Day 16: Kind people, creative fixes, and smart choices
Palisade to Aitkin
Today started off at 5:30am. I ste my alarm because I wanted to catch the sunrise. I got up, grabbed my camera, and headed out. I caught some good ones off a bridge before walking to downtown for breakfast. I was told to go the the Palisade Cafe while I was in town. I arrived at 6:30 and one woman was doing everything. I watched her move for a bit before she asked what I was up to and what I would like to eat. I told her about my trip and she said she would fix up something good. She pointed at the Hungry Man breakfast and asked if all those items would be ok. I said yes and she was off to the kitchen to make it. I snapped off a few images in the cafe and before you knew it, she came back with 3 plates of food. I needed the calories, so I dug in. I hung out talking with the locals about my adventures. When it was time to settle up, the other waitress told me my tab was covered. My server bought me breakfast. I was blown away. I went back into the kitchen to give her a big hug.
After I left, I hiked back to my site and got ready to ship out. I looed down at my rudder and noticed I may have broke a large portion of the support that holds the actual runner to my boat. I was not comfortae taking that out, so I had to fix it. I walked over to a neighbors house and grabbed some old scrap wood. I brought it back and used my knife to cut the filler pieces to make it fit. I used my duct tape to bind the pieces together and filled in the missing part. A gentleman arrived and asked if I needed any help. I showed him what I was working on and he offered me some wire to help hd it all together. So, with 2 sticks, some duct tape, and some wire, I was all McGyvered up and ready to go. I also called Wilderness Systems and they are going to send me some new parts to Minneapolis. My creative version will hold till then. That took awhile and I was off to a late start.
I got moving when the river was near glass like conditions. I opened up the pace and clipped along. The day, once again, allowed for some interspective thinking. I was greatful for my sponsors, my friends, and all those that are supporting my endeavours. It was a solidly (mentally) relaxing day. I watched eagles soar. I saw the water’s reflection dance on the underside of the trees. I listened as the birds sung to me all day. Life on the river was good.
About 10 miles out from camp, there was the Aitkin dam. It is the only one like it on the river. It diverts the water on its main route when the water is low, but forms a spillway when the river is high. The river is at flood stage now and it was overflowing the dam. All signs and literature say this is not a portage area. I approached it to see it freely flowing over the dam. I went past it, doubled back, and parked to get out and check it out. I tied the boat up and sunk up to my theighs in mud as I worked to scale the embankment. I got up to check it out. It was doable with a shorter boat and someone with more experience than myself. It was a brief Class 5 rapid. A younger me would have wanted to make a go at it. An older me wanted to make a go at it. Somewhere in the back of my head, I heard my mom telling me not to do anything stupid on this trip. Running it may have saved a days worth of paddling, but it could go a lot worse too. So, I paddled the river like I should. I will earn every mile on this adventure. I ade it to Aitkin County Park where I set up for the evening. After a couple of PB&J sandwiches and a granola bar, I was ready to call it a day