Namekagon River Recap: All the Paddle That’s Fit to Print

Last week’s big paddle was a successful adventure in both nature and technology.




3 minute read

A million shades of green
A million shades of green

There were a couple days last week when it felt like the most notable part of the story was the one thing I didn’t want to write about.

People were swamping left and right. High, fast water conspired to send us into trees and rocks and other impediments, and then into the river for unplanned swims.

The level of risk was relatively low — the water and air was warm enough, the paddlers capable enough, the conditions manageable enough, that capsizing meant an inconvenience, a shock, but no one got hurt. And most importantly, we were all looking out for each other. If someone went in the drink, three others would come to their aid to get their boat, paddle, gear, and make sure they were okay. In fact, many swampings were a result of eager rescuers getting into trouble themselves.

I figured such assurances might not go far with folks following along back home and left most of it out of my reports from the river. I know I didn’t want my family to worry. Without the mishaps, though, it was hard to convey just how special the trip became. The story truly was not that people were taking spills, but that we were forged together into teams by the adventure.

The trip was also a chance to try bringing folks back home along vicariously, even without details about the hazards. I found wireless Internet more readily than I expected, as well as the cell phone data service. As a digital experiment, it was a success. I set up the special Namekagon 2013 page, which featured not only the blog posts but also a Twitter feed, which made it easy for me to quickly post a photo, or my favorite daily routine: checking with Deb when we got to camp, and posting that everyone had made it there safely.

Below are all the posts from last week. I’m working on a couple additional articles, which I’ll post when I can. I also answered some questions early in the trip for Minnesota Public Radio’s MN Today blog, which you can read here.

Now, back to our regular programming…

Upriver – Sunday, May 19


We drove to Cable, Wisconsin today, and found camp, food, drink, and the river.

River Day 1: Sanctuary – Monday, May 20

Almost there.

We got our paddles in the water today, and it was good. Very good.

Soggy in Seeley – Tuesday, May 21

seeley fog

Sure it rained, but at least it’s not coming down now, right?

River Day 2: Song of the Namekagon – Tuesday, May 21

Nancy and Jim Nelson of Stillwater.

We flew down the river today, accompanied by birds, lots of water, and new friends.

River Day 3: Rolling Along – Wednesday, May 22


More fast water let most of us enjoy the scenery without too much work.

River Day 4: Camaraderie – Thursday, May 23


You can count on the paddle for beautiful scenery and close connections with your fellow paddlers.

River Days 5 & 6: Promised Land – Friday, May 24


The trip is over, but the river keeps flowing.



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