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Photo: Cold weather kayaking

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“Spring” 2018

After about 20 minutes of hard paddling, my glasses began to fog up, obscuring the swift water. The kayak’s nose was a red blur in front of me with two smaller red blurs cycling on either side of me, my paddle blades trying to keep up with the current.

The plan had been to put in at the park and head upstream under the railroad bridge and then play around just below the dam in a relaxing fashion before drifting back down to the ramp. But just after launching, I realized how quick the water was moving, and the fight was on.

It was early in the morning, and everyone was at home asleep. It was cold, overcast windy. Ice formations clung to the rail bridge piers. 

It was spring break in the Midwest. Time to get out and enjoy kayaking.
In light snow.
 

There is a certain amount of dread that creeps in when you strain to push against the current and after several minutes, you glance to the side and see the shore and notice that with all your work you are only holding ground — like a big water sports treadmill.

After inching past the rail bridge, I cut to the right bank where I spotted a small cove with calm water. A wave washed into the cockpit, the icy water freezing my hip numb. So much for my plan to stay dry.

I slowly inched across, mindful of the strainer — a large toppled tree with all of its branches intact hanging in the water — immediately downstream. If I collided with the strainer, I would likely be knocked from the boat, forced underwater and held down by the power of the water rushing through the branches.

A flock of geese watched me drift into the cove exhausted. They flapped around and walked over to the bank as I landed on a sandbar.  

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Photo: River ice

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Photo: Lunch with the eagles 

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(c)2019 J.S.Reinitz

Bald eagles feasting on fish on an ice shelf in the Cedar River. Crows waiting for the leftover scraps. (c)2019 J.S.Reinitz  .

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(c)2019 J.S.Reinitz

Trip shot: Descending Seven Falls

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View of the lodge while descending steep stairs at Seven Falls.

 

June 2017, Colorado Springs area

For those who are interested, there are 224 steep steps leading up the 181 feet from the base of Colorado’s Seven Falls to the top.

That doesn’t count the .8 mile hike from the park’s entrance — through the canyon, along the creek — to the base. And once you get to the top of the waterfalls, once you get past the 224 steps, there is another mile of trails to explore, leading to a fantastic overlook.

My kind of place. I could spend an entire day here.

Other things to consider:

— Plenty of options for refreshments along the way, and there is a restaurant at the base.

— Parking (free) is at the Broadmoor resort five miles away with shuttle service (also free) to the entrance.

— Sign at the shelter above the falls warns of bears.

— Keep your ticket ($14 in 2018 currency) and return at night when the falls are illuminated with lights.

— For those who aren’t in to steps, there is an elevator from the base to one of the overlooks.

 

 

Trip shot: Tower memories

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(c)2016 J.S.Reinitz

 
Memory is a strange thing. 

My parents took us to the Devil’s Tower when I was in junior high school as part of a cross-country trip from the Midwest to the Pacific Ocean. And for decades, I have carried this memory of arriving at the park toward the end of the day, parking and walking around the tower, climbing on the scree, learning about the Native American significance of the site and the story about the bear’s claw marks. And driving off to camp elsewhere.

 So in 2016, as I was dragging my own kids, and my wife and my mother across the west, we took the right turn after Sundance to see the tower. And everything was different from how I remembered it. Not just the a few different roads and additional buildings that could be explained by normal development in the interceding years. The topography and layout around the site was totally different from my memory, stuff that couldn’t have changed. 

It must have been the memory that was wrong all this time. We did visit the tower all those years ago, but I just didn’t remember it right. I have been thinking back trying to find where this false recollection came from, and so far I have come up empty.

Even so, it was good to explore the tower again and make new memories with my family.

Everyday carry: Pocket pouch

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Vanquest Husky with loadout.

https://everydaycarry.com/posts/21716?embed=frame&view=list

Here is a quick look at the EDC pouch I keep in my all-purpose Swiss Gear 2-liter Dash Pack — 

Pouch: Vanquest Husky EDC Maximizer — plenty of room. I like the orange interior fabric, makes the items stand out, easy to find. Elastic bands keep everything in place.

Kershaw Shuffle 2 folding knife — a robust blade with a screwdriver/pry tool pomel and a bottle opener.

Gerber Tempo flashlight — durable, single battery, LED gives good light. 

Mini Bic lighter — always dependable.

Gerber Dime multi tool — plyers and a few other tools in a small package.

iPod 4th Gen with Otterbox case

Zebra F-701 pen — a solid pen.

Button compass

Piccadilly Pocket memo book — plenty of pages.

Bandage carrier

Lens cloth

Photo: Shadows

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Fishing trips aren’t good for catching fish when the river is out of its banks and sweeping past your campsite.

But as long as the current doesn’t start lapping at your RV, the outings are still good for catching up with family, relaxing with a beer and frying up some fish that your wife’s uncles had frozen from an earlier excursion.

So went last fall’s annual get-together on the shores of the Iowa River. Each year, the wife’s father and uncles and cousins carve out a weekend for casting sinkers monofilament and hooks and worms into the murky water and reeling out whatever bites. That summer was the first time women folk were included, and it just happened to be the first time I had the time and the ambition — not being a fish eater and not much of a fish catcher — to attend.

It was also the first time I realized the site was only about 90 minutes away from home. And it just happened to coincide with what Midwesterners call flood-nado season.

My teenage son and his friend soon got bored of casting into the rushing river from the shore and began to make noise about taking out the uncle’s flat bottom jon boat that sat dry docked on a trailer in camp. It was obvious the boat’s motor wouldn’t be able to keep up with the current. Or it should have been obvious.

After my son attempted to argue for a boat ride a few more times, it was time to teach him to art of reading the scene.

“These guy have been fishing since before you were born, heck, since before I was born,” I told him. “They didn’t haul the boat all the way up here to park it in the campground. They want to take it out. Really bad. But they know the water. And if they aren’t launching the boat, you know there is a good reason. How about we walk grandpa’s dog.”

I had seen an old corn crim a bit downstream, and the in-laws assured me the farmer wouldn’t mind. But you never really know. We set out with cocker spaniel, working our way around the mud puddles in the dirt road before we came to the building. 

It was empty, save a rusty filing cabinet and a few spent shotgun shells scattered about. My son and his buddy scaled the ladder to explore the upper level while I looked after the dog. A few minutes later they emerged having discovered a mannequin that someone had blasted with a shotgun.

Maybe not the most wholesome thing to stumble upon, but it beats getting washed down the river.

 

Two sentenced for harassing baby panthers 

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Two men have been sentenced for snagging panther babies from their den and sharing the experience on social media. Below is a recap from the Department of Justice.

Florida panther. Photo courtesy US Fish and Wildlife

Fort Myers, FL – On December 27, 2018, U.S. Magistrate Judge Carol Mirando sentenced Javier Torres (42, Miami) to 14 days’ imprisonment for harassing two endangered Florida panther kittens. 

The court also ordered Torres to pay a $1,000 fine, and sentenced him to complete 200 hours of community service and to serve three years’ probation. On December 18, 2018, Judge Mirando sentenced Alfredo Lopez de Queralta (46, Miami) to complete 100 hours of community service and serve two years’ probation in connection with the same incident. Both men previously pleaded guilty on September 12, 2018. 

According to court documents, in February 2017, Torres crawled into a Florida panther den in the Big Cypress National Preserve in Collier County and unlawfully removed two panther kittens. Lopez de Queralta filmed Torres as he displayed the kittens for the camera. Later, Lopez de Queralta uploaded and shared segments of the video on YouTube.

Florida panthers are considered to be among the most critically endangered large mammal species in the world, and experts estimate fewer than 200 Florida panthers are alive today.

Storm Lake Sunset

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A full day in trial and a four-hour drive home in freezing temps at the end of a Friday. Part way through the journey, I cut through Storm Lake. I had never been there but wanted to take a look, even though it was iced over and barren.

Just as I turned onto the lakeside road, the sun began to slip behind the horizon, the skyline erupting in colored brilliance. I turned around in the parking lot of the Sail Inn Motel, pulled over on the road and wrestled my work camera from its bag.

After stepping into the wind, I fired off a frame and realized the camera was still set for the interior of a dark courtroom. The image was washed out. I quickly re-metered and resumed shooting. One frame, and the sun was a sliver peeking out from trees on the distant shore. Another frame, the sun was a thinner sliver and gone on the third frame.
A lot of things in life involve just the right timing.

Photo: Foggy bridge

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After heavy show and record low temperatures, a swing to 40 degrees F floods the area with fog. (C) 2019 J.S.Reinitz

 

Video: Winter driving

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Photo: Winter hike

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