Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Forbidden Fruit

The Forbidden Fruit

Once upon a time in Minnesota, there was rumor of a creek that precariously meandered through the most arduous private property along Lake Superior's North Shore. That river is the Forbidden Fruit.

John McConville on the big one

The put-in for this creek is located on a small dirt road with friendly and humble residents. This year we were lucky enough to chat with some of the locals. The folks we spoke with granted us access to the creek. They also warned us about the asininely private residence down stream.

yes it's cold! , Minnesota, forbiden fruit, Chris Baer,
yes it's cold!

The paddle into the gorge is infested with wood. Blind corners held logs and ice damns during our early spring assaults. Upon sight of the first major gradient loss, we exited river right. An amazing series of slides that directly flow into a 25-foot waterfall is the first major attraction.

The rapids following the waterfall are rather continuous, and offer a wild variety of very constricted boulder gardens with the occasional off-angle boof.

Moving down stream we quickly enter into the delicate private property situation. Stealth is your friend, moving quietly is key. To limit our local contact, we made a point of only paddling this section during the week and during the "mud season."

The rapid Cabin Fever is directly in sight of most of private property, and hadn't been completed until this year. John McConville probed the once log-infested landing zone and negotiated the very tricky lead-in firing up a rather smooth first descent.

John McConville, dialing in the first descent of Cabin Fever, Chris Baer, Minnesota,
John McConville, dialing in the first descent of Cabin Fever

From Cabin Fever down you are in the backyards of most of the "cabins" along the river. There are two more slides on the run that ought to be run blind, as to not interact with the local inhabitants. Charge in and start smiling. The water pushes you in a positive direction while sliding the last 300 feet to the delta entering into Lake Superior.

To finish the run paddle into Lake Superior (if the waves aren't too big), and paddle North or South to your desired less-illegal exit location.

Please do not attempt this adventure if you are not confident in your ability to run the slides blind, and/or to complete the entire run in your boat. Hiking out of this river and through the private property could be catastrophic to the next team of paddlers.

another adventure brought to you be Chris Baer

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Minnesota is COLD! But the rivers are RAGING!

Minnesota is COLD! But the rivers are RAGING!

another cold spring day on the North Shore, Chris Baer, Minnesota Lake superior surf
another cold spring day on the North Shore
Early season paddling in Minnesota started off with some flooding creeks. Temperatures in the Twin Cities jumped in early April, and the surrounding rivers flashed all at once. Mobilizing was unique, there are only a few kayakers based in the Twin Cities that really fall into the class V-caliber. Nonetheless, I was introduced to a hand full of dedicated paddlers, and early season kayaking commenced.

May snow storms bring June flowers?, red and yellow flower close up, Chris Baer
May snow storms bring June flowers?
The first snow to melt was in the vast farm fields to the southwest of the Twin Cities. A few of us felt the early season itch and made our way to a small drainage: Sand Creek. The river was packed full of debris; logs and ice were abundant, the class 2 creek was feeling a little intense. Luckily the river had a redeeming feature; an unmaintained Dam that was creating a fun eight foot pourover. It allowed the local paddlers to practice their delayed boof stroke and even let one of them get in a little swim practice.

Todd Dammitt trying to dial in his boof on the dam, sand creek, minnesota, Chris Baer,
Todd Dammitt trying to dial in his boof on the dam

Originally, when I packed for Minnesota I stumbled upon my self-support equipment. Being the tallest peak in Minnesota is Eagle Mountain at 2301' and Lake Superior is at an average of 591', I knew that the sustained vertical needed for a typical multi-day trip was lacking. Funny enough, on Easter Sunday, my second day of paddling in Minnesota this year, we put on the Minnesota River for an overnight self-support adventure. Thankfully, the weather stayed relatively nice as we paddled through the beaver and eagle infested flat water.

not that skittish, Chris Baer, Minnesota deer
not that skittish
Bald Eagle lurking in his perch , chris Baer, minnesota
Bald Eagle lurking in his perch
proper packing for a flat water overnight, recon 83, Chris Baer, minnesota
proper packing for a flat water overnight
Next up was the mighty Vermillion, a stock low-volume (200cfs) training ground for the city boaters. Lucky for me, the sun was shining and upon arrival I was greeted with approximately 2000cfs. A quick inspection led to the fact that the run still worked at huge flow. There was a couple of monster hydraulics that needed to be avoided. The 2000cfs four minute espresso tour went exceedingly well.

making my way down the Vermillion river at 2000cfs, water is way up in the trees, Chris Baer, Minnesota,
making my way down the Vermillion river at 2000cfs, water is way up in the trees
charging past one of the big holes on the Vermillion River, Chris Baer, Minnesota
charging past one of the big holes on the Vermillion River
Upon wrapping up the Twin Cities metropolitan whitewater tour, it was time to head North to Duluth. If you have never been there, Duluth is classic Minnesota. The accents are more prominent and wearing a fur hat is not just a trend. Upon arrival to Duluth, the snow started; It would accumulate another two and a half feet during my stay. As the snow continued, the Duluth crowd showed off one of their very odd, but rather respectable surf spots, Stoney Point on Lake Superior. The water is COLD! but the waves were fun. The fact that there were a dozen people on the break during a snowstorm attests to the core nature of Minnesotans.

Scott Ewen showing off the North Shore break, stoney point, minnesota kayak surf, Chris baer,
Scott Ewen showing off the North Shore break

adventure brought to you by Chris Baer