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Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Podcasts
Tales of Water Trails: Other River Routes .mp3 (1.08 Mb)

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Erik Wrede:

Welcome to "Tales of Water Trails" presented by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

I'm here today with Lynne and Bob Diebel who have paddled about 3,000 miles of waterways throughout Minnesota, not all on our Water Trails, but on other rivers as well.

So there's actually tens of thousands of miles of river in Minnesota and only a little over 4,000 of it is actively managed by the DNR for canoeing and kayaking and we have access points, and camp sites, and portages, and maps for all of those 30 rivers and the north shore of Lake Superior. But there's a whole bunch more water out there, what else did you see out there that you would recommend to folks?

Lynne Diebel:

There are two rivers that are tributaries of the Upper Minnesota that are really fun. The names of those are Hawk Creek and the Yellow Medicine. And those rivers, as they drop into the Minnesota River Valley, they're fast, but not too fast. They provide a really fun ride, so those are two that I'd really highly recommend.

Bob Diebel:

And then down south of Mankato is the Maple and Big Cobb. Very fast, each one you can get about a nice ten, twelve mile run on it before they meet up with the Le Sueur. Those are very nice rivers. The Rush and High Island streams that flow into the Minnesota a little downstream from Mankato, those are two more.

LD:

Sand Creek flows into the Minnesota at Jordan.

BD:

Yeah, a wild little river.

LD:

And that's a wild and crazy one. It's really a lot of fun.

BD:

Actually the cover photo on the Southern Minnesota book is Sand Creek.

LD:

Further north, flowing into the Mississippi at Grand Rapids is the Prairie River. It's a very peaceful river. It's a meditative kind of river. Very lovely country. There's some dams before you get to the Mississippi so you're not going to be able to get to the Mississippi, but that's not necessary. It's a very pretty run.

BD:

The Sturgeon that flows into the Little Fork way up north is another nice one.

There's a bunch that we've not paddled that we want to go out and paddle some day that have been mentioned to us by other people. I can't give a whole list of names right now, but we were given a bunch of photographs by a fellow who works at Wenonah Canoe and who likes to explore the small rivers of southeastern Minnesota. And after seeing those photographs I thought we should explore some of those rivers and maybe include them in a future version of the book.

EW:

So, you two have lived out the dream of a lot of Minnesotans. A lot of folks in this state love to paddle and you've gone out and done it to an extent far beyond the wildest dreams of most people. Do you have future plans? You just mentioned some of the southeast streams, but is there some other big adventure coming at all?

LD:

There is an adventure we'd love to take and that is to paddle from Cedar Lake, which is west of Faribault, MN, where my family's had a place since the 1880's, and paddle from there via a small creek that drains Cedar Lake into the Cannon River. And then take the Cannon down to the Mississippi, and the Mississippi down to the mouth of the Wisconsin, paddle up the Wisconsin to Black Earth Creek, and up Black Earth Creek to Madison, get into the Madison Lakes and paddle down through the Yahara River, which drains the Madison Lakes, to within one block of our house in Stone, WI. So it's a personal journey. It's connecting these two places that are very important in our lives.

BD:

The way Lynne just described it, of course, was accurate, but there is about a five-mile portage in there from where Black Earth Creek peters out before you get over to Lake Mendota, which would be the-

LD:

It'll be a challenge.

BD:

A challenge, right.

LD:

Portage wheels.

BD:

Yes, wheels. I think wheels would be alright on that.

EW:

So you're actually going to be utilizing waterways like Native Americans did many years ago and early explorers as routes of travel.

LD:

That's right.

BD:

Exactly. And that's what kind of appealed to us about this concept, because so many times people, when they plan some sort of vacation or outdoor adventure, they go to the most pristine area that's not connected really to their lives. For an outdoor experience, these are good trips, but it's kind of missing a few things in terms of the connection and the usefulness that waterways have had for people throughout history. The waterways were the original highways and this would be a trip that would sort of duplicate that usage from the way people traveled around this area hundreds of years ago.

Modern canoeists typically put in the river and go downstream and shuttle back up by car to make their shuttle. This would be a trip that would be downstream and upstream and would be a real challenge to paddle up the Wisconsin River and Black Earth Creek, but I think it would really expand the kind of experience of what canoeing really is about, because the Native Americans and the explorers didn't use them to go for entertainment, they used them for transportation. So to kind of discover the roots of that a little bit more would be kind of fun.

LD:

I have one last thing that I'd like to add just thinking about shuttles and that is that we did a lot of bicycle shuttles on our research trips and I really recommend it as a way for people to kind of reduce their use of the car in a canoeing trip. A canoeing trip often involves a lot of driving, but there's a little bit less if you do a bike shuttle in and it's pretty fun.

BD:

We actually ended up evolving a shuttle method where we took the bicycle with us in the canoe down the river. So we did not drop the bike at the take out point, but we would take the bicycle with us and it gave us the flexibility of being able to stop either short of our original destination or further down. You wouldn't do this in a river that was extremely challenging because a bicycle does present this obstacle that could get snagged on branches and things. So you had to pick your river, but for most of the rivers it was a safe thing to do.

EW:

So, you like the peddle/paddle.

BD:

Right.

EW:

So, we've been talking to Lynne and Bob Diebel who are the authors of Paddling Northern Minnesota and Paddling Southern Minnesota and I'd like to thank you for being an inspiration to people who love to paddle all over the state. And look on our website for clips from Lynne and Bob Diebel on each of the Water Trails. They've shared a lot of their experiences in little clips that you can find on our website.

So thank you once again. It's been great talking with you.

LD:

Thank you, Erik. This has been a pleasure.

BD:

Well, thank you. It has been a pleasure. Thanks for the opportunity.

LD:

And to all you paddlers, find a new river and explore it.

EW:

You can find a lot more online resources such as maps and river level reporting, route descriptions, all sorts of good stuff at www.mndnr.gov/watertrails.

I'm Erik Wrede the DNR Water Trails Coordinator and happy paddling folks.