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Third Annual Spring Paddle on the Skunk River
May 18th 2002

Breakfast at the Grove on Main is a great way to begin any adventure. Those that managed to eat the one size fits all pancake sat a bit lower in the water. All told, those Skunk River Paddlers gathered thirteen cohorts in eleven boats on this sunny and quickly warming morning. Gerry, Bobster, and Mark are three of our strongest supporters from the Des Moines metro area which was well represented today.

We visited with each other as we moved downstream, coming across Mud Swallows, Red-eyed Vireos, Catbirds, Common Yellow Throat, Wood Ducks, Geese, Belted Kingfishers, Orioles, a Red Tail Hawk, and a Turkey Vulture and so much more along the way. Sweet William, honeysuckle, and columbine were in bloom along the banks too..

We also had to be somewhat vigilant too. Being a small river, we had to make our way around several downed trees. Rick anticipated this and one spot in particular, so he brought a few saws along. Travis, the Dakota Tree guy, soloed his tandem canoe, stood on water, and cut the limb out from under his feet and still managed to stay dry. His skilled efforts saved us from a short, but tough portage. This was the same place where several of us last fall cut out a bunch of downed trees from this massive wood dam that had built up over the years. Our efforts proved useful.

The pace picked up a bit when several of us ran the fast shoot just upstream from Sleepy Hollow. Only after I ran the shoot with Monty in a canoe did he mention that he didn't have much experience with that sort of thing. Paul, comfortably the most senior paddler in our group, proved beyond a doubt that his boat does tip. Being a doubter, he had to repeat the lesson a few times but seemed no worse for the wear. May we all be as adventuresome as Paul at any age.

Bob, Cynthia and Catherine, our other Des Moines area paddlers, all had other commitments, so they took out at Sleepy Hollow, a Story County Conservation Board Park. The Skunk River Paddlers adopted this park this spring. Travis, Gerry, Bobster, Rick, Mark, Lynn, Monty, Ethelgive, Paul and I all paddled down to River Valley Park where we were took out which is just upstream from a dam.

The takeout at River Valley Park is the site of the first Iowa River Trails sign used in the state. The site was just improved this spring by the Skunk River Paddlers’ in cooperation with the Ames park’s department, who were great to work with. The sign was made possible by the efforts of Gerry, Dave, Rick and many others over the years. It is great to finally get it on a river, and begin to put that vision in our lives.

GV