Day 5: Surfing on a Thermarest

By Emily Dech

Emily N., Claire, and I woke up to whooping and hollering. Turns out Brad had done some early morning fishing and had caught a 30-inch walleye!

We packed up camp and paddled toward the Kautunigan Lake, which is similar to Lake Pepin due to the fact that it’s not actually a lake but an area where the river widens. We found the perfect cliff bordering the lake for cliff jumping and did just that.

I had never jumped off a cliff before and was a little wary because I am not the biggest fan of heights. However, it was exhilarating and we all jumped into the refreshing lake multiple times.

We paddled onward and ran a quick rapid where Chet and Lucas took a spill. Since Chet and Lucas were swimming after their swamped belongings, we decided to eat lunch next to the rapid at a rock outcrop. Here we observed Brad run the rapid in his canoe solo, swim the rapid and swim it again with his Thermarest just for kicks.

After lunch Emily N. and Steve, Claire and Brad, and Chad and I joined in on the fun and surfed the rapid in our canoes. Not only is it incredibly fun to be perfectly balanced in the middle of a wave it’s also good practice to work on steering and on teamwork for more tricky rapids.

We continued on to Chap Falls, a class 4 rapid meaning that this one would be more difficult. We maneuvered through it and stopped at a campsite right below the rapid. Here the instructors asked if we wanted to make camp. We were surprised about this proposition. While it was a nice campsite it was only 3 p.m. and there was still plenty of daytime left for paddling. Not only that, but we were getting stronger and going a longer distance than our original plan didn’t seem to be that challenging.

So, we continued on until past 6 p.m. to Meekinako Rapids. With waves, rocks, ledges, current and an eddy there was only one skinny path to get through the rapid. Thankfully, no one tipped.

We decided to camp right below the rapid. The site was a little buggy but had plenty of room and a lovely view of the rapid.

We discovered that we had paddled 35 km that day or 21 miles. Wow!

Three days ago I wouldn’t have thought that was possible. Our day ended with a relaxing campfire and a round of Euchre.