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4-man canoe team completes one-day trek from the western edge to eastern edge of Kandiyohi County

Ed Huseby, left, and John Hanson paddle a We-no-nah canoe Monday across Green Lake. The two, as well as Carsten Bjornstad and Norman Hande, crossed Kandiyohi County in one day by paddling across lakes, down streams and portaging down roads. Tribune photo by Carolyn Lange

SPICER -- After recouping from pre-dawn conditions that made it difficult to find the way through Sunburg Lake, a team of four canoeing friends made good time Monday and completed their trek across Kandiyohi County in about 13 hours.

"These guys are good. They're fast," said Ed Huseby of his teammates, John Hanson, Carsten Bjornstad and Norman Hande.

Huseby had just completed a brisk portage from Nest Lake to Green Lake on Monday afternoon and took a few minutes to catch his breath and chat before he and Hanson hopped in the We-no-nah canoe and paddled across the northern edge of Green Lake.

The four rural Kandiyohi County men were attempting to cross the county in one day by paddling across lakes, down streams and portaging down roads -- and across a corn field.

They started at the western border of Kandiyohi County, where Sunburg Lake drifts into Swift County. They were hoping to reach the eastern border with Meeker County before night fell.

Hande wasn't so sure that was going to happen after he and Bjornstad couldn't find the correct channel through the maze of tall grass in Sunburg Lake in the early morning darkness.

"We missed our channel in the dark," said Hande.

They paddled at least an extra hour before the sound of vehicle horns from their teammates on the other side of the lake led them in the right direction to the shore.

Hande said he was afraid they had "sabotaged" the group's efforts to complete the trip in one day. Calm winds on the lakes made for fast travel early in the day.

By 2 p.m. they were ahead of schedule but a little nervous about the final segments of river canoeing down the Middle Fork of the Crow River, where they'd been warned about downed trees over the river.

"The last two legs of the trip were the very worst," said Huseby in a telephone interview shortly after they pulled the canoe out of the water. "There were trees completely covering the river."

The men had to pull the canoe over the trunks and limbs of trees for about a mile and a half to get to clear water. "We'd go 20 more feet and we had to do the same thing over again," said Huseby.

Huge cottonwood trees and willows made thick barricades for the canoeists.

"It really was a lot of struggling and not a lot of canoeing," said Hanson. "We each pulled over forests of trees."

Canoeing on the river "would've been fun except for the dead falls," said Hanson.

While Hande said that portaging down County Road 40 and enjoying the astonished looks of motorists was the highlight of the trek, Hanson said seeing the bridge at the Meeker County Line was "definitely the most exciting" part of the day for him.

Despite the taxing end to the experience, Hanson said the trip was "quite an adventure" and the group completed what they set out to do.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

(320) 894-9750