St Croix Paddle Day 12

Our second day on this trip. Beautiful weather!

Nothing looks as nice to a paddler than seeing the boats laid out like that, just ready to float!

Above and below in the foreground is Troy’s 17′ Old Town Tandem kayak that carries us so well!   It is low in the water and very stable (unless a lady is determined to dump out its contents….  more a bit later ….)

Troy had time for a last minute text home and a photo and then we had the morning briefieng and then we were down to the water like a pack of crocodiles that had been on the sandbank too long!

Mark and Troy and me, first paddled upstream a few hundred yards to look at the cliffs at the paddle boat landing. [I will place more of Mark’s photos in a next posting.]

Half way through the day’s paddle, we stopped at a sandbank where a gentleman beached his boat with several coolers on – the best lemonade on the St Croix – and some very good snacks!

As I said before, to any paddle enthusiast, this picture of the boats lined up and at the ready, is just pure joy.

[I know its almost a duplicate – so play Spot-the-difference….]

We swam, drank, ate and chatted, while the minnows insisted on nibling on ant exposed skin they could find – a very eery sensation.

Eventually the whole group had caught up and we were able to take a group pic.

We were off again on a leisurely paddle and Mark had lots of oportunity to put his long lens to work.

[Check out the next posting for the picture he took of this eagle…]

The wind stayed down and for the most part the water made for just great photography.

It did also help that there were clouds around – sunscreen by now was mostly just to keep your mother happy ….   But again the cloudy conditions made the photographs special.

There is always the rumour that the rear engine in a tandem kayak can sneak in a rest or two while the front guy has to do all the work.   Well, on this trip I had the sneaky suspicion that it might just be the other way round ….!


St Croix Paddle Day 10 part two

Upon arriving at Taylor’s Falls, this very kind gentleman had a cooler full of beer and pop to welcome us with!

Everybody was glad to come in for rest at the end of the day – and however hard we had to battle the wind, everybody had smiles on their faces!

Eric was there to shuttle our boats to the next day’s starting point and to take us to our camping site in the Interstate Park.

We were able to pitch tent in a little piece of heaven.

After the local Rotary Club shuttled us to the showers two miles away, they also shuttled us to the local town for their “Wannagen Days” celebrations where we had a good beer, a very well made hamburger and where we could solve the world’s political hassles in peace!

Back in our tent, we slept through raccoons ransacking the neighbors, a tornado siren and two inches of rain, or so they say…..

St Croix Paddle Day 10

This was the first day I joined the group that is paddling the whole length of the St Croix river.

I joined my two good friends Troy and Mark and we camped with the group on the Thursday evening which was the 9th day of the trip.  The three of us shared Troy’s tent, dubbed bythe group as the Taj Mahal.

Because it is an organized paddle, there were set times to start so that day tripper could join us on a predetermined schedule.

But, on Friday morning, just after we packed up our tent, it started to rain and some lightning was detected.  This meant that there would be real danger for people in aluminium canoes.   So we hung around and made friends with many of the very interesting group of paddlers.   Julie also brought the most divine pan of oven-warm sticky buns to sweeten us up!

Troy even had a chance to do a Facebook entry in his plastic bag enclosed phone.

Before long a park ranger, Dale, came and set up a shelter and gave us a very interesting talk about the people who had fought hard for the preservation of the St Croix river.

After that, we still had some thunder, but Deb, the person responsible for us all, gave permission for us to go on the water as soon as 15minutes passed without lightning.

While some were keeping an eye on their watches, some took it easy:

At last we were off in the rain – just happy to be on the water.   For the next few hours I did not take any pictures (because of the rain).   We started getting a sustained headwind of 20mph sometimes gusting up to 35mph – so if we stopped paddling, we would float upstream!   Even though i was in a tandem kayak with Troy, we had to keep it going all the time.  The rain stung now and again and a few times we took on a gallon of extra ballast, but it was sheer fun!  I would not have had it any other way.

Mark managed to get these two photographs of me and Troy:

Here and there we could hug the shore and get a bit of relief from the wind.   I don’t think it was too long before the weather cleared and even the wind let up.  By 3.30pm the sun was out and we found a river-access picnic spot to take a rest and eat a snack.

Here is Mark with his Hobie kayak that attracted a lot of interest from all the paddlers:

A sign said there was a toilet you could go to.  Troy went to investigate and took this photo:

Won’t catch me easily on one of those when I know other people are close by!

Snacks were good and it was not long before we were on the water again.



First paddle for 2011

Ah, finally no work and good weather and warmer water and my son with me!

Could not have been a nicer paddle  (Jacques was not quite awake yet):

In the channel between Lake of the Isles and Cedar Lake:

All done and with tired arms:

Of course it was a good workout!

…but I was not going to take my shirt off…!


Kayak Trip #12 – Magic Morning

This morning I was wondering how “cool” paddling would be – the temperature was only 65ºF when I put the kayak in the water at the northern beach on Lake Calhoun.  There was now wind however, and a bit of rowing kept me perfectly warm!

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The first photo in this little gallery that shows the bridge, is my best paddling photo ever – it contains the crisp clear and fresh lake air, the blue sky, the tranquility of the trees and the life of the city is shown by the runners enjoying nature.

Kayak Trip #11

On Hyland Lake – while waiting for some fellow South Africans to arrive for a Braai.  The water was a bit choppy with a slight breeze, but the kayak handled vary well.

There was quite a bit of branches in the water from the storm a day before.  On the north side of the island in the lake, several trees were down or badly broken by the storm.

Kayak Trip #11 - Hyland LakeKayak Trip #11 - Hyland LakeKayak Trip #11 - Hyland LakeKayak Trip #11 - Hyland LakeKayak Trip #11 - Hyland LakeKayak Trip #11 - Hyland LakeKayak Trip #11 - Hyland Lake

The little water turtles enjoyed the sun on the pieces of driftwood, but as soon as I can close, they would dive into the water…  just to appear a few seconds later as almost curious little nose tips and eyes above the water.

Kayak Trip #10

As summer seems to dwindle, the days are getting shorter – by now it is virtually dark at nine in the evenings.  And the available hours for kayak trips are shrinking alarmingly fast as well.


So even though it was a bit early to get up, I had to take advantage of the current warm weather we are having and so I was out on Fish Lake in Eagan at 6.30am this morning.  This is truly a very special way to start your day…!