Friday, November 5, 2010

North Shore Paddling - Nov 5, 2010

Two weekends ago there was high winds forecasted for Duluth which means that there was surf waves on Lake Superior. A buddy met me up there and showed me all the good places to go. We checked out the mouth of the Lester River, Stony Break, Boulders, and Park Point. It was pretty foul weather (windy, wet, cold) but you sort of have to have that to get the waves. And with all our paddling gear on we didn't notice it too much.

The following week the North Shore got lots of rain. All the rivers were running that I'd been trying to paddle all year. And with an invitation to join a group of solid paddlers, I was back on my way up to Duluth. Saturday we paddled the Stewart River. It was a little on the shallow but we were able to make it down. The run consists of mostly 3 drops which I ran two of. One is called Plumber's Crack. Here's a video of me running it that a buddy took.


The really neat part is that you paddle right out into Lake Superior going from whitewater in an intimate woods to open sky and an ocean sized lake. The tradition is that you have to roll in Superior. With the water being probably in the thirties, we all got ice cream headaches.

In the afternoon we ran the Baptism River from Eckbeck campground to Illgen Falls. Nobody ran Illgen since it was pumping at this level. Another great addition. More rapids in between with a few drops.

On Sunday morning we ran the Cascade River. At the first three rapids, I spent a very brief time looking at them before deciding to portage around them. Their names were Hidden Falls (long slide with two big holes in it), Discretion (appropriately named), and Moose Rock (huge rock in the middle of a long slide). The portage on Moose Rock was exhausting but I just wasn't confident about paddling it. Thankfully the rest of the river was much more manageable and I had a riot. It was still challenging and a step up from some stuff I'd been paddling but not so scary. Here's a video of me paddling one of the last slides on the river called Long John Silver. There was a rapid above the eddy I started in but to make things easier I portaged around that and just did the section in the video.

It was two great weekends of paddling up North, getting to see new rivers, and hanging out with good friends. You get a lot of laughs cramming 6 guys into 1 hotel room with a whole lot of stinky wet paddling gear.