But on the plus side the river is very beautiful and feels very remote. Every day we see tons of wildlife including dozens of bald eagles that were almost extinct several years ago but are widespread in this part of Minnesota. The have an impressive wing span and build even more impressive huge nests. But we also saw plenty of beavers, otters and deer - plus more and more cows watching us from the shore. The water is surprisingly clear and Brian drinks it without treatment - so far without any ill effects, although I am still treating my water. The only good side of the cold weather is that we do not have any bug problems. I have not seen a single mosquito in 10 days.
Camping has become easier than expected. First we tried to stay at the designated DNR campsites but this has turned out to be a mistake. They are usually located high up on a bank with no or very difficult access. Whether this is intentional or due to erosion I have not been able to figure out. I only know that the few times we tried to stay there turned into a disaster and me almost being in tears. The bank is so steep that you cannot properly beach a kayak and with our foldables being so sensitive it is almost impossible to drag them up. The ground is usually so muddy that you sink in immediately and get stuck. On top of all that the kayaks are so difficult to pack and unpack that the whole process turns into a muddy and slippery nightmare. The campsites themselves do not offer much either beside a picknick bench, a fire ring and a rustic toilet seat. Even the camping area is tiny.
We therefore quickly gave up on these designated campsites and started free camping which turned out to be much more relaxing. We chose the site according to its easy beach access and although I still got stuck in the mud a couple of times things are a lot easier on a flat beach than on a steep bank. And usually it is not difficult to find a bit of flat ground in the woods. Still, our kayaks are covered in mud and look very used. I am daily scratching out the mud and all my clothes are mud spots all over.