portfolio > gone on the river

day 4
day 4
June 02, 2022

Measurements at Silver Maple campsite: turbidity >61cm.

The river today came in about four parts.

First, I woke at Silver Maple campsite, having made my way back last night in the dark from Bemidji, on my bike. I got up and got on the river, figuring I could do some sort of breakfast in town. I canoed the last stretch of the narrow, tree-choked part of the river, which I've been thinking of as a "northern bayou." No sweepers bad enough to make me portage around, today, thank goodness.

Then into Lake Irving. I hit it right as the wind began to pick up, and hit me from the west. It got a bit dicey, frankly. After all of the difficulties and annoyances (ticks, mosquitos, rain, wet socks, fatigue, etc.) it was grounding to interact with something that could actually really harm me. I made my way to the east shore, and ignored some "private property" signs to get the whole rig out of the water and onto a little trail through a gated community of some kind. No one gave me any trouble.

It felt good to be amphibious, to have that really work. I biked up into downtown Bemidji, had an iced mocha and a vegan hot dog, felt very bougie. Then I biked around the perimeter of Lake Bemidji - after my experience with the much smaller Irving that morning, I wasn't going to try more big water.

The trail is exceptional. It took me right to the place where the Mississippi exits the lake. A couple of teenagers stopped to chat, and that turned into a larger group, thirteen or so and two adults, doing a 17-mile bike trip around the lake as part of something called TREK. Some of the kids and one of the adults were very interested in my trip, my setup, the folding bike. I gave a little demo. One of the kids, Tristan, helped carry the canoe down the bank to the water.

The next part of the trip was through a slow flowage into a lake called Stump Lake, with houses on both sides just about the whole way. Pontoons, motorboats, canoes and kayaks in people's yards, piers and docks. Some of the houses looked very expensive, some like modest summer cabins. I surprised a flock of pelicans (!) which I didn't expect to see.

Then I had to portage around a dam at the end of the lake, owned by Ottertail power. They thoughtfully had a port-a-potty for folks like me to use. Gosh, there's nothing as lovely to see as an unlocked port-a-potty when you need one.

And the last stretch of the river, below that dam, has been the most beautiful to me of the trip so far. Fast, shallow, crystal clear, with a sandy/gravely bottom littered with shells. Less than two miles later, a lovely campsite called Island Point, high above the river looking out on a bona fide island.

Dinner: potatoes boiled over the fire with some interesting vegan protein thing seasoned with sage and smoked paprika, and sauerkraut.