Monday, July 21, 2014

Cold Springs

Hope for the Future
Day 6 (7/19/14)
We didn’t get up as early as we had planned but we were still on the water by 7:00. There were some rather threatening clouds moving in behind us but there was no rain in the forecast and they seemed to be moving to the north of us so we went for it. What’s the worst that could happen? Again we aimed for the river. We had heard Cranes earlier and were hoping to get some pictures of them. Now all was quiet but we hoped if nothing else we would see the Blue Heron from Thursday night. Soon the clouds looked less threatening and a beautiful morning ensued. We saw lots of little birds and even a beaver or two but none of the big shore birds we had seen here before. On the way up river we saw an inlet that looked almost passable in the high water so we were determined to check it out on the way back down. In the past it hadn’t been much more than a break in the shoreline. We continued on enjoying the peaceful morning. The only sounds we could hear were nature and the roar of distant motorcycles. I wonder if you can go anywhere were you won’t hear manmade sounds?  We finally turned around and headed back downriver. When we got to the inlet Eileen started in. I held back expecting that at any time she would start backing out. Instead of getting narrower however, it actually got wider so we continued to follow it. It had been awhile since we had found a new area to explore. The further back we got the clearer the water got. It finally ended in a pool. You could see were animals had made their way down to the edge to drink. As I was looking at the bottom of the pool which was a couple feet deep I could see the silt on the bottom boiling. At first I thought it might be the result of some burrowing organism but as I looked around I noticed that they were all over the bottom of the pool and ranged in size from an inch wide to probably six inches. In most cases they were surrounded by a darker sand area and looked somewhat like a putting green although some had more than one hole. We spent a great deal of time videotaping them and came to the conclusion we had happened on a cold spring pool. The water was so cold you could hardly keep your hand underwater to videotape it. It is discoveries like this that keep us kayaking. It was really hard to leave but we are certain we will come back again and have another look at it. After that we headed back to camp. As we got closer to the lake we were glad we had gotten up early because as we drifted along we met three canoes beating there way upstream. It was time for some more coffee and one last camp breakfast before packing up and making our way home.   

Heading Out

Red Wing Black Bird
Eileen heading up stream

Beautiful Morning

Eileen videoing at Cold Springs


More Springs

Camping with Lil Wade

Wade, Grandma and Grandpa
Day 5 (7/18/14)
As I mentioned in the last blog, we had to be up to the registration office at 10:00 to make sure we got a campsite for tonight. We didn’t bother getting up early since it would have been hard to squeeze in a camp breakfast and kayak in before 10:00. After making some coffee and getting the fire going again we made some ham, egg and cheese sandwiches in our sandwich irons. Everything always taste better made over a fire. Again we marveled at the peacefulness of our camp spot. We had only had a couple people wander past on their way to who knows where as we sat there and enjoyed our morning. After finishing breakfast we still had some time to kill so we took a short bike ride and headed up to registration. We had been warned by the girl in the office that last year fights had broke out over campsites so we were not surprised to see a line forming already and a ranger present when we got there at 9:45. For the most part people seemed in good humor however, so we passed the time chatting until the office opened up. They were taking groups one at a time and we were third in line. When we had our turn there were three spots left to choose from. One was on top the hill and would make biking with our kayaking gear a challenge so we selected the one that looked easiest to transport gear down to the water’s edge. As it turned out the site was ok but nothing like we had the night before. By now the campground was filling up and we had campers all around us. We were determined to make the best of it and set up camp and prepared for our son and his wife and baby who were coming over to spend the afternoon with us. After they arrived we packed Wade (our grandson) and his gear into a stroller and took off to show them the sights. What a difference a day can make. When we got to the beach it was teeming. The parking lots were full and there were even a couple of buses onsite. Because of high water the boat landing was closed. In fact you couldn’t even get to it without wading through standing water, so that is where we headed. As expected we had the area all to ourselves and Wade loved playing in the water that was only inches deep on the roadway. We chased little minnows and frogs around and marveled at all the tiny snails. We hiked for a while up the Tamarack trail but were warned by some hikers coming back that after the bridge the trails were under water. By then the mosquitoes had found us anyway so we headed back to the beach. I had promised to buy everybody slushies, our favorite Mauthe treat. After playing with Wade on the playground equipment our guest had to head back home. We walked back to camp, made another camp supper and retired early so that we could get up early the next day to do some more kayaking.

Hi Guys

What you doing back there?

Nice Water

Waz Up?

What a great Day

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Three Days of Mauthe (Day One)

Eileen's Blue Heron
Day 4   (7/17/14)
This was the first time in several years that we have actually had a chance to do a two night camping trip so we were pretty excited as we headed off to Mauthe Lake our favorite camping, kayaking and biking spot. We were pretty rusty at preparations since we had only gone out camping once last summer and that was just overnight. When we finally got to Mauthe we found out that they had no campsites for two nights in a row but we could stay the night and get on a waiting list for cancelations the next day. We had never had a problem like this at Mauthe during the week before but this was one of the first times this summer that there was little chance of rain in the forecast so everybody was rolling the dice and taking a chance at camping just like us. Since we had come this far we determined to spend the night and see what happened. The problem was that we would have to be back at registration at ten o’clock the next morning, or only stay one night, which would rule out any kayaking in the morning.  We had invited our son, daughter in law and Lil Wade (our grandson) over Friday afternoon so we figured it was worth the hassle. We found our spot which we really liked. It was quite secluded but still close enough to all the important facilities as to be bikeable. As soon as we set up camp we were off in our kayaks across the lake to head up the Milwaukee River, one of our preferred areas to explore. Considering the fact that we couldn’t book two nights we were pleasantly surprised to find we had the lake and river pretty much to ourselves. In the past we have been able to get great photos of wildlife as we work our way quietly up river. We were not disappointed and about a quarter of the way up the navigable part we noticed a Blue Heron fishing on the edge of the river. It has been our experience in the past that the Blues are usually very skittish but this one seemed quite unconcerned as Eileen slowly worked her way toward it. I usually hold back and video and photograph her stalking the subject. Finally when Eileen got about thirty feet from him he took off and flew up river and circled back and landed behind us. We figured we would probably see him again on our way back down so continued on. We were surprised, that with the water as high as it was, it was still very weedy. It was a beautiful night for kayaking. The water was smooth as glass. In spite of the lack of breeze there were even very few mosquitoes. When we finally reached the end of the navigable part of the river and had to turn around we were saddened that we couldn’t go further. As we had expected the Heron was waiting when we got back. This time he wasn’t as tolerant however and although we got pretty close it wasn’t like the first time. After that we headed back to camp to build a fire and make some supper. We were off to a good start.
Eileen stalking her Heron


Just Drifting

More Reflections

Back at the Bridge

Back to the Heron

Life is Good

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Two,Two, Two Days in One

Road to Boat Dock
Day 3 (7/9/14)
It is Wade Wednesday and we had gotten an early start on the bike trail which you can read about at: Wade had gone home with his parents at noon and Eileen and I had the kayaks loaded and ready to head out to Mauthe Lake. We had heard from friends that the boat dock was flooded and determined to go check it out. As expected to road down to the landing was closed and the dock itself was under water. In fact the road to the dock was mostly under water. We had fun wading around in it though and hiked over to check out the bridge over the outlet. The weather was beautiful. It was in the seventies and sunny. The only problem was the wind. The same thing that saved us from the mosquitoes on the bike trail was going to keep us off the lake at Mauthe. It wasn’t that we couldn’t have gone out if we were that serious. Our main destination however, would have been to the other side of the lake and up the river. Had it been earlier in the day and us more ambitious we probably would have gone for it. We have done it before but this was more of a scouting mission. We are planning on coming here camping next week and wanted to know how the flooding was going to affect things. We determined it should be “good to go”. We spent what we had left of the afternoon exploring the park and watching dragonflies. We determined that Dragonflies must be very territorial because we would see certain colors allowed in certain areas and others chased away. Feeling content that our plans for camping next week would not be compromised, we headed home feeling relaxed and excited for our camping trip to come. 
Another view of the Road

The Dock

The River

Giant tadpoles where dry land used to be

This is the mean Dragon that chased the others away

One that he would allow

Family of Cranes

The Whole Family