Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson
For July 18th, 2008 Edition.
Anyone who pays a bit of attention to the types of toys tourists and locals alike drag behind their vehicles or carry on roof racks will certainly be aware of the fact kayaks and canoes are gaining in popularity as pleasure craft. And I'd comment that is a good thing! Myself included, most of us in this day and age do not get enough quality exercise, and paddling canoes and kayaks is one excellent way to help stay healthy and active.
I'm sure many of you are aware of the Nicolet College Outdoor Adventure Series. If not, dial up their website and take a gander at what the program consists of. For the adventuresome at heart, Nicolet offers quite a list of choices for folks of all ages to enjoy time with Ma Nature plus see first hand some of the north's finest scenery up close and personal!
For the past six summers I have been included (as the chief cook and bottle washer) in one of their canoeing/kayaking adventures on area river systems. The late June outing is generally billed as a "canoeing and shore lunch" adventure, which must strike some sort of positive note, as it becomes "sold out" shortly after the advertising brochures and info hits the school's website.
In past years the trip has taken place on various stretches of the Wisconsin, Brule, and Turtle Rivers, plus sections of Long Lake Creek and Lost Creek. The 2008 outing contained a combination of Long Lake Creek and the Turtle River.
On June 28th thirteen eager paddlers led by Nicolet pros Martha and Mickey (plus the cook) departed from the public launch on Long Lake Creek where it exits Long Lake about six miles northeast of Mercer, WI. Besides being a beautiful and peaceful section of the great northwoods the route we embarked on is highly historic in nature. This was one of the major trade routes of the French Voyagers during the hay-day of the fur trade during the 17 and 1800s.
Long Lake Creek wends its way southwestward through a dense forest of mixed hardwoods, pine and hemlock. It's an easy paddle, riding a gentle downstream current, but unfortunately on this day our efforts needed to be increased as a very brisk west wind blew in our face for the entire day. However, the sky was filled with fleecy cumulous clouds and the temperature hovered around a delightful seventy degrees. Pesky mosquitoes and flies were at a minimum although emergency trips into the forest required liberal dose of bug dope.
Flowering lily pads lined most of the stream along with purple water iris and clumps of yellow marsh marigolds. A wide variety of songbirds flittered to and fro across our path plus muskrats, turtles as well as a majestic buck with his horns in rusty velvet added thrills to the adventure. Eagles and osprey ruled the skies and from time to time suspiciously eyed our steady progress.
Martha selected a grass covered gravel bar for our luncheon location, which provided a dining area nearly surrounded by the gentle flowing stream. While the chef organized the kitchen equipment the expectant diners scoured the nearby forest for dry firewood, of which there was a healthy supply. A bit of birch bark, a handful of dry balsam twigs and a match was all it took to start the fire.
Our menu consisted of fresh "guide's coffee" followed by five pounds of crisp fried bacon for appetizers, which rapidly evaporated as the grease reached the proper temperature to French fry the potatoes and onion rings. As the spuds browned to perfection a giant can of Bush beans bubbled next to the fire. As the fries cooled the main entrée entered the mammoth fry pan. Forty-eight blue gill fillets, four boneless northern, two slab crappies and a trio or rock bass rounded out the final offering. And although the final pan of fish received a liberal dose of cold rainwater from a brief thundershower, none-the-less every single morsel was consumed.
Our afternoon route continued on the Turtle River, where Long Lake Creek joins the larger stream. We crossed Oxbow Lake and continued southward into Echo Lake, which required a bit of extra muscle power to buck the relentless head on westerly wind. A local expert canoeist and his son joined our party of sixteen where the Turtle River exits Echo Lake. For this we were quite fortunate, as none of our group had ever traveled on this particular stretch of the Turtle River. Our new volunteer guide warned us of three "tricky rapids" along our route and took the lead to assist us in our journey.
Rapids number one was short, rushing and actually not too challenging. Next came the crossing of Rice Lake and on to rapids number two. This was a more challenging run, but quite manageable after our volunteer tour guide demonstrated the proper route and technique.
Rapids number three was audible well before it came into view! This was definitely not for the faint at heart or rookie paddlers! Our resident expert and his son each skillfully completed the brawling white water run, although several large boulders along the route altered the path of their canoes! Our first brave kayaker did not have a successful run. His kayak struck one of the giant rocks, which forced his craft into a second boulder. The kayak flipped over, quickly filled with water and pinned the owner to a boulder.
Rescue came quickly and no injury resulted. However, this event altered the optimism of the remaining onlookers! Several canoes and kayaks were portaged around the raging torrent, another kayak ran the rapids successfully, then Martha and Mickey skillfully paddled the remaining canoes and kayaks through the shoot.
The remainder of the trip to highway 51 was uneventful, and the scenery was spectacular!
We all arrived safe and sound at Pike Lake, where our vehicles awaited our return. The trip lasted several hours longer than we expected, but no one issued any complaints! It was evident everyone had a great time and many members of the party indicated they were ready to sign up for the event in June of 2009!
For more information concerning Nicolet College's Outdoor Adventure Series contact; firstname.lastname@example.org
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: email@example.com 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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