Portage around the dam was also quick and easy, only taking an hour. We paddled past the dam another eight miles to this nice canoe camp where I am now tucked in my sleeping bag ready to sleep.
After fourteen days of paddling, we ALL needed a day of rest and to do general “housekeeping” before we began our next run. Today, I made it into town to do laundry and also did two interviews. Tomorrow is bringing more cold weather, but we hope to head out early.
The overall interest in our adventure is growing so quickly! Today is the 15th day since we left and I continue to be amazed by the generosity of strangers. Anytime we are at a larger campground, River Angels show up at our campsites and offer a hand, or some advice. I’m also hearing from more and more friends who plan to meet up with us in the coming days. We welcome any paddlers to join us!
Just a little survival lesson from Dale Sanders, Grey Beard Adventurer. For those of you who know him, I'm sure this will give you a giggle.
Bank erosion is very noticeable in this area. Undercutting is significant. There are thousands of slides taking beautiful trees into the rising waters. The river is getting wider than one would expect this close to the headwaters.
We paddled with headwinds most of the day, but still managed to get in twenty two miles. The possibility of rain tonight made the picnic shelter in Palisade, MN a perfect shelter. Walked into town for dinner and enjoyed a delicious Hot Beef Sandwich. Fell asleep by 9pm and hope to shove off by 0800 tomorrow to get in 30 miles, hopefully before the rains come.
The Grey Beard Adventurer, Dale Sanders, grew up on a family-owned farm in Lickskillet, Kentucky. The farm sits snugly on a crooked little back road called Cedar Grove Road. Surrounding the farm on three sides, the Whippoorwill Creek flows and winds, and is the place where Dale Sanders learned to swim and love the outdoors. Just a few miles away from the family farm is Olmstead Elementary School, where Anna (Type 1 Diabetic and namesake for Dale’s Wenonah canoe) attends school. This small, rural school in the middle of a cornfield has embraced Anna and her family’s determination to raise funds for research and to find a cure for this disease. The administration has demonstrated that not only is knowledge a powerful tool, but they have also done annual JDRF Walk fundraisers.
Today, Anna’s 5th grade class took an exciting field trip. They visited the Cedar Grove Rosenwald School, which is a one-room school house on the National Register of Historic Places, and is located across the creek from Dale’s family farm. Local resident, and prior student, Clarence Gamble spoke to the class about what it was like to attend the segregated African American school. He later showed the students the outhouse (a 3-seater) that is also still in its original location.
Dale’s sister, Judi Silvey, spoke to the students about The Grey Beard Adventurer. You see, this group of 5th graders and their teachers have been following “that man in the canoe” on Spot Tracker each day. Ms. Judi described the challenges that the team is facing and shared some of the funny stories that she brought back from the team’s departure at Lake Itaska, MN. As the students left to make the short walk to their teacher's back yard for a picnic lunch, they expressed their excitement to know that Mr. Dale grew up right there, on Cedar Grove Road! Here’s a few pictures and well-wishes from Anna’s class…but the overall message is "Keep on working hard Dale Sanders and team!" We are all pulling for you from home, and sending our love and support. (These students will be 6th graders before Dale's Source to Sea run is completed!)
The weather on the mighty Mississippi beat us out today. We could only endure the windy rain for 10 miles. Everyone is miserably wet and cold, but we made it to the Jacksonville Campground. Our highest priorities now are to get warm and dry out. We were able to rent a small cabin with simple wood bunks, no heat, no electricity, and no water. It doesn’t even have clothes hooks for drying our wet gear. Thankfully, there is a spring a half mile down river, where we can get water. We are just happy to have a roof over our head tonight, even if it is a very primitive shelter. Got to get the wet clothes dried out before attempting to paddle again. Tell everyone we are safe otherwise.
Just great paddling today, and we made it 28.5 miles to what is known as the “DNR Swimming Bear Campsite”, upstream from Jacobson, MN. Our campsite is elevated, which gives us a captivating view of the river. Good food tonight and great paddlers to share our campsite with.
In other good news, the film production crew was able to shoot several scenes in perfect lighting with no bright sun or hot spots to deal with. Water was moving fast and I am not as tired as I expected to be. No aches or pains.
This wonderful day’s mojo was quickly shattered when I poured my clean clothing on the tent floor. Somehow, water got into the waterproof bag. My clothes were/are dripping wet. That ended such a great day with a deflated since of security. Unfortunately it is raining and no way to dry out the clothing.
I will write more for the blog early am once I figure out how to get my clothes dry.
With an 11:30am start, we were still able to paddle 21 miles with two portages, several confusing marshes, and battling a headwind most of the time. We arrived in downtown Grand Rapids, Minnesota, right at 6:30pm and managed to turn lots of heads while portaging the boats through down town. The AdventureitusProductions film crew got some great video and released their first weekly preview of the greater movie to come. Had dinner downtown, great Chinese food, and was in bed asleep by 10pm. Great nights rest with no problems even though we were camping in an unorthodox location.
Hard to get out of the warm sleeping bag - was another cold night outside. Still tired from paddling so hard crossing Lake Winnie and with no "0" day yet, I wasn't sure if I would be able to reach Sandy and Jeff’s 29 miles down river. River was slow flowing coupled with two large marsh areas made down river un-normally slow and different. At each intersection paddlers must stop study water flow grass and bank conditions to be relatively sure which way to go. This slowed progress. Fortunately, we didn’t get lost. When we arrived at Sandy and Jeff’s, we learned that the British couple just ahead of us did make a wrong turn and had to be picked up. They were brought back to Sandy’s, and into the safety of one of the best River Angel's yet. Looking forward to a big pancake breakfast at 0900 and will paddle out after that.
It was still calm on Lake Winnie when I was awakened by sunshine beaming through the clear sky. It was cold, but I slept comfortably. Our planned route for the voyage across the lake was to stay left, close to shore. However, a half hour into the paddle, the wind slowly increased and it was a different crossing. After arriving at the dam a little over six hours later, we are tired, but safe.
We portaged the boats to the nearby campground. Shortly after setting up camp for the night, we were greeted by Jeff and Sandy Bromenschenkel, River Angel's from Lake Winnie Recreation Area. They took us out to pizza and a great time was had by all.
Plans for Friday are to paddle 29 miles to our next stopping point, which happens to be Jeff & Sandy’s house.
I find myself not yet in a routine. Time management is different. The fifth day began with a nice long paddle across Bemidji Lake, and managed to get in 20 miles. We found a beautiful point of land on private property where we camped on the shore of Fox Lake. Needed to camp near the road so the NBC reporter could find us in the early morning of the next day. It was cold on the morning of the sixth day. I slept relatively warm, but all of our ropes were frozen and most everything was wet and cold. Our only warmth was found inside the tent. I paddled out early a.m. of the sixth day so the NBC reporter could film me passing. After the interview, we went on to paddle 24 miles through several lakes with the most difficult being the marshes leading to Lake Winnibigoshish (The largest lake on the Mississippi). After considerable difficulty, we managed to find passage to the shore of the lake. Even on this clear day, I cannot see the other side of Lake Winni. Will paddle out as early as possible on day seven and hope for least wind we can possibly get.
One of the most difficult crossings of my entire 80 years of life. Wind was steady at 25 knots. Just after entering the lake the snow turned to sleet which burned like pelts and waves were almost impossible. Could make only few feet at a time.
Here's some shots of our launch this morning:
My hat blew off, was hanging around my neck and couldn't even pause from paddling for a split second for fear I would get broadside waves and not able to get the boat into the wind again. Such a condition could possibly mean immediate swamping and the mission would be at jeopardy. The crossing of Lake Irvine and paddle in on Lake Bemidji to the Hampton Inn took 40 minutes.
Judi got some great video footage of our paddle in on Lake Bemidji:
Rained all night with temperature steadily declining. Was mostly comfortable in my 0 Degree down bag. Am now deep in analyzing the conditions trying to figure out how to pack this stuff in cold rain. Just took a break dressing in the sleeping bag. These neoprene socks are a bear to put on in a mummy bag. Just ate some energy bars. Will have to forgo coffee as I must find a way to stuff stuff relatively dry in bags.
Report by: Tom Graves
Another stellar day today, but it didn't necessarily start out that way. After posting last night's entry, a check of the weather forecast showed rain all last night, all day today, all of tonight, and then Monday too - save it could change to snow on Monday. In my mind that meant calling time out, getting a hotel room and dipping our toes in the hot tub until things cleared. Fortunately saner heads prevailed.
Dale said this morning that instead of the planned 12 miles today, we'd do 20 instead. What? Then he continued by saying the extra leg was through the notorious Bog section, where it's easy to get lost - in which case we may have to sleep in our canoes for it's too marshy to pitch a tent.
So we packed up this morning, in the rain, and covered a quick 10 miles by noon, in heavier rain. But then the sun came out and it was a picture perfect afternoon of about 60 degrees with puffy clouds. But the real treat was when we reached our destination for the day around 4:30. We were back in civilization, but with no good camping spots. Then we saw a beautiful one across the river - a low hill covered in soft green grass and dotted with trees, but it was posted NO TRESPASSING. Dale, however, was unfazed (sound familiar?). He went over, approached the owner and received permission to camp amongst some outer buildings, with access to a cabin that has electricity (ie: we can charge our electronics and dry our gear).
Right now I'm tapping out this update, at a kitchen table, listening to the buzz of the floor fan and the rain falling outside. We're sleeping in our tents and there's no running water or bathroom, but we couldn't be more pleased with the arrangement. It's a treat. Thank you Vance and Susie!
Report by: Tom Graves
It's 9pm on the second day of paddling and we are camped out on a hilltop. In between the pitter patter of raindrops on my tent, I occasionally hear someone gently snoozing nearby. I think we covered about 10-mi the first day, 14-mi today, and look to do 14 more tomorrow.
Monday will likely be a rest day as snow is expected!! But, no complaints, for the weather so far has been superb (40s at night, overcast 60-ish during the day). Plus, rain immediately prior to our arrival raised the water level enough to make the going easier and more fun so far.
The first day's paddling was mostly fast water in narrow channels lined by trees, today was similar to that at first, (but perhaps more challenging - lots of downed trees and such to keep us alert) but ended with a gentle meander through marshland. We've seen several eagles, and today surprised a swan, which flapped its long wings and honked at us irritatedly while making a hasty exit.
Special thanks to: Elaine and Judi, whose contributions are too numerous to mention.
Report from Judi Sanders Silvey and Shannon Silvey Williamson
The team is under way and moving forward. Great launch today! Tomorrow brings more adventures and more challenges... Very narrow passages, lots of downed trees as they are the first paddlers to pass through this year. Shallow waters at the moment, but heading to big water soon. Prayers to arrive at Coffee Cup mid afternoon tomorrow.
PLEASE help us to make a milestone marker of money raised for Anna.
Here's just a few of the sweet notes that have been sent, along with their donations:
"Looking forward to Dale's trip. What an awesome adventure and generous undertaking!"
"God Bless you all! Good Luck and best wishes on your amazing journey and search for a cure!"
"I'm excited to watch Dale reach the end of the river and break the record. Also happy to help the cause"
"Best of luck on your journey! We are rooting for you & Anna & all the kids with Juvenile Diabetes! Wishing for a cure!"
The first day on the river started with lots of pictures, meeting many people and paddling across the lake. I was so excited to see the headwaters of the Mississippi from this perspective.
As we approached the outflow we could see the recent rains had increased the flow significantly. The first few miles down stream was narrow falter and just absolutely beautiful. The Adventureitus Productions crew are getting great video for their upcoming movie.
With the fast moving cold waters passing narrow, naturally cut channels which the river flows through. There were places where it was very difficult to keep the canoe upright. One of our support crew paddlers swamped, and all found it most challenging getting him and his boat and gear out of the water. Had to cut the first day paddling short and exited at Hwy 37 where River Angels awaited to take us to Bert's Cabins where we refined plans for second day paddling.
I'm the Grey Beard Adventurer. But you can call me Dale Sanders, and these are my stories.