Actually when I think about it, I first visited this spot on the Eau Claire River as a Tenderfoot Boy Scout in the 5th grade, making it considerably longer than 38 years of enjoyment. Yes readers, I actually was a Boy Scout for about four years until the twin evils of beer and adolescent girls distracted my easily distracted mind away from its focus of working on merit badges. During my Boy Scout stint I did learn was some very basic outdoor survival and camping skills that I use to this day, most importantly how to stay comfortable, start a fire in any weather, and cook in dutch oven over said fire. None of those skills were ever utilized or needed on this event though.
All this event requires is some organization and a little bit of the pool player, looking ahead to the next shot. Once the flotilla leaves Big Falls County Park, if you don't have it you ain't gonna get it. The river is delightfully remote, although a couple homes have sprung up and there are some ATV trails that go down to the beaches. Since the river winds through the terminal moraine of the last glacier, the Chippewa I think, its all sand which means lovely beaches around every bend. It also means the most common and hardy ground cover is poison ivy, making the long walk down to the river from any road like walking through a mine field. Over the years I've learned that the basics of sun screen, water, a hat, your floating device, and adult beverages are the essential items. Its about a five hour trip with a couple stops and lacking, running out, or suffering equipment failures in any of the categories can make for a long day.
This years conditions were perfect. Temperature, wind, water level, and a nice mix of clouds and sun made it absolutely delightful. The event has only been rescheduled once but thunder storms, tornado warnings, and some unseasonably cool weather have tested us in the past. As I mentioned, once the decision to go has been made we are committed. The usual suspects showed up and the event continues. The key to these annual events is consistency. The same weekend and the same location make it tough for the regulars to back out because 'something came up'. I just hope we are still able to form the traditional Red Rocks beach pyramid and still have attractive hind ends when we all get old and decrepit. Until then we will just keep rolling and see where this thing takes us. The one certainty is that this is without question the most relaxing event of the year for Yours Truly.