Paddle - BWCA, Quetico, Sylvania, and other paddling places

Minnesota River in October

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Dates:October 10-11, 2015


October 10, 2015

We spent the previous night at the little Vicksburg campground. Our late arrival didn't afford us the opportunity to get the 'lay of the land', but we were able to find an accomodating spot non the less. Enjoyed our fire for awhile before we called it a night.

Vicksburg campground

We couldn't have realistically asked for a better day weather wise. Sunny and temperatures into the sixties. The boat ramp didn't provide the best landing for loading a canoe. It was exceedinglymuddy and dropped off quite steeply. We have dealt with countless uncompromising landings on our various trips to the BWCA (and other places), but the current of the river ceaselessly pushing on the canoe proved to be a new dynamic that we hadn't dealt with in a while.

Vicksburg boat landing

As we paddled down river, there were numerous picturesque rock outcroppings. The river was quite shallow, which I thoughtmightmake fishing a bit easier. The problemwas that the water was so dirty that there was virtually no visibility. Another disappointing aspect was that the trees along the banks of the river didn't sport the spectacular fall colors that we'd seen on our drive here. Still, we did enjoy paddling past the ever changing scenery. A early highlight was paddling under an old wooden bridge that is certainly a piece of Americana.

Old bridge

With the river being so shallow, there were several spots where The Black Pearl scraped along the sandy river bottom. In fact, onmore than one occasion, we had to pole through to floatable water. The up side of this condition was that there was always a nice sand bar to pull up on and take a break.

The Black Pearl

Of course the biggest advantage of river paddling is that, even if you let off the throttle, the current will usually keep pushing you downstream. Thus, always insuring forward progress.

Vickie paddling

Besides seeing a squirrel swimonto shore, we didn't see a lot of wildlife. Although, birds of prey were never too far away. Hawks, osprey, vultures etc, were seen with delightful frequency. But, only a couple ofmajestic bald eagles lingered long enough for us to get even a less than stellar photograph.

Bald eagle

As the day wore on, we were getting anxious to find camp. Our target site was just a fewmiles down river fromthe confluence of the Redwood River. There are not alot of designated sites along the river, so it's kind of a crap shoot about what will be available. Since it wasmid October, we felt confident that no one else would be on the river with intentions of camping overnight. But, as we approached the area of our target campsite, there was amotor boat hanging around in the water. Fortunately they moved on down river, and we were able to claimthe campsite.

The landing was exceedinglymucky, and themud possesed a tar like quality that was hard to wash off. Never the less, we eventually got everything hauled up to camp without incident.

We soon discovered there were actually 3 separate sites located here. None of themappeared to have been used in quite awhile. All were furnished with circle fire grates dug into the ground & a picnic table. Howwever, they all used the same latrine; which was a wooden box that was starting to rot. One aesthetically pleasing aspect of this location was the terrific overlook of the river that was a short distance fromcamp.

minnesota river overlook 1minnesota river overlook 2

While the sites were a bit overgrown, the trail running through themwas well worn. After getting setup Aurora & I explored the trail. It went on for a considerable distance & I presumed it ran out to a road but,we turned back before reaching any landmark.

Our site (as with the others) was quite cramped but, it did serve our purpose. One advantage of doing a trip with no portaging was that we were able to bring a couple of bundles of firewood along without seriously overloading the canoe. This insured us the luxury of having a nice toasty camp fire, regardless of what was available here in the woods.

minnesota river camp1minnesota river camp2

It had clouded up before nightfall, thus depriving us of star gazing as an evening activity. This was a rewarding experience, still camping here (near civilization) helped renew our appreciation for places like the BWCA where the sounds ofmodern life are usually not close at hand.

October 11, 2015

Today started out cool & crisp; perfect paddling weather. Before long, the sun began to take the edge off as we proceeded to our take out. There was amild class I rapid that we passed through, and later we paddled past what we presumed was an old junkyard - with several old cars. There was a substantial amount of junk that had washed into the river here.


In short order we were (annoyingly) within earshot of highway 71. This was tempered by the fact that the hills & bluffs rising up beyond the river banks were becoming evermore impressive. Soon we paddled up to our take out and proceeded to do our shuttle back to the Vicksburg landing and then headed for home.


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