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Day one was an easy 15 mile paddle. The Namekagon (rhymes with toboggan) River is a very relaxing river to paddle. We saw many eagles and fish alone the way. The goal was to get to a camp site and evaluate what we want to do the next day. That night we ate hamburgers and Hobo potatoes and camped at campsite 16. The 15 miles took about 3.5 hours to paddle. This was an easy paddle. We fished a very little and took pictures along the way.
Day two tested our resolve and changed the trip totally. The reason for the change was a 20 to 30 mph head wind. There were huge white caps on the river especially once we got on the St. Croix River. We were excited to get to the confluence of the Namekagon and St. Croix Rivers, but it was short lived. We had paddled 16 miles and had 10 miles to go. We powered through the wind the rest of the day getting to campsite 125.5 at about 4:15PM. We had gotten on the water at about 8AM or so that day. We were rather tired and realized we had 72 miles to go. That night we had steak and nutty rice for supper. What a great meal. Then we began to discuss strategy. We decide to take the fishing out of this trip and plan a shorter trip to take our time and fish on the Namekagon River some time. The other big decision was to finish the 72 miles we had left in two days and rest in a motel before driving home on Friday, which turned out to be a great idea. This day we saw many deer, birds, and very few people.
Day 3 was the longest day for us. Day three was a 41 mile day. When we choose to finish the trip in two days we choose to get up early before the wind hit and to take a break during the middle of the day when the wind was at its worse. We were on the water by 6:30AM. The morning was beautiful, peaceful, and filled with many animal appearances. The winded started blowing by 8AM so we tried to stay out of the wind, but that would also take us out of the current many times. We stopped at campsite 100.7 for lunch and a middle of the day get out of the wind break. It was a beautiful campsite right before the rapids. We stared paddling at 3PM after a 2 hour break. We thought the rapids would keep us going even though the wind was still very strong. The river was hard to read in the rapids area because we did not know if the wave in the river was a white cap or a wave from a rock. We got to the Marshland Center visitors center at 6PM and had put in 36 miles already. We ate some peanut butter and other snacks got some water and rested a little bit. The trip that day so far had been difficult but rewarding. We had seen numerous eagles and deer, but the highlight of the trip had to be to bear sighting. I was on one side on an island and my brother was on the other side. I saw a bear on my side and when the bear saw me he took running to the other side. I yelled to my brother and he got pictures of the running bear. It was so awesome. That night we were going to camp at 85.5 but we could not find it. When we did find it there was already an individual using it. It was getting late and the next campsite was a half mile away. We found a boat landing we could have used, but it was very messed up by humans. There were beer cans, fish guts, and other garbage all around. This was a low point for us. We are not tree huggers, but why do people do that? So we paddled a little farther down river and found a campsite at 84.8. This camp site did not have a sign up, but it was marked on the NPS map we had. It was a very nice campsite with 2 fire pits, a picnic table and a nice open are to camp in. We finished paddling that day at 8:30PM. That was a long day.
Day 4 was out last day. This was a 31 mile day and the last 11 miles were difficult because the dam at St. Croix Falls stifles the current and the wind had changed. The wind was now blowing from the south, southeast. That was our main direction now. We were on the water by 6:30AM and the morning was to beautiful. It stayed calm until about 12 noon or so and even then the wind was not too bad. We stopped at the Wild River Landing mile marker 62.8 for lunch. We met some wonderful people there. From this point we had 9 miles to go. This was not the best part of the trip. There was little current, there were many homes along the river, and we were tired. We stopped at the 55.6 mile campsite for a break and saw that people were around more now by the garbage and erosion at some of the campsites. If we were to do this trip again we might get take out at the Never Dam area. The current slows after that point. We finished our journey at 4PM that day at the St. Croix Visitors Center.
We learned many things on this trip. We learned we could paddle many miles and get up the next day and do it again. We learned what a beautiful world to Lord created. We also learned more about people and the National Park Service. We also learned that any later in the summer and the water level would have not been high enough in certain areas. We were hitting bottom in some places.
We did the shuttling ourselves. We met at the take out and put both kayaks on one car and left the other car at the take out spot. Then we drove to the put in and left the other car there.
I also used maps that I printed off of USA photo maps. I laminated a series of 20 pages of the river to give a more exact location.
YakCatcher Rod Holder