Saturday, July 7, 2012

Eating Crow

North Fork of the Crow River

I have to eat some words and issue a general warning that the North Fork of the Crow River from Hwy 22 to 328th is an evil mess of strainers and log jams. To boot, I drove 1 hour 40 from my house to do it.

 We launch and it's great for the first 9 minutes. 

 This is about minute 8
 Portage one is very close.
 Portage landing one
 Um? Is that a portage.
 Nope, Just low branches.

 Yep, portage and it's muddy. The smell isn't bad and the bugs are fine if you hustle.

 I know this looks like 'why?' but just out of frame is a lot of current and a tree just under the water. We are avoiding both.
 Log jams were stacked like 400 meter hurtles. Every 40 meters. We'd portage 200ft at a time. I remember 4 such boat drags and too many 50 footers to count.
 A nice muddy put in. Some put-ins were deep and high banked requiring a lot balance. I'd wade in as far as I dare and help her reload then she would grip my boat. River current with a lot of downed wood and deep is a bad combination. I've done deep and snag filled but together it feels like a death trap.

 We're out again! 

 It's a grass fed boat.

 Sneaking by.
 Crap, We're out again.
 Mud. We just got reloaded and I'm hold up to rejoin my wife.
 A short stretch of good water but its not to be.
 Out, Drag, and Reload. She is shoving off.

The plan was to tick off Page 49 of the paddle guide. As you know, I've posted that if you get your adventure from a book you can see your car the entire time and you have nothing but easy going and guaranteed success. Well I ate those words with a fork on the 10th or 12th portage.

We are not much for quitting but we got our ass handed to us and the wise person knows when it's better to run. It took all the time we allotted for the trip to clear 4 of 11 miles. Let me say that a different way, it took us 2 hour 45 minutes to drag 2 kayaks 4 miles though grass tall enough to tickle the tail of a giraffe.

We bail at the first road crossing but we think the river was about to let up, who knows. The maps show that the heavy bends where 4 miles beyond. Every bend for the last 4 was closed out with downed Cottonwood trees. We reflect and decide we don't want to paddle 4+ more hours so we walk the road. Call it the Shoe Shuttle.

The pictures don't support the story but if you think I've added drama you can take my boat and I'll drop you off and pick your broken spirit up at 328th in about 3 hours.

We're going back to put in at 328th and then finish the remaining miles. For today, 7 hours in the boat would be too much and we would not have a bail out after 328th.

Road side corn. That's awesome. It's life has been so hard it's only a foot tall and it's kin are over 5 feet. It's the corn runt. On that, we finish our 1:30 long shoe shuttle and 1:40 home. Our legs are sore from all the lashing from the tall grass as I type.

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