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

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Root River Trail


On our way
 This weekend the boys, Lynn, and myself headed down to Fountain Mn to ride an 11+ mile section of the Root River Trail. Our destination was the small town of Lanesboro and the Sylvan campground therein for an overnight bike-touring trip.
Family photo, hard to get everyone to look at the same time :)

Spooky
  This would be a semi-credit card trip in which we packed no food other than snacks. All our meals were at local restaurants and ice cream shops. This made packing relatively easy but ended up being a little expensive. The kids didn't mind the expense and as long as everyone was having fun Lynn and I didn't mind either. We did however pack two tents, (one two person and one three person) , five pillows, sleeping bags, and mats, a few extra clothes, some fishing gear, tools and extra inner tubes.
Dinner time, I guess they call it supper down there

Milling around town Saturday evening
  All the gear was divided between Lynn and I in two Burley trailers, one D-lite and one Solo. These trailers work great for trips like this and are the prime reason we have held on to them from the days when we actually carried the kids in them.
Camp site the next morning, getting ready to leave

The crew
  We got a late start on Saturday due to sleeping in and rain that lasted into the afternoon. This wasn't much of a problem since it's light out until well after 9pm and the ride was only about an hour and a half with many pit-stops. It also helped that it was mostly down hill from Fountain to Lanesboro. Upon arrival we set up camp and then headed into town for dinner. We also picked up some fire wood  and worms for fishing, at the general store. After dinner we did a quick tour of the town before heading back to camp for a fire and some evening fishing. The camp site was right next to a pond that is stocked with fish, this is great if you love to fish from camp but the tent sites are on a slope and a flat spot can not be found in any of them. That was alright too, the boys enjoyed fishing until dark as Lynn and I sat around the fire relaxing.
That's what I'm talkin' about

  The next morning came after a terrible nights sleep in which I found myself either pulling the kids up from the sloped side of the tent or myself. The boys a did a little more fishing with the remaining bait as Lynn and I packed up the gear. Breakfast was at The Pastry Shoppe, I mention this only because it was one of the best I've ever had, it ranks right up there with Keys on Raymond in St Paul and the Thirsty Sturgeon on Madeline Island. After breakfast we moseyed around town for a while waiting for the ice cream shop to open so the kids could redeem their tokens they received with their dinner the night before. After ice cream it was time to hit the trail and head home.
Bye Bye, Lanesboro 
 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Sunday

Minnehaha Parkway
 I like to reserve at least one day of the week to do something fun with my family. A lot of times Lynn doesn't make it because it's her day to train/workout. This Sunday she went for a long ride with her friend so it was just the four of us looking for some fun.
14$ for four ice cream cones= priceless 

Jump!.........Swim!

The other two are not as good swimmers so I wouldn't let them jump.
 I was planning on hitting the Cannon Valley Trail out of Welch but a late start had us headed for Minneapolis to ride along Minnehaha Creek and around Lake Harriet. Our main goal was ice cream and possibly some swimming. At approximately mid-way we found ice cream. On our way back we found our swimming hole. A couple years ago a friend of mine showed me a rare spot on the shallow creek that was deep enough to jump into from a pedestrian bridge above.
It's go time.

Put-in

what did I just agree to ? 
 As we rode along the creek G Man expressed his interest in having his own pack raft so he could paddle down the creek himself. I told him he didn't need one yet since he has his own little sit-on-top kayak that would work perfect. His eyes lit up, "we could do it", I bit my tongue a little after I mentioned it. I may seem a little reckless but I don't take chances with my kid's safety, the creek was moving fast and had a lot of flow, now I was on the hook and the plan was hatched.


Lynndale Ave 
After dinner the two of us headed back to Minnehaha Creek, set up the bikes for a shuttle and went to the put-in. I was nervous at first but he handled the boat like a seasoned vet, I was impressed. The section we did was from Lynnhurst to approximately Cedar ave, one of the best sections in my opinion. After about 45 minutes on the creek we reached our take-out and started the ride back to the van.
Nice little chunk of rapids down stream, that I was not able to capture with the camera. we ran this section twice

Second round of jumping off the bridge
  It was a great time, and the type of thing a father looks forward too when they are just little babies, waiting for the day when they can do some "real" stuff. I was still a little nervous the whole time, but it looks like I might have another paddling partner.
G Man unlocking the bikes so we can ride them back


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sleep Under 2013

Getting ready, pre-meeting
 The Sleep Under is an annual caving event held at Crystal Cave, in Spring Valley Wisconsin. It goes the whole weekend with free camping and caving , socializing and a bonfire. We were not able to make the camp-out but Super Y, G Man, and myself were able to get under ground for the first day of the event.
Eric McMaster leading us to the wild part of the cave through the commercial tour entrance 

Let the crawling begin
 The cave is under new ownership this year, a husband/wife team the Mc Masters, and we are fortunate they still allow the local grottos access to their commercial cave.  While it's not a long cave it was fun and relatively close to home. The routes we use are off the commercial tour so there is no conflict with paying costumers.This was also a chance for Super Y to get in some real caving complete with lots of crawling.
Checking the map

One of the large rooms
 The first trip out for the day was a door-to-door. We went in on the commercial side and exited out a different cave system called Tree Fork. Nearly all of the door-to-door route was belly crawling broken up by several large rooms big enough to sit-up in and take a break. We were in the cave about two and a half hours before exiting into a large ravine with many other cave entrances.
This is what cavers look like

More crawling and nearing the exit. The track thingys on the ground were put in by the people digging so they could move the dirt out easier on carts 
   After the door-to-door we did  a quick tour of Fuzzy Critter Cave and called it a day. A year and a half ago we toured all the caves in the ravine so we opted to skip them this time. If you are interested in a cave tour of your own the Wisconsin Grotto in conjunction with Crystal Cave is hosting the Hodag Hunt in the fall. It only costs 18$ for a family to join the club for a year and is the only requirement other than a helmet, headlamp, and old clothing. For a walking tour of the really pretty stuff, the Mc Masters and their friendly staff will be glad to host you, your family, or group for a nominal fee. Check them out at Crystal Cave
The exit

Entrance to Fuzzy Critter
Please Note: it's possible I have Tree Fork and Fuzzy Critter miss named and will correct it ASAP

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Bike, Boat, Rope

The scenery is going to get a lot better
 Last Friday I got head-start on the weekend by getting out of work at noon and meeting ArcFlash for an adventure. I wasn't planning on leaving early or even going with AF but I had all the gear with me at work ready to go, it turns out he had all the gear too. When I knew it would be a short day,I got a hold of AF and informed him of my plan for the afternoon. By 12:30pm we were eating fish tacos at Sea Salt near Minnehaha Falls poised to start our adventure.
On our way

Had to use the full suspension bike since my back is all jacked up for some reason

This creek appears to be in the wild, cars can be heard from any spot along the waterway, but it's still one of my favorite annual paddles.  
  My plan for the day was to ride from work in Mahogany Town, 7-8 miles to Minnehaha Falls for lunch. From there we would follow the bike path up river along Minnehaha Creek to the south end of Lake Harriet. Inflating the packrafts and lashing down the bikes for a 90 minute paddle back towards the falls would be the first challenge of the day. There is a little park with a put-in just south of the lake I have used many times. It's a good place to start for an exciting ride down river to the falls, with  lots of twists and turns, small rapids, and low bridges.
The creek was low so the little rapids weren't as much fun as they could be

AF informed me a clove hitch is a monitored knot just before I got on it ,   Huh ? The one that looks tight is the one I'm hanging off of, the other is just a short whip attached to a small diameter cord. The webbing and the quick-link are the cost of the rap, meaning they are left behind . About  6 $

AF is about to lower his bike. It's approximately 50' to the bottom based on the slack left in my 60 ' pull cord
  Part two of the adventure had us packing up the boats near the falls and riding about five miles to a pit/drainage and a rappel. Keep in mind none of this is necessary but lots of fun just the same and requires a little imagination on why we are doing it. A road or trail can get you just about anywhere in the city with ease.  I don't really like doing things that are easy or safe. I like doing difficult and dangerous things safely.So we just have to pretend there are no roads where we are going and make our own routes.
We're trying to keep his nice new Krampus .... New!

 
AF  taking a shower so I can get a good pic, Thanks Man 
 The rappel was super fun. There was water flowing into the pit which made it a little more exciting. I was also trying out some new gear and techniques. First, I had a mini, four-bar rack for the rappel on a single line. These are familiar to vertical cavers but not to climbers so I had some difficulty figuring out how to use it properly. The people at REI and Midwest Mountaineering had no idea what it even was. I bought it used so it had no instruction manual and no one on the internet posted any good pics of how to lace the rope through it, attach it to the harness, and use it properly. I practiced in my basement the night before and was confident it would work the next day. Second, I wanted to use a single line with a pull cord, this saves on weight and allows one to rap the full length of the rope. Again this is something no one at REI or Midwest knows how to set up. I was quite disgusted at their bullshit answers and lack of knowledge. This is a common technique for canyoneers but there are no good pics of how to do it just right. I practiced that in the basement the night before as well. It boils down to a clove hitch fastened to the spine of a carabiner and  positioned so it cannot be pulled through a quick-link attached to webbing anchors at the top of the drop. It sounds simple, and it is, but when you are going to trust your life on the end of it, it has to work.      The rack and the single rope/pull cord worked awesome !
All Wet 

Exit

Recognize this bridge ?
 After wrapping up the ropes and getting them back on the bike it was time for another short ride and one more quick trip in the raft. We put-in on the Mississippi, crossed a channel on the upstream side of Pike Island to the Minnesota River and took out near the Sibley House. AF and I bid farewell as I headed toward Eagan to join my family for a "last day of school" party and he toward St Paul for another round of packrafting with a mutual friend.
The sun makes it's first appearance in weeks and we are in the shade near the Sibley House
P.S. This is the second installment of "Minnesota Canyoneering". I have named this one "Lor's Pit" for the close proximity to the mythical creature's lair that I invented last fall. This is a popular area for ice climbers and they have their own name for it but mine is a summer, non-ice route so I'm giving it my own name. And just in case you might recognize this spot in a recent post from another local blogger, I have known about it for years and am no way a copycat. In fact I rapped it last fall but didn't find a need to post anything about it.  

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Funny

 
Kids express themselves in different ways,for Super Y, he likes to draw pictures. This is  for his second grade teacher . When I saw it I nearly fell on the floor laughing, I have to agree with him. Hopefully he will get a better teacher next fall.   Enjoy the summer vacation boys!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Mini-Bike

About seven years ago I bought three, really cheap, Chinese in origin, pit bikes. Two of them were 70cc's and and the other 110cc. At the time I was thinking ahead, way ahead, for when my kids would be able to ride them. The big one was all mine and has had the piss beat out of it, while the other two were for the boys and have sat in the garage most of the time. Since these two little bikes go much faster than I would like (30-35 MPH) I have put-off teaching the boys to ride them. It's not like they didn't know about them, I've been pestered many times to get them running.
He was having so much fun I worried he would crash from laughing too hard

Hill Climb

Big D should do just fine when we get a bigger area to practice . Super Y all kitted up waits for his turn.
  Last weekend I finally caved in and got G-Man and Super Y on them. Big D is a little too short still, and was pissed -off I wouldn't let him try. G-Man is almost ten now so he was long overdue and had no problems riding it.... I just hope he doesn't find 2nd thru 4th gear. Super Y on the other hand got really nervous and decided he didn't want to ride. Lynn got on the back of the bike and did her best to coach him through it....flip-flops and all. The ride didn't go so well when Super Y grabbed a hand full of throttle and front brake at the same time. All I saw was an accelerating mini-bike with the front wheel locked up cruising across the yard before both of them were laying on the ground in front of me. I ran over to shut off the bike that was still running, help them up, and then laugh my ass off. That was the end of the mini-bikes for the day, we'll have to find a bigger place than the back yard to practice.

Looking at this image, you just now something is about to happen

They made three loops through here before laying it down :)