On July 5 - 7, Wild River Academy led out our first annual Women's Weekend trip on the Minnesota River. Starting at Moonstone Farm on Friday afternoon, the group toured the farm then spent a lazy afternoon swimming at the pond, soaking up the good weather, and enjoying the company of each other and our hosts. On the way back to the kitchen house, we picked some milkweed and kale, and enjoyed milkweed tempura and sauteed kale for dinner. They only ever add a few ingredients to the food at Moonstone, but it is always incredibly delicious. Audrey and Richard shared their experiences living on the farm, and then we wrapped up the evening hanging out around a fire.
On Saturday morning, we met more participants that joined us for the day at Vicksburg County Park. It was a beautiful day, and it was a lot of fun to meet new folks. Some of the paddlers lived in the area, so it was a great opportunity to explore familiar territory from a different perspective. And it was fun for the out-of-towners and the guides to hear new stories about the River.
We bid adieu to our visitors with hugs, and continued on our way. We camped that evening north of Redwood Falls, at a site that is only accessible by canoe. A pre-dinner mini hike revealed a great view of the river. After lentil soup and biscuits, we had an awesome conversation that spanned many topics and provoked lots of thoughts. Multiple generations were represented in the group, and it was a unique opportunity to spend unstructured and relaxed time together and share about our experiences. After some chocolate for dessert (I think everyone who came was prepared with their own supply :D) and a little "Old Maid" to wind down, we called it a night.
The next morning we canoed out of camp like pros and enjoyed our last few hours on the river. Yoga poses made us limber for the car ride home, and then we headed back to the cities. What a trip! It was a delightful, informative, and memorable way to spend a weekend. We can't wait for Women's Weekend 2014!
Here are some testimonials straight from the canoeists!
I participated in Wild River Academy Women's Weekend a few weeks ago as an early birthday gift from my mother-in-law. We were only able to join the group on one stretch of their trip, a day of canoeing on the Minnesota River between the Delhi area and Redwood Falls, about 12 miles. I was excited but a bit unsure of my canoeing abilities. I quickly realized I had nothing to fear as the group paddled one of the most beautiful stretches of river I have been on. Experienced paddlers teamed up with less experienced to create a stress-free, educational atmosphere. Along the way we say gorgeous rock formations and many river dwelling birds and wildlife. I left the group as we reached Redwood Falls wishing I would have signed up for the entire weekend, and leaving behind a new group of friends.
A week later was my actual birthday. My gift from my family was a shiny red canoe. The next day my husband, twelve-year-old son, eight-year-old daughter and I canoed the same length of river I had fallen in love with the week before. I confidently paddled down the river, pointing out things I had seen the last time. My family fell in love with the trip as quickly as I had. We are now planning a weekend trip later this summer. I am so thankful that I went on this weekend hosted by Wild River Academy and hope to join them again in the future.
I had a wonderful time on our canoe trip this July. The paddling was fabulous, but I was especially happy to meet everyone on the trip. The instruction and support that the instructors gave to each paddler, no matter the level of experience, was impressive. They were patient and willing to teach, if that is what someone wanted, without giving too much information. I learned that I like to paddle in the stern!
I also appreciate the relationships that Wild River Academy has developed along the river. I had thought of the Minnesota River as a polluted river because of agricultural runoff, but did not realize the clean up efforts that are underway. Thanks for changing my perspective. The part of the river that we were on was especially beautiful. I am also hopeful that campsites will be maintained and improved because of WRA's efforts to bring awareness to this river. (I was amazed that we didn't see any other canoes or kayaks.)
And of course, it was really fun for me to reconnect with Moonstone Farm, and to see that Audrey and Richard are still doing wonderful work as permaculture farmers and land stewards. It was a short trip, but because of all the different parts of the journey, I really felt like we got away, and got to know each other pretty well. Let's do it again!