Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson
For July 6th, 2007 Edition.
Folks looking for different or unique things to do up-north during the summer season need look no further than our very own Nicolet College in Rhinelander. For the past ten seasons the institution has offered up an "Outdoor Adventure Series" providing unusual but interesting and stimulating outings in the wonderful world of Ma Nature.
One of my personal favorites is their series of canoe/kayak trips on area-rivers and streams where one can immerse themselves in solitude and quiet while taking a leisurely paddle through various spectacular portions of the north woods.
Highly professional guides act as instructors and leaders making it possible for persons with different levels of proficiency in paddling canoes to enjoy the experience to the fullest. Participants have the option of bringing their own craft or renting one from Nicolet for a very modest fee.
I've been invited along on one of the scheduled June outings for the past five years and plan on being a part of another adventure in 2008. Due to very low water levels in all of our area streams the river of choice for this years excursion was the mighty Wisconsin.
Sixteen eager adventurers assembled at the County Highway O Bridge in Oneida County at 8:30 a.m. and met with our two veteran guides, Bob Knopps and Bill Peshel, for roll call and a short organizational meeting. Those who were to use the canoes from Nicolet were loaded into the spacious van, which pulls the trailer filled with high quality canoes, for transport to our put-in destination. Behind the van was a small convoy of vehicles containing those who had opted to use their own watercraft.
We unloaded all the canoes and our gear just below the dam west of Eagle River off Cloverland Drive and were headed downstream by 9:30 under a cloudless Royal blue sky and cooled by a gentle west breeze. The first half of the five- mile adventure is basically shallow and rocky, where the water moves along at a modest pace with a half-dozen or so minor rapids, which are easily navigated by even the rawest rookie canoeist.
The low water allowed spectators to view many of the local fish that inhabit the stream, most numerous of which are redhorse and smallmouth bass.
We passed several broods of hooded mergansers and were entertained by their mama who did a wonderful job of pretending to have a broken wing as she fluttered across the surface of the water attempting to lure the intruders away from her children.
Eagles watched the ten canoe flotilla silently drift by their perches in tall white pines and we were privileged to view two of their nests, one which had an offspring peering down at us as it awaited mom or dad to return with some lunch.
A newborn fawn arose from the streamside ferns and nervously watched us glide past.
Ma Nature also provided us with a pair of soaring turkey buzzards and a pair of resident osprey. Various varieties of songbirds serenaded us from the wooded stream banks while others flitted across the water from bank to bank enjoying a perfect early summer day.
The Wisconsin gradually changes moods as the influence of the dam that created the Rainbow Flowage slows the current and widens the river. Deeper water and a sluggish current replace ripples and rocks, but the raw beauty of the river never ends.
The expedition reached our noontime lunch destination shortly after 11:30. Our canoes were easily beached on a grass covered sand beach and the makings of an old fashioned shore lunch was transported from the river to an ancient shaded campsite beneath a grove of towering white pine, birch, maple and oak.
While I organized the kitchen a team of wood gatherers combed the nearby forest for downed dry firewood, of which there is a bountiful supply. Numerous small coolers appeared containing cold beverages for the guests as the chef began to prepare the noontime treat.
A "traditional shore lunch" is rapidly becoming a historical footnote in our region, and few who now venture out on the waters of Northern Wisconsin have ever experienced one. Possibly this is why this particular adventure, billed as the "Wisconsin River Shore Lunch Experience" was sold out at an early date.
The menu starts off with a pot of fresh "guide's coffee." My time-blackened pot is filled to the spout with cold water, a handful of raw coffee is dumped into the water, and the pot is placed over the roaring fire to boil. As soon as the mixture comes to a boil the pot is removed from the grill, a cup of cold water is poured into the brew, which causes all the coffee grounds to sink to the bottom of the pot. Coffee lovers then enjoy the best coffee on the planet. "Ohhs and Ahhs" are normal.
Next comes an appetizer, which in this case was four pounds of crisply done bacon. All four pounds are dumped into a 16-inch diameter frying pan and basically, deep-fried to perfection. Someone always seems to ask, "Who is going to eat all that bacon?" But in the blink of an eye it all disappears.
Five pounds of French fries follow, mixed with three giant white onions, while two large cans of Bush's Baked Beans bubble away near the glowing coals of the cooking fire.
Then comes the main entrée! An enormous portion of walleye and northern sizzle to golden brown goodness, as mouths began to water.
For a few minutes an eerie silence falls over the dining room, occasionally interrupted by the smacking of lips and a hushed "please pass the fish."
The leisurely lunch was over by 2:00 p.m. and fifteen minutes later the much too full group is on the final leg of our journey. By three in the afternoon we are back at the O bridge. The vehicles that were left there in the morning are used to shuttle drivers back to our put-in point to retrieve the cars and van, which were used to transport the canoes.
By 3:30 the group is exchanging handshakes and offering heartfelt good-byes to their newfound friends and fellow travelers.
I do believe all left with stored fond memories of a day well spent and a unique experience!
Mr. Leon "Buckshot" Anderson is one of the few old time hunting and fishing guides left in Northern Wisconsin. Buckshot is a personal friend of the family and has known and worked with my grandfather, Howard "Pop" Dean, both of whom are members of the fresh water fishing hall of fame, Legendary Guide. Buckshot has authored 7 books on the great outdoors. All of his books can be purchased directly from him, at a discount, by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to: 2220 Deadman's Gulch Road, St. Germain, WI 54558.
Books by Leon "Buckshot" Anderson Click Here
Yes; Deadman's Gulch is the correct name, I have been on that road many times. Sincerely David D. Cruger
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