Week 2: Seven days, Aitkin to Minneapolis / St. Paul
- Started at mile 1,059 (Aitkin Campgrounds). Ended at mile 839 (St. Paul, MN - Lilydale Park)
- Miles: 220
- Average: 27.5 per day
- Points of Interest: Brainerd, Camp Ripley, Little Falls, St. Cloud, Anoka, Coon Rapids, Minneapolis, Fort Snelling State Park, St. Paul
On day seven, we finally made it to Minneapolis. Having accomplished our first major goal, a sense of accomplishment overwhelmed us. To make things even better, our campsite was on an awesome island with a perfect view of the cityscape. Our friend Bryon met us on the riverbank and we brought him with us to hang out on our campsite. The next day, we canoed to St. Paul where we were picked up, bringing an end to this part of our journey.
Notes from Week 2
- ALWAYS WEAR YOUR LIFEJACKET
Yes, we initially laughed off this important piece of advice, but having found ourselves in some fairly dangerous situations on the river, we would NEVER go on the water without a lifejacket. Even in the Upper Mississippi, wearing a lifejacket is a must. Seriously.
- Don't bring a fishing rod
You won't use it... I promise.
- Test your gear beforehand and figure out what you DON'T need
It takes anywhere from 60-90 days to canoe down the entire Mississippi River. This far too much time to spend with faulty and/or useless gear. Our first trip to Aitkin taught us the importance of having a high quality tent, waterproof bags, and a minimal amount of gear. Spending a few days on the river prior to committing to a several-week trip will give you a better idea of which gear to bring.
- Having maps is still important
Yes, the river is now bigger, more direct in its path, and less swamplike, but getting lost is still a possibility. The Minnesota DNR provides AWESOME maps for the Minnesota portion of the upper river and they are especially useful when it comes to finding camping sites. Best of all, they're free when you order them online.
- If you're not confident in your canoe skills by the time you reach Minneapolis, reconsider your trip
The river's first 450+ miles are perfect for developing one's canoe skills, but the river quickly becomes more dangerous. After Minneapolis, tug boats, barges, and forms of industry will increase in numbers and passing through the 29 lock and dams on the river will also become a necessity. If you've reached this point in the river but you're still not confident in your canoeing skills, you should put serious consideration into the continuation of your trip due to the increasing dangers found downriver.