Saturday, June 26, 2010

Segment 5A & 5B: White River Dam to Omro

Segment 5A: White River Dam to Berlin
Launch: White River Lock, Lock Rd.
Takeout: Riverside Park boat ramp, Berlin
Distance: 13 miles

Segment 5B: Berlin to Omro
Launch: Riverside Park boat ramp, Berlin
Takeout: Miller Park boat ramp, Omro
Distance: 13.7 miles

They said it would be the most beautiful section, and the Fox River does not disappoint.

Here it’s less farm field and wetland and more wooded wonderland.

I’ve been looking at this weekend with some apprehension since the planning for Fox River Heritage Paddle 2010 started.

On a Saturday and Sunday we are covering 27 miles of river. That’s eminently doable, but don’t get between me and the Advil bottle come Sunday night.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Segments 4A & 4B: Marquette to White River Dam

Segment 4A: Marquette to Princeton
Launch: Lyons St. Landing, Puckaway Lake
Takeout: Jefferson St. boat landing, Princeton
Distance: 15.7 miles
Looking out over Puckaway Lake
Google map

We are paddling our first double-header. We follow a long, twisting 16 miles from Marquette to Princeton on Saturday with a quick six miles from there to the White River Lock on Sunday.

I say lock rather than dam because the White River Dam has been removed. Unlike the lock system on the lower Fox, the upper Fox has no locks still in operation. We encounter the Princeton Dam, which actually lies several miles upstream of Princeton. It requires you to exit river left and portage through what is a heavily used park for fishing.

By this stretch of the Fox, recreation has taken a firm hold, though there is still plenty of agriculture along its banks. The structures here are more cottages than fishing shanties and lines stretching out from fishing boats are more frequent obstacles.

At one point approaching Princeton, we come upon a fisherman up on his tall pier struggling to dial his cell phone while keeping a grip on his doubled-over rod. He is attempting to call his son in the house to come down and net the lunker on his line.

Mark, one of our kayakers, comes to his aid, grabbing the landing net and hauling in a 
27-inch, 8-pound channel catfish for this total stranger. Really, there are no strangers on the river. People in lawn chairs yell to the 16-passenger voyageur canoe that leads us: ‘Hey, the guy in the back isn’t paddling.’”

“Un, deux, trios,” the voyageur in the back calls out, and all paddles rise in salute to the new friends on shore.

Upon landing at the quite nice boat landing and campground in Princeton, we are greeted by Princeton Mayor Bob Mosolf and Chamber of Commerce President Ron Calbaum. Their visit suggests communities along the Fox are seeing the potential of the Fox River water trail that our group is advocating. 

Segment 4B: Princeton to White River Dam
Launch: Jefferson St. Landing, Princeton
Takeout: White River Lock, Lock Rd.
Distance: 6 miles

Sunday’s segment downstream from Princeton brings a noticeably swifter current and a different mood.

I don’t know if it was the easier paddling or the aftereffects of the previous day’s distance, but this paddle is downright laid back. The 44 participants stay grouped up more and conversation runs rampant.

A highlight comes about halfway through this leg at a site commemorating the most famous travelers on the Fox – Fr. Marquette and Louis Joliet. A large cross marks the spot where Marquette blessed a series of springs that bubble up from the ground year-round. The spot was already sacred to the Native Americans when members of the Mascoutin, Miami, Kickapoo and Fox tribes turned out in 1673 to meet the famous blackrobe.

Segment 4A & 4B maps