An attempt at photo editing:
We then paddled down and portaged High Falls (unrunnable), then got to Two Step, a set of two waterfalls around 10-15ft apiece. Zinger ran the top step sideways and backwards and hit the bottom hard, pitoning in the pool below. The rest of us walked the first step, though Zinger and I ran the 2nd. After a little more paddling we walked The Cascades (also unrunnable) and ran down some more boogie water and some other fun ledges to the take out in Lake Superior.
After camping at Embeck Campground (on the Baptism) and feasting on veggies and steak, we embarked on Sunday for the Poplar, which runs through Lutsen ski area. It looked good to go, so we ran the boogie water and small ledges leading up to Bialek's Surprise (IV-V), a long slide into a hole at the bottom. We scouted it and ran it, and then went into the fun Class IV canyon below. Aaron swam after one tricky ledge, but we got him reunited with his boat in short order, then ran the rest of the ledges and boogie water to the take out.
In front of Bialeck'sSafety at the bottom of the slide
John and I hadn't had enough, so we did a quick second run of the Poplar, bombing everything without scouting, which was a rush when we hit the big slide and the technical rapids below it. Then it was back to the Baptism for a short run from the put-in to Ilgen; we passed 2 separate groups on our way down as we boat-scouted what they were looking at from shore. That was it for the weekend; they headed home while I waited at the campsite for another boater who didn't show, then headed back to St. John's. A great weekend all around, aside from the wrist gasket on my drytop which tore, but that's a small price for running the biggest falls I've ever done. Not only that, we got it on film
Then I continued north to the Lower St. Louis; sort of the standard advanced boater run in the state. I scouted the whole thing, then met up with Paul, John, Aaron, and Walter for a run. John locked his keys in the car, more on that later. The run went well, though we portaged the lower tier of Octopus. When I scouted it earlier I didn't see any lines that I liked, and the group agreed. The last set of drops near Swinging Bridge were fun, though Walter took a swim below the 2nd ledge. We had a solid rescue though, and swimmer, boat, and paddle were all recovered.
Zinger joined us once we got off the river, and we called AAA to get John's car unlocked. At the same time my car snapped its alternator belt. Boo. We camped at Jay Cooke, and in the morning tracked down belts and bolts for my car, but decided to forgo fixing it until after paddling.
We ran the East Branch of the Beaver; a really fun run with a set of three IV-ish slides not too far past the put in, some great boogie water, and then a set of three big falls. The first looked runnable, but the 2nd wasn't, and since they weren't too far apart we ended up walking both of them. We ran the 3rd though, a really clean 15 footer with a deep landing. A little more boogie water lead to the take-out and the end of a great run.
The rest of the group went farther up the shore, but I decided to limp my car home, since I had to be back for family stuff on Easter Sunday. My car didn't make it though; just before Duluth she gave up the ghost. AAA saved the day again, and I was towed to a repair shop where they replaced the belts, and I was on my way once agian.
I hit the Kettle last Saturday at high water (4,000 cfs). It was real big, real pushy, and real cold. A number of my paddling partners opted out of the main run to surf the green waves at the bottom. I played the big holes and got some good rides. I was in on a rescue too; we got the swimmer to shore before the next dangerous feature (Teacher's) but didn't manage to save his boat. I almost ferried out to go after it until I realized I was in the last eddy before the 3/4 river-wide, chunky, sticky hole that would have kicked my ass. Met some good people though, and ran the river through Triple Drop, which was a solid Class IV at that water level. I got stopped in one big hole and power-flipped a few times, but I kept rolling and eventually worked my way out. I was pretty glad I worked that off-side roll in the off season. Everything else was gravy, and it ended up being a pretty fun 5 hours on the water.
I paddled Sauk Rapids yesterday and today at 17,000 and 19,000 cfs, respectively. Yesterday I paddled on my own for about three hours, though it's getting high enough where I was a little nervous trying to hit loops and blunts since it was pushy and I forgot my skull cap, so each roll ment a wicked ice cream headache. Today there was a good crowd out there, and I stuck some cartwheels and some loops. I even settled a debt of $35 from a year ago, since I owed another paddler for a helmet but didn't see him before I left for New Zealand. It was a great day though, and I had a few of those moments coming down a wave or sticking a loop where I was just like "woo hoO!" Fun stuff; I'm headed back there to meet up with some people tomorrow. Then I'd like to hit the creeks this weekend, but Courtney is coming up from California for the weekend and I figure it would be bad form to go off paddling for the weekend.
There was one point that was almost spiritual, though I hesitate to use that word. Anyway, things really seemed to fall into place.