able to get out and drag the kayak towards the island in the middle of the channel and get re-situated without further incident.  I did decided to bring a DSLR along for this trip.  I brought my backup camera, a Nikon D60, to test the waters so-to-speak.  I don’t think I will be bringing my other camera in a kayak ever.

There is a campsite in this very spot that has a terrific overlook of Rustler’s Bend.  There are some very unique rock formation a short distance down river from this spot.  You can access the shoreline through a narrow passage through the rock.  It is a bit of a tight squeeze to say the least.  Cyndie made the decent with ease and I hung out on top  and took in the view.  It was a great day; it was really nice exploring this stretch with people who know it well.  Thanks Bonnie, Dale, Anita and Mike!

Cannon River Kayaking

We just returned home from a wonderful 5 hours of kayaking 10 or so miles of the Cannon River.  There were lots of tubes, canoes, and a few other kayaks on the water.  The really nice a peaceful stretch is down river from Welch village (the end point for the tubers).  The last five miles consisted of complete peace and quiet.  Several juvenile Bald Eagles were flying overhead.  The Goldfinches, Kingfishers and Killdeers were plentiful and fun to watch as well.

We started out at the Miesville Ravine County Park (one of the drop off site for Welch Mill Canoeing & Tubing) and ended at the bridge on Hwy 61.  There are a lot of dead tree in the water, but nothing that you can’t paddle around.  The water level was good too, although I would have to think some areas are shallower now than before with all of the bank erosion.  There was one spot down river from Hidden Valley Campground that was narrow with a huge tree in the water.  You can stop and walk around it easy enough; other than that is was smooth kayaking.  It was a great way to spend the better part of the day.  Here are a few shots from the trusty point-and-shoot…no DSLR on the kayaks…not ready to attempt that yet.