Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Canoeing the Sauk River from Richmond to Waite Park

On June 19th, Brody, Angie and Grant met me at the boat landing on the Sauk River near Richmond after work. I was working in Paynesville at a golf outing so it was closer for me to meet them there. We unloaded the canoes and loaded them up with all our gear and headed out for a relaxing weekend. We had a route in mind but didn’t know where we were going to camp for sure. We paddled for a couple hours and once we were in the Chain of Lakes started looking for a place to camp for the night. There were a lot of islands but they were all pretty heavily wooded. We came to a resort called something like the River Rabbit so we stopped to see what they had available. Their tent sites were $30 each and we could only put one tent on a site. We debated whether or not we should stay or keep paddling to try to find something else. It was getting late so we needed to make a decision. Then someone who might have been one of the owners walked up to us and told us people camp on an island not far from where we were. So, we decided to take a chance and head that direction. Luckily there was a spot cleared out on the island he pointed to so we stopped and set up camp! It was great – peaceful and enough room for two tents. We had a beer, swatted some mosquitoes and decided it was time for bed. Here we are at our camp site on the island:

The next morning we packed up and headed out for a day of paddling. We paddled the rest of the way through the Chain of Lakes. Sometimes we were convinced we were lost but Grant would pull through and direct us the right way. He claims he can’t read a map and use a compass but somehow he gets us to where we need to go when the rest of us have no idea! After several lakes we went under a bridge and the river started to narrow. It was great because we didn’t have to paddle as much and just let the current take us. We did some fishing and just enjoyed the sunshine.

When we got to Cold Spring we had to portage around a dam. We thought it would be a simple portage so we didn’t pack very well. Turns out private property surrounds the dam so we had to go waaaaaaay around and across some roads and finally back in the water. Ang and I made a couple trips with random stuff and the guys carried the canoes. Whew – that was a workout! The rest of the day was pretty relaxing just fishing and visiting. Ang and I jumped in the river and floated for awhile when we got too hot. It was a little weedy which freaked us out but we survived :)

As we got closer to Rockville we started watching for a farm that we heard lets people camp on their land. We stopped at a place that was up on a hill and had a path mowed up to the fence. Grant and Brody walked up and turned around after they decided that couldn’t be the place. We paddled farther down the river until we got to the bridge by Rockville. There was an annoying group of guys there that were wasted and probably on a bachelor party so we didn’t stay long. We decided we must have gone too far so turned around to paddle upstream. Let me tell you – that was a battle! We were barely moving and just decided to walk and pull the canoes for awhile cuz it was soo hard. At one point Grant went up on a road and asked a farmer if he knew of a guy that lets people camp on his land. He said oh yeah, John Peck, his land is further up. Shortly after that Grant called Ed who had told us about the guy and Ed confirmed that was right. He called the farm and told them we were coming so they went down by the river to wait for us. So we kept going upstream and finally got back to the place we had originally stopped at but had thought it wasn’t right!

The Peck’s were awesome people! It was crazy. We walked up the hill and saw an old farm house, a huge old barn and several other small buildings. They told us we could camp wherever in the yard and said after we got settled they’d take us for a tour. We had no idea what they were talking about so went about our business setting up. A little bit later they came back to bring us on the tour. It turns out they have an animal rehab center on the farm and it was awesome! Inside the barn they had several stalls they had created for different animals. There were baby raccoons in the silo, a huge owl, baby fawns and lots more animals and birds! Apparently people just call them if they see a sick or abandoned animal and they go get it. It was amazing. The baby raccoons were so cute – we could go in the silo and pet them even! Here's a pic:
The fawns were really cute too but we had to be quiet when looking at them so we didn’t scare them. The farm was really cool – they don’t have an indoor bathroom so just have an outhouse. They have owned the farm for 40 some years and still keep it that way. It turned out to be more of an adventure than we had thought but well worth the paddle upstream! Here we are in the hay loft where we all went for a ride on the rope swing!


On Sunday we packed up from the Peck farm and loaded up the canoes. It was really hot and muggy and looked like it might rain. Sure enough after we got on our way down the river it started raining. We paddled and fished in the rain until we made it back to Waite Park. Here's a deer we saw run across the river - that was pretty cool!
It was a fun weekend with some unexpected surprises! Here's the whole album of pics:

1 comment:

  1. love the stories and pics, ash! i wish i could pet the baby raccoons!


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