August 3, 2019
Dear Family & Friends:
August 2 was a super fun and eventful day. We were on the water at 7:30 am and the conditions could not have been better. The current was running at 1-2 miles per hour and we never ran into headwinds. Adding our paddling power, we moved at about 4 miles per hour. With these conditions, we were able to bump up our daily distance travelled to 30 miles. Fortunately, there were no portages.
The scenery was outstanding. The scudding clouds and tall pine and spruce trees reflected off the shimmering and placid River. Loons could be seen dive bombing for fish. At our approach herons lifted off from from the tall reeds alongside the River and slowly and gracefully negotiated a wide arc in the sky. Ducks and ducklings skidded across the water to make their escape from a nonexistent, although perceived, threat. More than once a colorful dragonfly positioned himself at the bow of my canoe and guided me for ten to twenty yards, either as a friendly gesture or an attempt to escort me away from his mosquito/fly hunting grounds.
At mile 24, we were greeted by a yard sign that said “Paddlers Welcome.” We stopped and were greeted by Sandy and Jeff Bromenschenkel, who own the home along the River.
Sandy and Jeff are “River Angels.” River Angels reside all along the River and host paddlers in their homes, offering them food, drink, shelter, a shower, laundry of filthy clothes and even lodging. We took advantage of all these accommodations. After we showered, they drove us to Deer River, where we enjoyed a great dinner in a combo restaurant/bowling alley. After dinner, they drove us to a food store so we could resupply. That night, we slept in a bunkhouse next to their home. In the morning, Sandy and Jeff made us a wonderful breakfast-wild blueberry pancakes with fresh picked blueberries and home made maple syrup, sausage and eggs. Yummy!! After breakfast, we bid these wonderful folks farewell and headed down the River.
We offer our heartfelt thanks to Sandy and Jeff and all of these River Angels. Today, I was contacted by River Angels near Brainerd. We will be staying with them.
Today, we travelled 22 miles to Sucher’s Campsite. There were two more portages around dams. A friend of Jeff met us in Grand Rapids and helped with the second portage. He had a truck so we could drive our canoes and gear to the reentry point near a public library.
The day was uneventful until we reached a point about two miles from Sucher’s Campsite. At that point, the wind picked up substantially and the River became very rough. Suddenly, I was greeted by a thunderbolt that sounded like a bomb exploded within feet of my canoe. I was nearly jolted from my seat. Several more strikes occurred and were followed by a torrential rainfall. We all pulled off the River and sought shelter from the storm. Lightning is extremely dangerous to River travelers because lightning seeks the highest point on water and can travel through water. Fortunately, we all made it to camp safely and are sitting around a campfire seeing who can tell the best lie.