The wind was pressing against the windows of the car as I road northward toward the waters of the North shore. Stopping along the way for coffee and to look at river levels, the group of paddlers was buzzing with enthusiasm. We arrived at Lutsen and made our way across the golf course to check the condition of the Poplar River. Levels were looking good and respective piles of gear formed as which each readied ourselves for battle.
The first of adventures was getting to the river. Mounting our kayaks as if on horse back, we sped down the remnants of snow covering Lutsen ski run... kicking our heals in deep, hoping to not careen into the snow-less gravel at the hill's base.
boogey water boulder gardens. It took me a little while to adjust and get my paddling senses warmed and attune to the waters ahead. But as the rapids went on I felt more and more at home as the river meandered through Lutsen's Golf Course. After punching a small yet significant drop we eddied out. I walked ahead to let my eyes see what my ears heard as a roaring in the distance. Ahead lay "Belieks Surprise".
Though I had seen pictures and read of the rapid, upon the sight of it, I was taken by it's impressiveness. After passing under a foot bridge, it consisted of a long and tumultuous slide with numerous roosters strew about and a curling side sweeper guarding it's entry. I watch as a few of our group took on the descent with lines styled. I eyed the line for one last time then turned and walked back to my kayak. At the crest of drop I saw my line and added purchase to my strokes I looked to punch the sweeper. Smashing into and through it the sweeper made one last grasp turning my boat. Ploughing into the next rooster I was turned further and went into the midst's of the slide backwards.
slide's base. I took my first opportunity to turn my boat in the nick of time and slammed past the hole.
The speedy descent of the Poplar left more daylight ahead. We left our gear on as re-racked the kayaks and headed for the Kadunce River... (to be continued on the next post)