This story was collected as part of a collaborative effort to record the state of American lakes, rivers, and waterways as well an attempt to uncover what water means to Americans. Listen to other stories recorded by the Minnesota Humanities Center for the Stories from Main Street project, an initiative created by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service for its traveling exhibition "Water/Ways."
"I started paddling as soon as I could. I always loved the water. I remember reading Huckleberry Finn and how he found that canoe in the Mississippi River and I tried to build a canoe in grade school, third forth grade. I saved my money and sent away for a canoe kit but it wasn’t a very good one. My canoe building skills weren’t up to the job so it never floated. My name is Mark Bosacker, I’m a long time member of the Mankato Paddling and Outings Club. I like the fast rivers better because they are exciting. You see the trees rushing by you and you have to look ahead and be on your guard, be prepared to turn or pull over to the side or try to back paddle and then there’s usually wildlife of one sort or another. And the sound of the rushing water and the smell — hopefully it’s a good smell. Most of the time it is--not always. I’ve been in situations where I got in over my head, so to speak.
This was the Blue Earth down by Amboy. It was very high. When it’s low it stays in its banks. Well these were very wooded banks, the current was going right through the trees. So we had to paddle hard in one direction to keep from being swept into the trees and then the other direction we’d come around one corner we hear this uh, crackling noise." I thought, we scared some deer. That was the first thought that came to my mind. We scared a herd of deer and they’re running through the bushes. And then it sounded like escaped elk - bigger - from the nearby elk farm.
Then it sounded like elephants. All this popping and cracking sounded like a tear in the fabric of reality and then I look up and I see this tree start to slowly come. It was a big cotton wood. And we’re going this way and the tree is — we’re going to have an intersection. I knew if it hit us we would die, well, pretty good chance of it. Trees are heavy and if it’s holding you down under water, there’s not much to do. So I yell to my buddy to back paddle. So we both back paddled as hard as we could. But it didn’t hit us, but it fell down close enough to us that we both got wet. They are fun when they are high like that. Fun, but dangerous and destructive."