Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Blue Earth River
by cj_hackett

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 04/11/2009
Entry Point: Other
Exit Point: Other  
Number of Days: 1
Group Size: 2
Trip Introduction:
Talking to my buddy last week about our BWCA trip and got the itch to do some canoeing. We are from Mankato and a common river to canoe on is the Blue Earth. The Blue Earth is a tributary to the Minnesota. My friend Nate has taken the trip in mid-summer and it is a pretty easygoing day in the canoe, but being spring time, with higher water levels, we were in for a bit of a surprise.
We put in just below the Rapidan Dam, 12 miles upstream from Mankato, MN. Destination was Sibley Park in Mankato. Beautiful, 65 degree day, but the water temp. couldn't have been more than 40 or 45 degrees.

The trip started out uneventful, very nice paddling. First time I had been in a canoe since I was a kid (I'm 27 now). Just leisurely paddling down the river, taking pictures, drinking a couple beers, and relaxing.

We hear a little bit of whitewater up ahead and get situated to run a little rapids. The current picks up a little, but we managed to get through unscathed. The biggest problem is the rocks that we have to maneuver around. If we hit one broadside, we will surely tip.

A little while later, we come up to our third little rapids of the day. Going through the first part was fine, but towards the end, we are heading straight for a rock that sticks out of the water about 2 inches. We hit it and are stuck right on top. Water is about 4 feet deep so we stick our oars in and push. What we didn't realize is we were both pushing on the right side of the canoe. We break free right as we give a hard push and start tipping right. We overcorrect to the left and dump right in the middle of the river. I grab the canoe and Nate grabs the other gear we have with and we go to lick our wounds on shore. Damn, that water was cold. I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Canoe the rest of the day without a shirt and actually get a little sunburnt! I also realize my jeans were in the canoe with my only set of car keys in them. They are at the bottom of the river somewhere so I chalk it up to experience.

Very next rapids (not even sure if these are actually rapids, but they were to us!), we can hear from about a half mile away, so we know we have another challenge coming up. We get up to it, and slowly try to pick our way through. We're trying to be very methodical here. Don't want to tip again! We get through and over most of the rocks safely. Right at the end there is a big rock and the current is bringing us right towards it! We decide to try to go around the right side, but the current is pulling us left! So here we are turned right, almost broadside, and can't get by. We nail the rock with the back end of the canoe and go tumbling again. Water feels even colder this time! Off to shore to lick our wounds once again!

After 15 minutes of shivering, we're back in the water again. Rest of the trip is uneventful. Couple of close calls in more rapids, but we started to get the hang of it and what strategy to use in getting through! Don't get turned sideways was rule number one! If we hit rocks head on, we were ok.

Was a little cold, but tolerable. Definitely lots of fun and we're hoping to do it again in a couple weeks. Took us about 5 hours to do 12 miles, but the last 4 miles didn't have much current and we spent about an hour total licking wounds after crashes. Definitely learned a few things, so it was worth it. Wouldn't have been as much fun without the adventure!