Kayaking the Minnesota

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Setting out on the Minnesota River, just south of downtown Mankato

It is the last day of summer in the northern hemisphere, autumn officially begins tomorrow. A lovely late summer day, temperatures are hovering around 72 degrees under a cloudless blue sky; a perfect day for a bike ride or some other nice exercise outdoors, which I am planning to do shortly, as it is noticeable how short the days have been getting.

In the meantime, I’ll write about one of the last summertime adventures I had a few weeks ago, a kayaking trip down the Minnesota River between Mankato and St. Peter. My sister and I have been trying out a lot more kayaking this summer, paddling around Lake Minnetonka on some cheap boats we picked up at Menards (according to the short training session we took, a big no-no). The first weekend in September, we signed up for a kayak rental at the Bent River Outfitters, a group based in Mankato, a hilly college town an hour and a half south of the Twin Cities. It was a day very much like today, sunny, warm, with a hint of a breeze, perfect for a kayak trip down a lazy river.

Several weeks before, we had taken a training course offered by the same group to brush up on our rowing maneuvers and felt ready to take on the river. We launched from Riverfront Park in Old Town Mankato, not too far from the Bent River Outfitters office, and were soon afloat on the gentle current of the Minnesota. It was not too much of a challenge, though, at least at this time of year- a wide channel with no rapids to worry about, not too many huge rocks, the cold, muddy brown waters of the Minnesota flow at a leisurely pace and only a few fallen trees provide obstacles. Paddling down river turned out to be quite easy and we soon outpaced the rest of the group except for two others. While the expedition was intended to end and a certain park on the bank of the river under some bluffs, we were so engrossed in taking in the verdant bluffs, bald eagles, great blue herons, splashing catfish, that we totally missed this landmark and paddled all the way up to St. Peter, another college town up the Minnesota. As we found we had left the rest of the group, and that we weren’t too sure where this stop we were going was, exactly, I just joked that if we got to St. Peter, we would know we’d gone too far. It was a bit of a surprise, then, when we passed the majestic, old columns that were the remains of an old railroad bridge that marked we were close to the other town. Oops! We did not end up absconding with the boats all the way to New Orleans after all, and it all worked out alright, though we felt a deep Minnesotan guilt about accidentally inconveniencing everyone while still having an awesome time.

The equipment was returned to the old brick warehouse near the trains and the river in Old Town Mankato and we apologized for our malfeasance and will probably be back again, with more care in future now that we know what to expect on the water! Now that the Minnesota winter is mere months away, Bent River also does snowshoeing, so I might check that out!

Afterwards, we were famished and grabbed a burrito at a local burrito place, Las Brazas, that offers a chipotle-esque burrito/burrito bowl for less than $5 on Sundays. Not too bad a deal!

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Preparing to launch, Riverfront Park

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