Beautiful Light

Wisconsin Travel Blog

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Facing downstream, this is obviously a flatwater part of the river but still a moderate current

My most recent trip was to the Flambeau River in Northern Wisconsin. Yeah! We headed up to the Northern part of WI after spending a day climbing at Devil's Lake (also in WI and some of the best climbing in the midwest).

So, I've only ever flat water paddled before this trip and, let me tell you, I was a little afraid. And I did tip over once. If you're coming close to hitting a rock, you're supposed to lean into it to counteract the impact, or 'kiss the rock'. If you lean over too much, you're in trouble either way. As were we! :) Luckily all our gear was in dry bags. Phew! We put in on the North fork. Our first rapid was a class I with no pitches. We worked our way up to class II with 2-3 pitches. Lucky for me, I'm a far better paddler than I really thought I was and my good friend, Mike, was able to give me some great navigation tips on reading the river and maneuvering the rapids.

Some of my co-staff doing some paperwork. Oh ya, I'm a wilderness therapist and do some o' this stuff for a living! Sweet job.
Let me tell you what, these tips came in handy! I also learned how to eddy out of the river to get some great camera footage of the others paddling down the river.

So, this trip was actually a lot less strenuous than my last one because there was no portaging and there was also a river current to take us down. Some areas of the river are flat water but overall, you've got some kind of a current to help you along the way. Unfortunately, this river is dam controlled (not a proponent of controlling our natural water sources, but I digress). For us, this meant that many areas of the river, including some of our rapids, were quite low and we had to walk our canoes. This gets old after a while. My keens got a workout. But, overall, there were some thrilling moments on this trip.

A pict of me and my white hat before I lost it in the tip.
I've not been white water rafting (which is on my to do list) so I don't have that to compare it to but I know what it's like to travel down a class II pitch in a small craft ... and I also know what it's like to float down a rapid while watching your tipped over canoe travel alongside. Lucky for us, our lovely canoe capsized directly over our gear, perfectly preserving everything but my running hat, which is my sacrifice to the Flambeau.

"Flambeau" was a name given to the river by the Native Americans. It means beautiful flame or light. As for wildlife, I paddled our boat up close enough to the shore where a deer was munching on some wildflowers. I think Mike was ready to pelt me, we were about 6 feet from him and he could have charged any minute! (Don't do this.

Cedar Rapids, the first rapid after the North and South fork meet up.
) We saw Hawks, Eagles, Walleye, frogs, snapping turtles. We also heard wolves, cayotes, barred owls, and hunting dogs. Our first sight was a primitive hunters sight where we found the skeleton of an animal I couldn't figure out.

Overall, besides a few logistical issues, great trip! What's nice about this location is that it's got some medium sized adventure and is backcountry enough to give you the experience but not too backcountry that you can't get out if you're in a pinch. Obviously, your celly's not gonna work back here, but there are plenty of logging roads and boat landings if necessary...although I hope they wouldn't be needed for any of you reading this. :)

Cheers!

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Facing downstream, this is obvious…
Facing downstream, this is obviou…
Some of my co-staff doing some pap…
Some of my co-staff doing some pa…
A pict of me and my white hat befo…
A pict of me and my white hat bef…
Cedar Rapids, the first rapid afte…
Cedar Rapids, the first rapid aft…