Thursday, October 31, 2013

River Rumble '13 - Day 6 (Hudson)

Hudson seemed to have a little trouble with its own identity. It was first called Massey’s Landing, but then named Willow River after being established in 1840. It was then renamed again as Buena Vista, and finally the first mayor petitioned to change the town’s name again to Hudson in 1852 since the bluffs along the St. Croix reminded him of the Hudson River Valley in New York, from which he had migrated. With a population of 12,719 (2010), Hudson is the St. Croix’s second largest city.

After crossing under the Stillwater lift-bridge, we paddled into the harbor at Hudson. We had protected water, a nice sandy beach to land on, and a small park for camping. We had six porta-potties, which was a great luxury after the first night with two. We were on our own for dinner in town, and we scattered out to patronize most of the establishments in town. It was a very relaxing and friendly environment with children playing in the playground, sailboats sailing gently about the harbor on the light breeze, which was also being enjoyed by a number of hot-air balloons.

I just liked this picture.  The long focal length was able to combine
the nearby trees, a flag on a piling in the marina down the harbor, and
the balloon crossing the river from Bayport.  The elements span a
couple miles, but the flag is superimposed on the balloon and framed
by the trees.

One of the fun parts of large paddling groups is the opportunity to meet the wide range of people, from all walks of life, that are attracted to paddling. You have both the chance to share their life and paddling experiences, and pick up paddling tips that will enhance your abilities and your enjoyment of the sport (or philosophy for life, depending in which category you count paddling). For example, I decided to purchase Buddy, my 14-ft. Kevlar Hornbeck, because of meeting Ralph Schroeder, of Quincy, CA, on last year’s River Rumble. Ralph had a Placid Boatworks 15-ft.RapidFire solo canoe, an adaptation of the famous Adirondack pack canoe. Placid Boatworks advertises a finished boat weight of 25-30 pounds. Ralph said his was 25-pounds, and I marveled at every stop how he could just throw his canoe on his shoulder and start up the hill. We all chipped in to help each other get our boats up from the river to a secure area for the night. Ralph would just say, “Thanks, but I’ve got it,“ and off he’d go. We had been back from the Missouri River trip only a few days before I started a search for a lighter pack canoe, a search that led me to the Hornbeck 14. Placid Boatworks has since found new facilities, but at that time had lost their production plant to a fire.

Ralph Schroeder and Maryellen Self at the Hudson park.
I doubt there’s anyone on the Great River Rumble that doesn’t know Maryellen Self. If she doesn’t know you, you’ll see her heading right at you with her arm outstretched as she says, “Hi there. I’m Maryellen. That’s Mary and Ellen, but together as one name. Who are you and where are you from?” Every day she’s a floating Welcome Wagon as she paddles from one end of the fleet to the other so she can talk with as many people as possible.

Michael Anderson passing one of the many bluffs along the St. Croix.
Being back in close quarters for camping, I again appreciated the necessity of earplugs for a good night’s sleep when camping. This night it was a half-dozen women sitting right outside my tent swapping stories and laughing, but as in the past, it could just as easily have been trains, tugboats switching barges, industrial noise, late-night guitarist/singer wannabes, card games, or any number of other distractions. Trust me. Don’t leave home without a good pair, or several good pair, of earplugs. The next morning will look a whole lot rosier after a good night’s rest.

The Hudson park that was our camp for the night.  Our canoes and kayaks
spent the night on a nice sandy beach mere yards from the water's edge.

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