Definition for Kayak :-)

Kayak [] n. 1. an oblong banana shaped boat with a hole in the bottom from which the occupant dangles. Can be propelled the wrong way up by experts. (definition courtesy of Pete Knowles)
(And I've got this one from Chris' Kayak Lexicon)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Vermillion Cleanup Party 2008

Couldn't have been a more beautiful day to get down to the Vermillion and clean out the junk of the last year. Notorious for its hidden treasures like: bicycles, old fashioned lamp-posts, shopping carts it outdid itself this year with a motor bike! As beautiful as the river is, when you don't look too closely as dangerous are sharp metal parts, tangly charger cables, glass shards, etc when you're down there pushing your limits, which often means taking little "excursions" into that treasure trove that lies beneath the surface. (More excursions for some, like me, than others :-)

The leaves are just starting to turn and the sumac looked particularly gorgeous this morning making our way to the pavilion, where we were to drop off sustenance for later and pick up gloves and bags for the treasure hunting.

Jerod here is going all the way and picking up stuff in the middle of the river.

John and Sarah were unearthing heap of scrap iron from the river bank. Hard to imagine, how those heavy railway ties made it down there, and those were only the smaller parts next to sleepers and tubes and what-not. But you can see, folks were having fun getting their gloves dirty.

Sarah is making sure, that I take a good picture of the junk heap. She found that huge pretty spring she was very proud of!

Don't let this picture fool you! Those "little" pieces of rusty metal were crazy heavy and I could only carry a couple of those babies up with two breaks in between.

I'm glad Jay ran into us and helped Jim with that big tube he was moving!

Jim going over the bank once more for any bits that may still be hidden.

Fooood! I had already heard from Nora the day before, what she'd been slavin' over all week to feed us after the clean-up and I sure had been looking forward to this! Home-made salsa with Nora's secret to adding just the right amount of spice an kick. Tomatoes and peppers from the farmer's market made this a fresh and pleasurable tickle to the taste buds. Then the taco bar with home made sauce and all the good fixin's. Friends of the Mississippi had donated some rather tasty cherry and chocolate chip scones, which were a rather nice segway to Nora's chocolate cheese pie, which was simply delicious! Nora does not just throw it down on whitewater, she also kicks ass in the kitchen! (By the way that's Oggie rehydrating in the back and Tony reglycogenating :-)

Good company, good food, good laughs: Kathi, David, Paul, Todd, Art, Bryan K and Sarah.

Time for the raffle. you can see the suspense in Tony, Mark, Jim and Jay's faces! There was some good swag that Nora has organized and we all wanted a good piece of it.

Bryan Z playing lady luck here in Nora's raffle box. (A newly engaged Alex on the right, Congratulatins Alex!!!)

I needed a throw rope and the Universe (aka Nora) provided! I'm so excited! Now I need a knife, 'cos Art quite rightly sez, when you got a rope, you gotta have a knife! I had an educational experience trying to shred the lettuce for the tacos with Nora's river knife. (Oh, I didn't realize, they had two blades...) Well, let's just say that I am pretty confident that Nora's knife will make pretty quick business with any entangled rope. (Mental note for next year: Bring First Aid Kit. I am sure I can come up with something stupid to do to my fingers, etc. again next year...)

Art and Bobzilla with big smiles on their faces!

Socializing and planing trips for the next few months.

Ah, the pinata! That was definitely a highlight! Nora had made it herself in the shape of a playboat!

Sarah having a go.

Brian the Barbarian destroyed it in one fell swoop you can see all the goodies Nora had packed scattering! NRS stickers, candy and NRS key chains.

I don't have a picture of that big satisfying heap of garbage we had gathered, you have to look on Nora and Bryan's blog for those (see my links on the right).

It was a fun and rewarding way to get a better idea of the bank and trails around that stretch of the Vermillion with a chance to feel like a kid again climbing over rocks and roots through the woods and poking around for interesting "stuff". Took me right back to when I was a kid back in Germany in a small town, where kids still could roam free from school's out to when it got dark and the biggest danger was the wrath of mum, when you got back to late and let Dad waiting for his dinner.

I'll definitely be back next year and, who knows since Nora won't be able to do it next year, maybe I'll even do some organizing if Kathi helps me with organizing the swag. Kathi are you game?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Kinnickinnic (90-100 cfs)

What a beautiful run!

As if it wasn't enough to spend 4 hours on the water with a bunch of great people! This river is absolutely stunningly beautiful! The banks are dotted with a variety of wild flowers. So many different plant species are at home here. The leaves were just starting to turn. Who cares that it was a little nippier than we are used to in the middle of September! Pictures don't do it justice, so color them out with your fantasie!

Ben at the put in (River Falls, WI).

Jim fine tuning the outfitting. As I said to one of my colleagues at work. A whitewater kayak should fit snugger than a pair of speedos! (For some reason he blushed :-)

What is it with adults taking pictures of kids with worms?

Bea and Ben.

And we're off. Jay, Grit and Ben leading the way.

Kayakers and fishers in perfect harmony.

We were shoo-ing a great big gray heron just a few yards ahead of us along the river and we saw a king fisher, my first!

Kathi, the Hawkinsons and Bea.

Strechies at the half way point. Aparently a good spot for grillin' brats on colder days :-)

Kathi & Jim.

Jay & Grit.

Bea and Jim manuevering some tight spots.
The Kinnie is not very pushy and not scary at all, but it sure has a great amount of technical stuff to have fun with!!! Tight corners, sharp eddy lines strainers to make a wide berth around. I repeat wide berths around strainers!
I had an educational encounter with a strainer. It all went well, but it could have gone differently. Luckily there was nothing to hold me up under water, so I popped right back up again after the tree trunk, but again that could have gone the other way. Why did I think I needed to be so close to it in the first place? Well, earlier on there was a tree we limbo-ed our way under, BUT that was a completely DIFFERENT situation: no current! No current: limbo away as you please as long as you have backup for safety. Current: Stay the H#LL away from the strainer!
Anyway, you could easily make a whole long day of paddling of it on the Kinnie without ever being scared, but with honing those skills like nobody's business!

Oh, and other thing that makes me happy: getting into dry warm clothes and snuggling up in comfy fleece after being wet and cold. Its those basic little things that are just unbeatable!

I sure hope to get down the Kinnie at least one more time this fall, more often would be even better! Maybe a canoe supported trip with the grillin' of sausages on the beach! Wouldn't that be fun!