Bor­der cruis­ing

A vast liq­uid ecosys­tem carves the line between Min­nesota and Wis­con­sin. Take a drive (or float) to the small towns, big views and nat­u­ral won­ders of the Up­per Mis­sis­sippi.

Midwest Living - - Journey -

HEN YOU CROSS A DOWNED TREE in the Mis­sis­sippi back­wa­ters, you have two choices: Go back where you came from or clam­ber over it—kayak and all. My in­cli­na­tion, fac­ing such an ob­sta­cle, is to turn back. My skip­per, Michael An­der­son of Bro­ken Pad­dle Guid­ing, has an­other idea. With deft ma­neu­ver­ing on his part, and wob­bly-kneed stum­bling on mine, we hoist our­selves out of our kayaks, haul body and boat over the dead tree, and con­tinue down the sun­dap­pled back chan­nels of Ol’ Man River. Bro­ken Pad­dle is head­quar­tered in Wabasha, Min­nesota, but we launched our kayaks across the river, just south of Pepin, Wis­con­sin. A few hours into the trip, we’ve nav­i­gated 6 miles of en­chanted flooded for­est. Our route is part of the 261-mile Up­per Mis­sis­sippi River Na­tional Wildlife and Fish Refuge, eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble via the Great River Road. This na­tional scenic by­way traces the Mighty Mis­sis­sippi from its head­wa­ters in north­ern Min­nesota down to the Gulf of Mex­ico. Hun­dreds of charm­ing river towns dot­ted with hole-in-the-wall bars, bar­be­cue joints, and neo-vic­to­rian bed-and-break­fasts line the route. My own three-day road trip cov­ers 120 miles, criss­cross­ing three bridges join­ing

Bro­ken Pad­dle Guid­ing’s Flooded For­est Tour im­merses pad­dlers in the habi­tat of the Up­per Mis­sis­sippi. Based in Wabasha, Min­nesota, the out­fit­ter also of­fers a rap­tor trip (ad­mis­sion to the Na­tional Ea­gle Cen­ter in­cluded) and a sun­set ex­cur­sion that ends at a lo­cal brew­ery.

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