Sunday, July 2, 2017

Water, water everywhere

By David Horst

We set out knowing we would be rained on.

One of the glories of kayaking is it doesn't matter if it rains. Your boat and your sprayskirt cover the bottom half of you and your raincoat and hat shelter the rest.

We were paddling the Caldron Falls pool of the Peshtigo Flowage -- one of eight days of paddling organized by North East Wisconsin Paddlers this season.

Camping at Gov. Thompson State Park, we are paddling an 8-mile out-and-back route Saturday and the High Falls pool on Sunday. Today's route is landing #13 to landing #12 and back.

The clouds were gathering and the forecast has made thunderstorms a certainty. But, remember, I no longer trust weather forecasters.

On the way back the rain started. It got harder. An

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Consty's story ends

By David Horst 

An experience can be difficult, end badly and still be worth it. So it is with the last chapter of Consty’s story.

Constellatione has been with us for 17 years. Toward the end of last year, he started having difficulty walking. His feet would go every which way when he took a step. In early March, he went down and was unable to get himself back up.

After desperate day of him being outside in high winds, we were able to help him walk into the barn with the assistance of our vet and a young intern. 

At first, the diagnosis was that Consty had a parasite that attacks the spine. Later, it was determined that a cancerous tumor was pressing on his spine. Either way, he couldn’t stand.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Turning a cold shoulder to forecasters

By David Horst

We had a very nice paddle Sunday — a small, intimate group, strong flow in the river and the wind at our backs.

More on that, but first, I have to let loose of some rage.

Last Thursday — 48 hours before a weekend with two paddles scheduled on the Upper Fox River — the forecast for the Princeton area was unequivocal. From 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, between 70% and 90% chance of thunderstorms. I’d never seen such a dramatically certain forecast telling padders to stay off of the water.

As organizers of the North East Wisconsin Paddlers public paddle series, our course was clear. We needed to call off Saturday’s trip for the safety of the participants and to give ample notice to people traveling from farther away. You don’t argue with 90% certainty of thunder and lightning. We posted the messages on web and Facebook and sent emails to everyone we expected to come.

I joked with fellow trip organizer Jeff Mazanec that by canceling the trip we probably guaranteed Princeton would see no thunderstorms Saturday.

My prediction turned out to be the only one that was correct.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Horicon Marsh holds bird life and history

Horicon Marsh is a huge pool among the nation’s fresh water marshes – the largest, in fact. But it also holds a tremendous volume of history.

See more photos.
Few are better equipped to recite that history than Bill Volkert, who retired after 27 years as a naturalist in the state portion of the marsh. Why there is state and federal sections is part of the difficult history of the place.

We retained Volkert to talk about Horicon’s twisted history and lead North East Wisconsin Paddlers’ first public paddle of the 2017 schedule on May 6. The trip drew 67 paddlers, many on their first NEWP paddle.

Volkert told of a visitor to the marsh who remarked on how wonderful it was that we – the royal WE – had preserved all of this wonderful wetland. That’s when Volkert recited the list of attempts by WE to make the marsh knuckle under.
Known now for its Canada goose population, Horicon of the early 1800s was prime duck territory. The first assault on the marsh was hunting clubs with shotguns of such a low gauge that a single shot could bring down as many as 50 birds. Understand, this was after centuries of Native American habitation.