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.

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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.

Flooding Rains: June 14th, 2012

Torrential rains fell during the afternoon and evening of June 14 in Goodhue, Rice and Dakota Counties. Hardest hit was northern Goodhue County with reports of six to eight inches. The highest 24 hour total found so far is 8.83 inches from a National Weather Service Cooperative observer located in Cannon Falls. Another volunteer observer reported 8.40 inches in Stanton Township in northwestern Goodhue County. Another observer located in Northfield in Rice County recorded 7.13 inches. The 8.83 inches measured at Cannon Falls is the largest 24-hour total June rainfall measured at a Minnesota National Weather Service Volunteer Cooperative station in the history of the program. The previous record was 8.67 inches measured on June 17, 1957 at Minnesota.

The focus for the heavy rain was a stalled warm front that was draped across southern Minnesota. The heavy downpours caused flooding in basements in the hard hit areas, as well as rapidly rising rivers. The Little Cannon River near Cannon Falls rose twelve feet in about ten hours and set a new record crest. The Cannon River at Welch was near a record crest by 10am June 15. Numerous roads were closed in Goodhue County, including Highway 52 during the evening of the 14th. People were being asked to evacuate their homes in parts of Cannon Falls.

July 1, back-roads around Welch, MN area.  
You don’t have to study the topography of the area that much to get a sense for what that kind of water would have looked like raging down all those valleys.  Well over two weeks have passed and roads and bridges are still being repaired.  The damage is incredible.

Teddy…stuck in some twigs 7′ up in tree along a stream bank

Large trees strewn about a flood-damaged corn field

 You can see the piles of debris along the treeline next to the river.

This road is in pretty good shape compared to others we were on.

Deep, cavernous trenches lined many of the country roads…where they weren’t missing large sections or even washed out completely.

Here are a few other shot from our drive about looking at storm damage.