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chicago, il
united states

Early Morning Paddle.


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Early Morning Paddle.

Erik Engstrom

I'm an early riser. As the sun makes its way to the sky above our heads, I am usually starting my day. Like any sane person, I enjoy a cup of coffee and venture into the rest of my day. I am not one to over complicate mornings. I don't need the stress of picking which outfit to wear. I don't even check the weather to plan accordingly. And yes, I have made giant mistakes with wearing sweaters on days that it is 80 degrees out. 

Today was not one of those days. 

As any other day, I arose before dawn and prepared for a little scouting. My friend Merritt and I enjoy exploring the Mississippi River. We are drawn to places with rich history, beautiful sites, and a vibrant wildlife. So, as everyone lays asleep in bed, Merritt and I canoed the Mississippi River. Merritt works over at Sanborn Canoe Company and we were so fortunate to grab a Prospector canoe for the trip. 

Amongst the abandoned back waters, Merritt and I were amazed at the mystifying landscapes. The Mississippi River in Southeast Minnesota is a strange and under appreciated sector of American outdoors. It's beauty and deep American roots can be found when paddling the waters. 

Just in our morning we were able to make simple, yet life giving memories. We'd watch loons dive deep into the waters, storm clouds stretch across the sky, and a beaver searching the river. I can easily forget how enchanting this place can be. But once I start seeing with my eyes open again, I'm filled with wonder. I'm just waiting for a dinosaur to roar across the bluffs. Seriously, this place looks just like Jurassic Park!

Sanborn Canoe is an American brand with roots that run as deep as the Mississippi. What began as a project building a canoe for a Boundary Waters tripped quickly took a turn to selling some of the best canoes and paddles in the business. Not only are they beautiful, they are high quality. If you make your way to Southeast Minnesota, I encourage you to stop by the shop and say hi to the guys. 

Merritt and I were ever grateful exploring the waters. We even made it back to shore before those storm clouds turned to actual storms. 


Photography: Merritt Ogren & Erik Engstrom