Sunday, September 27, 2009

The magic is back at Gerber

Day 23 (9/27/09)
The Gods of Gerber must be smiling on us again. After a couple of lackluster trips to Gerber Lake this one was wonderful. It was the type of early fall day where everything looks extra brilliant. The leaves hadn’t started turning a great deal yet but the ones that had added a splash of color. So what, I wondered, made this trip so much better then the two previous ones? Yes, there were less people but really no more wildlife and it was really too windy for great fishing. I think it comes down to expectations. Who hasn’t heard somebody, after complaining about some movie or show they went to say, “It just didn’t live up to my expectations”. We had become so accustom to great days at Gerber that when we just had good days they “just didn’t live up to our expectations. Even my ranting about our last trip to Mauthe Lake was rooted in expectations. When we had been to Mauthe the first time we had seen abundant amounts of wildlife. So, when suddenly our expectations were dashed we were disappointed. This time at Gerber we didn’t even expect to be there. Earlier in the week the forecast had called for bad weather all weekend. When we woke up to beautiful weather Sunday morning we knew we had to take advantage of it. We knew that later in the day it was supposed to get windy so we went out early. The wind was already blowing but if we stayed tucked into the corners it was calm enough. I manage to get a couple of Bass before the wind picked up. As always, we went up the little river. We decided that maybe what little current there is might be running out of the lake. It is really hard to tell because it is hard to see any movement at all. The rains had clarified the water and everything was crystal clear. We got out of our kayaks at the bridge and scouted out the land a little. We found the water more interesting. It is good to be back in the favor of Gerber.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

War drums at Mauthe

Day 22 (9/19/09)
We decided with the swift approaching of fall we would try to return to Mauthe Lake for another trip up the north branch of the Milwaukee River. Things looked good, the sun was shining and it was pleasantly warm, fall like weather. Eileen was able to sneak up on a Sand hill Crane fishing on the edge of the lake and we got some photos before it flew off. We decided to start up the river right away because our last trip had been such a good time and we could hardly contain our excitement. Among other things, last time we had come across a fawn casually eating water lilies on the edge of the river. We wanted to be as quite as possible to sneak up on any wildlife that might be hiding around the next turn. Suddenly, I heard what sounded like approaching war drums. I looked around to see a family of four in two large sea kayaks coming at breakneck speed. The drumming was coming from the youngest, a boy, banging the paddles off the side of the boat. Ironically, I heard the father shouting how beautifully peaceful and quiet it was. I am thinking, how quiet it was before they showed up. I also figured out from there booming conversation between husband and wife that they had seen us come into the river and followed us. In the future I will remember to be more careful when breaching the weeds to get into the river and make sure nobody is watching. Needless to say, our trip up river was ruined. At first we tried to stay ahead of them but since they were on a mission to check off yet another goal in there guide book and not really there to enjoy the river, we finally conceded and turned back for the lake. Anybody who has read any of my blogs on biking knows how much I hate what I have named “Eddie Speders”, people who attack the bike trails at breakneck speed, hell bound for glory. I realize that I am probably a minority on this but I still like to take the slow road and appreciate nature around me. It is interesting to note that I had this family pegged when they first pulled into the parking lot with their bigger than life kayaks on a trailer pulled by their bigger than life vehicle and their Eddie Bauer uniforms. They were not out to enjoy nature but to conquer it, to whip it into submission and have something they could brag about at the board meeting on Monday. Whether in a restaurant, theater or out in nature these people always seem to need an audience and force everybody around them to partake in their production. Perhaps it is because of people like this that I prefer places like the Onion and Buffalo Rivers where other people don’t go. To call these rivers untouched by humans is laughable, since it is probably due to human influence or destruction that nobody uses them for recreation. The Buffalo River is on its way back, as farmers and industry have been forced to practice more conservation friendly practices. The Onion on the other hand has a long way to go but there are a growing number of people who are noticing its potential, especially at the northern end. These rivers have their own beauty though and you never have to worry about other people spoiling your day.


Day 21 (9/5/09)
Perhaps we are getting jaded but our latest trip to Gerber Lake was quite lackluster. Possibly because it was the beginning of Labor Day weekend and there were more people around then usual, there was no wildlife about. Wee tried our usual cruise up the small river and even that held little in the way of interest. We did see a family on horseback ride across the bridge where we turn around and that was somewhat cool. Maybe the most interesting part of the trip was when I heard what I thought was a bull elephant charging at me from the woods and looked up to see a Tom turkey plummeting through the trees. There is a reason these big birds prefer to stay on the ground. It must have been scared up by the horseback riders and when the forest was too thick to fly through just sort of tumbled to the ground.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Note on Corners

If, as they say, “Eyes are the window to the soul”, corners are the doors to the river. With each curve you go around a new vista opens up. Often it is totally unrelated to the one you just left behind. One door closes as another opens up. If done quietly you never know what may be waiting around the next bend. Often I have spooked an eagle or heron and wished I would have been a bit more cautious. Unlike a road which usually sits above the surrounding landscape the river lies below it magnifying the significance of each turn. This tunnel vision only enhances the intimacy of the experience like looking at something through a microscope.