• Canoeists paddle by tree lined shores

    Saint Croix

    National Scenic Riverway WI,MN

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March 1: The Lure of Spring

March 01, 2012 Posted by: Ranger Dale Cox

A winter image of a small stream flowing into the St. Croix River. In the foreground a standing tree has been chewed at the base by a beaver sometime in the past. (NPS Photo)I

Summer is a long way off. So is spring if you classify the season by the probability of warm weather and green grass rather than the solar calendar. Wet snow that this week brought much needed moisture to the area, yet also serves to remind us that the St. Croix is truly a northern river.

Our Visitor Center received a call on Monday from someone requesting information to assist them with planning a five day canoe trip on the Namekagon and St. Croix this spring. "Spring" by their definition was early April, a time when the rivers could potentially still be locked in ice. Or, if thawed, flowing high, cold and fast from snowmelt.

Growing up in southern Missouri I took the short winters of my youth for granted. Warm weather was expected by the end of February, and by late March new green buds on trees were already exploding over the landscape. Blazing autumn colors in the Ozarks can linger into November in some years. A little further south, the Buffalo River, a National Scenic River in northwest Arkansas, flows year-round though only the hardy or foolhardy venture out onto its cold waters in December or January.

I feel deep empathy for the person I spoke to on Monday. In a corner of my living room stands a small congregation of summer gear: a wooden canoe paddle; a bamboo hiking pole; and a carbon graphite fly rod. I annually decline the season's invitation to store these away.. Throughout the winter months they remain there like intimate friends, whispering to me the promise that spring will come, however long it takes.

Winter, Spring, River




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Did You Know?

What looks like a striped fish with several tails is actually the opening of the mussel shell which is hard to see.

Mussels rely on fish to carry their young around until they are old enough to drop to the river bottom. To attract the fish and attach their young, mussels put on displays that make fish think they are fish or other food. The mussel shell, which is all we normally see, is now barely visible.