On the St. Croix with River Radio

A spring conversation and a perfect day to paddle.




2 minute read

Following Gayle and Bill

Gayle Knutson and I have talked about the St. Croix River five times on River Radio, the podcast she co-hosts with her husband, Jim Maher. We had our now annual chat last week as part of a whole episode dedicated to the river. (Despite its name, the show usually covers topics much broader than the St. Croix.) We discussed everything from the drought to the Osceola Bluffs development, and provided updates on several subjects we’ve discussed in previous years.

But, while Gayle and I see each other around, and have taken a nice walk or two in the woods, we had never gotten on the water together before. We’ve tried a couple times only to be forced into cancelling, because that’s just how it is sometimes. But after we finished the interview last week, we said “we should go paddling sometime” again, and then actually made a plan to go. And then we went.

Wednesday was the warmest day in a while, and rain last weekend and whatever snow was left to melt upriver gave the water levels a real spring-like boost. Shoreline where several feet of sandy beach stuck out just a couple weeks ago was now submerged. It was relieving, to feel the floodplain get its big annual drink of water.

Trees were waking up, birds were busy. Our outing was worth the wait.

Gayle invited along her friend Bill Simpson, longtime cross-country skiing coach at Stillwater Area High School and all around adventurous person. They have bicycled around Europe together, while both also have Arctic canoeing experience. The stories were good.

The high water meant a side channel that has been dried up for the past few years of drought was once again passable. We followed its winding course a mile or two downstream, surrounded by silver maples with bright red buds. There were many mallards, a handful of wood ducks, countless noisy Canada geese, song sparrows, robins, and red-winged blackbirds. I spotted a couple bald eagles and a solitary great blue heron.

The river is still rising, migration is only beginning, and the St. Croix’s season of new life is next.

Listen to River Radio below, with my conversation with Gayle, as well as an interview with Deb Ryun of Wild Rivers Conservancy:


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One response to “On the St. Croix with River Radio”

  1. Gae Jarvis Avatar
    Gae Jarvis

    May I ask if the photograph above is the entrance into the backwater below the Osceola Landing? We didn’t paddle that area last year because we were worried that we couldn’t get through. Too many downed trees with sand building up as the river dropped.

    Thank you



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On the St. Croix with River Radio