Climate Change and Fall Kayaking in Minnesota

With the COP26 starting yesterday in Glasgow, Scotland I think each of us that write about nature and our passions with it owe our readers how climate change is effecting our world.


A Minnesota conifer suffering from the summer drought conditions.

What will the next generations see?

Will they be able to enjoy the natural world, the healing properties of being outside, the variety of flora and fauna that currently exists?

Will the next generations only be able to read blogs like mine and others about how the natural world was before the great climate disaster?

Brown grass in this normally lush marsh area in Carlton County

I hope there is still time to stop the fast changes we are seeing and experiencing. We have made it a personal project here at The Cedar Journal to reduce our footprint. A difficult task since Hubby works and earns his living from the airlines.

How can we do better?

We struggle each day to limit our plastic consumption (mainly because I hate seeing the crap floating in our waters around the world!).

What more can we as individuals do to improve our own individual surroundings to help limit the bigger global climate changes?

This question I ask each of my readers to consider and make changes where you can.

We (the Hubby and I) came to the conclusion that governments and big business must be part of the answer! Consumers can do only so much. Large companies must find a profitable way to stop or limit the production of goods from fossil fuels.

I thought about climate this fall during my trip to Minnesota more than I ever have before. The signs of the Minnesota summer drought were everywhere. Dry grass, tree tops that were brown, rivers that were dry rock beds with puddles that trapped fish and lacked the flow that provides oxygen to those fish. Yes, dead fish floating in those puddles.

A local field that was very dry.

When I was on my last paddle of my vacation in the Portage River, one of the inlet rivers that feeds the Moosehead Lake at Moose Lake, Minnesota, I witnessed drought damage to conifer trees. Needles brown.

The Moosehorn River system around Moose Lake, Minnesota

A friend (Kate) and I had decided to enjoy the last day on the water before my flight back to The Netherlands.

It was cool and windy but it wasn’t going to stop us from enjoying what little time we had left before I flew out of Duluth.

Kate is one of my oldest friends. She purchased my old Happy 4th blue 8 foot Otter kayak from me when I upgraded several years ago. I provided me many years of service and now recycled to a new owner, it has had many hours of enjoyment to Kate. This was the first time would kayak together. It made me happy seeing my two old friends (Kate and The Happy 4th) on the water paddling with me and my newer kayak.

Paddling on the Moosehead Lake. Kate is paddling my former kayak, The Happy 4th.

We arrived at the Moose Lake boat launch and unloaded out kayaks. I mentally noted how nice it was to have help getting my 12 foot kayak down to the water. Mostly it is a challenge and each year that passes I find it more so. Since it has been two years since my Minnesota kayak has floated on the water I felt it also got heavier from being in storage… Is that possible?

We slid into the water and paddled across the slightly choppy lake to the Moose Horn River inlet. This is the river that feeds the Moosehead Lake from the North passing through Big Hanging Horn Lake on its journey towards the Kettle River and then into the St Croix River.

The inlet of the Moose Horn River.

The inlet into the Moose Horn River was weedy and low but to our surprise there were hundreds of migrating geese hiding and feeding in the shallows. The water exploded with the flight of birds. Kate was able to capture the shot as they lifted off the water in a noisy fury. Two kayakers was two, too many, for these geese!

Migratory Canada geese taking off.

We paddled our way towards the Portage River inlet. This is one part of the Moosehead Lake I have never explored. New to Kate too. The wide inlet seemed still as glass as we paddled, protected from the wind blowing across the Moosehead, we now floated more than paddled along our route.

Kate capturing nature from her kayak on the Portage River.

I always like floating or paddling on these sort of river routes. Most are rarely paddled and feel remote. The Portage River has this feel although we could hear the constant I35 traffic that speeds North and South, less than a mile away as we paddled.

Slowly paddling the Portage River.

As we paddled we took notice of the world along the river shoreline. A house here and there, a sawmill that neither of us knew about. Then a curve in the river, brought again isolation and natural surroundings.

Another curve brought a surprise beaver dam that extended the width of the river. I slowly paddled up to check out if we could just paddle over the top and continue up river. I suggested we not attempt. We turned our boats back the way we came.

As I checked out the beaver dam across the Portage River, Kate captured a picture of me in my kayak.

My hope is that these special moments can continue to be shared with friends and family without the fear of extreme climate changes. That the generations that come after us will also find moments to share with friends in nature.

These moments are rare, when old friends can share a common experience. This was a priceless moment spent on a Northern Minnesota waterway.

The moment is now world leaders, big corporations, mining of fossil fuel companies, what future will you give humanity?

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