The following is a true story, only the names have been changed to protect the guilty.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Blue Earth River


The canoe is getting a bit crowded.
 The inspiration for a family trip down the Blue Earth River came from the cover photo of a free publication touting adventure in southeast Minnesota. In the photo, a group of life-jacket clad individuals were standing in a deep green, moss and fern covered slot canyon. I little digging revealed the name Devils Gulch or Devils Den,  a little bit of planning gave way to a van loaded with gear and a boat, pointed south.
Fancy


rain forest ?

Dry falls at the end of the Devil's Gulch
  My wife and kids were in on this one as well as long time friend Fancy Ray. My wife and two kids rode in the canoe while the boys alternated turns flying solo in the pack-raft. Fancy was going solo in his own kayak as well. Since it's a river trip, the standard shuttle requirements were in effect...leaving one vehicle in Mankato and then driving to the put-in at Rapidan Park. The river started out fun and pretty much stayed that way the whole time, with lots of class 1 rapids spaced out enough that no one got bored in the flat water between.



We had to kick one of them out to make space...lucky for them I brought the  Alpacka, Scout
 The "gem", and inspiration of the trip came quickly after setting off and if not for a several kayaks beached in the sand we may have missed it altogether. The grainy photo I had originally seen didn't do the gulch justice, first hand, it looked like something straight out of the rain forest. We spent about a half hour in the short slot before moving on. Upon pushing off we met a father/son duo that informed us of another interesting must-see, not much further down steam named Triple Falls. They paddled with us, acting as tour guides, explaining other features as well as the whereabouts of the falls.
Triple Falls 

From the top of the bottom tier 

Big D gives perspective to how big the dry falls are 

summer time....the livin's easy

Super Y
  After another short hike to visit the falls we were back in the boat looking for a picnic spot. We chose a nice sand bar and busted out the grill, snacks, and drinks. Once back in the boats we were a little pressed for time and had to resist the urge to check out any of the dozens of sand spits marking other possible vertical features carved into the steep bluffs on either side of the river. Return trips will definitely be in order for further exploration of this beautiful river and valley.
Near the put-in at Rapidan Dam
   

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Purgatory


Nature trail
Have you ever wanted to hike down a small creek among the homes of the filthy stinking rich and then packraft your way back to the start point on the larger body of water that said creek feeds.......... well, Purgatory Creek is just that.

didn't get much deeper than this
 After dropping off and locking my bike in a wooded ditch near my rendezvous point, I drove up stream (in my nearly 20 year old van) past a half dozen gated communities to my start point. Not the kind with tacky names affixed to pillars or piles of rocks on either side of the road, but those with bonafide electrically controlled  security gates, and real, working, gas lanterns.
strange looking rock...with teeth

shitty bridge...why not just walk across?
I can't take complete credit for this outing, a while back ArcFlash and myself seemed to come up with the idea about the same time and wanted to check it out together. Unfortunately It didn't happen that way, I got done with work really early and was looking for something to do close to home that wouldn't take too long. I also didn't have much motivation and figured I would bail out on this if it didn't look too fun when I got there. It turned out to be lots of fun and an interesting endeavor. I started at a park near the creek and hiked down a "nature trail" approximately a mile before getting onto the creek.
this little fawn thinks it's hiding...I felt bad for scaring him/her into laying in the water and tried to get it to move. It didn't budge so i left it alone and moved on quickly 

newest toy....Alpaka raft   Scout
Not a house could be seen from deep within the small creek valley but I knew they were there having reconed the area via google maps. Someone along the timeline of development must have had the fortitude to designate this area a green space. Once in the creek I was amazed to see not a single human footprint for the duration of my outing. Surely there would have been some kids playing in it somewhere right? nope. The creek lacks any waterfalls or cliff faces but is beautiful in a Minnesota, summer jungle, type of way. The water was clean in appearance and was void of large amounts of trash...which is always good.
home free 

169
Near the end, I encountered a fence across the creek and no trespassing signs. There was large hole in the river right, side, so I took it. I had been out for over an hour now and had no intention of backtracking. I was in stealth mode for the remainder of the creek's course. As I neared the Minnesota River the creek got much deeper with a final rock pile marking the point at which the packraft would become necessary. I aired it up within the steep mud banks, concealed from a large house that overlooks the creek, and then quietly slipped away. It wasn't long and I was on the Minnesota, drifting with the fast current. It was about a half mile to my take out at a large bridge and then another half mile overland with a final tromp across a nasty muddy backwater swamp to my bike.

Is this the new place for everyone in the twin cities to take a pic, post to facebook, and think it's unique ?
 As I rode back to my van in my wet and muddy clothing on an inexpensive steel Surly, past homes I would never want to afford........ I could see through the trees and noticed two guys walking down the street like they were headed out to the "links", both wearing white shorts, one with a pink shirt the other light yellow....I surmised they were named Chet or Dirk, maybe Claude and were probably talking about their portfolio's............ It felt good to know I had just been mashing around in the mud and water in their own back yards, so-to-speak,  and with all their money, they were still missing out on something I had just done.        

Monday, May 25, 2015

Straight River


 Spring is a great time for canoeing on Minnesota rivers...the water is usually up and the horse and deer flies have not yet hatched. I received a call from my brother about a day trip he was hoping to do on the Straight River near Faribault. Since my whole family could join in I immediately agreed and the date was set.
To balance things out, Super Y rode with my bro and JB

stop to look at fossils

jack-pot
 Our short 10+ mile jaunt happened on a nice warm sunny day and included my family of five and my brother and his friend. The river was a bit low but made no difference in the amount of fun we had. The Straight is not a very wide river and has lots of turns, small rapids and scenic cliff faces along it's banks.
Lunch time

another fossil ...different location


 With lots of time allowed for the trip, we brought along a grill,  food and snacks, and took a nice long break on a sandbar. Along the way stopped a couple times to check out some fossil beds and interesting cliff faces. Due to proximity and the scenic terrain we'll definitely be back on this river again.
After trolling for most of the day G Man catches a bass...on the season opener no less
   

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Sakatah Revisited


 A few years back I took my middle son Super Y,along with his friends and mine,on an overnight bike trip on the Sakatah Trail near Faribault MN. My other two boys wanted "in" on the trip but they would have to wait. Finally it worked out, and the four of us were packed up and rolling toward the campground on a Saturday afternoon.
Got to see someone being airlifted on the ride out to camp 

DIY aluminum trailer built about 15 years ago, used on one trip to Canada, mothballed 15 and half years ago.

The campsite for cyclist at Sakatah State Park 
  Last time, to haul a large amount of gear I took the Burley trailer, this time I used my array of Revelate bags and  my old DIY aluminum single wheeled trailer, coupled to my Surly (1X1) 1X9. Luckily the ride was short,since we got a late start we arrived just before dark with enough time to gather some fire wood and set camp. Dinner was bratwurst, with sugary drinks and treats.


  It rained that night and was done just before we wanted to get up and rolling (9ish). A quick breakfast was had and we were packed and on the trail. Although the ride and camp-out were relaxed and straight forward it's a great to get out and have some fun afield with my boys.
Throwing sticks and logs in the river is a must
 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Urban Camp-Out


 Recently........ a few Imperialists and myself, got together for an overnight, urban camp-out in the great city of Lavender Town.
Break...hiding his bike in the mouth of the cave


WTF

It's an urban camp-out....so we rode through urban areas
  We gathered less than ten miles from the actual camping spot but rode around for a couple hours to make the riding portion legit. On our way we stopped off at a cave to do a little exploring, upping the ante of our in town adventure.
bikes represented....Krampus, Cross-bike, Pugsley....in the shadow...my Moonlander 


home sweet home ....for the night

 .A little after 7pm we arrived at our destination and set camp. The area chosen was in a beautiful setting next to river, but filled with junk, some of which was very useful. Looking past the sea of pop bottles and other items that floated in, the amenities included a picnic table, garbage can, stone fire ring, table and chairs, as well as a viewing platform ( a couple boards nailed up in a tree).
Early morning view from my tent 

AF's tarp tent...fully enclosed , made from one 10x10 tarp , a stick, some small rocks and some twine....super awesome!


Apparently our camp ground is called "Peaceful Plaza"
 With all that it sounds like a state park camp ground...it wasn't. It was merely a bunch of shit someone probably rolled down the embankment and then gathered up to make an improvised hang-out.......in other words.......It was perfect. The four of us stay up way past our bed-times and B.S.ed around the fire telling stories and cooking. In the morning we broke camp early skipped breakfast and bid farewell.
I like to sleep in on a Saturday , but seeing the water like glass was totally worth getting up early