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

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Belle Plaine to Chaska....

Getting ready to shove-off
 ....and back.  Recently my long time adventuring buddy, Vandy and I did an overnight kayak/fat-bike trip on the Minnesota River. After our plans for a Cuyuna trip fell through, we decided Thursday night to do a quick overnight on the river the following day. We both left work early on Friday to get our gear in order since neither of us had anything packed. It's amazing how long it takes to get ready for just an over-nighter, all we would need for a week long trip is more food.
The river is very low and there are logs everywhere


Proper use of paddle shovel  
We arrived at the boat launch in Belle Plain about 5:45 pm and were off and paddling by 6. We didn't have much daylight left so we started looking for a good spot to camp for the night right away. The wind was really blowing and it was chilly, we wanted to sit outside and have fire so we had to find just the right spot sheltered from the wind. Just before dark, a little over an hour into the trip we located a nice little sand bar on a bend in the river.

Paddle shovel being used to make the perfect seat near the fire

hells yeah
The sand bar was just the right size for us and our boats, complete with a supply of firewood. We had to do a little shoveling with the paddles to make a level spot for the tents. This was easy digging in the soft, dry sand, and also kind of unique. After setting the tents, we got to work building a fire and cooking dinner.

The next morning

It was an awesome night just chillin' on the river next to the fire. We went to bed around 10 pm and were awakened around 11:30pm to the sound of a beaver slapping it's tail on the water. At first I thought it was Vandy throwing logs in the river, I couldn't understand why he was doing it. I called out to him and asked what he was doing, He relpied "I'm sleeping". I said back "what is that sound", to which he explained it was a beaver and it had already slapped it's tail at least three other times. This continued for about three more hours, I ignored it at first ,but later got up to see what the heck these beavers were doing. It appeared, through my headlamp, there were at least three of them swimming back and forth in front of our camp. The slap of their tail was not like the warning sound they usually give when startled, or to alert the others. This was lighter sounding and was happening on a regular basis. I was annoyed at first, but then, was thankful it got me out of my tent to observe the nearly full moon, the stars, and these large rodents peacefully swimming around and enjoying the night. I finally got to some good sleep around 3am, then the coyotes started howling.
Our camp

Sunshine for only a little while
The next morning started out nice, very little wind and the sun was shinning. This only lasted through breakfast and into the first couple miles of paddling. Then the wind stared and the sun went away, I was pretty chilled and wished for a heavy jacket,whaaaa. :-(  It was still a great day to be out on the river. We made a couple pit stops for stretching, one to check out an old building, and one to get through Carver Rapids.
Old house

Old house's bathroom

First set of the Carver Rapids 
I went through Carver rapids last year at this time and was just as nervous. The water was much lower this year but still challenging. The rapids are really nothing much but when you are already cold, most of the fear in dumping the boat, is getting colder and wet. If there were more water it would be easy to float through, but since it was so low, the boat bottoms out and will either turn in a direction you don't want, or balance in such a way that it pivots from both ends giving a high center of gravity that forces you to rotate left or right. Neither of these situations are good in a long boat, if I had my short 10 footer it would have been fun.
Vandy coming through the second set of rapids

We made it through just fine and continued on to fetch our bikes and ride the trail back to the van. The paddling took way longer than we expected and by the time we got out of them we were pretty tired. We  spent about five hours and 20 miles in them, and now had a good 20 miles of riding ahead of us. The trail was in good condition for a majority of it's length. There were several miles of very soft, slow, sandy, trail dispersed in three or four different sections through out the ride. This would have been hell on a skinny tired bike, but the fat-bike was right at home. Even though it took a great deal of energy to keep riding through, at least we didn't have to walk.
The extremely low water revealed the skeleton of a bison.
Well hidden ?

We made it back to the van roughly 22 hours from the time we left it. I had a ton of fun and I'm amazed at the great experience you can jam into such a short time. Some of my best trips in life have been the short ones, with little planning, and relatively close to home, this was one of those trips. It doesn't hurt to have the company of a good friend along either.
does this look familiar ?

Quote of the weekend; "That was twice as difficult as I expected" ,   Vandy


  1. I'm bumbed I was ill and couldn't joint you. That sandbar looked awesome.

  2. I'm bumbed as well, You were missed.