JJay Cooke State Park in Carlton, Minn., has many faces. A hidden facet of the St. Louis River, below the Minnesota Power Dam, is a series of rapids and chutes the river water traverses on it’s journey through the park.
Last Saturday a dozen kayakers, dressed in dry suits and donning helmets, slipped into the churning rapids on their journey through the falls.
As the spectators waited on the banks of the St. Louis, emotions turned from anticipation to despair when muttering rolled through the group that the kayakers may have shot the rapids on a fork of the river not in view of the cameras. Some photographers started to pack up their gear and others just basked in the unseasonable warm of an April day with clear skies.
Then a shout went out, “Here they come!”
A red helmet bobbed in the distance, then another and another and finally a group of four were ready to run the chute.
Wearing skirts on their kayak to avoid waterlogging, the boaters dropped through the first chute. One by one they dropped and submerged only to pop up again, some wearing nose plugs and video cameras on their helmets.
After dropping through the waterfall, each kayaker would turn around and watch their cohorts take the plunge. Through the white foam of the rapids, you could observe smiling faces on the daredevils.
In just a few moments they were gone like a school of fish, floating down the river to the next set of rapids.