• ksaunders1934

The Saga Continues

Bemidji is a pretty cool little town. Not too fancy, just enough history, and a quite a bit of charm. I had a guy look at my kayak for leaks in the rear storage area while I was there because I am taking on water more than I'd like. He assured me there were no leaks but said he'd be more than happy to clean up the botched sealant job I did with the caulk gun, whoops. I went back to my room racking my brain as to why I had been taking on the water and decided to go ahead and check all my gear. I did not mention it earlier but while driving out here, I left my brand new solar charger and backup battery in the hotel room I stayed at in Michigan. When I called back, they all but described it to a T and said, nope, they didn't have it. Not going to dime them out and but it definitely, probably, might not have been, the Extended Stay in Auburn Hills...just sayin.

The next morning, after a nice continental breakfast, I got a ride down to Lake Bemidji. Before dropping boat in water, I took the liberty of taking a picture with Paul Bunyon and Babe; they really are larger than life. I dropped in by the park and hugged the south shoreline as I made my way back to the river. The wind was kinking up a bit and making some decent sized waves. A little ways into the river I came up on three ladies paddling to a friend's house further downstream. We chatted for a bit and I continued on.

Just before Stump Lake, I noticed I was dragging in the rear and it felt like I was super uneven in weight. I spotted a dock to my left and headed straight for it. Got out, pulled my boat up on to it, and went to knock on the door to tell them who I was and what was happening. The young guy who answered said it was fine and I went back to the kayak, opened up the rear hatch and found it completely full of water. I pumped it out and a guy came down from the house to check on me. His name was Bob, and he was as nice as could be. He offered me his car so I could drive to town and mail some items home, because at this point I was thinking it may be a weight issue. I couldn't believe he just handed me a set of car keys and said, “leave them on the kitchen counter when you get back because I won't be home.” What?! Only in Minnesota. After driving to town, I got back and spoke to his brother who was there at the house for a bit, then I paddled on to a campsite about 2 miles down.

While at the campsite, I was able to build a fire and keep it going for a good while and saw one of the best sunsets I've ever seen. It was beautiful. I got in my tent and realized I mailed my sleeping bag home, not my camping blanket...STUPID STUPID STUPID. I froze all night long. When I woke up though, a pair of looks were calling to each other across the river and it was a pretty amazing sound to wake up to. Those birds have a very distinct sound and it's pretty awesome to hear in the wild. I decided to head out early and make Cass Lake by early afternoon. If I make it with no kayak issues, I'll feel pretty confident going forward, if not, it's going to be a LONG paddle to Deer River/Grand Rapids.

The next morning, I got up, ate, packed up, and headed out. It was a pretty calm day, with the sun out and zero wind. Heading through Wolf Lake and Lake Andrusia was a piece of cake. It was so calm on the waters, it was like paddling through glass. I made it to Star Island on Cass Lake with no issues in the rear compartment. Success! Set up camp facing East across the lake and built a fire before calling it a night. The flies here are something else! Oh, and I made some instant hazelnut coffee and it was delicious! Back at it tomorrow. If I keep it up with no issues, I should make Deer River by Friday evening, which is where I'll meet my first official river contact. Looking forward to it.

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