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We are met with 50 mph winds, a rising river, and cold rain (Entry by Scott and Matt)
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(Jun 30th, 2005) This journal entry is from Scott and Matt
After almost three weeks off the water, we are finally back on it. Today we paddled 30 miles out of Breckenridge/Wahpeton, north on the Red River. It was Matt’s first day on the water, and he quickly picked up some new skills Scott taught him. The most important lesson was how to ‘eddy-out’ and how to ‘peel out’. Matt was in the bow; Scott taught him the special strokes he needed to use to allow us to do those maneuvers. ‘Eddying out’ and ‘peeling out’ allow us to take advantage of slack water, or areas in the river where the water actually flows upstream (eddies), in order to easily stop our canoe anytime.
Scott had hoped to put back on the river with Matt a few days ago, but Matt needed to stay at camp until yesterday because his parents came up to say good-bye and it was his girlfriend’s birthday. After saying a heartfelt good-bye to April, Matt and Scott hitched a ride with Matt’s parents to Breckenridge. We (Matt and Scott) camped there last night and put on the river this morning.
Todd and Scott originally pulled off the river due to flooding. The river had been finally going down, but in the past few days heavy, heavy rains have come again and the river is rising again. But we cannot wait—Matt has to be home in the Twin Cities by August 27th because he is the editor in chief of the Oracle; the newspaper of Hamline University where he goes to school. Now the expedition has become a race against time.
The river decided it would test us on our first day out. The winds were very strong very early; they blew at 30 mph much of the day and gusted to 50mph; much of the time in our face. When strong winds blow upstream on a swollen river the result is big white caps that stay in one place. A few times today we rode through these, yipping and howling with the delicious mixture of fear and excitement.
At one point we paddled for about 10 minutes up an old oxbow channel because the river is so flooded it was impossible to tell where the main channel was. A bit later we stopped for lunch in a flooded farm field but were driven off by hordes of flies and mosquitoes. We ended up stopping at a different flood field with the high winds howling at us. We plopped our campstools 10 feet from the water and ate in the surreal surroundings of water all over the ground and also blowing through the sky. With temperatures in the 60’s, Scott got a bit cold during lunch.
Later we saw a large deer swimming across the river in powerful current; he had some big antlers and must have had big muscles too. Then we passed by Abercrombie, ND and made it to our campsite.
Todd and Scott had to leave their some of their gear stashed in the woods for a few days, and hungry voles found a few things to their liking. They enjoyed noshing on the rubber ends of the hoses that go to our water bladders (plastic water bags that we attach to our backs so we can drink while we paddle). Matt and Scott today were thirsty enough that we didn’t mind sucking where voles had chewed; the Kokatat hose still performed well though the ragged feel of vole-chewed plastic was a bit strange.
Looks like we’ll be in Fargo/Moorhead sometime on Saturday…Matt is gung-ho and we think our morning routine will get faster and we will get stronger, so we should be able to make more than 30 miles a day soon which will hopefully allow us to go faster than our original itinerary. If we don’t make up about 14 days we won’t make it in time—but we both want to make it.
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