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Guest Blog by: Mary Shideler, The Kayak Lady

Welcome Kayakers! With 1,007 sparkling lakes, one mighty river and numerous creeks and streams, Itasca County offers abundant paddling opportunities.
Over the course of 15 seasons, I kayaked every lake in Itasca County. My 13-foot long wooden Pygmy kayak is 22 inches wide and weighs 32 pounds. A wooden kayak is just one choice when selecting the right boat for you.
Mary Shideler's wooden kayak
People often ask where they can purchase a kayak and which one should they get. Your best bet is to try before you buy. One option is to visit Spring Creek Outfitters in Mountain Iron, Minnesota.  The experienced staff will take you to a nearby mine pit where you can paddle half a dozen different kayaks. This way you can feel how your body and the kayak fit together and also experience getting in and getting out. Trying different paddles sizes and personal floatation devices (PFD) is a good idea too.
For less experienced kayakers, sticking to smaller lakes, 50 acres or less, on windy days, is a good plan.  For more seasoned kayakers, a nice day long adventure is paddling a chain of lakes such as the Wabana/Trout Lake chain or the Clubhouse Lake chain up the Rice River until the beaver dams and fallen trees impede progress. Visiting Scenic State Park offers two lovely lakes separated by an esker.
I enjoy paddling close to shore so I can peer down into the shallows. Early this spring while paddling through ice chunks on a local lake, I caught a flash of movement at the outlet of a stream. I followed the action and saw a four-pound northern holding its own in the current.
Beaver Splash Mary ShidelerBeavers often patrol the area around their lodge in the calm of evening. Be prepared for the thundering tail SLAP! and splashing water of a territorial beaver. Perhaps a doe will gently walk to the shoreline as the sun is setting to satisfy her thirst.
In June, watch for yellow, pink or blue along the shoreline. Our Minnesota state flower, the Showy Lady’s Slipper, blooms around the summer solstice. More common shoreline plants include yellow iris and blue flag iris.
Family of Swans by Mary ShidelerBy July, ducklings, goslings and cygnets (young swans) can be seen with their parents taking swimming and diving lessons.
Wild rice flowers in August and many areas will be fragrant with white water lilies.
Grab your PFD, a hat, water bottle, camera, sunscreen and a map. For safety reasons, leave behind a detailed note of where you are planning to go. Packing your common sense and flexibility will also help you have a fun day on the water.
To get your signed copy of Mary’s memoir, The Kayak Lady, or to schedule an inspiring one of a kind presentation with vivid photographs on kayaking, following your dreams or world travel visit:
Keep paddling!
Mary Shideler
The Kayak Lady