Our 2021 river trip in northern MN is complete and one for the record books. I was celebrating both my 40th birthday and the 23rd anniversary of my Eagle Scout board of review, so I gathered my other pals from my scouting days and we planned a week-long river trip. After six-months of planning and anticipation we made it happen.
We initially planned to kayak, fish, and camp all 70+ miles of the Cloquet River in Northern MN. This would be about 16 river miles a day, which always seemed ambitious but we rolled with it. We launched at the start of the river near Indian Lake and proceeded from there. We went into this knowing the low water conditions of the river and that some of the rapids may not be runnable. Holy cow, was this ever the case. We spent most of the first two days dragging our kayaks over the rocks and rapids, but we were still catching fish and enjoying some of the best scenery MN has to offer. We completed about 12 or so river miles the first two days and had one lost phone and one wet wallet. Camp one one and two were watercraft campsites. These are rustic campsites sponsored by the DNR. We all setup hammock shelters including my older ENO One Link, a couple Hennesey, and a Kammock. These sites are pretty small, so my new Sea to Summit Telos didn't see much action. After only getting a dozen river miles behind us in two days we decided to revise our plans. We opted to get transported further downstream and base camp from the Cloquet River Campground
Day 3 was the game changer! After spending too much time walking over rocks, we're now much further downstream and taking 6 -11 river mile day trips and camping at night at base camp. It was on! Days 3 and 4 brought in hundreds of fish between the five of us, some of which we kept and had an amazing feast the following few nights. We're finally able to actually run the Class I-III rapids which brought smiles across all of our faces. I knew the scenery in this area would be pretty, but I had no idea how gorgeous it would truly be. We had one moose sighting, one black bear swimming, and countless eagles about. The beavers were everywhere and the fish were jumping.
I would certainly run this stretch again, but wait for more favorable river conditions. If you ever et a chance, I would highly recommend spending some time along the Cloquet