Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The River Challenge - Another Success!

The 2009 Friend's of the Mississippi, 'Mississippi River Challenge' has been a success, for it's sixth year running! Thank you so much to all of those who helped me raise donations! Look what you did! You helped me raise $470!!! Holy balls-a-roni!

This year was a record, with 425 participants, paddling down the great Mississippi in kayaks, canoes and other various watercraft.

The weather was good to us. The first day winds were blowing strong, but as they were out of the northwest, that happened to be firm against our backs for most of the day. We did get nailed with just a bit of rain, and moaned a little about it, as we happened to be sitting in a lock and dam when it hit.

The initial stretch down from Coon Rapids is mostly forested shoreline. You start at one of the more turbid areas, with the flow of the dam waters, the shallow parts and rocks, causing one or two boats to get stuck, go broadside and tip. But from there out, it's mostly smooth sailing, as thumping of the Native American ceremonial drums disappear behind you.

Fort Snelling was its usual fun with a canoe of endless supply of Summit beer, unique and diversely palatable food and chance to room the walls, towers and take a lonely stroll down across from Pike's Island.

The second day was pretty, but always with the companion of aching muscles and general fatigue that everyone shares with camaraderie. Pulling into St. Paul is so rewarding. Pulling off onto Harriet Island, the most accommodating way stop of the trip, you grab your snackies and wolf them down as you stare across at the beautiful downtown.

From there, it gets oh so long! In fact, I find myself not being able to imagine doing this again, but quickly dispense of that thought as mere brooding fatigue. I got to see my folks near Jackson landing and my mother runs a good deal of the way down the river, as I paddle ever onward.

There was no great emergencies I had to attend to. Although, on that great long, 7+ mile stretch, the National Park Service boat lost a cushion out in the middle of the river. Begrudgingly, I paddled out to rescue it and my darn radio was not transmitting in this dead spot, so I had to wait another mile or so, wave them down and paddle back out of my route to return the thing. So, that helped to add even more mileage on an already long route.

After another stop near Pig's Eye and down that most beautiful back channel at Lion's Levee, you eventually see the inlet to your left and you are homeward bound. A good thing too, as the sport boaters were out in droves, pulling their water skiers behind them, ever so close to we, in our little plastic boats.

I am going to be recruiting friends and acquaintances for next year, I've decided. Every year at that fort I imagine how fun it would be if you guys were there with me.

There really is nothing like the Mississippi River Challenge and the Friends of the Mississippi River, preserving the very soul of our region.

To see the tally of all your great assistance, Lookie Here:


Till next year, my friends, when I'm bringing you with me!


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