We have lived on the river for over a decade now and have a very good understanding of its unpredictable nature. Sometimes it is completely flooded in the spring for weeks on end. Other times, like this year, there is no flooding and the transition from winter to summer is uneventful.
Heavy summer rains can also cause it to rise unexpectedly and flood during the hottest months of summer. During those types of summers, we are not able to go down and enjoy the river much at all. I’m a little freaked out by the power of a flooded river and have always forbade my children from going near it in those conditions.
We have often talked about getting some kayaks or a canoe to explore the river beyond just walking along its bank on our property. During some of the summers when the water has been low, we have actually walked in the water a ways up-stream to explore. The kids have also navigated it a little aboard our oldest son’s scow boat creation, but that was pretty labor intensive and they never really went that far.
With the early spring and low water levels (remember, we haven’t even had a real winter here in Minnesota), we decided to finally take the plunge and buy some kayaks to explore this winding river. We took them out on our maiden voyage this weekend.
We decided to head upstream first to see how difficult it was to paddle against the current. Floating downstream first, only to discover it was impossible to navigate upstream, seemed like a bad idea.
Keep in mind it was April 1st yesterday here in Minnesota. The sun was shining and the temperature was in the 60′s. Crazy.
We bought two single kayaks and one double. That way, the kids can each have their own vessel to maneuver, and theoretically it will prevent them from bickering and blaming each other when they go floating into a tree or slam into the river bank.
The double kayak works out well for me because I can just sit back and enjoy the scenery while Jesse paddles, or, I can blame him when we get off course.
We were all real excited about the new kayaks and about being on the river. It is something we have talked about for so long and yesterday we were finally doing it!
The river has a lot of fallen trees in its winding path. Most of the time you can navigate around them, but sometimes you have to get out on to the river bank and go around.
After going upstream quite a ways, which was new territory for us, we ran into a tree jam that we weren’t able to navigate through with the double kayak (the kids managed to push themselves through with the singles). We decided to head back downstream since we were just out for a leisurely afternoon paddle to explore.
Going downstream is a breeze. Paddling is only required to keep the kayak on course.
In a few weeks, the river will look much different as the leaves fill out and form a canopy. And then, the mosquitoes will hatch…and the whole experience will become very different. We will have to figure out how to deal with that aspect when the time comes.
After our maiden voyage on the river, we were very pleased that we finally decided to buy some kayaks. We are hoping that was just the first of many lazy weekend days spent together paddling along the river.