Monday, May 21, 2007

Kick’n Back on the Black

We had an outstanding time on the Black River. I packed heavy and loaded the Sea Wind to the Gills.

I had never paddled a Sea Wind fully loaded. When I did the WaterTribe UM I had the necessary gear and then some, but this time out I was testing performance under heavy load...

The first test was having 4 hour paddle up river fully loaded. Have you heard of up a creek with out a paddle? How about up the Black with out a map!? I’m such a noodle. I’m two hours into it, when the river splits. I had been grinding it out in a two mile an hour current going 1.9 -2.0 on the GPS when I am in a conundrum.

Do I go left or do I go right? Both directions had equal flow. I took a compass bearing and opted to go left. I knew I need to stay north and I felt the northerly direction would hedge my bet.

Paddling another hour or so I come across a couple of canoeists – I ask,” Excuse me, lovely day, um – do you know what river we are on, there was a split an hour ago and I don’t have a map?”

Reply: “You’re headed the wrong way, yers supposed to be going down stream”…. Laugh laugh, chuckle, chuckle… Boy you’re loaded for bear! Where you headed, Canada? (More laughing).

Well I did get out of them that I had gone the correct direction, so I had that going for me.
Just around noon I met up with Bill who was coming down from Black River Falls. A wave of paddles and a howdy do—then “How much gear did you bring!

I replied--- everything. It’s a test, damn it!

So I swung the boat around and we retraced my route back to Melrose. We pulled out at Melrose and persuaded s family fishing on the bank to watch our gear and boats as we shuttled cars down to North Bend.

We got back on the water about 4:30pm paddled down river for another hour and found this awesome sandbar to camp on.

Setting up hotel Sea Wind

I set up the Sea Wind Tent and made camp. Poor Bill was sitting in the sand under his tarp system, while I broke out a table a folding chair. Bill couldn’t believe all the gear I could stuff in the Sea Wind, and I was thinking the same thing. I easily could have come with a third of the gear. But it was a test, right?

Sleeping in the Sea Wind was wonderful. I leveled it off in the sand threw mat sleeping bag and pillow in, listened to some music and dosed off. It was as good as any small cruiser I had ever slept in. Very toasty and well ventilated. Nice job Dexter, the tent is a hit!!

On Sunday the wind had switched out of the north east. The temperature had dropped by 20 degrees and we had some nasty weather headed our way. We paddled down to North Bend and got off the water just before the weather cut loose. A small squall blew over and we had cloudy skies as we packed up.

Bill the lucky bastard!!

Bill pulled a fast one on me... he decided to stay up there another day and do some more scouting. I on the other hand had to head back, ( I’ve said it quite often: This work thing keeps getting in the way) I shuttled Bill back to his car and said our good byes…

The test: - my findings.

I had a lot of gear and the Sea Wind was outstanding under such a heavy load. Bill and I could barely carry the boat 5 feet with all the crap I brought.

Sleeping in the Sea Wind is wonderful. I was warm and very comfortable. It was nice not having to deal with a wet tent and ground cloth. I was packed up in five minutes, while Bill need help folding his wet and sandy tarp system

Even fully loaded, I had less draft then Bill in his Sawyer. Numerous times Bill had to get out and pull him self across sand bars. I on the other hand floated right over in less then 4 inches of water.

I love my new Jetboil cook set – very easy to operate and clean up is a snap.

A banana in the bottom of your food sack is a bad thing. Very messy.. :-/

Less gear-- more beer...

It was a great trip on a river I had never been on before – pictures to follow – The Capt’n

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