Saturday, May 29, 2010

Segment 3: Montello to Puckaway Lake

Launch: Rendezvous Outfitters, Hwy. 22, Montello
Takeout: Good Old Days Resort, CTH C, north shore of Puckaway Lake
Distance: 11 miles
See larger map

Google map
The day is glorious as we set out on the 11 miles from Montello to Puckaway Lake.

This stretch of river still carves its way through wetlands, including the Grand Marsh. But it’s beginning to take on a recreational flavor. There are a few resorts. Powerboats become more numerous, most piloted by fishermen.

Our crew is a similar mix of kayaks and canoes, one with two preschoolers tucked between mom and dad. Doug, the standup paddler, completes the hat trick. Marshal, one of the more senior paddlers, smiles wider with each mile.

A couple in short river boats someone dubs “plastic milk jugs” is learning why investing a little more in boats can be a better bargain. With no keel to speak of, they’re having trouble tracking straight. By the open water of Lake Puckaway, she’s losing steam in a big way.

We make a scheduled short stop at River’s Bend Resort, where we are well received as people drop some change on sodas. Besides the fun, the point of our “Journey of Rediscovery” is to demonstrate the benefits that would come to communities and their businesses with a designated river trail and National Heritage Area status for the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers.

The campground where we’re planning our lunch stop, hasn’t gotten the message. The owner asks us to leave. His campground is full and he doesn’t want us to do the same to his holding tank. You question the business decision of sending away 50 potential customers, and sending them away mad. The sodas and ice cream he would have sold would go a long way toward paying for a visit from the honeywagon.

So we pack up quickly and cover the final half-hour to Good Old Days Resort, whose owners were good enough to let us park there and are happy to have us raising a glass to them, and another good day on the river.

Segment 3 map

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Segment 2: CTH O to Packwaukee

Dirty Kettle
Google map

Launch: Landing at CTH O bridge
Takeout: CTH D landing, Packwaukee
Distance: 12.5 miles
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We reassemble at County O three weeks later to paddle the 12.8 miles to Packwaukee and Buffalo Lake. Our number has dipped to 40, still more than we anticipated at our winter planning meetings.

In this stretch, marshes line the banks. The predominant residents are cranes and great blue herons.

Shortly after we launch, a pair of bald eagles fly over the river, locking their talons in what appears to be playfulness.

The marshes south of Endeavor produced wiregrass, which was harvested throughout the mid-20th century to make rugs. Parts of the wetlands were drained to create muck farms that today grow a substantial crop of mint and Christmas trees.

This paddle is followed by a drum ceremony by re-enactor “Dirty Kettle.” We bless our instruments with tobacco, give thanks to the earth and pound out ancient rhythms.

Segment 2 map