Author - Brian Pfeifer

Guide Series: Seeking Solitude on the Beaver River – Part 1

One of the great things about being a guide is that we get to meet people from all walks of life. More often than not, we’re giving people their very first experience with whitewater. This is a really special thing–getting to see people overcome their fears in the first couple of rapids, whooping and hollering through the next couple, and finally pure joy while riding the roller coaster wave train through the last one. Through the day we get the opportunity to teach some paddling basics, perhaps gently encourage the few anxious souls, maybe answer a few questions out of left field, and just generally get to know our customers a little bit. The social aspect of rafting is one of the biggest draws for people simply because it’s so much fun and you get to share that with friends all at once.

Every once in awhile though, we all need a break. No matter how you make a living, you probably have some way of stepping back, slowing down, and regrouping. For me, it’s kayaking. Big surprise! You’d think that spending time on the water would be near the bottom of the list for someone who spends almost 7 days a week guiding raft trips but kayaking with a few friends is an entirely different experience. The scenery on the St. Louis river is exceptional and the rapids fun, however when we get a day off it’s time to head elsewhere. Usually someplace challenging and beautiful all at the same time. Minnesota is home to some world class whitewater. Most people pass over a river while driving on Hwy 61 and might hop out to take a picture of a scenic falls. These are nice pictures, sure, but we know them differently, more intimately. Slipping through narrow canyons, charging through big rapids hidden from view to all but the few boaters willing to explore. These are the places I strive to find. These are places thoroughly disconnected from civilization. It’s just you, and the river. If you’re willing to put yourself in these places you’ll be free to experience the laws of nature in their raw form. Water, gravity, and rocks. It’s that simple. There’s no judgement, no rules, no time clock, no boss. You’ll find challenges both physical and mental, but the rewards are beyond measure. Most paddlers I know have their own personal reasons for pursuing these experiences and what they take away from a day on the river is different for each person. I suspect one common theme however is the concept of doing something real. Our day to day lives are spent making decisions about what to wear, what to eat, what to watch, but none of those decisions have real, immediate consequences. Kayaking difficult whitewater has it’s risks, but without them it wouldn’t really mean that much.

It may seem odd to title these posts “Seeking Solitude” and proceed to tell stories about paddling with friends, but that’s one of the beautiful things about kayaking. It’s both a solo and group sport all at once. You can be out with your friends on the river, but they can’t do much (Physically speaking. They can definitely help when your mental game is suffering!) to help get you to the bottom of the run. So stay tuned to hear about some adventures finding solitude with good friends on the beautiful rivers of Minnesota.


Capturing Your Duluth Whitewater Experience

Swiftwater Adventures

Whitewater rafting isn’t the first thing to pop into your mind when you picture Duluth, Minnesota. Most people expect to see canal park, a few ore boats, and be on their way. They don’t realize that there’s world class whitewater waiting just 15 minutes south of town! At Swiftwater Adventures we provide a fully guided experience from start to finish. This also includes a photographer who specializes in capturing the thrill and excitement of your trip so that you’ll always picture whitewater when you think of us here in Duluth.

Safety is always our number one priority, with fun coming in a close second. Part of that fun is being able to share the awesome memories made rafting with your friends and family. Or if you just want to brag about all the big rapids you crashed through, that’s OK too (the guides know the truth about how you laid on the floor of the raft in fetal position most of the time but we know how to keep those secrets). Our photographer scouts out the best angles to shoot from depending on the water levels and time of day to ensure that the best action of the day is captured, and that you look good while doing it! There are also opportunities to have a group photo taken while we break halfway through the trip.

After the trip you can relax inside the River Inn (right next door to our building) with food and drinks while we show all the photos we took. If you’re up in the air about sticking around for it, I can say that no one ever regrets it. Usually there are some funny faces and great action. The guides may even jump in to help point out those awkward moments but it’s all in good fun. You’ll get to relive the big rapids, but often the most fun are the pictures from when we turn the rafts upstream and “surf” a river wave. This usually results in lots of big splashes coming over the front of the boat and some great facial expressions–especially when that first big one crashes over you.

Many people choose to simply enjoy the photo show, but others may be interested in purchasing pictures afterwards as well. Our pictures are taken by an experienced photographer with top notch equipment so that if you decide to take photos home with you, they’ll be the kind of high quality pictures you blow up and hang on the wall. Our pricing is also extremely competitive. In fact, we charge about half compared to most other companies around the country. We simply feel that it’s important for you to document something that’s out of the ordinary for most people, yet so much fun. We have pricing on a per pictures basis or a fixed price for all of the photos from the trip. Feel free to ask any of the guides or photographer for details.

Of course, you’re always welcome to bring your own camera along, and you’re NEVER under any obligation to buy photos. Heck, you can even ask the photographer to take a group shot with your camera and he’ll be more than happy to do it. We just know that after a great experience whitewater rafting with us, you’ll want to remember it for a lifetime.


What to Wear Whitewater Rafting on the St. louis River

What to wear on a rafting trip with us is a question we get a lot. As we all know, weather in the great state of Minnesota can be somewhat unpredictable. Even with a forecast of a 90 degree day it’s still a good idea to have a backup plan in case things don’t turn out according to plan.

Typically during our early season–May and June–the weather is cool and the water cold. Even if the air temperature is in the high 60’s the water may not be much above 40 degrees. If you’re visiting us during this time we’ve got you covered with our complimentary splash gear to help keep you dry. You’ll still need to keep warm underneath though! For that we recommend layers of synthetic clothing such as Under Armour© or fleece. Avoid wearing any substantial amount of cotton as it easily draws heat away from your body if it becomes wet.

During the rest of the summer we often expect long stretches of warm weather, however that can always change quickly being so close to Lake Superior. Typically, a swimsuit is all people wear underneath their life jacket when the temps are high. However, a cold air mass or rain storm can blow in with little warning so it’s important to have some extra layers (again, synthetic) around just in case. A rain jacket is also a great thing to have around because sometimes it’s just the right amount of protection without being too warm, and you can always take it off (or start a water fight) if you get too hot.

Towards the end of our season (September/October) it’s often mild but it’s still a good idea to pack some extra layers just in case. The water is usually starting to cool down and even warm days are getting shorter and colder.

Footwear is also important at any time of the year. We’ll be getting in and out of the rafts and hiking around so you’ll want something that has laces or velcro straps and won’t fall off easily. The river is full of sharp rocks that are no fun to step on after you lose a shoe in the water.

To recap, it’s Minnesota. So wear a swimsuit, but pack some warm synthetic clothing just in case. Even in July.