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It was a beautiful spring day. It was a pleasantly warm day with sunny skies, just perfect for a little adventure. It certainly was the best weather Iíve paddled in this year by a comfortable margin. Dave brought out his trailer, kayaks, and his oldest son, Colin, to join Rick and I. Except for Rick, this was the first chance for the rest of us to explore the Skunk River near our new homes and lives.
A small river, with an occasional bluff on one side and commonly wooded flood plains on the other, it is often blocked by down trees, especially in the many curves just downstream from Story City. We managed to just slip by several of these river-wide obstructions. There was, however, one bend a bit further downstream that collected an assortment of down trees and tree parts that we couldnít slipped around and entailed an invigorating portage.
A drop in the river made a strong enough current, complete with eddies on both sides just downstream to practice ferrying skills. My heart skipped a beat when I attempted my ferry. The current was stronger than it looked and really required more of a lean and a sharper angle than I had. Rick let out an expletive on his first try, apparently coming to the same conclusion as I did. A moment later, Dave gave it a try, too quick for us to mention what we had just discovered.
Fortunately, just downstream from there was a gravel bar which made a perfect place for emptying the water out of the kayak. A party of two tandem canoes came by while we were drying out a bit. It was the first time that we shared any river with another party this year and yet another sign that spring was finally here. I wouldnít say the river was crowded, but their timing was less than ideal.
Being out felt great. Good company made it even better. Our sights and sounds of a Great Blue Heron, an owl (likely a Great Horned or Barred), Turkey Vultures, Phoebes, Black Capped Chickadees, Belted Eastern Kingfishers, woodpeckers (Downy or Hairy), Wood Ducks and Blue Teal-winged Ducks, Robins and nesting Geese were good company of another kind.
There was also a few other unusual sightings too: a full moon sighting; a pair of nesting geese appeared to have treed a muskrat which had tried to raid its nest; and a pair of snowy white Egrets, which was an especially extraordinary and unexpected delight.
For that matter, the beer afterwards was a delightful touch of another kind, greatly appreciated by those of us old enough to indulge.
Story City to Peterson's 3.5 hrs @ 500 cfs & falling