Sunday, July 15, 2007

Kayaks battle the wind & waves

July 14th, 2007 we had our biggest single day group with 6 kayakers using 2 tandems and 2 singles. The day had an ominous feel to it with what appeared to be some threatening clouds and there was talk of shortening our planned trip. Kent and Dan declared we would stay the course and down to Silver Springs State park we headed. As we unloaded our gear a family group was taking off in 20 canoes loaded with plenty of beer. I was sure we would see more of them during the day! After our designated drivers returned from our takeout point we headed out onto the Fox. Chuck and Brandon took the two singles, Dan and Kent hopped in Dan's tandem and Adam and Kevin navigated Kent's tandem.

The day was beautiful with bright sun and a flowing river (unlike's last week's drag fest on the Duper). With an expected journey of approximately 11 miles and an estimated time of 3 or more hours we set off. This stretch of the Fox is very wide, has numerous islands and has very little man-made interference to disturb the shoreline. We did only see one blue heron which surprised me some. Just short of the 5 mile point we stopped on a little island for some sandwhiches and some beer (thanks Chuck). Kent and Dan switched boats with Chuck and Brandon for the 2nd half of the trip.

Altough we had commented throughout the day how windy it was and we were constantly looking for the ideal position in the river to avoid the wind, none of us was prepared for the hurricane-like winds that would smack us upside the head at about mile 9. The river was straight and the wind perfectly postioned right in our faces, creating whitecaps and difficult paddling conditions. It felt like we were paddling up Lake Michigan in the annual Macinac Island race. We all remained in good spirits despite the pulsating pain in the shoulders and lived to finish the 11.8 mile stretch in 3 hours and 55 minutes. It was nice to get on another river and enjoy the company of some new paddlers. I wonder how this trip would be with little or no wind.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

July 8, 2007 - Hot, sunny and nonexistent?

The temperature was in the 90's and the gauge was low but what the heck? Off we were to the put in north of North avenue with the destination of Mack Road. One problem, though. As you can see from the 1st picture there was no river at Mack Rd. This brought back some bad memories (can you really have BAD memories when kayaking?) of Kent and my trip last year when we unexpectedly ran out of river at Gary Mills road. Since the river did not exist at Mack Rd we went north to Gary Mills road. The river was back from last year's absence and it looks like they made some nice improvements. Since this was our revised takeout spot we did not experience it first hand.

The beginning of this stretch and the end were very nice, river levels were ok and the scenery was great. This is one of the most secluded parts of the river and at times it feels as if you were in the deepest parts of a national forest....or one of the last trips down a river that was due to be flooded and made into a lake (did I hear Kent squeal like a pig?). The middle section was low and we had to drag the boats on occasion. We saw 4 blue heron in flight all at once and a fifth flew by shortly after. A father and 2 boys were walking the river and one of the kids caught a decent size carp with his hands!!!

Again, I plea for rain!!!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Streak = 20. New territory explored!!

The streak hit 20 consecutive months as we hit the river on July 1st despite the record low reading of 4.82 on the Naperville gauge. Although Pat's leg needed a little pulling (he thought with the river depth that we would be dragging the kayaks down the river, not paddling), Dan has been thinking of this "new" trip for many months and was going to do it with someone or not. What is this new trip you ask?

We put in at DuPage River Parkway (East branch) with a takeout at Knoch Knolls (West branch). We had previously (about month 5 of the streak) floated down the WBDR and passed by the convergence of the EBDR so we knew it was not too far south of Knoch Knolls. With the low water level we anticipated more dragging than floating but that was not the case. The 2.66 miles of the east branch were a non issue and we did not get stuck once. We did see a beaver, a deer (in the water), a meercat (maybe), a jumping carp and multiple herons. Both Pat and Dan thought this was one of the best stretches of either river.

The first picture is Pat indicating that we had come to the place where the two rivers met. You can also see in the pictures that there was a noticeable difference in color between the two branches: murky light green east branch verse, dark clear west branch. Once we headed up stream on the West branch the low water level was a factor and we did need to walk a couple time during a 100 yard stretch. Overall this was a keeper trip that will be repeated.

Door County, Wisconsin 6/20/07

Pat and I put in by Weborg point in Green Bay in the Peninsula State park. We first paddled to the harbor to look at the yachts and sailboats that were docked. This area was quite sheltered and allowed us a leisurely float gazing at the obviously expensive boats. I suppose I would take one if I was given one but I prefer the man powered 'yaks (I would take a few more of those...see previous entry!).

Once we left the harbor we set out to reach the next point on the horizon. Being in such a big body of water with a recreational kayak we kept close to shore, knowing if we ventured too far out a sea kayak would be the preferred vessel. Battling the winds and the rough water, it did not take long to validate that we were not on the Duper and we would actually have to paddle instead of float. On the trip back we were going with the wind and the waves so it made for a much easier paddle.

June ended as our 19th consecutive kayak month yet we did not get on the river at all. We need some RAIN!!!