Sunday, September 27, 2009

Lower St. Louis on a Beautiful Fall Day

Happy Birthday to Dan! One of my three favorite open boaters. We celebrated in the best possible way...on the river! Aaron, Alan, Dan and I hooked up to catch a last run on the Lower St Louis before they cut off fish flow at the end of this month. The weather could not have been better...warm and sunny...the leaves just starting to turn colors. I haven't been on the Lower for quite a long time. I still hadn't ran Octopus and the Swinging Bridge yet. My first attempt at running Octopus was aborted due to a 20 foot log jackknifing out of the Beak in front of me blocking me from coming out of the Room. That was June 2007! Well today was the day...we had a small tight group and we were on the river to just enjoy. We leisurely meandered down the lower enjoying every possible bit we could and doing quite a bit of videoing. We set up at Octopus and scouted...everyone had a great run. The day was cruzing! Even the Boneyard was enjoyable for almost all of us. We pulled out and scouted Left Slot and the Hanging pool. With video set we all styled it. By then the Swinging Bridge was completely full of people watching us and more on the side of the river. Snakebite was just fine and we paddled towards the cheering crowd on the bridge. They were applauding us when Alan whipped off a roll...sheesh...the crowd went wild! Funny how we just ran all THAT and what tickled them the most is a roll. We pulled over and it was decision time. Dan has been wanting to run Fin Falls in an open canoe for awhile. We discussed it and the boys were all for it. I had a stellar day so I said I would run the video. At the top of Fin we scouted. I set up video and Aaron had the rope after deciding to not run it leaving Alan and Dan. Alan has speculated that he's never heard of anyone running Fin in an open canoe before so this was going to be something. Alan paddling a C1 led off and waited for Dan. Long story short Dan and Alan both styled it all the way down! What a great way to spend a birthday! Everyone has their top shelf of river memories where they store moments of very special runs. This run definitely went on the top shelf. I took a few photos along the way but here's Dan's video from the day.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Day with Joi!

Joi Electa is a well known, talented artist who lives in God's country...the North Shore of Lake Superior. Each year I go to the Gunflint with friends and this year I stopped in Beaver Bay to spend the day with Joi, learning to oil paint. We met for breakfast and talked mostly about our common interests of nature. The wolf family she has been watching and where we may go to paint. We decided on the Beaver River. We walked down to the mouth and then continued up the river. Climbing almost dry falls and just following and enjoying the river. I had to force myself to turn back or I would have continued to follow the river all day. It was just one beautiful discovery after another and I can't resist seeing what is just around the corner. In Joi I found a sister spirit in this adventure. We had a great hike and talked a lot about what it looks like with all the spring melt crashing down the bed. But we had a mission and that was to oil paint. We headed back to where we left our supplies and settled in to paint. Joi has been painting since she was 6. It shows! She explained the basics and touched on the complexities of oil painting. I guess I never really thought of all that goes into painting. My misconception being that I thought you either had the talent or not. There's so many things involved that it really is a learning process...technique, lighting, mixing of colors, depth, balance, layering, brushes, the list goes on. I attempted to paint part of the Beaver River under the bridge. My "real" life is busy and stressful and I'm always looking for peace. While painting you need to put everything else aside and just concentrate on what's before you. I came away from the day thinking I could do this but I just need to learn more and keep painting. Joi was a great teacher...very patient! The day ended too soon and I had to be back on my way north. I had a small painting next to me and the smell of fresh paint lingered in my truck for was a good smell as it brought back the peacful day spent with Joi.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Rapids Riders Vermilion River Clean Up 2009

The weather was forecast to be gloomy and wet...they lied was sunny and beautiful for the clean up. A great group of people assembled this morning to take on the Vermilion clean up. This is not a clean up for wimps. The amount and type of trash that gets thrown in the river combined with the steep cliffs and horrendous trails makes for a grueling mornings work. It's not for everybody but the special people that showed up today can count it a morning well spent. A mountain of trash was collected and carried up the cliffs. The annual bike count was low this year. Maybe about 5. One grill. Lots of scrap metal and bags of trash...mostly alcohol related. Thanks to our sponsors...Shred Ready, Midwest Mountaineering, 3M, Friends of the Mississippi and of course Rapids Riders there was enough swag that everyone who came was able to get a door prize. Doug Ritzinger winning the Shred Ready Helmet. Sara Koop and Jodi Buche both won NRS throw bags. Great job today everyone! Special thanks to Graeme and baby Murphy for holding down the headquarters freeing me up to get down and dirty in the river...again!