I broke down camp as quietly as I could. That was just part of being a courteous camper at that hour of the morning. However, there is only so much one can do when pulling a canoe on wheels down a gravel campground road. I’m sure I bothered a few on my way out. Oh well.
I was on the water at an early hour and started making miles. I had to laugh at the cairns someone built along the way. They are a navigational aide, so why would anyone need them on the water? But also, lots of people think they are just rock stacks. Don’t build these along or near trails because it can cause people to get lost.
It didn’t take long before I spotted my nemesis, the racoon! It was a pair of them along the shore before they scampered off into the woods. As soon as they did, I saw another pair just downriver from them.
Crow Wing State Park, not surprisingly, contained the confluence with the Crow Wing River so I saw that pretty early in the morning. I had expected a bigger river to be honest. It didn’t add much to the current.
I don’t even think I had left the park yet before I saw FOUR MORE raccoons. This was ridiculous. I’ll be happy if they’re the last I see the whole trip. I also spotted a bunch of turkeys
What I was happy to see was a bunch more paddlers. This section of the river passed Fort Ripley and it was a nice weekend, so everyone was out on the water. It was mostly people fishing. One guy was recording his stuff for YouTube or something I suppose.
After some miles I was planning on taking a break at Sterns County Park, so I had my eyes open for the takeout. Oddly, I noticed another campsite that wasn’t on the maps. It was marked with the DNR sign and I could clearly see a picnic table. There seemed to be no easy way to get up the bank so I didn’t bother getting out, but it was curious.
A little ways down I found my intended break spot and took some nice relaxing time off the water. I was hoping for a vending machine or something at the park, but no luck. A bunch of people started showing up, so I decided it was time to get back in the boat.
A new first on the river was spotted: a float plane.
Late afternoon I finally got to the Little Falls Dam. Wtf was this takeout? It was stairs. Stairs covered in goose poop. Why I. Earth wouldn’t they put in a ramp instead? I can just pull it out a bit and slap on my wheels. Instead I had to unpack the whole boat and then lift the whole boat out and onto the wheels, then repack for the portage.
I rolled it down the sidewalk in hopes of finding the put-in. Well I found it. Guess what? More stairs. There were ramps too, but they didn’t go to the water. Instead they went halfway down to a concrete slab before I had to climb down to the rocks below. Ugh.
Whatever. It’s over with now. Onward…
I made my way the last few miles to the campsite at the edge of Charles Lindbergh State Park. I had to paddle a little ways up Pike Creek. Now, the map indicates 2 campsites and the symbol it uses was the same as all the free sites before. My assumption was that this was a free paddle-up campsite and I expected it to be empty.
I was surprised to find that not only was it for a fee, but both sites there were booked for the evening. Well crap. I can’t really ask someone that paid for a site to move over. I wandered off to find some water and eat my dinner.
The DNR guy found me. I guess he had spoken to the car campers and heard my plight. He offered to charge me to stay near the water tower (a bit of an open area) or mentioned that people will sometimes camp on the next island down, apparently owned by the power company. I told him that’s what I’d do.
As soon as he left I got to thinking about how tired I was and that I’d rather just pay the $20 to stay there. I went and got a cart for moving gear to those sites and brought back all the stuff I needed for the night. I waited to catch him again and pay but he never came around.
I plugged my stuff in at the nearby bathrooms and called it a day.
Total Mileage: 378.3