Water trails crew looks back on the season

By Melissa Gearman

The end of the water trails season is coming to a close and over the past six months I’ve written about a week in the life of a water trails crew, lessons learned on the river, the perils of portaging, the places we’ve been and the people we’ve met. I thought for this month to take step back and let my crew tell you some of their best moments from the water trails season.

Kirsten: Well, our season of being the Water Trails Crew is pert near over and it’s time for us to return to our technical-less exciting name as Central Roving. Even though it’s not over yet, I’m getting all nostalgic and mushy just thinking about all the great times our crew has had together on our seven-month long spike. We started out as a bunch of freshman, paddling at only 2 MPH and eating brats every night. We started out not knowing that a single river could contain a south fork and a north fork, and a middle branch of the south fork. We eventually got to see a lot of Minnesota we wouldn’t have otherwise known existed. There were the majestic places like Bear Head Lake State Park, and Coffee Pot Landing on the Upper Mississippi. And then there were the not so glamorous places like Madison, Minn., the Lutefisk Capital of the world, and the Pomme De Terre River, otherwise known as “Pomme De Terror” by the locals. It mostly smelt of “fertilizer” and was home to literally the largest spiders in the world. Now we’re at the end, and I can say we’ve learned a lot about each other, and Minnesota. And most importantly, I will never eat another brat, ever.

Andy: Spending the better part of six months on various rivers throughout Minnesota has been an interesting and eye-opening experience in many ways, and I feel very fortunate to have had this opportunity. Starting at the end of April, the prospect of canoeing and boating down Minnesota rivers four days a week for the following 26 weeks was both extremely daunting and extremely intriguing. I was sure that both physical and mental exhaustion were imminent at some point during the year. The days when we would paddle 16 or 17 miles had my shoulders feeling pains I had never felt before, and week after week of having the option to shower only on Thursday evenings gave me a new (and maybe lower) standard of what I considered adequate personal hygiene. Despite the challenges this job has posed, being able to travel throughout the state and see the areas that these rivers span – areas that the vast majority of people will never see – makes every minute of displeasure worth it. The uniqueness of this experience is unmatched, and I would highly recommend anyone who is interested to actually go out on these rivers and see for yourself what they have to offer.

Maggie: Trying to pick my favorite thing about water tails has proven to be a tough task, so here are my top five.

#1: Getting to travel to all corners of the state and having your job feel like a vacation because of it. My favorite place we stayed was Lake Pfeiffer near Tower, Minn.

#2: Rapids, rapids, rapids!!

#3: Wildlife. I loved having my work days filled with a wide array of the most adorable animals that made the rivers their home. Seeing so many birds of prey was my favorite part.

#4: All the people we met along the way. This state is filled with so many kind and fascinating people!

#5: Crew time. My crew is awesome and we always make sure to fill our days with laughter and inside jokes. I appreciate the in-depth bonds that resulted from spending so much time together spiking.