Author - Cliff Langley

Swiftwater’s Commitment to Excellence

With another season on tap, we just wanted to share with our customers our commitment to excellence. Now, don’t get me wrong, we aren’t perfect or is every trip excellent, although I think they are all pretty darn good, and we have had many, many excellent trips. My point is that we make a concentrated effort to strive towards excellence on every trip

With the above in mind, here are a few ways we strive for excellence on every professionally guided whitewater rafting trip on the St. Louis River, which is just 15 minutes south of Duluth, MN for you vacationers and for you locals: why haven’t you come rafting yet?!

Fun and Safety are our number one goals. Safety comes first: you aren’t having fun if you are hurt or in real danger. Our trip leaders have intimate knowledge of the St. Louis River, know the right lines in the rapids at the varying levels to hit the best waves and avoid dangerous river obstacles. We train our guides to know these lines and to handle a variety of whitewater and wilderness scenarios.

Our trip leaders are certified in Wilderness First Aid or Wilderness First Responder, these are first aid courses on steroids! Plus we have seen the gambit of injuries over the years on the river and have gotten pretty good at avoiding them.

We also train our guides to be as personable as possible and encourage them to interact with you, and answer any question you have about paddling or the river ecosystem.

Experience: Our trip leaders have decades of combined experience guiding whitewater rafting trips on the St. Louis River and other adventures in the Duluth, MN area and beyond. the more you have seen and experienced the more apt you are at dealing with problems, or even better recognizing a problem developing and handling it before it becomes an issue.

Read more about our guides here: https://www.swiftwatermn.com/about-us/our-guides/

Interactive experience: we strive to make the trip about you and your crew. You are the trip. You and your crew are the engine for that raft; you are paddling your way down. It’s up to you to work with the guide to navigate the river. We also encourage you to take advantage of our knowledge of the natural history of the St. Louis River.

In addition, we add in a few extra experiences with in the trip to give you a whitewater and wilderness adventure experience. From the adventure swim, to the option for a brief side hike, and more, we strive to give you a fun safe time, every time!

If you have been whitewater rafting on the St. Louis River with us before we hope we have you an excellent trip and for those that haven’t taken a float with us what are you waiting for?

Call or book online now!

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2017 Lester River Race: April Fool’s Day Race

On Thursday night March 30th, 2017 fellow kayakers Andrew Strasser, Marty Halverson, and I hiked along the Lester River as it was breaking free of ice from a few days of warm weather. It had been a lackluster winter. We lost most of the snowpack in a late February thaw before falling back into sub-freezing temperatures. With little snow we wondered if the Lester River would even be a run from snow melt. Hiking along the river it was evident that it was not at a high flow but there was plenty of water to kayak it and the next two days would be even warmer. That night we made the call: the 2017 Lester River Race would take place on Saturday, April 1st 2017, no fooling!

 

The Lester River is unique in comparison to other whitewater runs on the north shore of Lake Superior as it runs through a park in Duluth allowing for road side access. This also makes for quick access to the river for paddling and for easy spectating for a race. Sure, the St. Louis River 15 minutes to the south of Duluth has great access and runs all summer long for whitewater rafting and kayaking but the Lester doesn’t. The Lester River typically only runs in the spring from snow runoff and rains. Its short window for paddling creates a sense of urgency to paddle it and kicks off the paddling season as it’s usually the first north shore creek to open up.

 

2017 was the 5th annual Lester River Race, an expert kayak race on the class IV to V creek. In years past there have been all sorts of flows, one year we even did the race on the Lower St. Louis River because of a lackluster snow pack. We were stoked that we could get a race in 2017 under similar, poor snowpack conditions.

 

20 racers, including one women with spicy tenacity and equal skill, Cassie Gonzalez, raced down the river. Being a timed racer, rather than a free for all boater-cross style, a racer would launch every minute. This is where things get interesting as racers sprint through 8 rapids. The class IV to V drops sport names like ‘Naked Man,’ a challenging sequence of ledges named after nude people that hang out there in the summer.

 

The last two rapids (located directly across from the Lester Park Golf Course parking lot) are arguably the most difficult for kayakers to navigate and are also the easiest to spectate. Dozens of people were along the river banks or the cliffs above cheering on the racers as they sprinted through the last rapids to the finish line.

 

Any year that such a race takes place on a difficult whitewater run there are usually a few swims or minor injuries (the rhyolite bedrock of the Lester River is unforgiving to human flesh). Fortunately in 2017 there were neither. However, it was a close race, just look at the times for the top 5 racers (including a tie for second):

1.John McConville 10:37 2. Marty Halvorson 11:11 2. Ryan Zimny 11:11

  1. Brian Robin 11:12 5. Joel Decker 11:29

If you are hoping to be a spectator for next year visit: www.lesterriverrace.com

Also, thanks to all our sponsors: Swiftwater Adventures, RPM Online Solutions, Accent Paddles, City of Duluth, American Canoe Association, Bent Paddle Brewing, Northland Paddlers Alliance, Third Base Bar, River Inn Bar and Grill, and Duluth Coffee.

 

If you would like to check out some expert whitewater kayaking this summer visit www.paddle-mania.com. This event takes place on the St. Louis River during the last weekend of July. There is even a team rafting event where teams of 4 can sign up to compete. No paddling experience: don’t worry a professional guide from Swiftwater Adventures steers your crew through the course. Get your friends or work colleagues together to team raft the St. Louis River.

 

Hope to see you on the water!

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Venturing Outside Your Comfort Zone

Having led and experienced adventures all over the place, I have seen many people forced outside of their comfort zone. Some handle it quite well while others seem to quickly fold under the pressure of risk and uncertainty. The sake of this blog is to help push people towards being more adventurous, like whitewater rafting on the St. Louis River.

Even the most bold and adventurous can at times get stuck in a cycle of regularity. This isn’t the same as having a routine, such working out in the morning or brushing your teeth each night. This is about existing in a regularity free of risk, of avoiding new challenges, of living only in your comfort zone. Staying in our comfort zone too long can cause us to go stagnant and we cease to grow. It’s when we venture outside of our comfort zone through new experiences that we can grow.

The following are a few tips to help you step out of your comfort zone:

Calculated Risks and Baby Steps

Coming out of your comfort zone doesn’t mean you have to take a massive jump into the unknown. For example, if you have never run before and throw yourself into a marathon without any training you aren’t likely to finish. Although you did get a new experience, you might not get the benefits you would have if you had trained first. It’s OK to take baby steps in some areas, such as physically taking on something new. In intellectual realms you just might have to dive into the abyss. Just try to use your best judgement when it comes to calculated risks or ask an expert.

In this instance a guided adventure, such as whitewater rafting or another of our facilitated adventures can help you take a first (and safe) step.

Seek Supportive People Out

Fortunately, you don’t have to go it alone. That’s the beauty of having a supportive cast. Whether its friends, family, leading experts or an adventure facilitator (like me) there are people out there that you can talk to and get the support you need to face new challenges. If you want to try whitewater kayaking out and you are a little nervous, which is normal, then find an instructor. Find an expert, a new friend, anyone (trustworthy) that can help you try something new.

It’s OK to Look a Little Silly

Just accept that when you try something new you may look a little (or a lot) foolish as you are not an expert in this new activity. Most successful people will tell you that once they stopped worrying about what other people thought of them they enjoyed life more. Just try your best and not worry about the outcome but just be in the moment.

Speaking of looking silly, I have yet to see anyone look cool in photos of people whitewater rafting the Electric Ledge rapid on the St. Louis River. Those that smile at least are having fun, while looking silly!

Be Brave

Accept that fact that you will be nervous or afraid when you try something new. It does require bravery to venture out of our comfort zones, but if we truly want to grow we must take the risk and face our fears. Remember bravery isn’t the absence of fear but the fortitude to continue on in the face of it.

Visualize Success

They say if you go there in the mind the body will follow. Visualize your success, whatever that new experience is. Imagine you are doing it well and all the feelings of joy that accompany it.

We could write volumes on ways to venture out of our comfort zones but I think we have a good start, or at the very least some simple guideline to follow.

The team building adventures Swiftwater Adventures and our sister company Evolve Endeavors offer are about taking you and your team out of the regularity of the office, the safe places we have in the physical world and in our minds, and experiencing new challenges. No risk, no biscuit!

Contact us today to book your rafting trip or team building adventure!

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Benefits of Adventure Based Programs for Team Building

Sometimes when I discuss team building experiences with new clients or someone in a casual conversation they think of trust falls, burlap sack races, or a scavenger hunt. While all of those do have merit, that’s not our approach. Swiftwater Adventures takes an adventure based approach to team building in the Duluth, MN area. We offer adventures in addition to rafting catered to your groups’ physical, cognitive, and creative abilities. Whether your custom experience is more physical, or more on the cognitive side of things, or a healthy mix our goal is always to have fun while we grow as a team.

The goal of this blog is to help us understand the immediate and lasting benefits of adventure based programming, in this case whitewater rafting on the St. Louis River and more! Let’s jump in!

Fun and engaging challenges focused on achieving a common goal is our main theme at Swiftwater for team building trips. Safety is of course our number one priority, as our adventures are all guided, with our lead facilitator involved throughout, yet there is just enough calculated risk to keep everyone engaged. Most of our adventures require some physical element, such as hiking or paddling.  Regardless of the level of physicality our adventures always have a cognitive and creative problem solving element to them

Let’s also accept the fact that you probably work a lot. Work can be hard and exhausting sometimes so if you and your team can have some fun while you challenge your selves then why not?!

Teams are forced to delegate responsibilities, cooperate and contribute in adventure based programming. A successful team assigns clear and defined goals and roles for the team. Through balanced participation and cooperation team members can successfully take on any challenge. Our challenges (whitewater rafting on the St. Louis River is just one of them) are designed in such a way that without designated roles and cooperation success is elusive: participants must work together.

Utilizing creative problem solving in an adventure setting helps your team value its diversity of people and ideas, foster more innovative thinking while under pressure, and helps participants find success outside of their comfort zone.

Build relationships, trust and respect and open communication through fun adventures by working towards a clear and common goal. This can be especially true if your team has several new members. Regardless of whether your team has several new members or you have all known each other for years, being immersed in a new environment and facing new problems will require open communication and cooperation to succeed. All of which fosters trust and respect, which must be earned.

Forge a team while creating a memorable experience through fun and challenging adventures. Not only can we supply your company with a fun adventure but new experiences tend to create lasting memories and something that your team can look back and reflect on.

Adventure based programming is a fun way to grow as a team and make memories!

Swiftwater Adventures can offer more exciting and engaging team building adventures to pair up with whitewater rafting through our sister company Evolve Endeavors.

Contact us today to book your team building experience!

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7 Reasons to Snowshoe this Winter

At Swiftwater, we love skiing and biking but sometimes we like to slow things down and winter walk: A.K.A. snowshoe. Snowshoeing is a great activity that allows you to enjoy the winter scenery and relax while you get some exercise. Not convinced that snowshoeing is worth your time? Well, if you live or visit Duluth, Minnesota try one our Saturday morning snowshoe tours. Here are 7 reasons to give it a try.

Easy Learning Curve

If you can walk, you can snowshoe. Just try to keep your tips up as you step forward and you are good. The ease of snowshoeing makes it a great family activity.

Great Exercise

Burn off that holiday weight. Snowshoeing can burn between 300 to 600 calories an hour!

Low Impact on Your Body and the Environment

Akin to walking, snowshoeing is a low impact activity. You are walking on snow and the movements involved avoid hard shocks to your tendons and ligaments.

Snowshoeing is also low impact on the environment since snow buffers the impact on trails, lessening trail erosion. Plus, who needs gas, calories are your fuel.

Fantastic Way to Observe nature

Snowshoeing is great for observing nature and appreciating the scenery. Snowshoeing is a silent sport increasing your chances of seeing wildlife. Also by moving slowly you will be able to see and study winter wildlife tracks.

Our Saturday morning snowshoe tours take place in or near beautiful Jay Cooke St. Park. This 8,800 acre park is home to a diverse array boreal wildlife and incredible views along the St. Louis River.

Relatively inexpensive

Compared to downhill skiing equipment and season passes, snowshoeing is a drop in the bucket. You can rent a pair for a fraction of the cost of a lift ticket. If you buy a pair that’s likely the last associated cost you will have. Try snowshoeing with Swiftwater Adventures to see if it’s your thing.

Action

Snowshoeing doesn’t have to be a slow walk in the snow. With the right kind of shoes, usually those with metal cleats, you can ascend a steep slope. And if the snow is deep enough, throw yourself all sorts of features. Just probe the landing zone first.

Fun

Snowshoeing is fun! It’s fun to go out alone, it’s fun with a friend or as a date activity, and it’s fun to go with a group or as a family outing.

If you would like to give snowshoeing a try we offer snowshoe tours which include the cost of rental in the trip. Just 15 minutes south of Duluth, MN.

Saturday Morning Snowshoe Adventures

Having been a cross country and alpine skier, as well as a fat tire biker too, I like to move fast across the frozen landscape. That being said, I enjoy slowing down from time to time to really digest the beauty of the winter woods, something snowshoes are perfect for. This is what our Saturday morning snowshoe tours are all about.

Discover the winter wonder and beauty of Jay Cooke St. Park and the St. Louis River.  Our 2 hour guided snowshoe tours will explore the high ridgelines, towering pines and other hidden gems along the St. Louis River. We are only 15 minutes from Duluth but will feel hours away from the city.

At Swiftwater Adventures, we cater the trip to your group’s ability and current snow and trail conditions to offer you the safest and most fun trip possible. Our guides are trained adventure naturalists, meaning they have the skills and experience to keep you safe and to offer you a first class nature experience.

Our Snowshoe tours are offered January into March

Price $40/person. Includes:

  • Snowshoes
  • Instruction
  • Snacks and Warm Beverage
  • Guided nature tour with experienced guide
  • Day pass to Jay Cooke St. Park

Meet at: Swiftwater Adventures 121 Vermilion St. in Carlton, MN. Just 15 minutes south of Duluth, MN. From here we will head to nearby Jay Cooke St. Park and let the snowshoe adventure begin.

Sign up today for you snowshoe adventure!

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Saturday Winter Fat Tire Biking Tours

Have you ever wanted to try fat tire biking but were afraid to try it out on your own? This 2 ½ hour tour is a great introduction to the world of fat tire biking, plus you will get to explore the winter woods of beautiful Jay Cooke St. Park or the adjacent Mission Creek trails, just 15 minutes south of Duluth.

 

Fat biking is fun on so many levels. For starters, if it’s a luck luster snow year for skiing then you can still get out and enjoy the outdoors. Even if it’s a stellar snow year groomed biking trails follow the contours of the land making for an exciting ride.

 

A lot of people think that it’s too cold to bike in the winter. Well, as long as you dress correctly—a base layer of poly or fleece, and insulating layer such as wool or fleece, then an outer shell—you will be toasty as people tend to generate some heat while biking. We stop often enough to make sure everyone is doing good, warm, hydrated, and happy.

 

We cater the trip to your group’s ability and current snow and trail conditions to offer you the safest and most fun trip possible. Our guides are trained adventure naturalists, meaning they have the skills and experience to keep you safe and to offer you a fist class nature experience.

Price $60/person. Includes:

  • Fat tire bike
  • Helmet
  • Snacks and warm beverage
  • Guided instruction and nature tour
  • Day pass to Jay Cooke St. Park

Our fat bike tours are offered January into March. Minimum age of 11 years old.

Meet at: Swiftwater Adventures 121 Vermilion Street in Carlton, MN. Just 15 minutes south of Duluth, MN. From here we venture either into Jay Cooke St. Park or Mission Creek trails. We choose where ever is the better ride for current conditions and on the group’s abilities.

Sign up for one of our Saturday fat bike tours today!

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Winter 2017 Adventures

Winter Adventure Saturdays

The rivers are frozen but Swiftwater is still open for adventure! This winter, beginning on January 14 through February, Swiftwater Adventures will be offering snowshoe and fat biking adventures in and near Jay Cooke St. Park on Saturdays. Also, we will be offering several special trips to Spirit Mountain in Duluth, Minnesota and Lutsen Mountains up Lake Superior’s north shore.

Snowshoe Saturday Mornings:  January 14th through February 2017

Kick off your Saturday morning with the ultimate snow kicks: snowshoes!

Discover the winter wonder and beauty of Jay Cooke St. Park and the St. Louis River.  This 2 hour guided snowshoe tour will explore the high ridgelines, towering pines and other hidden gems along the St. Louis River. Just 15 minutes from Duluth, MN.

Fat Bike Saturday Afternoons

Join us for an afternoon of fat biking adventures. This 2 ½ hour tour will let you try out fat biking in a safe and fun way in beautiful surroundings.

Fat biking is an exciting way to explore the winter world of Jay Cooke St. Park and Mission Creek trails.

Friday Sick Days at Spirit Mountain: January 27 and February 10, 2017

Yes, this is a double entendre! Call in sick on Friday for a sick day of skiing!

Whether you live in the Twin Cities or you are an area resident, this is for those that want to start the weekend early This Swiftwater outing will get you a special rate for skiing or boarding for the day.

Adults $40, children 12 and under $30. There is a minimum number of participants required so tell your friends to call in sick too!

Lutsen Mountains Road Trip:  Saturday February 18 and March 4, 2017

Load up on the Swiftwater bus and just focus on fun for the day. Enjoy friends and scenery as we cruise up Lake Superior’s north shore to some of the Midwest’s best skiing and boarding.

$82/person. Price includes lift ticket and shuttle bus to and from Lutsen Mountains. There are a limited number of seats so sign up now!

 

Sign up for our winter adventures today!

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End of the Season: Guides Gone Wild Part 1

In all my years of guiding whitewater rafting trips on the St. Louis River and elsewhere, at least one person on every trip asks us guides, ‘What do we do in the off season?” our answers are just as varied as our personalities and the answers change from year to year. After an action packed season you’d think that we would decide to take it easy, but that’s not usually the case for us long time guides/trip leaders. Sure, some of our guides are college kids and they go back to school, others are teachers that go back to teaching, but for us lifers it’s on to the next adventure!

Where do we go? What do we do? Does anybody care?

I am guessing the answer to the latter is our rafting guests must be somewhat interested otherwise why ask?

Our main trip leaders (Brian, Luke, Josh and I) all have diverse back grounds and interests, so life takes us different places.

Brian is a family man and uses that big brain of his to teach music and direct band at the University of North Dakota (GGW, Part II). Luke travels overseas to places such as Indonesia (GGW Part III). Josh teaches math and spends time outdoors with his lovely wife (GGW Part IV).  I have had several different careers and adventures during my lifelong quest as a naturalist and guide.

I have been a guide, be it seasonal, part time or full-time since 1999. During and after college I worked as conservation technician on wild rice lakes and rivers while also raft guiding and teaching kayaking. My experience helped me gain a solid understanding of the applications of natural and ecological sciences, of Anishinaabe culture and the significance of wild rice, and gain vital experience as a facilitator as I led students on research outings.

When the recession hit in 2008 the research grants were drying up so it was time to move on, so I did video work and guiding in Costa Rica for a great company: Costa Rica Rios. I had a blast traveling across the country rafting, kayaking, biking, zip lining and then some. I also continued to do freelance video and writing work over the years, but I wanted to be part of something bigger at home in the states.

I decided to start Swiftwater Adventures while I was in my first year of graduate school years ago. After a career of guiding I wanted to be able to work with schools to offer educational whitewater trips since my favorite classroom is outdoors.  Today, thanks in part to our experienced staff and my Masters of Education in Natural Science and Environmental Education, we work with schools to incorporate their curriculum into the trip.

Despite all this work, after a busy whitewater season I was able to take a two week vacation to the Pacific North West. Plane tickets were cheap for this past November and having friends to stay with was great too! We kayaked rivers in the Columbia River Gorge like the White Salmon and the Wind. My favorite part was consecutive multi-day rafting trips where we ran rapids, drifted in beautiful scenery and fished for salmon and steelhead on Washington’s Klickitat River and Oregon’s Deschutes. There is something to be said about the simplicity of a multi-day rafting trip. However, vacations end, and we must all return to reality.

This winter I will be guiding winter tours for Swiftwater Adventures and Evolve Endeavors (our new team building division for companies looking for adventures). We will be offering fat tire biking and snowshoe tours in Jay Cooke St. Park just 15 minutes south of Duluth, MN. We will also be offering a few special events:

  • Taking a group of up to 40 people skiing and boarding at Lutsen Mountain this February
  • Taking a group snowshoeing for the day on the Split Rock River on Lake Superior’s north shore.

So there is a little taste of what I do. For all of us guides, as diverse as our off season lives are, the one thing we all share is a love for whitewater rafting on the St. Louis River. We hope to see you in 2017 and beyond!

Book your next adventure today!

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Thanks for a Great 2016 Rafting Season!

 

“It’s time to move on. It’s time to get going. Under my feet, baby, grass is growing. It’s time to move on. It’s time to get going.” The words of Rock and Roll poet and legend Tom Petty always comes to mind every October as the whitewater rafting and kayaking season comes to a close on the St. Louis River. As bittersweet as it is to close out the season it’s always fun to look back at the season, look forward to winter adventures, and know that the river will be there to welcome us back in 2017.

It was a great year for Swiftwater Adventures as we got to take a lot of folks down the St. Louis River. It’s fun to experience the diversity of people and how differently everyone reacts to the rapids and wilderness. From all the summer tourists, to educational trips to team building trips: our number one goal was and always is safety and fun.

Here are some highlights from 2016:

Summer Tourism

On all our trips we strive to offer an interactive whitewater and wilderness adventure experience regardless of the water level. Since whitewater rafting on the St. Louis River is only 15 minutes south of Duluth, an obvious tourist hot spot, we took a lot of people rafting. We met people from all over the world this summer showcasing the best of northern Minnesota.

We had some high water flows in July, which is always fun to have some big waves when it’s warm out, since high water is usually in the spring. Our in raft guides steered a lot of people into big waves and good times!

We had a couple of weeks of low water in August where we ran trips on the Lower St. Louis River rather than the Upper. When we run the canyon of the Lower we offer a few extras, such as the side hike and adventure swim.

Educational trips

We expanded the number of educational trips we offer for schools and camps this past season working with teachers to incorporate their classroom curriculum into our trips. It’s fun to mix the sciences into an adventure experience. We did trips for physical education classes, biology, ecology, environmental science and beyond.

Team Building Adventures

We are also experts in fun and engaging team building trips. We have even started a new division dedicated to team building adventures and experiences called Evolve Endeavors. Call us to set up your company’s team building adventure today. We offer team building adventures year round!

Kayaking Merit Badges

Be prepared: for whitewater. This summer we worked with the Boy Scouts of America to help scouts obtain their kayaking and whitewater merit badges. With myself being an American Canoe Association certified kayak instructor, we were able to teach scouts the basics of kayaking, from wet exits to paddle strokes. Then we were able to test their skills as we learned to read and navigate whitewater. I was impressed by the energy and enthusiasm the kids had for paddling!

Customized Group Trips

We led quite a few customized bachelor and bachelorette parties. We also guided several  specialized trips for organizations such as Team, Red, White and Blue, a fantastic organization that gets veterans and the community out together interacting and having fun. We even took down Celtic Thunder, an international recording act from Ireland, and they thought October felt like summer in Ireland!

Paddlemania –St Louis River Rendezvous 

For the last several years Swiftwater has organized this paddling event held on the St. Louis River in correlation with Carlton Daze in Carlton, MN.

The 2016 event had the most racers and spectators to date! The Blast to the Bridge expert kayak race featured 32 racers. Throughout the weekend there were hundreds of spectators. And a couple of dozen teams competed in the Team Rafting event on Sunday. We had a bunch of great sponsors and volunteers: http://www.paddle-mania.com/

We had a blast in 2016! Huge thanks to all our customers and our great staff! Without you we wouldn’t exist.

We hope to see you in 2017! Book your trip now.

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Autumn: Time for Change on the St. Louis River

Fall is beginning to set in and it’s still a great time to come whitewater rafting on the St. Louis River. Last night we had our first frost warning of the year. The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting cooler. Soon the leaves will be changing while other subtle changes are happening along the banks of the St. Louis.

The migration of birds is a telltale sign that summer is giving way to fall. Minnesota’s state bird, the common loon, gathers in numbers to fly south to places such as the Gulf of Mexico. Once wintering in the south, loons shed their brilliant plumage and over winter as greyish black birds—we are lucky they give us their best showing in the north woods!

We all know that birds such as Canadian Geese, song birds and raptors all fly south but birds aren’t the only ones that head for warmer destinations. So do some insects! The Green Darner dragon fly (those that emerge in the summer) migrate south in masse. Their off spring migrate north in the spring. It is hypothesized that the American Kestrel migrates at the same time, feeding on darners as they migrate south. What about those without wings?

Our north woods ungulates, whitetail deer and moose, are in rut seeking a mate. The bulls are charged up on testosterone and are extremely aggressive. A bull moose in rut is one of the most dangerous animals a human can encounter, no bull! Regardless of their demeanor a bull in fall is a magnificent creature to witness. Sure the big guys are impressive but what about the smaller critters like frogs? What changes do they make to adapt to the cooling weather?

Amphibians, such as, the wood frog and grey tree frog have special adaptations to survive the winter.  The wood frog hibernates in leaf litter over the winter. These frogs survive the freezing temperatures of winter by producing large amounts of glucose acting as antifreeze protecting their vital organs from freezing.

Of course, the coup de grace, the grand finale, the blast of color from autumn forests. This in and of itself is a great reason to come whitewater rafting on the St. Louis River if you are in the Duluth, MN area.

Fun Fact: Why Leaves Change Color

As autumn settles in, cooler nights and shorter days prompts trees to shut down their production of plant materials. Trees stop producing chlorophyll, a green pigment in the chloroplasts of the leaf that absorbs incoming sunlight and gives leaves their color.

As Chlorophyll trapped in the leaves begins to breakdown, other pigments that are present in the leaf begin to show their true colors: From the carotenoids we get brilliant yellows and blazing oranges seen in poplars, birches and maples, from the anthocyanins we see fiery reds in certain maples and oaks. And from the tannins we see rich browns. The varying amounts of chlorophyll and other pigments mixing in the leaf determine the leaf’s autumnal display.

For whitewater rafting near Duluth, Minnesota the Louis and her colors are a must see!

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