Another early morning was in store for me. I was hoping to bang out 40 miles today, so not much time to dilly dally. The problem was that I could camp at either 20 miles or 40 miles. I wish there were a few more options. I also had 2 portages to do, so that would add to the work.
I packed up and grabbed the same cart that I had used to move my gear. I had to go by the same campers I spoke with the night before, so I wanted to be as silent as a mouse. I feel like I did a good job considering I was moving the cart along gravel. It went downhill once I got in the water though. It was still dark and I didn’t see the rock I bumped right into as I passed their tent. The hit wasn’t even that hard, but the canoe material and the silent morning turned it into quite a bang. Sorry guys.
Once I got back to the river I was pleased to have it all to myself for a while. The next island did look like nice camping, but no flush toilets or outlets. I guess I’m getting pampered.
As I paddled along, I heard some quick cursing from someone on a dock. They had dropped something in the water. I paddled over and saw the guy trying to retrieve his slipper with a pole he had. It was too far from his dock by then so I grabbed it up and tossed it to him. We chatted a minute, including about the upcoming portages and that’s when I realized I had *3* portages.
I arrived at the first one for the day. I was confused at first if I should use the boat ramp, or if there was a canoe take-out location still up ahead. Turns out there was, so I set about getting everything out of the water. It has rocks at first and then goes up a fairly steep bank. This made me partially unload. Once up top, I followed the little maintenance road. The official trail went down the other side and connected again with another dam maintenamce road. I was skipping this because I could see the roads intersected just ahead. I’m not unloading this crap again for that.
Now, I also knew that if I turned in the wrong direction first, I should be able to avoid a set of stairs. I quickly got to the road that leads to the ramp and then the access to the paved multi-use trail. It didn’t list canoeing as an activity, but I figured it was ok. If I had used the ramp it would have saved some work. Next time. I saw a powered paraglider as I walked down it!
Down the trail and through the woods I finally got to a parking lot. I turned the only direction I saw and went down some steep, eroded steps to check it out. This was going to suck. As I came back for load 2, I saw a guy and his dog getting back into their car. They hadn’t passed me, so where did they come from? I checked it out again and there was another trail down to the water that had been obscured by a long truck. This was much easier.
After all that I put on some jams. The river seemed empty, so I just sang along. I did come up on a handful of people and I just owned it. They got to hear me singing happily to myself. I saw more fine chairs along the river.
After a while the river got wider and deeper. I was getting closer to the Sartell Dam and it was basically a lake now. Since the weekend was in full swing, the motorboats were out in force. And let me tell you, they didn’t give a shit what their wake did to me.. it was truly some miserable miles because every time they passed I had to turn my boat into the wake so I didn’t capsize.
I finally arrived at portage #2. I was hungry and the portage was long, so this pizza place really worked out perfectly. Salami on pizza. Try it, you’ll thank me.
Now at this point I was getting pretty tired. I got back on the water and started reading what’s up next on the map. Wait, another portage? This was now going to be a 4 portage day, this time around Sauk Rapids. I could already see the sign on the left bank. I had slightly passed it. Even better? Stairs again! I had to fully unload and carry my boat up the steps. Oh, and even though the last one was long, this one was too. No relief.
I reached the end of Lion’s park at the put-in and I was completely spent. There was no way I could carry on, and no way to make the campsite before dark. I slept in a busy public park. I didn’t even set up my tent. I just tossed on some layers and laid in the grass. I of course waited until everyone left and tried to pay as discretely as possible, but still.
Total Mileage: 412.4