Photos: North Shore thaw brings world-class kayaking

1 Chris Baer descends a 20-foot waterfall on the Lester River that he has dubbed "Almost Always." North Shore rivers can create powerful and dangerous hydraulic forces where the water recirculates like a giant washing machine. 
2 Chris Baer celebrates after his successful descent of the rapid called "Almost Always" on the Lester River. 
3 Kayaker Ben Peters of La Crosse, Wis., portages his kayak around a steep waterfall on the Lester river, following a race in Duluth, Minn. on May 4, 2013. 
4 Chris Baer paddles into a rapid on the Lester River during the inaugual Lester River kayak race on May 4, 2013 in Duluth, Minn. The race was delayed nearly a month until snow melt raised water levels. 
5 Joel Decker of Duluth, Minn., races in the Lester River Race in Duluth on May 4, 2013. 
6 Volunteers stand alert on the shore of the Lester River rapids with ropes and buoys ready to rescue kayakers who need assistance during a kayak race on May 4, 2013. 
7 Kayaker John Holton of Minneapolis grins after completing the Lester River race in Duluth, Minn., on May 4, 2013. 
8 Kayakers at the Lester River race in Duluth, Minn., on May 4, 2013, await race finishers. 
9 Kayaking legend and University of Wisconsin astronomy professor, Jim Rada was the first person to run several Minnesota creeks. His guidebook, "Northwoods Whitewater," was like kayaking gospel.