Friday, May 31, 2013

Day 19 - 20: Entering Grand Rapids

Day 19: the Mosquitos have officially hatched! We started bright and early and much to our dismay were swarmed with Mosquitos, especially under the boat. There were many reasons why we began our adventure in early May. Getting as many miles under our belt before the bugs got bad was definitely one of them. We are happy we made it 19 days with no problems. The day was warm and a relatively easy day all around.

We paddled to a campsite on the Mississippi. On first glance from the water it looked like a rundown site. Once we had pulled out of the water and walked up the hill we realized the site was very well maintained. There was plenty of wood already chopped and stacked. We have also apparently entered bear country! The site had a nice bear locker which helped keep our gear and food safe and dry. We had to spend some of the evening in the tent during storms, but were able to make it for a few hours to enjoy a large fire and some dinner.

Day 20: We went to bed last night with predictions of severe thunderstorms. However, we woke up well rested and concluded that the storm had never materialized. The sky was cloudy and it had definitely rained most the night, but at the moment no precipitation fell. We packed up camp quickly and paddled back to the water access point we had left off at the day before. We knew we had been pushing fairly long days throughout the trip to give us some flexibility on the back end of the trip, and today would be no exception. If we portaged between 12-14 miles we would be in Grand Rapids by late afternoon.

The day proceeded without a hitch. Although fatigued from the last week, we kept moral high through the pouring rain in the morning and were grateful for the sunshine in the afternoon. As planned we made it to Grand Rapids! We are really coming down to the home stretch. Tomorrow will be a day off to rest our feet.

Nothin' to it, but to do it.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Day 17 - 18: GTL (Gawkers, Ticks, Laughter)

Day 17: overall the day was uneventful. A couple stopped to ask if we needed help and they gave us some directions. We couldn't help but notice that the lady in passenger seat couldn't stop laughing at us and was trying hard to conceal it. We continued on our way asking ourselves if we should feel badly that she was laughing at us?

As we came to the last mile of our day a truck stopped and asked if we needed a place to stay. He said his land was half-mile down and we were free to setup where we would like. We chose to sleep in the pole barn since a storm was supposedly on it's way. Dave (the farmer) was headed out fishing until dusk and told us the house was open. Another trusting person to add to the list. When he got home we stopped over to say hi and give our thanks. He had caught 6 Walleye. We had a lengthy chat and then headed off to bed.

Day 18: We left Dave's bright and early and headed on our way up River Road. The weather was warm and sunny. We had a great time grooving to tunes and hiking 11 miles. Saw a few tree farms today; it has been nice to notice and appreciate aspects of farm country while traveling on foot. Our friend Hal came up to camp with us tonight. Cooked brats over the fire. Two days till Grand Rapids!

Nothin' to it, but to do it

Monday, May 27, 2013

Day 16 - Portage 2.0

Today starts the second half of our trip! We got a ride back up to where we left off after a great wedding the day before. It was fun to catch up with so many camp people we hadn't seen in years.

We pushed hard today and made it up to a camp ground around Palisade. The camp ground was more busy than normal since it is Memorial Day weekend. Strangely enough we met a couple who said they used to live on Half Moon lake! What a small world moment considering the town of Palisade houses only 167 people.

Since Brainerd we feel we have entered the north country. Towns are getting smaller and we are seeing fewer people every day. It's refreshing to be in the great wide open.

Nothin' to it, but to do it.

Day 14 - Two Becomes Three

Once again we were filled with sun as we crawled out if the tent. We got an early start and headed on a backroad up to the small town of Cayuna. About the time we reached the town our hiking friend Mike caught up with us. We were both on our way to Aitkin so he decided to join us for the day.

It was refreshing to have a third person join the conversation. We asked Mike all about his travels up the Mississippi and asked which parts were his favorite sections. He mentioned parts of Illinois and Wisconsin into Winona, MN.

Mike wanted to be helpful and asked if he could take a few turns on the canoe. We had fun having him portage for his first time ever! Mike was a fast walker when he was under the canoe; I assume his rational was as long as I'm feeling pain I might as well walk as quickly as I can. Abe was nearly at a small jog along side him with the pack.

We ended the day exhausted in Aitkin. Tomorrow is the Gensmer - Villano wedding. Abe and I are headed down to the cities and are guessing at all the camp people we might get to see!

No post tomorrow as we will not be on the road.

Nothin' to it, but to do it.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Day 13 - Here Comes The Sun

After 4 days with no sun we finally woke up to a cloudless day! The breeze was refreshing and lifted our spirits. We set out to paddle across Rice Lake and continue on the Mississippi up about 2 miles to French rapids. Our buddy Vinnie duffed in the canoe till here and then parted ways. We threw the canoe up and started our hiking. This part of the trip was beautiful and we saw tons of eagles, blue herons, and osprey.

By afternoon we were getting excited to walk through Ironton and land for the night in Crosby. About 6 miles from Crosby we were able to catch the Cayuna state park bike trail which leads right in to the middle of Crosby. We banged out the 6 miles in just over two hours and got to our campsite. The campsite was right next to a fairly populated park. It was fun to watch all the locals play on the playground and throw frisbees.

Abe and I found ourselves grabbing a cold ice tea outside a local eatery called the "Ya Betcha". Before we knew it we were in the middle of a conversation with 4 locals around our age. Abe was lucky enough to get a palm reading from one of them! Not what we had expected when venturing in to a northern MN town.

We returned to our campsite a couple hours later and began to chat with our tent neighbor. His name was Mike, he was recently retired, and has decided to take three months out of each year to go on long walks/hikes. He has hiked across Spain, France, and half of the AT. He is currently 70 days into his quest to walk up. The entire Mississippi. Mike told us he was looking to catch a 15 mile ride up to Palisades, MN the next day. It just so happened that we were getting picked up to head down to a wedding the next day. We told him we could do that and that he should just contact us when he's done for the day and we would pick him up.

The moon appears to be full, or one day from full. Abe and I had a 14 mile day and were pleased with the scenery we saw. and the people we had met. Now it's time for rest before another sunny day tomorrow.

Nothin' to it, but to do it.

Day 12 - Rain Delay

Today continued the streak of cold and rainy weather. We got on the road today and within a few miles decided walking in the rain and wind, and nearly freezing temperatures wasn't going to happen. We gave our friend Vinnie a call and headed back to his grandpas land. We kept a big fire going to stay warm. Around lunch time we were able to get in to the cabin on the property and get out of the elements. Vinnie suggested we head a couple miles north up to Nisswa, MN for lunch. We accepted the offer and found Nisswa to be yet another nice small town filled with get away cabins on the lake for city folk.

In the early evening the weather finally subsided and the sun came out. Naturally we grabbed a fishing pole and headed down to the dock to try out our luck. We didn't catch anything but it felt great to sit in the sun, chat, and look out over Rice Lake and the Mississippi.

Tomorrow needs to be a full day to make up for only a few miles today.

Nothin' to it, but to do it.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Day 11 - Brainerd

Both Abe and I felt refreshed this morning after a much needed day off. We packed up camp and left our campsite around 9am. We said goodbye to the park ranger who had given us a ride in to town the day before so we could get Abe shoes. The day was cold and gloomy but once again the rain held off while we were portaging.

We were moving at a good clip and made 8 miles by lunch. As we passed numurous restaurants in Baxter, we couldn't help but take advantage of the endless bowl of breadsticks at Olive Garden. We parked our boat right out front and took a seat inside. As expected there were many questioning looks. The manager came up to us halfway through the meal and asked what the canoe was all about? We gave him the rundown and he was intrigued. At the end of our conversation he said he would comp our meal for us. He came back a couple minutes later and told us that somebody had overheard an earlier conversation we were having and had already paid for our meal! It sure is nice to have people lining up to pay for our meals!

We left the OG stuffed and content. We finished the day at Lum Park, 13 miles from where we started the day. Like many nights in this trip we weren't exactly sure where we were going to stay. As luck would have it we struck up a friendly chat with some nice college aged kids from Brainerd and within minutes one of them offered to let us camp on his grandparents land which was just across the lake from where we were. They left and we paddled over to the property. There were nice fire pits and mounds of wood to burn. Abe and I got a raging fire going to stay warm. Around 8 one of the kids we met (Vinnie) showed up to see how things were going. We ended up hanging out for a few hours and had a great time.

We are happy with all the people we are meeting on this trip. Hopefully the rainy weather will subside sometime tomorrow.

P.S. We are fairly confident that we located the worlds first bat egg today. We found it under a bat hole, and put 1 and 1 together to get 3 :)

Nothin' to it, but to do it.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Day 9 - Let the Rain Begin

We woke up this morning to pouring rain. As any experienced camper knows, motivating oneself to get out of a tent in the rain can be near impossible. We waited for a lull in weather, packed our gear, and headed out. By 10am the skies had cleared. Once again the people of Little Falls continued the streak of nice people we have met along the way. 6 people stopped in the first hour of walking asking what we were doing and if we needed any help. The conversations generally start with the other person rolling down their window and saying "You know the river goes the other way!" One couple we chatted with told us the campsite we were planning on staying at that night was no longer there. They offered to give us a ride to a campsite when we were done with our days journey. We walked for about 11 miles and gave them a call to come pick us up, and they drove us up the road to a nearby state park.

We arrived at the park in a deluge of rain. Being the only people at the entire park we decided to score a little rustic cabin. The park ranger was great and let us stay there for free. If there's one thing we've learned from this trip so far it's that there are still plenty of nice people in the world who are willing to help out of the goodness of their own heart. Sleeping in a bed tonight is going to feel great!

Today we hit 100 MILES! Tomorrow is going to be a day off to rest our weary feet.

Nothin' to it, but to do it

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Day 8 - Little Falls

We woke up this morning in Bowlus and we had a great breakfast at Jordies with our new found friends. We got on the road at the crack of 11am and set off towards Little Falls. The first four miles were on the beautiful Soo Line bike path. It's nice to be surrounded completely by farms and open grass lands. After the bike trail we portaged on a rural county road that experiences little traffic. Now that we are out of the cities cars and trucks give us ample space and generally wave. After 11 miles we ended the day at Charles A. Lindbergh Sr. state park and are camped right down the road from their families old farm house.

We ventured in to Little Falls around dinner time with Jen and Jan. to finish off the night we made some delicious Mac and cheese at our camp site. Tomorrow starts a grueling three days up to Brainerd. Tomorrow we hit right around 100 miles!

Nothin' to it, but to do it

Day 7 - The Mighty River

Today we woke up early to pack up our campsite and get trucking before the rain set in. We did not have an easy out from our campsite back to our walking route so we decided to paddle up river for a couple miles to a public boat access. Here's what we learned: there's a reason why people don't paddle up stream...especially not the Mississippi. This was some of the hardest paddling Abe and I have ever done. On the bright side no rain ever came and we saw a lot of wildlife including deer swimming (never seen before), Osprey, and the largest eagles nest we had ever seen. The nest could have held two adult humans in it.

We ended up traveling 10-12 miles. Towards the end of the day we got an email from a couple (Jen and Jan) who were helping us with a food drop in Little Falls. They said that it looked like we would be within 3 miles of her house at the end of our day and would be open to having us spend the night and eat a home cooked meal! At first the 3 miles seemed like it might be too far off of our path, but as luck would have it, our good friend Tommy was headed up to Brainerd at that exact moment and stopped by to drive us there. Abe and I sat in the tailgate holding the canoe. Don't try this at home!

We arrived at Jen and Jan's house in Bowlus, MN and immediately noticed a hot tub! This definitely helped the sore muscles. Dinner was delicious and the conversation was great. We had a big storm roll through that night but were in the comfort of a house. We can't thank Jen and Jan enough for the hospitality and showing us around small town MN.

Little Falls tomorrow!

Nothin' to it but to do it

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Day 6 - Maiden Voyage

Hardest day yet. Today was our first day in full camping mode. Our pack weighed 45+ pounds which made being the pack guy just about as hard as the canoe guy. We had to slow our hourly pace and take many more breaks. Nonetheless we finished at 11 miles, just south of Rice.

Today was our canoes ("The Hitchhiker") first day in the water! At the end of the day our campsite was on the opposite side of the river. We had some trouble finding a public water access. Luckily we asked a man in his yard if we could go through their back yard and he said yes. What he didn't mention was that we had to take the canoe down the smallest and steepest flight of stairs I've ever seen. At one point the man and Abe hoisted the canoe over the railing and I had to hold the entire canoe above my head and lower it in to the water. I'm sure it would've been pretty comical for an onlooker.

Abe and I are currently at a beautiful camp site along the river having a fire. We are both so tired that, even we, can't strike up a conversation of any length. Tomorrow is supposed to be rainy so we are going to pray for good weather. Next town is Little Falls in two days.

Nothin' to it, but to do it.

Day 5 - Minnesota Nice

Today was a difficult day on the road. Both of us were having some foot pain, but luckily the route through St. Cloud was beautiful. We finally made it to a walking trail as opposed to a road. There were great river views and moments of quiet. We portaged for 11 miles and ended our day in Sauk Rapids.

During the afternoon and early evening we spent time at two different restaurants. The people there were curious about our trip and extremely gracious. We got a few donations and Abe had his first frog leg! (For free)

We spent the night at a nearby campsite. We were accompanied by none other than Sarah Gross and Sara Gensmer. We hadn't seen them in a long time and it was great catching up around the campfire.

We are ready for tomorrow when we will venture out with all of our gear and nobody to pick us up for the next 10 days

Nothin' to it, but to do it

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Making progress

Day 4- Made it to Saint Cloud

Today was another great day on the road. We spent the day hiking on a frontage type road along 94 which was very scenic (not!). Luckily, we found a snowmobile trail and were able to hike on that for quite a few miles. The day ended with warm weather, and the two of us crossing into Saint Cloud. We hit 50 miles today which put a smile on our faces. A lady pulled over and asked if " we were doing one of those freaky triathlon things". I'm sure we are going to get more funny questions along the way.

Nothin' to it but to do it.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Day 3 - Through Monticello

Today we woke up with aching bodies. We had anticipated that day three would be a tough one. Luckily Abe and I were accompanied by our camp friend Marlee who decided to come join us for a day. It was great having a third person there not only to help share the load but also for moral support.

We started the day 5 miles outside Monticello. The first half of the day we saw some rain, but it tapered off by the time we made it in to town. We were able to take a nice river path for a while which was refreshing from our usual road travel. Abe and I were dragging in the morning, but had a second wind after lunch partially due to some weird energy shot that Marlee brought along. We travelled a total of 13.3 miles and are thinking St. Cloud may be about 2 days away!

9pm and we are both more exhausted than we've been in a long time. Time to get a good night sleep. Our buddy Alex Vilano will be picking us up in the morning. Haven't seen him in a while so that should be a treat.

Nothin' to it, but to do it.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Day 2 - Makes Me Wanna Take the Backroads

Another great day with good progress. We walked along a busy highway for most of the way, continuing to get waves, honks, and stares. Can't wait to get north of St. Cloud and find some reprieve from the busy roads. We ended the day 4 miles from Monticello at a golf course. Usually they don't even let Abe in to places like that because he looks like too big of a hippie!

We were rewarded for our approximately 14 mile day with a nice camp spot along the Elk River. Had a great fire and frisbee throwing session at dusk.

Last night was a cold one but we appreciated camping together for the first time in a while.

Nothin' to it, but to do it

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Day 1 - Blustery Beginning

To begin our trip we had a wonderful mid-morning send off at the Coon Rapids Damn. It felt great to close the planning chapter of our adventure and finally get on the road. At 10:30am Meg, Dave, Allison, and family gave us a warm send off. In true Minnesota fashion we started our walk in mid-40 degree weather with strong head winds. We quickly realized that without somebody steering the bow of the boat it was nearly impossible to portage...period. In our previous life, portaging generally consisted of tall pines and beautiful birches. Today we found ourselves surrounded by amazing stoplights and picturesque sidewalks - but at least we still knew the road was headed to north country.

By early afternoon we had crossed from urban to rural. The landscape turned from solid concrete to expansive farm land. The change of scenery to our left and the roaring Mississippi on our right made for a beautiful end to the day.  All told we traveled 11 miles, encountered a few curious passerby's, and obtained a fresh excitement for days to come.

Nothin gonna change my mind
I’m walking a different highway
Nothin gonna change my mind

I’m traveling a different line

- The Avett Brothers

 Nothin' to it, but to do it

Friday, May 10, 2013

My Camp Timeline

I (Reid) thought it would be fun for you all to see some pictures from my past at camp. Luckily many of them included Abe so you'll get some of him too! Enjoy!

Head off to my first year with my buddy Dougie on the left
First year cabin list. Notice Captain Dave Searl in the lineup!

Charlie Mandile and I hanging
Brian Crabb as my intermediate counselor

Trace Prael and I after we led a long border together my first year on staff (2002)

Abe helping me load a pack on our long border arrival

Abe using his huge muscles and adrenaline to complete a great one-up!

Big Smiles after a great and difficult trip
Long border photo 2002

Last year staff photo. Apparently they were more lenient with our pictures! I'm pretty sure Abe had his toe in his mouth i his...

Playing a little House of the Rising Sun with god sister Fish
Return from Abe and my long border (2008) - Bryce looks strikingly like Abe

Big return hug from Erik Solhaug

Trace and legendary Joe Cline drove all the way from Seattle for our welcome back!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Last Minute Updates

A couple things to update you all on. First, we are officially going to be leaving this Saturday May 11th! Second, today we went down to Winonah, MN and picked up a brand new Wenonah Canoe that was donated to support our cause. It's a beautiful canoe. Last, we have officially raised $8,360, very close to our goal!

Looking forward to start posting pictures on Saturday.

Friday, May 3, 2013

One Week!

We are one week away from starting our journey! We have had such great support in so many ways thus far, we can't thank you enough. We will have a couple exciting updates before we begin so please check back. Once on the road we will have frequent stories to share from our adventure.

Abe and Reid