Hayward started as a logging town in a river valley. The river was and is the Namekagon, now part of the St. Croix National Scenic Waterway. It’s about 100 miles long and has its name from the Ojibwe Indian word for “river at the place abundant with sturgeons”. The lumberjacks used the river to float logs down to the mills for processing, which of course is no longer necessary since we have roads and trucks. All that’s left of this part of history is the logrolling competitions and that championship contest is usually held in Hayward.
My trek to the Namekagon started at Par Place Condominiums where I am staying. These condos are built on the “used to be RoyNona Golf Course” which is also the “used to be Roy Smith farm”. Roy Smith was my grandfather. The river is fairly close to the farm/golf course/condos, so my sister-in-law MP and I decided to bike there. Our route started down a trail on an old railroad bed. I actually remember when trains ran the tracks there and the engineer would wave to me and blow the train whistle. It hurts to say this.
These trails are all over the Hayward area and are used by snowmobiles and skiiers in the winter, bikes and hikers and ATV’s in the summer. The trails circling the town are paved, unlike this one, which is unpaved,peaceful and straight, lined with goldenrod and blackberry bushes. The breeze rattles the leaves on the poplar trees so there is a steady, soft white noise which belies all the motion you see when you glance at them. About half a mile on the trail brought us to Airport Road (another creative place name). Another half mile and we were at a small park on the river, across the road from the small, mostly private airport.
We parked our bikes and walked down to the boat landing. The Namekagon is a great river for canoeing, kayaking, tubing and fishing, although I do not vouch for the fishing part. I have done the other three. There has been a lot of rain this summer, and even some flooding, so the river is high and swift. There are a few white water places but a great deal of it is like this picture – tranquil appearing. Any time we do a river trip we see wildlife, eagles, deer, otters, and bear. And wildflowers are everywhere. Floating down the Namekagon is one of my favorite things to do.
Another one foot dip. The water was cool and the mosquitoes were fierce so we didn’t stay long.