Monday, April 10, 2017

First Paddle Of The Spring

The first time for almost anything is usually the best. OK, not quite everything but almost.  

Spring gets in your blood and you have to go, at least, I do.  My wife, who would perhaps prefer to get out one more time on the skate skis on the big lakes that are still icy, agreed to a day of paddling on Friday.  Our choices were few but interesting.  Little Indian Sioux River leading south off the Echo Trail is usually open of ice early and it leads to one of the Boundary Waters most interesting water falls, oddly enough, Sioux Falls.   

With the Minnesota II loaded up on the new Colorado truck for its maiden shuttle, off we went up the Echo.  A quick stop at the entry on the other side of the road, Little Indian Sioux North because that's where the Forest Service latrine is, revealed that we were not the first paddlers out.  Three cars were in the lot headed downstream to Upper and Lower Pauness lakes.   We launched upstream on the flat water of the Sioux R. South headed into a pretty constant breeze in search of spring.  

The ducks were about already.  Common goldeneyes burst into the air in front of us only to wheel back to check us out from a safe height while the less curious ducks like mallards and hooded mergansers just flew out of sight.  Around the  next curve, there they were again ready to bolt as soon as we reappeared.  The meadows bordering the river were quiet still awaiting the warmth of May before coming alive with warblers and sedge wrens and slew pumpers (American bitterns).   A couple hours down range and up stream on the Sioux and the distant roar of the falls fills the air.  

What can be a trickle in summer was a raging torrent on Friday.  Melt water is flowing everywhere into the watershed in April up north.  Snows of January have turned to cold trickles gaining at each confluence until the river is full and overflowing into its leatherleaf and sedge borders.  At the falls it's hard to hear over the roar.  But, out of the wind and in the spring sun and after 2 hours of working into the wind, it was time for lunch.  Nothing like egg salad on 100 ancient grains bread and some of Nancy's homemade pickles.   Followed by another first, the first nap of the spring on the old Seda life vest.

No need to overdo it.  We pack up and head back for the sail to the north with the wind and with whatever current the river offered.  An hour later we're back at the truck satisfied that living up north in the shadow of a great wilderness is always fun and amazing.

 Hope to see you in Ely this summer,

Steve Piragis
The Boundary Waters Catalog

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