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)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Mississippi Headwaters-Itasca State Park

With the best weather imaginable we took on Lake Itasca on Labor Day Saturday. Starting at the NE boat launch we paddled north towards the Mississippi and turned south to paddle the N arm and turn into the E arm about 2/3 down to Douglas Lodge at the end of the E arm. (For those who don't know the shape of the lake, it is like a star fish with 3 long arms stretching North, SSE and SSW, with the North Arm turning into the start of the Mississippi, which starts as a tiny creek on it's way to New Orleans and the Ocean.
Shelly G, Alina, Barb S, Ann, John G.

Lunch and Barb is being silly. We didn't land, since the island was infested with poison ivy and we tried to keep our feet out of the water because Melissa had caught a bunch of leeches the day before...

Alina, Ann, Melissa H. and Tom.

Sunday with unimaginably good weather we paddled up to the start of the Mississippi and the baby steps of the very young river.
John F in the green ducky/turtle, Liliana in one of the crazy rental kayaks and Deb M.

Marsha, Terry tandeming and Melissa B soloing one of the crazy rental kayaks.

Deb and John looking at the limbo potential of the footbridge across the Mississippi.

Without the pfd Deb just made it under. John, Liliana and Heidi watching on shore.

John F, with pfd decided that it was going to be a no-go.

The start of the Mississippi is just sooo beautiful to padde and also to wade. We paddled down and paddled/waded back up. So we got a bit of a hike out of it too. (No leeches, phiew!)

A few trees in the way. Deb had the best boat/weight to get over and through the obstacles!

Saturday afternoon, at Douglas Lodge looking North up the East arm. Aren't those clouds just enchanting?

The paddle wheel boat we encountered right up to the headwaters. It had a wedding party on board. Not the worst of ideas on such a gorgeous day! Although I of course would think starting a life together while paddling/wading down the first trickle of Ole Man River would have much more symbolic power to it.

John G had lovingly and beautifully restored an sail boat he first sailed at that very spot when he was ten and wanted to have it's first reborn journey in the same spot.

Marsha, Heidi, Terry and John all preparing for the big moment. Without remote control, it was all going to be down to planning and sail setting prowess to get the boat back after the sail.

In the end John decided to just bravely give it a go and see what happens, just like a 10 year old boy would do.

He set the sail and nudged it right on its journey.

It first headed straight North on what could be a long journey up to the Mississippi. (Although the Mississippi travels South to the Sea, it starts out going North for a little while before changing its mind.)

After a few minutes the wind changed direction and carried the boat in a little arc right back into the landing where John could snatch it safely out of the water :-)
Happy John!

Sunday evening at Preachers Grove for some singing!

Lake Itasca a glassy mirror.

Deb M, April, Barb, Tom, Melissa H.

Terry, Jerry, Marsha, John G.

Douglas Lodge built in 1905. I had to take a peek. It looks like the place where you would be served deer gulash and sauerbraten. And although their menu of course doesn't have either it is a very cute place to have lunch or a little rest and stretch of legs.

I don't have any pictures of the two hikes I did. One was particularly stunning. To walk off our late sundae dessert Mike H took us on a night walk to the headwaters. The moon was still nearly full and over the lake and in the lake and we were looking upon a scene of mystical beauty. I have made a resolution to come back to this spot at moonlight and open water again!
Another time and place of mystical beauty was Saturday night's sunset at the NE beach. You know when you look at one of those postcards and think they are enhanced? Well this wasn't. It was one of those moments. I didn't want to miss a single second of it and didn't go to get my camera. I will just hope that some of those who were taking pictures will share.
Monday after packing up I picked a route of 3.3 miles close to the Lodge and lead my first hike. Boy, did that ever remind me of my childhood in the Upper Palatinate of Bavaria. Up and down with very little flat walking. But the trail was well maintained and easily hikable with hiking-sandles, although shoes wouldn't have gone amiss either. Saw some mushrooms and the first changing leaves of brilliant red.
The hike finished me off nicely and I was ready to head on home...

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