Last week Wednesday in the evening, my husband started a kayak trip from Mazomanie on the Wisconsin River that took him down over 80 miles of the Wisconsin River ending in the Mississippi River backwaters at Wyalusing State Park. I drove him out to Mazo and helped him pack his boat, drove 40 minutes to get home, went on with my normal work week and then packed a picnic lunch and drove two hours on Saturday to pick him up. He had a really fantastic trip. He saw wonderful sunrises and sunsets and got some pictures of cranes in the mist early one morning. Other wild life sightings included numerous eagles (including a couple of sightings and pictures of an immature eagle, large as an adult, but still all brown and mottled in color), turtles, herons, an osprey, kingfishers. It’s a beautiful trip on a river with fairly wild shores. He braved a little rain and didn’t really see too many people. Once, he was going under a bridge and a dump truck driver saw him, waved and when he waved back, the driver honked his horn. I’m guessing that’s an affirmation of something, I just don’t know what.
One day he paddled over 40 miles. He paddled into the landing at Wyalusing around noon on Saturday, about an hour later than he intended. He had some trouble navigating the backwaters at Wyalusing because at one point, he picked the channel that looked wider and more promising rather than the narrow one with some dead fall to dodge only to find out that the channel he picked was shallow and a dead end. In frustration, he turned around and rather than trying other channels that might turn out the same, he picked the sure thing and paddled out to the Mississippi main channel, followed the shore for a couple of miles and popped back in to the backwaters at the bottom entrance which is wide and obvious and doesn’t branch into numerous channels on the way to the landing. Saturday, we just went to the top of the bluff, ate our picnic lunch and hiked around for a couple of hours before checking into a B&B in McGregor, Iowa. I knew Sunday we’d go back to the landing, paddle the backwaters together for a couple of hours and figure out where he went wrong. While I know the backwaters better than he does and wouldn’t have made the same mistake, I will admit that there isn’t a sign anywhere you’d want one to be for that particular turn. We saw a green heron, great blue herons and a couple of eagles, lots of turtles sitting on logs and I shrieked as a water snake startled me right next to my kayak. Immediately following though, I was turning around and saying, you have to check out that water snake that just swam under my boat. I love the water snakes (we have no water moccasins or cotton mouths here), I just wasn’t expecting so see one inches from my elbow.
I’ll be taking this same solo trip probably in early to mid-September. I’m really looking forward to it. It’ll definitely take me a day longer. The days will be shorter and I don’t have a 40 mile day in me, regardless. I don’t have the same kind of upper body strength. I think I’d be some kind of a freak if I did. By then, the cranes will probably be flocking on sand bars at night in even larger numbers.
Before my solo trip, we’ll have a two night adventure covering 37 miles of the longer trip. I have paddled most of it before but some of it will be new. As we talked about his trip, he said he thought he over-packed a little on food and maybe had two items of clothing that he didn’t need. He also said that the kayak handles a bit differently when it is loaded with camping gear. I think he also wants to make sure that the mileage goals I set for myself are realistic. He said that he knows I like to dawdle. Then he smiled and said, “I mean go slow and look at things.” Case in point, he didn’t notice a single eagle nest along his route and I happen to know from previous trips that there are at least 4 that I’ve seen that are visible from the river. I think the trips together are more fun than the ones alone, but there is also something to be gained from a few days mostly to one’s self. He did call me every day and update me on his whereabouts. One morning when it rained, I took a look at the internet and checked the radar and forecast to say it might rain a little more, but it wouldn’t last long and it should clear off soon. Hopefully, he’ll do the same for me. Actually, I know he will.