Bob and Eight Ames Paddlers
The 2nd Annual Ice Breaker Paddle March 30, 2002:
Des Moines River Highway 175 to North Frazer Ramp.
It wasn't too hot, and it wasn't too cold as several
of us met at my house to car pool to the put in. We
were able to cut down on the cars because of Dave's
handy boat trailer which can carry six boats and a
good bit of gear. Whitney shared news of her tenure
position and I mentioned to everyone Flo's letter too.
Yes, this is about as close as I will ever come to
having my ship come in: Flo has tenure. We put the
letter on the refrigerator; both of us proud: me for
my years of quiet support and encouragement and Flo
for hanging tough.
But, only Dave and Rick read their email and brought
breakfast for me. Dave brought a piece of homemade
bread, still warm, smothered in butter. Rick, on the
other hand, brought some frozen waffles and a beer.
At any rate, I managed to keep body and soul together
and I made it to the put in on these rations.
Bob was there to meet us when we pulled up to the old
stone foundation just north of Highway 175. After
hellos, introductions, and the organizing of gear, the
drivers were off again, moving the cars around for the
shuttle back. Rick, Carolyn, Peggy and I stayed behind
and made ourselves useful picking up litter, fussing
with gear, and telling stories.
Elizabeth and Catherine joined us before we set off
for the day's adventure. But, first, history was made
as Bob took pictures of the Skunk River Paddlers
signing documents, making us the first group to adopt
one of Story County's parks.
Our armada had lots of different boats. Elizabeth and
Catherine were paddling a Penobscot canoe; Whitney and
Carolyn had white water kayaks; and the rest of us had
sea kayaks. Though well provisioned, some standard
gear was forgotten since the last paddle of last year;
and duct tape was inadvertently left behind.
Whitney and I both joined the ranks of the former Navy
SEAL that paddled with us a few years ago on the Des
Moines in a white water kayak. Even so, I was most
impressed with Elizabeth in the tandem canoe with her
mom. Elizabeth is an Outward Bound Instructor and
looked as fit as a slight young woman could be. Her
paddling technique was video perfect: sitting up
erect, leaning forward slightly as she planted the
blade to begin her stroke, blade vertical in the water
suggesting she was pivoting at the waist and using the
stronger lower back muscles; she unwound her pivot and
sat up as she moved the boat to the blade.
The river was pretty good too. The only roads
crossing the river were at either end of the trip. We
covered our approximately 11 miles in about four hours
including a lunch and a few other stops. It wasn't so
much because we were paddling hard or that there was a
strong current. The Des Moines River was running
about 800 cfs, well below it average 3000 cfs which is
normal for this time of year. It was the magic of the
tail wind which sped us on our way.
Bald Eagles, red-tailed Hawks, Great Blue Herons,
Turkey Vultures, Belted Kingfishers and assorted
ducks, as well as a lone mink were just a few of the
river's gifts to us. There were more gifts, but our
chief scribe, Peggy, misplaced her notes and I
misplaced my email where she made up numbers. These
were probably as reliable as the fast counting of all
of the unseen birds by Dave, the duck guy.
An unexpected reward of another kind awaited us at the
take out as we quenched our thirst, compliments of
Carolyn. Our trip wrap-up on this adventure ended at
Yesterday's in Stratford. It seems like a poor name
for a restaurant, where, if I understand it correctly,
you can only get today's special tomorrow when it was
yesterday's. A name like that doesn't bode well, but
the food has always been good.
And remember to look for the Ice Breaker Paddle at the
end of March next year: the Brr Ride of paddling.