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Chronicles of our team members adventures as they answer when “the River is Calling”!
It doesn’t matter the name or location of the river; when it calls, we just feel the need to answer!
Colorado Rivers and Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve                                                                                                           April 2023
My sisters and I traveled to Colorado for our annual girls weekend in April. We usually stay closer to Minnesota but since it was my turn to plan our weekend adventure and some of our kids are in Colorado, we changed it up this year.  We didn't do any paddling but traveled beside, hiked along and wadded through a few of their rivers.
Late Thursday night, we flew into Denver, found our rental vehicle in the pouring rain and drove to Rhiley's apartment. We visited over coffee the next morning, then made our way out of the city, through the mountains along I-70 and Clear Creek until we got to Loveland. It was bright and sunny as we started the drive up Loveland Pass and met with windy conditions and a little drifting snow at the crest of the pass. On the way down we stopped at a hiking trail in Keystone along the Snake River and hiked 2 miles of the snow covered trail before we headed to Dillon to pick up Simon. We toured Copper Mountain with Simon and stayed with good friends, Howard and Sue. On Saturday morning, Simon and Sue joined us as we headed out of Silverthorne to Leadville and traveled along the Arkansas River to Poncha Springs. Our destination was the Sand Dunes National Park in Mosca, Colorado where we met Nathan, Andrea, Mara and Luna (their new dog). It was the first time for all of us visiting the park and in April the Medano Creek had not crested yet so we were able to wade across to get to the dunes. We walked, climbed, rested, and made our way through the sand. It was awesome! We found a local brewery in Alamosa to have dinner before we all went our separate ways for the night.
Us four sisters stayed in a domehome at the base of the mountains near Moffat. On Sunday morning we made our way north and east to drive along the Arkansas River again through the mountains. We stopped at the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park to take in the amazing view before meeting our cousin, Lisa in Pueblo for some ice cream and a quick visit.  Then it was on to  Nathan and Andi's house in Colorado Springs. After dinner and a walk around the block with Luna, we made our way back to Denver to get a few hours of sleep before our early morning flight back to Minnesota. What a great way to spend time with family and friends! 

Maddy's Winter Paddling Adventure on Sykes Creek                                                                                               February 2023

I was itching to get out of the cold and get on the water so I decided to head down to Florida. I am fortunate to have family in the area so I took a weekend and went down to Melbourne, FL. There are so many great kayaking spots in the area. One of my favorites is Sykes Creek which leads into the Indian and Banana Rivers. It is a no-wake zone so often times you will see manatees or dolphins. 

We paddled a 3-mile stretch in the Ulumay Wildlife Sanctuary portion of the creek. Halfway through our paddle, we stopped in one of the bays to do some hiking. This is a great area to do some bird watching as the sanctuary is home to a variety of birds including wood stork, belted kingfisher, and white or brown pelican. After our hike, we headed back to the boat landing. At this point it was sunset and we knew there was a good chance we would see dolphins. Right as we were about to turn the corner towards the boat launch three dolphins jumped out of the water 5 feet in front of our kayaks! It was a perfect ending to our adventure.

Spring Paddling on two Northwestern Wisconsin Rivers                                                                                                 May 2022

We had a precious few days before our busy summer season began so we loaded up our kayaks and bikes and drove east late Saturday night. We found a place to camp just across the state border in Northwestern Wisconsin. It was a cool spring morning as we wound our way through the back roads and wooded areas for another 40 minutes and stopped at the two-lane bridge on Whistler Road that crossed over the Yellow River.  We pulled our bikes out of the back of the Space Trailer, laid them in the tall grassy ditch, cabled them to the guard rail, and drove upriver to Norman’s Landing. It wasn’t well marked, except for the ATV tracks in the gravel where someone had been whipping donuts! We unstrapped the kayaks and put them on the riverbank, then sat down for a sandwich before getting on the water. We noticed a few dark clouds in the north and ducked into the van to wait out a passing rainstorm. I read a chapter in my book as Dan got his fishing gear ready. We donned our rain gear, just in case, slid our kayaks into the river, and took turns leading the way as the river snaked around a few bends. Dan cast his line around a few downed trees along the wooded shoreline and found some good structure but nothing that would bite. I paddled up and downstream, practicing for the Cuyuna Triathlon as Dan was floating and casting. There were about a dozen homesteads that we passed as we paddled back to our bikes but we didn’t meet any other paddlers or fishermen. We paddled along high banks lined with marsh grass, found our way around a few grassy islands and into more wooded, hilly shorelines. Dan was pleasantly surprised when he caught a nice-sized smallmouth bass after about two hours of casting his line. The smallie was tucked behind a log along the rooted riverbank where the current carved out pockets below the high sandy banks. As the sun came out from behind the clouds, we paddled up to the bridge where our bikes were waiting. The shore was mucky but we found a few boggy patches to get out and waded through the tall grass as there was no good exit at the bridge. We flipped the kayaks over, tucked some gear inside, and used the cable to lock them up. We pulled out a snack and hopped on our bikes to ride the three miles back to the launch point down tarred country roads. As we came down Norman Landing Road, pine trees lined the road as it turned to gravel and we avoided a few puddles and made our way down the hill to the van and trailer. It didn’t take long to load our bikes in the trailer and head back to pick up the kayaks. It was a relaxing, lazy afternoon exploring the Yellow River!

We spent the night at a County Campground along the Apple River. The next day we drove to the City of Amery to explore the Apple River. We launched from a small park on Cross Avenue and spent three hours on the water paddling to Black Brook Flowage Access at 110th Street. The Apple River had more shallow spots and was a lot busier than the Yellow River! We paddled past fishermen, other paddlers who were floating, fishing, and people wading along the banks with their dogs. There was also a nice headwind in several areas so we had to work a little harder! We staged our bikes at the River access and thankfully had the wind at our backs as we pedaled the 3.5 miles back into Amery and the Church parking lot where we left the van. The sun was setting as we drove back to gather our gear, load the kayaks and head home to Minnesota. It was another great day on the water!

Dan & Sandra on the Deschutes River                                                                                                                     September 2022

Our youngest son, Simon, was 10 years old when we started this business and has graduated from (the U of M and) CW Outfitting to faster moving waters! He’s worked as a rafting guide at Deschutes River Adventures in Maupin, Oregon for the past two summers and loved it! We drove out to Oregon at the end of September to visit him and close out the rafting season with him and two of his guide buddies. Ruby worked with Simon at Deschutes River Adventures and Kailyn’s family owns and operates River Trails Rafting in Maupin.

The temp was a fair 70 degrees and the sun was shining as the 14’ raft was loaded on top of Ruby’s Subaru. We headed through town, across the bridge over the Deschutes, and down along the river canyon to leave a car at the take-out, then piled into the Subaru and headed back up the winding river road to the put-in about 5 miles north of Maupin. A couple of us donned splash jackets under our PFD’s and neoprene booties before we pushed off and got the basic River Guide’s safety speech as Simon, Ruby, and Kailyn put on their “guide hats”. A mile down river, Simon navigated us through Class 2 & 3 rapids. We stayed pretty dry paddling through the Wapinitia wave train, went spinning through Tea Cups, and ran sideways through Devils Hole, “accidently” getting wet, of course! Then we got up on the pillow at Boxcar and turned down into another hole, coming out on top! We paddled two miles of lower Class 2’s until we came into town, floating under the bridge at Maupin. About forty minutes of flatwater paddling brought us to Surf City’s Class 2 rapid. After that, we hopped out on a sand bar to get another safety briefing and tuck away sunglasses and hats that we didn’t want to lose to the river before we smashed the Class 4 rapids at Oak Springs!  We hung out in the Champagne Room (eddy) for a bit before we headed downstream past a few fishermen casting from shore and through Class 2 rapids where the White River flows into the Deschutes. We wound down the river as the afternoon shadows stretched over the canyon walls. Simon and Sandra took turns “riding the bull” through Class 2 rapids at Upper Elevator and Lower Elevator as Kailyn took the Guide reins. We welcomed the sunshine as we finished the 13 mile run where the canyon walls open up at Sandy Beach take out. We were fortunate enough to have Casey, an Imperial Rafting Company driver, graciously agree to trailer our raft back to town, along with their rafting guests that were getting off the river a few minutes after us. It was a beautiful day rafting the Deschutes with our crew of awesome guides!

We ended the day taking in an awe inspiring sunset at Smith Rock State Park where the Crooked River winds through rock spires in Oregon’s High Desert.

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