Summer passes quickly. At August’s end, Tom and I regret not spending time camping when the days are warm and long and we can linger outside the tent until mosquitoes become intolerable. So on a holiday weekend, we headed with friends to a nearby river, the Namekagon, for a 24 hour trip down one of the prettiest little waterways in the upper Midwest.
The Namekagon is protected, a federal Wild and Scenic River in the St. Croix River system. Its verdant banks are lush with plant life; campsites are maintained by the feds and are fresh and alive, not over-used. The clear water is cold, flowing over a sandy bed. Because the river is narrow, it has an intimate feel. Vistas are closed in and snug. The hollow, haunting song of Veeries reverberates in the woods.
The Ojibwe called it Namekaagongziibi, the river at the place abundant with sturgeon.One of us was lucky enough to glimpse one of these ancient fish snuffling about on the bottom. The others had to be satisfied with warblers and magenta swamp milkweed, red pines and dogwood.
We pulled out our canoes and were home in time for neighborhood picnics and fireworks on the 4th, but we wondered: this river is so close. Why don’t we visit more often?