Sunday, June 22, 2008

Newbies on the Kettle

Today Dennis and I met up with Bryan, Sarah, Lynn, Pike, and Derek to head up to the Kettle River. It was low for playboating, about 570 cfs (2.2' on the bridge gauge), but a good level for beginners. When we got up there we also got the happy surprise of meeting up with Kate, who didn't get to paddle at all last year, and a bunch of open boaters from MN and WI. On a funny note, there were 4 Bryans (including the Brians) on the river at the same time, which made communicating a bit confusing. There were also three lawyers on the river at once (myself, Kate, and Derek), but fortunately there was no dam or flood gate that anyone could open up on us.

The group we were with did great. People were making their eddies, learning to surf, hitting their first combat rolls (way to go Derek and Pike!), and doing the seal launch. They even got some experience reading water and paddling without following anyone all the way through hell's gate. There were a few swims, but nothing too bad and I think everyone picked up some new skills.

The only major problem we had was the bugs. Anytime you were out of your boat you were instantly swarmed with hundreds of mosquitos. They were vicious enough to make scouting a rapid far more painful than running it blind could ever be. If you go, bring bug spray. Lots of it. And bring it down the river with you.

On the whole, it was a great day. Bryan K snapped some pics of people at Blueberry, so I'm anxious to check those out. Pike also was kind enough to get some footage of people running Hell's gate, though I'm not sure whose camera it was on. I got some video of the Seal Launch, but that's about it. I got a couple of them posted on my YouTube page, so hit the link on the right side of this page to check em out. Unfortunately, both the videos and the pics in this post were taken with my poor old point-and-shoot which got flooded last year and has kind of a haze thing going on with the lens. Just think of it as a diffuser and it's all good.

Monday, June 16, 2008


This was quite the happy weekend. First and foremost, congratulations to Dennis for getting engaged! I never thought I'd see the day, but I couldn't be happier for him. Here's wishing him and his soon-to-be family the very best.

On a less momentous, but still very happy note, Dennis and I met a whole bunch of new Canoe U grads down at the Verm on Sunday. The river was at a good level for beginning paddlers (~120 cfs) and the newbies really ripped it up! I was completely impressed by both their skill level and enthusiasm. It's really great to see. We were also joined by Eric (a solid paddler who's a transplant from Wausau), Paul B, and Barney and his wife. It was a great group and a really fun day. Congrats to the new paddlers on their first Verm descent!

Unfortunately, I was too busy paddling and chatting to get the camera out, so there's no pics. Next time...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Ole's Photos from the Knife

A friend and co-worker of mine, Ole, came along up to the North Shore and took some pics of us on the knife. There's lots of great shots - here's a couple from his batch. Thanks tons for taking 'em Ole!

I also got one more video posted on YouTube (see link on the right) in addition to the ones in the post below.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Knife River

The North Shore of Lake Superior got slammed with as much as 5" of rain in 24 hours last week. This deluge sent the river levels soaring upwards and brought the North Shore Creeks back to life.

The Plan was to hit the Knife river in the morning, then hit either the French, the Stewart, or the very high Upper St. Louis in the afternoon. Unfortunately, other obligations limited us to paddling Sunday only and the creeks that had flooded so quickly had flushed most of that water down to the Lake by then. The French was too low to run, we were told the Stewart was too low (though later found out other people made the run and found it low, but passable), and the knife was low but runnable. We decided to try and hit the knife, then go and get some big wave action on the Upper.

The knife was a bit boney, but we made it down all right. The only carnage occurred when Brian J took a bit of a beating when he flipped in the lower section of the river and tried rolling repeatedly while getting bounced off the rocks on the river bottom. It looked like he took several good knocks, but no permanent damage. We were disappointed to find a small forest of trees wedged into the river right channel of Fish falls, making what would have been a really fun, 2-stage drop impassable. Nora has pics of it on her blog. The good news is that it forced us to check out the "fish ladder" that comprises the river left channel. It's a c-shaped groove in the rock that is a class IV- to IV drop, depending on the level. Yesterday it had a couple of small waves/holes at the top, followed by an 8-10' falls into a turbulent hole, then some more waves/holes and rocks to dodge on the way out. Aaron was kind enough to probe the run for us, dropping into the torrent at the bottom of the falls and punching cleanly through. Once we saw how easily he passed through, Graeme, myself, and Bill K lined up and headed through. It was a fun little run and definitely made the trip more memorable. The next couple hundred yards of Class III were boney, but fun, as was the drop below the Highway 61 bridge. We all made it to the takeout safe and sound, albeit a bit late.

When we got back to the cars it was already 3:45, so we didn't have time for the Upper. While this was dissappointing, we decided to head over to the Lester and just run the short stretch below Almost Always as a consolation run. It was fun, but I'm definitely wanting more. Hopefully we'll get another good rain so we can hit the French, the Stewart, or maybe take Mike and Melissa up on their offer to guide us down the Lester. Next time....

These are a couple pics (both of Graeme at the bridge drop) and videos (me on the Fish Ladder and Aaron on the bridge drop) I took with my little POS camera. Ole was kind enough to give me cd's of his shots from the day, but I didn't get a chance to download and post them yet. I also have a couple more videos that will make their way to my YouTube page in the next 48 hours or so. Stay tuned!