Here’s a few better-late-than-never updates from the Minnesota North Shore with 4Corners Riversports Team Paddler Chris Baer.
Split Rock is one of my favorite Minnesota creeks, logistics are easy and the amount of gradient you get is just plain amazing.
Paul Hooper, Casey Tango, Burgess Norrgard, and I headed up to the private property put in. There has been some trespassing issues brought up in previous years and we did everything in our power to be undetected be the not so nice locals and the moody local cops. We dropped off the boats and hid in the woods as Paul drove the truck back off the private property and very stealthy hiked back in to meet us. The paddle in is always a tree ducking strainer boofing fiasco, but it is so worth it when you hit the first big slide.
The run is punctuated by a couple great rapids. My personal favorite is under the log, the log is gone these days but the rapid still offers a rather intense line. You careen off a blind 15 foot slide into a boiling cauldron, then immediately drop another 10 into a thrashy hole below.
|Burgess, deep in under the log|
The other super classic slide is Whinfrey’s Whimper, a cascading slide that ends in a backed up hole.
|Burgess sliding down Winfrey’s Whimper|
|Tango starting down Winfrey’s|
All in all this is a super classic slide run, There is a gauge on the down stream river left side of the bridge that goes over hwy 61. I personally like a ton of water in this run there is a dash and a M next to it on the wall, six inches below this would be a great entry level and as you get comfortable with the slides, the sky is the limit. I would be absolutely fired up to show up and see the entire M underwater.
|Paul sliding down one of the countless good slides|
|Chris Baer, always running Almost Always|
The Lester river is just north of Duluth Minnesota and makes a great after work run for the locals of Duluth. It is only about 2 miles long and after a couple laps you can run it in about seven minutes. The charicter is mostly shallow class 4 with two rapids picking up the pace. The first harder rapid is named Naked Man, and has a stout lead in into a funky seven foot boof into a very shallow pool. The rocks at the base of the seven footer dolled out a lot of pitons this year. The second big rapid is called Almost Always, for years it was walked on a almost always basis. Now days this great rapid gets fired up almost always. Almost Always is a near vertical 20 footer that allows a awesome air plane boof at the top.
The Cascade is one of my favorite runs of the North Shore, there is a wild variety of drops from long technical slides to a very steep stacked set of waterfalls. I managed to get a ton of laps on this gem, with flows ranging from negative 1/2 to negative 6 inches, I am a firm believer that more is better, and after getting comfortable with this run, I could imagine running it at stomping high flows.
|Tango checking out the bottom drops|
|Entering the banking turn of Long John|
|beware the icicles|