Here's another edition of my vacation series in Brimson.  It was a beautiful day and we had decided to go kayaking.  Our plan was an hour tour down the Little Cloquet River.  We had parked one truck at a bridge and another at the Pequaywan Inn.  What transpired that day was exhausting and had us thinking we may have to spend the night on the river.


We had driven a truck to the bridge about five miles up the road, then put the kayaks in at the Pequaywan Inn.  The first half hour was (in our words at the time) serene.

Then, we ran into a beaver dam that blocked the entire length of the river.

crossing the beaver dam
Photo Credit: Coleen Nordwall

The guys got out and cleared a path through the beaver's home (I felt incredibly guilty) and pushed Coleen and I through.  NOTE: at this point we were about an hour into the trip and figured the bridge was just ahead around the bend. As we continued paddling, laughing and talking we came to several forks in the river and took the one we thought would lead us to the bridge.  Then the rapids started and the guys seemed to be out of their kayaks helping us over them more than they were in paddling.  We noticed the river was getting low and it was becoming increasingly more difficult to navigate around AND OVER the rocks.

The guys feet were getting sore from having to walk on the slimy huge rocks under the water and their shins were bruised from hitting the bigger rocks sticking out of the water.  When the sun went behind the clouds we would get cold because our clothing was wet.  NOTE:  we were now three hours into the trip and wondered if we might have chosen the wrong fork in the river miles back because we hadn't reached the bridge yet.  We were getting tired, hungry and thirsty.  I cursed myself for not rationing the licorice we had earlier in the day and we only had two bottles of water between the four of us.

Because I had just gotten out of my walking boot I had since June due to a stress fracture in my heel, my husband wasn't allowing me to get out of my kayak and walk through the water.  I gained an incredible ab and arm workout because I was trying to shimmy myself across the rocks in my kayak without help.  My friend Coleen tried getting out of the kayak and walking through the rapids several times but ran into the same slippery obstacles the guys were experiencing.

Coleen on Little Cloquet River
Cathy Kates

That poor girl was beaten up on this trip.  In the picture above she had fallen and was straddled a rock with one of her feet stuck between two rocks below the water.  But, she's still smiling!  Another time I had turned around to see her laying her ear to the river.  I asked what she was listening to (Little River Band? Ha, thought I was funny), in reality, she had fallen again and thought she might have broken her arm.  Luckily that hadn't been the case.  NOTE:  We are now five hours into trip and drastic measures were starting to come to mind.

At one point, Todd decided to go up the hill through the woods to see if he could get to the road.  I wanted us to stick together but he insisted and took off only to return a short time later saying the foliage was too thick, it was completely buggy and he never did find the roadway.  It was at that point he picked his kayak up and threw it into the woods.  Frustration was setting in and a beer was sounding good.  But first we HAD to find that bridge!!!  So, we continued on our way as the sun was getting lower in the sky.  I was beginning to wonder if we were going to have to stay overnight on the river and wondered if Homie or Todd had ever been a boy scout.  The river was not our friend any longer, it had become annoying and the rocks were our enemy!  We hadn't really told anyone we were going kayaking figuring we'd only be gone an hour so no one would have been looking for us for a long time.

kayaking the Little Cloquet River
Cathy Kates

Then, in the near distance we could see a dock. It was decided the girls would stay on the river, the guys would venture up the hill and knock on the door to ask if we could walk through their property to the road, then come back for the kayaks.  They were gone a VERY long time and Coleen and I decided to pull the kayaks on shore and follow them.  It turned out that it was a hunting shack that according to the signs belonged to the Pequaywan Boys. Our husbands were no where to be found so we started across a small bridge that crossed yet another river (we were sick of rivers by that time) and we heard some loud pounding coming towards us at a fast pace.  I told Coleen if it was the boys and they were running to turn and run too because something was chasing them!  It was them, but they were running just because they had been gone for so long.  They told us it was about a quarter of a mile to the road, but it was through a four wheeler trail, not a road and we needed to formulate a plan.  NOTE:  we had now been on this crazy kayak trip for almost six hours and were getting desperate!

We started along the four wheeler trail towards the road, somewhat relieved that the end of this trip could be near, although we had to still get the kayaks to the road.  Oh, I should note that as we walked along this trail there were several piles of wolf dung!  YIKES!  We reached the road and started walking in the direction we thought the bridge might be to get the truck (I'm sure we were a sight in our wet kayaking clothes and I had a wet blanket wrapped around my legs).  As we walked we all looked to the right because Homie had pointed out that there was a farmer standing outside and wondered if we should bother to ask if we were going the right way.  Well, Todd stopped to look at the farmer, Coleen looked at the farmer but kept walking and ran right into the back of her husband.  I was delirious by this time and couldn't stop laughing.  He was irritated, she had whiplash, what else could happen?

Well, glad you asked.  The farmer informed us that it would have taken us another two hours to get to the bridge by the river because it was so low and didn't we know people don't usually kayak down it at this time of the year for that very reason.  Obviously not!  He gave Homie a ride to the bridge to get the truck and we made the horribly bad decision to go to the Pequaywan Inn to get the other truck and have a drink before we walked back in to the Pequaywan Boys hunting shack to get the kayaks.  BAD IDEA!  Since we were physically exhausted, dehydrated and starving guess who got drunk within five minutes of sucking down her drink.  Yup, ME!  UGH!

We went back to the four wheeler trail, trekked a little unsteady (oh wait, that was me) through the wolf dung and got our kayaks.  I thanked Coleen for the suggestion of the kayak trip because I never would have done the psychically demanding exercise I did for over six hours otherwise.

Does anyone know any of the Pequaywan Boys?  I want to thank them for having a short dock on the river, it literally saved us.  I wanted them to know we walked through their property and bless them, otherwise we would have been on the river another two hours or overnight!  If you do know one of them (I hear there's several), please email or facebook me.

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