The second in a series of River Day posts about what you can expect each day of the 2015 Paddle.
Hello River Friends—if the forecasters are correct, today may be the last good snow day for cross country skiing up here in northwest Wisconsin. While I’m not sure I believe that, the warmer weather does mean the rivers will be opening soon. Sitting here with the warm sun shining in, listening to the cardinals and chickadees call, it’s hard not to dream of open water, in a kayak, with a paddle in my hands.
You don’t have to rely just on these posts, there is helpful information posted on other pages of the site including what to bring.
In previous paddles, several people arrived with little paddling experience, That’s okay. But if you have some basic skills mastered, you can spend less time thinking about what you’re doing, and more time enjoying the river and your surroundings–and maybe less time in the water yourself! This kayaking web site shows basic Paddle Techniques. I’ve learned some nice tips from this site, and you might too.
River Day 1
Sunday June 14
Good morning and welcome to River Day 1. The weather forecast is for partly cloudy skies, with a high of 75 degrees, and an overnight low of 50. Sunrise Yoga led by Jane Webber begins at 7:00 a.m. for those who would like start their day with a stretch. Breakfast can be purchased from local restaurants (excellent options) or you can make your own in the camp kitchen.
The morning briefing is mandatory and begins at 8:30 a.m at the camping site. If you are arriving in the morning, plan to be on site and checked in before 8:30. Morning briefings are an opportunity to learn about what the day may bring: weather and river conditions, educational stops, highlights to watch for, and introductions of special guests. Have your gear packed and set next to the truck by 9:30 am.
We launch from Phillipi Bridge Landing, after about a 1/2 mile walk to the river from the camping area. You’ll carry everything needed for the day to your vessel at the launch site.
Phillipi Bridge Landing to Seeley (Lenroot Lodge) is about 9.5 miles. I wish I could say it’s an easy start, but it’s a bit complicated. The first stretch of the river is shallow, narrow and rocky, with some low branches and fast water. Historically, a few people have tipped within the first 15 minutes of launch. I don’t say this to scare anyone off, but it’s a good idea to know how to handle your boat prior to the trip, and be “river aware” from the start.
Assuming a typical spring, the riverbanks will be alive with color and song. Wildflowers and warblers provide a lovely show. There can be shallow and rocky stretches, and you may encounter beaver dams; for the most part the river stays narrow and winding. Under normal water levels, there are a few class 1 & 2 rapids, nothing scary or difficult. You can expect to see lots of wildlife and very little development. This is a short day, making it a good warm-up to our longer paddle days coming farther downstream.
About two-thirds of the way into the route will be the Pacwawong Flowage, the slow water for the day. The water is backed up by a small dam, which you can either paddle through or portage around. This was once the site of an Ojibwe village.This stretch of the river continues to be a place for harvesting wild rice. John Haack,Natural Resource Educator from UW-Extension, will be at the dam site to talk about the history of ricing, and techniques used to harvest rice today.
Takeout will be in Seeley, at the Lenroot Lodge. A sign will be posted “river left” (on the left bank) at the takeout spot. You will set up your tent on the lawn of the Lodge, unless you’ve made arrangements to stay in Lenroot Lodge itself (with a hot shower). There may still be a few rooms available, call to make your reservation at (715) 634-7007 and ask for the SCRA Paddle rate of $79.95/room for two people.
Details of the evening program are not finalized, but if the weather is good, Cindy, the owner of the lodge and Saloon, will have a fire and activities outside. This is always a very popular overnight stop. The camp kitchen will be set up, but I suspect the dinner provided at the Sawmill Saloon will be more than adequate.