Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Creeking Sounds

Sand Creek Page 303. That's about as easy as it gets. Written instructions on how to play outside.

Go to the book store. Ask an associate where the "Minnesota" section is. If its a good store you'll have your choice between history and recreation. Most of the books are going to be day hikes. These are worth a cursory scan but mostly will be 'trade routes' that are overrun with tourist and families. It's common for the "best" routes to be popular routes and have nothing to do with quality. The "best" hike/routes have ice cream shops, lots of parking, super easy navigation and so short you can almost see your car the entire time.

Page 303 of Paddling Minnesota was going to be easy. We planned on it being easy because Josh and I went after work on a Wednesday. If your going to play on a school night, you want to be able to get home at a reasonable hour. Adventure mid week is like a free weekend but only if it doesn't go epic. I banked on the "trade route" being a sure thing and it was, almost.

You need to get out before this unmarked waterfall. It's easy to see but you should be near shore when that happens. It's the take out and we chain some bikes to a post so we can ride back to the cars at the head waters.
The Book said class 1 and 2 rapids for 3.5 miles, That means ripples and small waves to easy standing waves. It's doable in an open boat but you should have good skills. Josh and I have lousy skills and open kayaks. 

We cross this train track several times. I wanted to take better whitewater pictures but my new all-weather camera didn't arrive before the trip so I made due with my cell phone, again! But for the last time!

Different bridge, but you can't really tell. We are having a really great time. The water is low so we hit a lot of rocks but it's flowing fast enough that our boat skills are challenged and we lose some competition with shallow rocks.

I'm reasonably happy with how things are going. We are on time to be home before it's too late and the whitewater rapids are fun but not too difficult. The water is cold but not deep so we are not going to drown or go hypothermic.

The train crossings gave us a gauge of how far along we are because the water fall is just after the 5th crossing.

The river splits and I chose the left course believing it's better water. Josh goes right. I don't know if he got pushed off track or chose but it was passable but I think it was harder then my route. We reconnect about 100 yards down stream but I have trouble right at the end with a log and shallow water but I pass it and we meet up after a few minutes.

I just got a creek boat. It's 10.5 feet , down from my sea kayak of 17 feet. It's much easier to control but the large rock in the picture on the left got me sideways, rolled me and swept my paddle under the boat breaking a carbon fiber Warner Camaro worth $279 retail.

So I'm up Sand Creek without a paddle. This was not on page 304, I looked.

The trade route just gave us trouble but I have my Swiss Army.

Below: Josh cuts a mandrel for my paddle while I document the human drama.

Funny thing is about 10 minutes before this we talked about getting cheap paddles so we don't wreck our good flat water gear.

The patched paddle makes it but I have to rudder steer more and that turns out to be more effective in the whitewater and had I ruddered more and paddled less I may not have broken it in the first place.

The water ended on time just before sundown and we rode back about 4 miles on gravel. It's better then asphalt roads but less fun then trails. We enjoy the 20 minutes back to the cars.

We return, scoop up the kayaks and run off to our respective houses so we can go to work in the morning. I get home about 9:20pm so the entire trip took about 4 hours.


  1. Looks like a great school night outing. Just enough excitement to make it memorable. Bummer that it had to be tough on the wallet though.

  2. great post! that was a great time,there's nothing like a bonus adventure mid-week