Sunday, May 27, 2012

Cannon River

Page 288: Cannon River: Faribault to Northfield. Route 99 from Paddle Minnesota. You may know how this is about to go.... If you do a route from a guide book, it goes as planned and this is no exception.

The Paddle book does not have navigation quality maps so a few minutes on Google gets you a PDF map and a zoom/print gives you a working map. It isn't going to give you the detail you need to navigate but it gives you a basic 'fix'. We paddle north so the map is read from bottom to top.

 We had a lot of put-in options. We had an island and two dams to choose from so we go north and jump in about 100 feet from the van.
 Kristen gets the last of the gear loaded and we launch about 11:30am. We are about and hour behind plan.
 On the water and everything goes great for the next 3 hours. Current is high and about 4 mph and we paddle some and get 6 mph with drifting breaks of 5 mph. We close the gap to the bikes we placed 16 miles down stream in 3 hours flat. The book said 5 to 8 hours, Not today. But that works well. We need to get home and feed and run the dog, Scooby.
 We get some nice cliffs full of birds living in small pockets.

 This little dragon fly or clones of him followed us on and off for the entire trip.

My wife is goofing off, we are not at the end and she has no reason to celebrate.
 Class 1

 At one time 15 grain mills used the river for power. This is the only one we saw. Entry was possible but the fast current made landing mixed and we said we'd come back in winter.

 The end of more Class 1. We pass about 8 such rapids.

 How can you pass natural arches. I had to take a picture.
 This is the exit. About 500 feet away and up a narrow path are the bikes. We get destroyed by skeeters just after this picture. When I say, destroyed, I mean destroyed!! We eat them, in-hail them, snort them... I had legs covered in them. We got attacked to the point you could do nothing but run, so we did, they followed.....

 We get the bikes but forget all kinds of supplies in the boats but we are not going back into the skeeters and we don't say anything about it.
 We cross the river and turn right and follow the crappy road for 12 miles and it's into the wind.
 Kristen is on her new Zuringo thanks to Jay over at Hollywood Cycles.
We are fighting into 10 to 15 mph wind after a morning of kayaking in 94 degree heat so she's blowing up for not having the blood sugar to push 6 hours without feeding. I'm short water but I pull and she gets a quick lesson on how to hide behind the leader to save the legs. She's a quick study but doesn't really like holding a wheel.
 This is how we left the boats. We grab them and run, dragging them as fast as we can but can only go 30 feet before me MUST stop and swat skeeters then run and pull. I could see my wife running and a cloud of skeeters in hot pursuit. I kid you not, I have never been attacked this bad. They follow us 500 feet or more to the parking lot and attack until we kill them one at a time like Japanese Zeros.

We get the boats loaded and run to the corner store for cold drinks, remember it's 94 degrees out. Page 288 is complete and without the hungry bugs, it's a no drama paddle just like what you paid for. I like this book, it delivers.

It's a very nice paddle that is easy and you see very little development with the exception of a short stretch of road and a house or two.  The Cannon is only 30 minutes from the cities and that's probably why it's so popular but then it's also very good. It's easily better then the Lower Saint Croix.

Friday, May 25, 2012


I tripped over this while looking for some racing information and I just had to share it. I mean really, how long was this guy riding for his hair to grow up into the helmet like weeds?


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Almanzo 100

I wish I had a story about riding the Almanzo 100 but it went without much drama. The wind was hellish and we all took it on the nose for many hours. It was a mixed bag. If it wasn't for the heavy winds the temps in the 90's would have killed everyone. As it was the temp wasn't the big fight of the day, it was staying in the drops for hours trying to hide from the wind. I was in hell for the longest time. With no place to hide, I ate and turned the cranks something like 36,000 times and crossed the line 7 hours and 46 minutes after I pushed off. I went nonstop for the first 5 hours and that only got me 68 miles. I drank 200oz of water, two bananas and lots of bars, I'll guess, 14.

We shove off with lots of riders.
This is only 40 miles in but it felt good. Lots of people cheering.

This is the finish. I don't feel too bad. Unlike the Ragnarok a few weeks back... I didn't get shelled or blown up chasing the cool kids. I sat back over my wheels and pushed the metal. I wasn't chasing but I wasn't giving any easy ground away. I didn't stop but once and then only for 5 minutes to refill water and fire down the golden produce.

I have to admit I relied on an old mental buggy whip, I lied to myself.  I didn't want to ride that morning but I put my name on the list and I was going to finish it. Before 40 miles I was alone and already in hell. I didn't want to ride and I sure as hell didn't want to ride 100. So I started plotting against myself. With only 2 check points at 40 and 60, I only had two chances to quit (I forgot my phone) so I had to do 40. I know I can do 20 miles easy so that left 60 as the goal and I'd give in then. So I told myself, I knew it wouldn't happen but it's a psychological bungee cord to pull me along. The 60 mile checkpoint was actually 68 and I gave it what I had for the last 31 miles. The lie worked, again.

I do this quite often. Two tricks; Lie to yourself and don't think. The less you think about why you're doing something and if you're having fun, the better you are.

I'd like to throw a big thank you to Mr. Skogen for all the effort. I don't think he reads my blog but then everyone feels the same way so he'll get the message regardless.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Utahns For a Week

The name "Utah" is derived from the name of the Ute tribe and means "people of the mountains".

Thousands of years before the arrival of European explorers, the Anasazi  tribes lived in what is now known as Utah. These Native American tribes are subgroups of the Ute-Aztec Native American ethnicity, and were sedentary. The Anasazi built their homes through excavations in mountains.

They lived in buildings called pueblos, designed so that they could lift entry ladders during enemy attacks, which provided security. Archaeologists referred to one of these cultural groups as the Anasazi, although the term is not preferred by contemporary Pueblo peoples. The word Anaasází is Navajo for "Ancient Ones" or "Ancient Enemy". Archaeologists still debate when this distinct culture emerged. The current consensus, based on terminology defined by the Pecos Classification, suggests their emergence around the 12th century BCE, during the archaeologically designated Early Basketmaker II Era. {It sounds like I made that up but I lifted it directly from Wiki}

So now we have our historical foundations in place, lets get on with a fairly dry story about how Josh and I rode our bikes around in large circles then hiked down nature's rain gutters for a week. So as to not put you to sleep, I'm going to use a lot of spectacular imagery and extravagant speech to disguise what a miserable time it was to sleep under the stars every night, and canyon hike all day. If I have any skills at all, you'll think I had a great time.

Canyons are nothing but huge rain gutters that look like abandoned open pit mines. If that's true, Canyoneering is putting a public park at the bottom to hide the ugliness. Getting into and out of the park is a challenge so maybe that is why they don't charge to get in and you never see anyone. You may see footprints but every park has Graffeeti (he he)

Getting into these parks can take a long time. One park required that we ride our bikes uphill for 12.5 miles, that took nearly 2 hours in 91 degree heat but that park had some swimming pool and as usual, it wasn't heated so we had to swim in dirty 45 degree water like some scuzzy motel from National Lampoons Vacation. They don't even try to provide a ladder, you have to rope your way down a line as if you're a freaking spider. They also put this pool so far down that you can hardly get any sun light. It must be over 400 feet below the rim trail we road in on.

The walkways are terribly narrow, covered in sand and rock if they aren't totally flooded. We had to make the best of a bad situation by repeating positive affirmations like "THIS IS AWESOME!" and "WOW! LOOK AT THAT!" After saying it twenty or thirty times a day for a week you just give up and point and grunt, "Cool".

Yes, you enter and swim this.

We found some snow on the way to see the "people of the mountains". Just what a couple of Minnesota couch potatoes, just out of winter, want to see on a trip to the desert is more freaking snow but seeing how awful everything was, this is to be expected.  We pull the Winter Fat Bikes out and go for a ride. Good thing we are eternal pessimists and can't leave the great white north without our trusty clown bikes.

Trails for riding a normal bike are so poor they have to paint a line on the rocks just so you don't ride off a cliff or get lost in the miles of flowing rock. It's called "SlickRock" because some flat-lander from Nebraska put steel shoes on a horse and then guided it to one of the many parks at the bottom of rain gutter and slid all the way there. What a putz. Should have called the stone "SillyHorseman". That would be a better trail name anyway seeing how everyone on this thing is riding an aluminum steed. The trail doesn't have any dirt, it's all rock. You roll from one formation to the other for hours without any dirt! Who makes a trail without dirt! I suppose if all you have is miles of pristine flowing rock you make Lemonade from the lemons you're dealt.  Ups and downs are like 12 pitch roofs and the grip is about the same. I would have been bored to tears if it wasn't for the constant challenges of high speed downs and crippling hills mixed between all the technical pinches at the bottom. I think I broke my bike about this time. I have it in the shop getting fixed so that's just dandy. Josh popped his tire on a ride so we both had a lovely time.

Other trails required that I just carry my bike. That's super fun! I'm kidding, I didn't carry my bike, I pushed it. In June I'm going to go to North Dakota and carry my bike on the Maah Daah Hay trail but that's a different post.

Lets talk camping. It isn't very good. Obviously, I didn't enjoy the solitude and clear star filled sky. I mean, we were car camping and that means we need to be 12 feet from the next person's tent like a couple of kids in the backyard. We couldn't see anyone from our camp and for that matter, never even saw a car. We were all alone, in the middle of nowhere and next to a huge cliff overlooking another park at the bottom of the drain. I never saw one ranger checking in to make sure we paid our camping fee and asking if we were enjoying our stay. I don't think Utah cares where we camp!
 The upper left photo is under a tree at a way-side rest. It was raining a bit so the tree was shelter.

It was a lot of hard work. We worked from 9am to 9pm everyday with no time off. We were trying to find something to hold our attention. We failed. We'd find something and then a few minutes later we were already down the trail to something else. I guess we may need to bring a radio, right Josh? (inside comment) Anyway, we found a ton of stuff but we never did find everything. We still have a huge list of things that may be of interest, maybe not, but next year I'll drag myself out to see if they've made improvements.

You know the only good thing  about the entire time is getting to wear Gorge Boots. They are possibly the best footwear I've ever owned.

Videos are nice. Lets end with that.

Josh swimming out of typical slot.

This is Kiva. From what I understand it's a living space. I'm shooting video from the doorway because it's posted to stay out.