Monday, May 14, 2012

A Perfect Kettle River Paddle Festival!


In all the years that we've had the Kettle River Paddle Festival I would say this one was about perfect!  And of course with perfection come good times!

The put in was busy!

  The early season worries of low or no water were set aside by spring rains finally arriving the week before.  The river went high and then settled down to a perfect 1100cfs.  Perfect for play and surf yet not too intimidating for newer kayakers.  A fun for all level!
  The fun started on Friday evening.  This year it fell on May the with you!  Boaters started arriving late afternoon, some coming from as far away as Canada!  We all headed up to Banning State Park and put in and had a great late evening paddle.  Let the fest begin!

  Saturday morning (Happy Cinco de Mayo) Robinson Park, at the take out, was turning into a tent city.  Many paddlers from the Midwest were arriving and hitting the water.  Kayaks, canoes, rafts, and inflatables were all getting on the water.  Some for park and play others running the river.  Blueberry Slide was a very popular place with the best play to be had.  The surf waves were in perfect!   We had the whole day to play until the serious business of the race at 4pm.  The Kettle River Race has grown over the yeas and boaters have been investing in race kayaks just for this race alone.  Hot competition!
The start of the race!

The battle through Blueberry Slide.
   The race was on!  At exactly 4pm the first heat of aggressive racers tore off in a fierce battle for the lead line through Blueberry Slide.  Two minutes later the second heat followed and no less fierce.  The boats close together running through the rapids.  It's a long paddle to the finish with two long stretches of flat water.  Always a good feeling of accomplishment when you finish the race! Kyle from Duluth had the fastest boat.  I ran tandem with Danielle Magnuson taking first in tandem.

  The race was finished with just the perfect amount of time to run shuttle and change into dry clothes.  Everyone gathered at the Gaslight Bar for dinner, drinks and getting together with old friends and meeting new.  The music as always at the Gaslight was great!  Very talented musicians!                                                                     

Battling through Blueberry for the lead!
  Then came the drawing.  Top prize was donated by Jackson Kayak.  A beautiful Jackson Rockstar!  The swag table was loaded with prizes from incredible and generous  sponsors!  Gift bags were handed out and most everyone won something from the table!   Such a great time!

  We all started migrating back to the campsite.    This Saturday night held what was called a Supermoon.  Our hopes of seeing a full moon at the closest it comes to the earth were not realized yet the soft glow through the clouds let us know it was there indeed.  Lightning in the distance and we all hung out around the campfire watching as the storms approached.  Some of us ran for our tents when the rain came.  Some of us ran for the pavilion to continue partying through the night...and yes they were literally howling at the moon late into the night.
  The rain fell all night on our tents quitting just before dawn.  The river was rising and it looked like it would be another perfect day on the river with just more juice to play.  The rodeo was at noon on Teachers Pet.   I personally got to judge the event.  A first for me.  It was really great watching my friends and students try their best.  Brody Johnson brought it and took first place.  Graeme Bloor taking second and Josh Novachek third.  Ashley Knudsen taking first in the women's division.

  After the rodeo was over groups of boaters either carried back up to park and play or ran the whole river.  With the rain the night before Wolf Creek was running.  Wolf Creek is known for a gorgeous falls that is the first falls new kayakers run.  Several new boaters were able to do their first waterfall Sunday...they were so stoked! What a great end to a perfect weekend!  Thank you Tony Vavrika for all the hard work you put in for this event!!  We are looking forward to next years event!!    Photos from Amy Buchanan and Nora Whitmore.