Friday, September 4, 2009

Our Pungo kayaks return to their source, eager to find their next adventure

Back in early August, when it was clear that my season of river work would end early, I decided that it would be prudent to turn-in the pair of kayaks that were on loan to us from Joe’s Sporting Goods in St. Paul. For those not familiar with this relationship, Joe Rauscher is the gentleman who got in touch with us back in early 2008… when KARE 11 first aired a story about our project. He also submitted our project to the publishers of Field & Stream, which led to our selection as Heroes of Conservation, as explained in the July, 2009 issue of their magazine.

Joe wanted to help us in our river clean-up work, and provided us with two “Wilderness Systems” kayaks (14-foot Pungo’s, to be precise). He recommended these particular kayaks for two very specific reasons. When I was working on the Mississippi, I would often find myself working with or against the current, near bridge trusses, spillways, piers or a wide variety barely-submerged hazards. The Pungos offered good primary stability (they didn’t tip easily side-to-side), their size offered additional stability (and great “trash” cargo space), and they skimmed across of the water very well, making them useful even in the shallows where most garbage was beached.

As much as I loved this great pair of kayaks, it made little sense to retain these boats when it was clear my next significant clean-ups would not happen until at least 2010. So I packed the two kayaks up and delivered them back to Joe’s. Certainly, it won’t be my last trip to the store! I’ve already purchased one other kayak from Joe’s Sporting Goods (and open-bow Mad River kayak/canoe hybrid), as well as the racks that hold my boats to the roof of my Xterra.

Every time I’ve been in touch with Joe or one of his staff, I’ve been rewarded with encouragement for our project (and some great tips that have helped me avoid mistakes in the field). I thought one more thank-you would be appropriate here. Joe, I appreciate everything you’ve done and continue to do to help keep our rivers, parks, trails, and other natural resources protected… for all of us to enjoy.

© 2009 Mike D. Anderson, St. Michael, MN. All rights reserved.

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