CRIVITZ -- I think the whip-poor-will is a very cool bird. Naturally camouflaged and nocturnal, we don't encounter them much. The few times I've heard them I was thrilled, because their population is in decline.
|Renee Dallich of Green Bay pauses to admire|
the mirror-calm water after Saturday’s rain.
David Horst photo. See more photos.
It is, however, difficult to be thrilled with a bird that is calling "whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will" enthusiastically and repeatedly at 2 a.m.
That is what you are likely to encounter when you camp at Gov. Tommy Thompson State Park near Crivitz. I was there June 20-21 as part of a two-day kayak trip to the Peshtigo Flowage.
The Pesh brings visions of roiling whitewater to most paddlers. This section of the river is an impoundment -- two pools of slow-moving water formed by hydro dams. We had 18 people for a 10-mile paddle on the Caldron Flowage Saturday and another 18 -- not all of the same 18 -- on High Falls Flowage Sunday.
Saturday was an example of paddling with water beneath you and water above. It rained pretty much the whole 5 miles going out from Landing #12 to our lunch stop at Landing #13. But when you have the boat covering the bottom half of you, and a rain jacket and hat on the upper half, everything is good.
The rain stopped on our way back, and the surface of the Peshtigo became a sheet of glass. Not window glass so much as a mirror.
Reflections doubled our number. Each paddler had a two-dimensional water twin.
We shared the flat water with a great blue heron, an eagle and a loon. There's another bird we don't see enough of.
Individuals in our group reported seeing a beaver, an otter, a diving tern and, two of them, bears.
As we cruised back into Landing #12, we were greeted by a deer pawing around in the water just off shore. She let us approach and walked off calmly when too many eyes were on her.
The evening included a group pizza outing and stories of past paddles around a roaring campfire.
Sunday was a rain-free day with a scheduled five-mile paddle from Landing #6 to Landing #2. These aren't real creatively named boat landings.
The day, the paddling and the company were too good to give up that quickly, so we meandered around the irregular shoreline, rock outcroppings and islands that make up the flowage. Whether it was the lack of rain or the location, we encountered a lot more power boat traffic on Sunday, including a young man on a contraption that allowed him to ski while sitting down. His high, graceful launches over the tow boat's wake were impressive, though I could have done without the blaring speakers mounted to the back wall of the boat's cabin. It made me wonder whether we silent sports enthusiasts need to power up speakers on our kayaks and belt out folk music or maybe 1970s Gordon Lightfoot.
But as in life, we must learn to coexist on the water.
Commitments to work and family and lawnmower finally required that we head in and load up. The pokey pace of the pack headed for shore spoke to where these paddlers wanted to stay.
But there are more NEWP outings planned and plenty of bodies of water to be explored in northeast Wisconsin.
NEXT UP: The Park-to-Park Paddle, Shattuck Park in Neenah to Lutz Park in Appleton, launching at 9:20 a.m. on July 18. Details at www.wisconsinpaddlers.org.