Hello everyone! Although today’s adventure is longer, and not as accessible as most of the posts I strive to write, The St. Croix River is too near and dear to my heart to leave out. For a bit of background, I began co-leading overnight canoe trips with Living Waters Camp when I was sixteen, and I’ve been leading trips with them ever since. Last week I had the pleasure of co-hosting a youth group from a church in Michigan on a three day St. Croix river adventure.
The first day was a bit rainy and a little chilly, but it’s always great to be on the river. Besides, as we agreed that night while sitting around our campfire, it’s the things that don’t go right which tend to be most remembered about a trip. Chilliness aside, we navigated the “rips” (drops in elevation that create class I rapids) and spotted several bald eagles along our way. That night we made camp and I (as the designated camp cook) made a yummy chicken stir fry that filled our bellies. You haven’t really cooked for an appreciative audience until you’ve cooked for a gang of hungry people on a wilderness trip! We spotted a moose before the evening set it, which was fantastic. We retired to our tents, and I swear, sleeping on the ground is never so comfortable as after a day of paddling. (Okay, so I do have a foam pad that I keep under my sleeping bag, but you get the idea.) Day 2 The next day warmed up a a bit, and the rain was only scattered. We did most of our paddling this day, and encountered my favorite part of the trip – Little Falls! Although Class III rapids are no big deal when you’re white water rafting, they’re quite something when you’re in a canoe! There was enough water for safe passage, however, and we portaged the supplies (just in case someone happened to dump!) and everyone took their turn running the rapids in emptied canoes. It was great fun to see people walk up the path to their canoe nervous and hesitant, but return from their run full of excitement, triumph, and the urge to do it again. We had a quick lunch there, and then canoed on. We reached our campsite later that afternoon, and set everything up. I took a bathing-suit bath in the river here with Dr. Bronner’s biodegradable soap (a staple of wilderness people everywhere) and although the water was cold enough to make me gasp after I went under, it felt amazing to be clean. We had a hot dinner of Mexican rice with tortilla chips, and then we retired to our tents and slept. Day 3 Our last day of canoeing! After a pancake breakfast, we made it the last few miles this day. However, just as the last canoe was making it’s way down the last set of rips, we had our greatest excitement of the trip. That last canoe, on that last set of rips – dumped! (They were so close!) Not to worry though, they brought their canoe to shore, and I was able to hike up river to meet them, and the two dumpees learned how to empty a canoe full of water while standing in the river! (Hint: it involves a lot of elbow grease!) Our main trip leader was able to wait at the bottom of the rips with the rest of the group and they gathered the various “yard sale” items as they floated past. The group enjoyed good fishing at our campsite on Loon Bay that night, and we even had a birthday party with cake! Day 4 We packed our gear into the trailer and bid the river goodbye on this, our last day of the trip. It’s always sad to say goodbye after such an amazing experience together, but there’s always next year!! For more information on the St. Croix River: https://www.nps.gov/sacn/index.htm To sign kids up or schedule your own wilderness adventure: http://www.lwcamp.com/living-waters-wilderness-adventures/
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