We finally hit the water in the Minneapolis/St Paul area today. Careful scouting by the VOR, Rookie the Wonder Dog, and I Friday evening revealed that the pool on the Mississippi River above the Coon Rapids dam was pretty much open. More importantly the current was not raging, a prerequisite demanded by one of our paddling foursome. We launched in 60F(15C) weather, the exact opposite of last years debacle where the VoiceOfReason earned her nickname. Her requirement, "I want my first paddle of the year to be fun", was met perfectly this afternoon. We were joined by the BessemerConvivialist and the ManFromSnowyLegs, with the BemidjiIntelOfficer on dog/cooler duty.
There was still ice on most of the backwaters but the main river was wide open. Lots of waterfowl were moving north on the legendary Mississippi Flyway including Mallards, Bluebills, Wood Ducks, Buffleheads, Coots, Canada Geese, and loons. We saw a hawk being harassed by a smaller bird and doing perfect barrel rolls, talons outstretched, whenever its small tormenter got close. On the homo sapien side, a few new ostentatious 'McMansions' had gone up in the past year and lots of folks were out working on docks, yards, and just enjoying the day. We enjoyed a short two hour cruise and got our rusty muscles and that crucial kayak balance synapse firing correctly after a winter of pretty much ignoring the boats. A couple of lovely homebrews on the beach and the first paddle of 2008 was history.
On the Lake Superior front, along with the guys going through the ice at Roys Point, the GreenThumbChef reports that there appears to be a narrow channel weaving its way along the shore from Washburn up to Bayfield. By the time I get back from Colorado next week I may need to verify that report.