Hello, and greetings from 14 miles north of the Iowa border. We left Lacrosse yesterday where we were graciously welcomed by members of the Ho-Chunk Nation and local Water Protectors! We shared community and a delicious meal that our hosts generously brought. It was such a powerful moment to paddle up and be welcomed by people who come from this place, as a guest here. HUGE thanks to all who came, it was so sacred to be in community with you all.
Since our last update in Wabasha, there's been a lot of up's and down's as well as some "tumbling". Cory's friend in the twin cities, Michael Anderson, had shared that the process of cleaning an agate is a long long process of tumbling, and being tumbled, and I feel like there's a lot of parallels with the river in that. We continue to see and experience the cycles that propel growth and change and just like the agates we are in a process of tumbling.
On the way to Lacrosse we ran into and started leap frogging with some other thru-paddlers we met just north of Winona. We met them right before paddling up to Cory's friend Uncle Kens cabin, where we were graciously hosted for a warm night in his cabin! Thanks, Uncle Ken!
On our paddle south from Uncle Kens we were able to meet up with a friend of mine, JC, who recently finished his own thru-paddle (you can find it on the canoe rambler blog). And he got to have a turn river angeling as he has finished finished paddling and was heading back up to the twin cities. Always great to meet up with friends and share yummy food wherever paths may cross. Thanks, JC!
Downriver from there we paddled into Winona, George, a wonderful river angel found us at the Marina and drove us into town to get some hot food and supplies. It was lovely and we got to meet up with Cory's friend from YMCA Camp Menogyn, Taylor, too! It was special to meet her and spend time with George who's been a river angel for over 20 years!
The next day we paddled past Winona and landed just south of town where we were hosted by Mike Chicanowski the owner/founder of Wenonah Canoes. From there, he took us to their factory and we learned all about the huge variety of canoes and kayaks that are built and handmade right in Winona, MN! The process of building canoes, whether they are made of fiberglass, Kevlar, Royalex or plastic, have an immense amount of steps in the process from start to finish and it was eye-opening to see it all in process. Mike tries to give tours to thru-paddlers when he can and told us all about his company throughout the tour. He told us he's spent most of his life making and selling canoes.
After that, we paddled on down through Trempealeau, which had a special place in Cory and I's hearts because in River Semester 2018 we spent about a week being rained out from paddling because of flooding. We locked through, something we hadn't done on River Semester because we pulled out before the lock since a huge storm was coming. Then when we relaunched from there it was such a windy day that we loaded after the dam(n) to have some shelter from the wind. So, it was Cory and I's first time locking through there which was fun to do.
Next we went to Richmond Island to camp which we also gone to during River Semester, so it was really special to be there for a night. From there we paddled to Lacrosse and were welcomed with an incredible group of water protectors and folks from the Ho-Chunk nation. This is what #decolonizingthru-paddling looks like!
We were able to spend time with a friend of mine, Martha, in Lacrosse who hosted us for the night and helped us get some laundry and showering done. Thanks, Martha!
top left : Cory and Lacrosse bridges
Top middle : welcoming party of folks from the Ho-Chunk Nation and Water Protectors
Top right : thru-paddlers and Mike Chicanowski
Bottom left: thru-paddlers and a BIG rig at Wenonah Canoes
Bottom middle: Lock and dam(n) 5A
bottom right: sunset from Uncle Kens