This was at the backyard party that Alyce threw for us in Minneapolis. Big shout of love to Alyce for all she did for us (this was just a small part of it). Love you, Alyce, and also honorable mention to her roommate John (I think ?) and Max. Fun time.
Would you enter the abyss?
I understood this day of paddling was going to be a 25 mile day, which, with my early start was not a big deal, so I dawdled and took lots of pics. Then as the day progressed I noticed via SPOT tracker that Dale and John, who left before us and were traveling faster, were laying serious tracks. They ended up doing 38 miles that day. Yikes! I paddled into dark trying to keep up, and that included going though this lock at dusk. It was about 9 pm when this pic was taken.
A morning-after shot of my camp location that night. It was the first night I camped alone. Two different people had recommended I do so sometime during the trip, and this was my trial by fire. At 10:30 I was paddling along a quiet but very dark and desolate stretch of river, searching for a campsite via google maps on my phone – satellite view. Everywhere around me was solid woodland, and I knew that would mean mosquitos galore. Then I saw a stretch of shoreline with what looked to be a field about 20 yards inland. I hoped this might mean a breezier area and fewer bugs. So, pulled in, pitched tent and cooked dinner. Not long after I crawled into my sleeping bag, around midnight, the rain started – and it lasted until dusk the next day. I slept great that night.
After paddling into a rainy headwind for about five hours the next day, I smelled french fries cooking. Up on the bluff to my left was a tavern, so I made a beeline. They were open, so I holed-up inside for a few hours to dry out, eat, and charge up electronics.
View of the river from the warm coziness of the Nauti Hawg. I went back out and paddled from about 6 pm until 9 pm to get to Red Wing. The wind and rain and choppy water had all diminished considerably for that final leg. The wind tends to abate in the evenings.
While at the Nauti Hawg I also checked google maps and located a campsite in Red Wing. Calling ahead I pled my case: I’d be coming in late and wet, did they have someplace with a roof over it where I could pitch my tent? They did, and this was it.
Was feeling weary around this time. Several long days of wet and cold, headwinds and hard paddling were taking their toll on my arms and hands. Over the coming two weeks my paddling stroke improved (i.e.: became more efficient – more shoulder motion, less arm) but at this point things were grim. That’s when you break out the Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut bar.
Lake Pepin is beautiful. It’s a big natural lake (which is rare in that most of the lakes we’d been through were man-made), probably a mile or three wide and twenty miles long. The bad news is that the wind was mostly against us – not good for paddling, but good for sailing. This is on the lee side of the lake (wind-sheltered side).
One both sides of the lake, and in fact on both sides of the river, are railroad tracks. Trains pass frequently on both sides, many pulling these tanker cars – presumably carrying crude from the Bakken Fields in North Dakota. Rant alert! The scariest moments of the whole trip for me, have been when I was camped by the water (and thus also by the train tracks) and hear trains pass close to me in the night – sometimes only 30 yards away. There is no perfectly safe way to transport oil, but it seems that new pipelines would be safer than rolling these through myriad towns in our heartland. Already in recent years, dozens of people have died in the US and Canada from derailments.