Updated: Nov 30, 2022
We are paddling off from the far side of the dam at Lake Winnie this morning and elated to be back on the river after our scheduled break. HUGE and IMMENSE gratitude to you all who have supported us since we started scheming this adventure! And especially to everyone who has helped us get this far and shared their gear, resources, knowledge, time and help to this sacred journey!!
The support we’ve received has made this trip become a reality for us in a truly incredible way, we are honored and grateful to be in community with you all and with the river each in our own ways. Shout out and thanks for supper and gear to Wilderness Inquiry, Camp Menogyn, Brian Dack, Liam DelMain, Paul and Cathy DelMain for the use of our first boat, Nicole Anderson, Ann Skoe, Emily Ford and most recently Sammi Armacost who has graciously shared her canoe with us and Granite Gear that has outfitted us with some lovely new gear.
<3 this is what community looks and feels like. thanks to YALL!
Okay, so here’s what we’ve been up to.
Being off the river was odd at first but also not uncommon in the time I’ve spent on trips and on trail- returning to the place where thats not happening anymore can be a relief at times, and also bring up other things.
After Cory and I spent 12 days on the river, crossing Winnie and Cass Lakes we experienced the generosity of so many river angels along the way. So, leaving the river or putting it on pause wasn’t a moment where I longed for a shower or any particular luxury or norm of living inside. Since our two river angels on Cass Lake, the Coens and the Brandts, we had been generously offered inside places to sleep and dry things, so a bed and being inside didn’t feel like it needed to be on the top of my priority list. But having a change of scene, of company and of rhythm and routine was more jarring than I thought it would be.
One thing remained.
Since leaving Lake Winnie, I can’t help but still feel consumed by its vortex. For a long time it was just water, sky and Cory and I.
It was mesmerizing. I knew it would take a long time; its one of the rivers’ biggest crossings, but I didn’t think it would have such an impact on my mind. For 2 days after leaving, I felt like my heart and mind were still there soaking up that universe of blue, be it of sky or of water.
After those 2 days my heart, mind, and body all arrived in the same place, except all of a sudden I wasn’t with Cory and we weren’t paddling everyday on the river.
The first 5 days were sacred and tender with the river in her infancy, as Cory would say. I was so grateful that she would remind me and emphasize daily that because having seen and visited different parts of the river at different times, I knew logically that it was true, but thinking about the fact that particularly on our journey this time, paddling our values- we would never see the river be like that ever again.
If you’ve ever heard a river based metaphor- Epictetus or Heraclitus- or one of those ole greek guys may have said something to the extent that rivers are always changing, and are never the same. Anyone else that was here far before the Greeks could tell you that too.
But apart from the logic of moving water and changing ecosystems- there’s something really powerful that seems to connect that logic and also the fact that you need to be present for that. To truly experience something that is always changing, you have to be present for it.
And thats what Cory and I want to do, and so much more. I think the first 5 days were defined in terms of being present for me. Not only emotionally- kind of setting ourselves up for this huge adventure, but also physically because the river takes all these beautiful bends, and turns. It winds through forests, and open wetlands, sacred wild ricing beds, and we had that for 5 days with no bigger or open water until Lake Irving outside Bemidji MN. Because of all the turning, sterning or steering in the back of the boat, could be challenging. But also, because of obstacles. Our 5th day we had lots of obstacles, log jams in fact, is what the map termed it as. We didn’t quite know what to expect. I had paddled this section with my mom in spring of 2018, and it was fall more passable. When Cory and I paddled it, there were countless moments where logs fully blocked the whole channel of the river.
Here’s a time capsule post from a while back that never made it out into the world:
5 days in!
we've spent 5 days on the water and are taking a rest, re-pack and re-stock day in Bemidji and have so much to share. first of all we want to say a huge MUCHISIMAS GRACIAS to all the people who have supported us financially, on social media, and by following our journey- it means so much to do this in community with you all and this is exactly how we dreamt of doing this. so, thank you.