unless you're crazy like us. We were warned about paddling this particular stretch of river, but the latest update was from 2001 and we wanted to see if it was doable. My friend Brent and I have been scouting the river the past couple weekends from different bridges and short forays into the woods and, from what we could see, the river was beautiful and required paddling. We also saw no evidence of deadfall or log jams. Mind you, we couldn't tell what it was like in the State Game area because there are no access roads and, although we figured there might be a few portages, we've paddled tough rivers before and 'we ain't skeered' of the occasional carry over. I think my friends and I are pretty hardcore paddlers and since we're willing to put ourselves through all sorts of paddling shenanigans, we decided to run the upper stretch of the White River from White Cloud to M-20. heh heh heh.....
Brent and I went up early to scout a couple more take out spots. Baldwin Bridge didn't seem like a long enough trip so we went one further and found the park at M-20. Perfect...not too far...not too short.
This is one of the sites we scouted, for next time.
Early morning has the best light for pictures and since that's what we like to do....
Here's our put in site. We thought the boils might be a fun place to play around when the water gets warmer. No sense risking a soaking in April.
Our first leg took an hour and 15 minutes - lots of riffles, fish, clear water, sunny and crisp. This river is beautiful - and no one paddles this? Wow! Have we found our new favorite river?
And look how blue that sky is. We never saw a cloud the whole day.
We came to this bridge thinking it was Baldwin Bridge and we were ever so grateful that we decided to go to M-20. We stopped for lunch and kept marveling at our good fortune in paddling this stretch. Yeah, and then all hell broke lose.
SIX hours and 20 portages later - we finally came across the real Baldwin Bridge. Holy crap! We counted 7 and Karen said if we hit 10 portages then Brent buys lunch. Lunch! And then we hit 10....then we hit 15....then I turned to Karen and said, "here comes 17," and she just rolled her eyes. No less than 20 portages and that doesn't count the ones where we simply refused to get out of our boats and bashed and bounced our way over log jams. We pushed and pulled and hauled and dragged our boats through the woods. Not just around the occasional log across the river. No, this river is C.L.O.G.G.E.D. with trees and deadfall and log jams. It was hard and exhausting work and today I am sore from my fingertips to the bottoms of my feet. We maintained our sense of humor and good spirits for the most part. We had to. There was nothing we could do except keep going because there was NO place to get off the river. (We talked about that before getting on though.)
I think these are some sort of pitcher plant and I swear they opened up as the day progressed. They were everywhere and we had plenty of opportunity to look at them on our woodsy treks.
Oh, and may I just say that every one of us was soooo wishing we had spotted a car at Baldwin Bridge. I can't say we enjoyed the last 45 minutes to M-20 because we just wanted off the river at that point. It was starting to get cold and windy and we sort of wondered if we were going to make it before dark. We did - with plenty of time to spare.
Still, this picture speaks volumes to me and is exactly the reason we paddle. I'm happy we paddled this stretch of the White....but we won't be going this way again. Well, maybe the stretch up to the first bridge. It really was beautiful and I'm sure we'll have plenty more exploratory paddles in the future, but not too soon. I need to recover from this trip.
Update: Sounds like we're paddling to an island this weekend for camping. My 5 y/o grandson is coming along. Ooooh, now how am I supposed to work when I'm excited about the weekend?