Monday, November 5, 2012

Styx and Stones

Styx the river in Greek mythology that formed the boundary between Earth and the Underworld is said to have dark muddy water where the wrathful and sullen are punished by being drowned for eternity. Does this sound like the Mississippi to you as well? Say if dead trees, sticks, are the souls of the dammed fighting to take our kayak as we cross over the river to the Great Marsh.

We'll revisit this theme but for a moment I need to re-frame reality in the context of a cold weather kayaking trip on a potentially dangerous bend in a river full of dead trees and 100 ton barges doing 20 knots. He beeped to tell us to get out of the way.
Early one morning we go for a paddle but getting going early in late fall can be a bit challenging when it's freezing out and you need to get excited to go on the water.
I need to scrape the windshield and as you can see, it's 33 degrees or colder. I load the Fat bike and the short kayak because you never know what you'll find on the river bottoms and you wouldn't want to be without a bike. I also take a load of safety gear just in case the wrathful tip my boat.
This is a classic set of signs that indicate a good time can be had if you're willing to look around. The dead end may have something to do with the theme.
Josh loads a longer boat that is better suited for big water. I chose a short boat for better turning to avoid the dead wood. I surveyed this area last year and it was a horror show of bobbing trees so I expected a lot of hazards.

We make a dry foot landing on a remote flat to look around for about 30 seconds before we both say, FAT-BIKES! This island is the Bonneville Salt flats of fat biking. I could see myself ripping it down the middle in the thin mud.
We did see large log jams but I didn't see the need to take pictures of large masses of dead trees. I wish I had. The logs I saw last year must have beached into clumps.

More of a, River of Sticks.
That's an Eagle nest in the upper left. One of many we see along with many birds. I didn't count but 6 or 8 would not be exaggerated.
 Temps about 45, wind 5 to 10 WSW, sunny
An oddity, a sand dune in the midst of a river. It attracts our attention and will do as a fine shelter  for lunch and the mid point of our paddle. We only have to make our way back some 4 miles.

Seriously, the stuff you find? This must be the great marsh the myth talked about. Sand dunes in MN, crap, I need a Bedouin tent now! We make do in the desert sun and have hot cocoa and other snacks.
Dead fish.
Some easy navigation and we return on a shorter path on the inside of some flats but now we have to avoid the commercial traffic.

Having traversed the Styx we take out and take off to a new adventure just a Stones throw away. We have an idea that the limestone we see has caves (we know they do but that's a secret)

I don't have much of a story for this but there are 3 caves and none deep enough to warrant any concern about getting lost. We hike around for an hour or so.

 Off to find more caves.

 More hunting and we find some enormous spiders.
This is creepy. The ceiling had many of these. They are huge. We crawl in through a hole that is just big enough to move easily by and into a small room full of spiders. After about 5 minutes it creeps me out and I exit, but not before taking some pictures. These spiders are quarter size or larger. If you know what they are, please comment. I think it is a Barn Funnel Weaver.
 Mom and her egg sack. Yuck.
 The bottom one is a large cricket, I think he is lunch for that monster on the right.

 Josh leaving the spider hole.

And on that admission of the Heebie-jeebies, Good Night.

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