Dead Cold Revisited

With ice-out in progress, the Friends of the Boundary Waters wanted to remind everyone of the danger of cold water. They’ve republished my story from the Star Tribune about a near-miss I had on the Mississippi. It’s a story of just how how fast cold water can turn deadly:

Dead Cold – A spring paddle that nearly turned fatal

The sky was still dark on a Sunday morning a year ago when I set my new solo canoe on the surface of the Mississippi River. I’d been thinking about this moment for years, dreaming of all the places I could paddle once I got this boat. Now, I was finally ready to launch on its maiden voyage.

I strapped my drybag onto the crossbar, waded into the river in my rubber boots, just north of the Ford Parkway Bridge between Minneapolis and St. Paul. I slid the boat out. When I stepped in, I noticed that it felt unsteadier than boats I was used to. Then I sat down, started paddling and forgot about it.

Spring had come early. The temperature the week before had been in the 70s, and the snow and cold felt like a distant memory, even though a week or so before, ice floes had drifted past here. I knew the water was cold, but that seemed like more of an inconvenience than a threat. Besides, after the first pandemic winter, I was desperate to get outside.

The sun was rising. I paddled up the “gorge” section of the Mississippi, which runs between the high banks of the Twin Cities, with hills — cliffs, almost — on either side. To the east side, an owl called. From the west, another answered. I was in the middle of the city, but also very far from it.

If you haven’t already, you can read the rest here.