Lake Pepin or Bust

Day 6 : Sept 11 — No place within walking distance for breakfast so I make do with the little coffee maker in the roo m and some instant oat meal from my stash.

The water gods smile upon me. After a choppy paddle yesterday, this morning is bright and beautiful. Not a cloud in the sky and only a breeze. If it stays like this I am good.

I am launching from Colville Park just South of Red Wing and about a mile above Lake Pepin. After a breakfast of instant oat meal and hotel room coffe brew I am ready to get on the water.

Morning ritual of setting up the boat

About a half hour to set up the boat

And I am off at 8:50 AM. By 1:00 I have covered 8 miles and no problems. Picture below is a picture of Lake Pepin on the North end and a barge passing on the north end of the lake.

I reach HoSiLa park which is about 10 mile down the lake when the trouble starts wind has picked up steadily through the morning and is now about 12 mph from the South with gust up to 18 mph.

The water from the park and south is white caps ad turbulent. The water gods are going to make this tough.

I land and rest and look for a exit point to portage concerned about the water conditions. Finding no portage point but feeling rested I zip up my life jacket and decide to go for it.

Over the next 2.5 hours I only cover 2.5 miles. That is an average of 1 mph far from my average of 3.5 mph. I am completely exhausted and land the kayak at a park (Maiden Rock) on the Minnesota side of the river.

I have had to paddle at 100 percent for the last couple of hours and am exhausted. I take some time to rest and make reservations at the end of the lake in a little spot called Reads Landing at a BnB called American Eagle Bluff Bed and Breakfast.

It is already 3 in the afternoon and i am way beind schedule. I decide walking is faster than paddling and the waves on the lake are just too high.

I deflate the boat and pack up and start walking down highway 61. After 2 more miles with 75 lbs of gear in towI am getting tired and the water appears to have calmed down.

So I get off the highway at inflate the boat and take off. All goes well for about 2 miles until I get out beyond the protection of the cove I am in.

At that point the wind is still steady at 12 mph with gusts up to 16. I go another 2 miles in 2 hours in extremely choppy water and finally make it to shore at Lake City and decide to hitch to the next town.

The water gods have beat me to a pulp. I am in Lake City on the Minnesota side of Lake Pepin still miles away from my stopping point at the end of Lake Pepin. It is now 5 in the afternoon and options are limited.

Once again two new guardian angels come to my rescue.

I am fortunate enough to get a ride with Mike and his wife Danny (and their two border collies) to the next little town of Reads Landing at the end of Lake Pepin. They drop me off and I meet Perry and Reynard (the owers of American Eagle Bluff Bed and Breakfast) who check me in for the evening. Perry gives me a ride from their house on Rt 61 to the top of the bluff to the house they have renovated for the BnB. It is stunning. It may be the prettiest spot on the whole Mississippi River.

Below is the view of the Mississippi River from the property.

Above is the view of the Chippewa River which joins the Mississippi at Reads Landing.

I stash my gear and Perry give me a ride back down thw bluff to the Reads Landing Brewing Company so I can get some dinner before it closes. It is already 8:00 PM and I am exhausted and hungry.

I walk in and find Mike and Danny (my new found guardian angels) sitting at the bar finishing dinner. They had decided to stop and eat before heading back to Verona Wisconsin. I order dinner and am in great company for the rest of the evening. They drop me back at the house take a quick tour and are on their way. I give them a quick tour of this beautiful place.

We say our goodbyes. I shower and I think I was asleep before my head hits the pillow.

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