Great River Rumble overnights in Lansing, Harpers Ferry on its way down the Mississippi

Great River Rumble makes overnight stops in Lansing and Harpers Ferry ... More than 200 canoeists and kayakers made their way down the Mississippi River this past week for overnight stops in both Lansing and Harpers Ferry as part of the annual Great River Rumble, a week-long river adventure that traversed both the Root River in Minnesota and a portion of the Upper Mississippi River this year. The venture began in Rushford, MN Sunday, July 30 and made its way down the Root River to the Mississippi River, eventually ending up in Prairie du Chien, WI Saturday, August 5. Paddling from Black Hawk Park in Wisconsin Thursday, August 3, the "floatilla" made its way into Lansing underneath the Black Hawk Bridge (photo at top left above) Thursday, August 3, camping at the Lansing Sports Complex overnight before departing Friday morning, August 4 to make the 17-mile journey to Harpers Ferry via Lock and Dam 9. After arriving in Harpers Ferry, the crew camped overnight once again before completing the final 11-mile leg of this year's journey to end up in Prairie du Chein, WI for a final farewell banquet. Photo by Julie Berg-Raymond.

Annual week-long canoe/kayak trip featured record number of 220 river enthusiasts this year

by Julie Berg-Raymond (Lansing) and Ann Marie Gallacher-Williams (Harpers Ferry)

For the second consecutive weekend, the Lansing and Harpers Ferry communities welcomed a large group of visitors - this past weekend those visitors arriving by canoes and kayaks via the Mississippi River as part of the annual Great River Rumble after the bicycles of RAGBRAI were welcomed the previous weekend.

The Great River Rumble (GRR) travels a different section of river each year, a portion of that usually on the Mississippi. The trip is put on by Midwest River Expeditions, Inc. a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people enjoy the rivers and promote environmental consciousness.

This year, the GRR traveled two rivers, beginning on the Root River at Rushford, MN Sunday, July 30. Participants paddled through Houston, Hokah and Brownsville, MN before connecting with the Mississippi River and paddling to Black Hawk County Park in Wisconsin for an overnight stop Wednesday, August 2. Making their way to Lansing for an overnight stop Thursday, the river enthusiasts then paddled their way to Harpers Ferry through Lock and Dam 9 for a Friday overnight before finishing their journey Saturday, August 5 in Prairie du Chien, WI.

“We all have a love for the river, the environment, the outdoors,” GRR President Rex Klein of Richton Park, IL said. “There really are hardly any week-long trips like this in the U.S.”

Klein explained that this year featured a record number of 220 people involved, including road crew and safety support, well above the 175-195 river enthusiasts who usually participate. He noted there were 125 boats on the river as the group was leaving Lansing Friday morning.

"Our normal is 175-195 people, this is just an incredible turnout," Klein remarked when his group had arrived in Harpers Ferry. "Their ages range from 12-87, and they are from all over. We have got (people) from Oregon, Texas, New York, the whole Midwest, Kentucky, and on and on it goes. Oh, and we have a girl from Hawaii. A guy joined us today from South Africa. A lot of new people, about a third are brand new first-timers.”

John Gillich, of Madison, WI also rode RAGBRAI at the end of July, making this his second consecutive weekend in Lansing and Harpers Ferry. “These two trips really dove-tailed well,” he said while overnighting in Lansing. “I’ve been doing GRR for seven years, and RAGBRAI on and off for 30. I really enjoy both of them.”

Although a majority of the trip was smooth sailing - or paddling, Klein said Thursday's weather made for some interesting conditions for both Thursday and Friday.

“Yesterday, a big storm hit," he shared upon his arrival at Harpers Ferry. "A big cold front came through so we had really strong winds today at the start of our trip; really rough paddling for boaters. Then we got to the big pool at Lynxville, WI and it (the wind) died down a little, but was still pretty strong. We crossed the pool then locked through and came down here (Harpers Ferry). The last two-and-a-half miles from the lock to here were just gorgeous, calm, beautiful water, and very, very scenic."

Klein wanted to thank Lansing and Harpers Ferry. He described them as "rumble, historical and river towns."

Harper Ferry resident, Jane Hasek, and her husband, Wayne, served as Landing Chairpersons for the Harpers Ferry overnight stop. “Harpers Ferry hosted this in 2009 and I think the town really realized how much fun that was and so they really looked forward to them (GRR) coming back," she said. "It was special for them (GRR) to come back to Harpers again. Everyone pitched in, the Booster Club, all the volunteers in town, the ATV group (who did all the shuttling). It takes a whole village to put it on, and they (GRR) can’t believe how small our population is and what we accomplish. We are proud to host them. There are quite a few locals that paddle with them - Wayne Hasek, Jane Regan and Kathy Palmer Benda. And our 16-year-old grandson, this was his first time on; that was very exciting. It's been a great time!”

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