May 30, 2010–St. Paul, MN

A beautiful day on the river, though without benefit of a good current due to the dams.  Continued to pass luxurious homes along the banks.  Made our final portage around 10am, and was much relieved to know I will no longer be made to lug my 200lbs-plus boat and equipment around these impressive structures.

Soon Minneapolis’ skyline of towering buildings loomed on the horizon, giving me a sense of excitement and a goal for which to paddle onward towards.  Passed the trappings of industry—a coal plant, lumber yard, power station.  As I approached the massive St. Anthony’s Falls I headed right, into the northernmost lock on the river.  A flashing green light indicated it was safe to enter, so I paddled within the confines of a long concrete and steel box.  The lockmaster indicated for me to hang onto a rope which hung from a large piston on the wall.  The massive steel doors through which I entered slowly drew closed behind me, and the water level began to drop.  Presently, I was 40 to 60 feet down in this box.  The doors behind me resembling a toothy steel maw, clenched shut, though some cloudy silty water poured forth from the bottom.  It was with some apprehension that I contemplated the vast volume of river water which was held back, now towering 60 feet above me.  Then, the doors before me slowly pulled open and a horn sounded, whereupon I made my exit back to the river.  Before day’s end this process would be repeated two more times.

Passed under a great many bridges in town: streets, railroad, highways, some recently constructed and some historic.  The channel is now maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers to a depth of nine feet, and indicated by a series of red and green buoys, which gives me a great sense of comfort for I now no longer need worry for the safety of my boat and its mechanics being damaged on rocks or snags.  Between Minneapolis and St. Paul, the banks became wooded again, and it was here I found a private marina where I arranged for keeping of my boat whilst in town.  I now have several days to arrange for repairs, re-supplies, and to explore the city.

Day 16: 34 miles, 1 Portage, 3 Locks


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