Thursday, August 30, 2007

Intro to River Camping Trip - Mark Morrall

Great short film on Intro to River Camping by our friends to the south - The Prairie Canoeists of Illinois Mark Morrall!

Had a chance to paddle with some of these characters this summer on the Bark River. Great group!!

Around the World In Ten

Ironmen in their wooden ships

A single handed race around the world in ten foot boats

It has never been done before so these guys will be sailing into the history books to be the smallest boats to circumnavigate the globe.

The goal is to beat world record set in 1987 by Serge Testa in his 11ft 10in boat “Acrohc Australis”

OK… game on! Here it is, probably the most outrageous event I have come across in small boat challenges.

This is no hoax. No gimmic. This is the real deal. If you have ever gotten your rudder wet, you may recognize some of the icons of small-boat adventuring.

Stay tuned as I will be following along. My only hope is that my good friend J.T. (Beezer) is reading this and is secretly building a boat for the event. Follow along at Around the World in Ten

“All things are possible” – Verlen Kruger

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

What's happening

Lunar eclipse

"O" dark 30 walk in the woods.

The eclipse was something to behold. We got up early and headed out to the Waterloo River Basin and watched the transition as the earth shadowed the moon… an amazing event.

Scout was un-impressed as he darted around chasing anything and everything. Laura had wished she took me up on getting her a coffee. I swatted the state bird—mosquito; being chemically dependant and forgetting the bug spray.

Marissa took a pass on the event and hunkered down under a pile of stuffed animals and comforters and slept in.

Paddling conditions locally

Water levels are very high and at flood stage around the state. Many lakes have a no wake posting. Should make for a good algae free paddle with Laura this weekend…

Many of the rivers we paddle slow down during the waning summer months. Lots of lily pads and algae appear. A bit of scouting this past weekend showed a good flow of water on the Oconomowoc River.

There have been many cancellations of MadCityPaddlers paddling trips as well. Especially the creek and small river venues offered during the week. Better safe then sorry with a collective group new to experienced paddlers.


Two for Tuesday burgers and beer... now were talking - The Capt'n

Monday, August 27, 2007

Where now..

Where the heck are we and were do we go from here?
I am feeling a bit perplexed with not having an adventure or paddle trip planned for fall. I would like to see if we could get family and extended family out for an over-nighter when the fall colors start presenting themselves. Possible upper Wisconsin near Blackhawk Island or a Black River paddle?

Labor Day weekend is right around the corner. Laura and I have a day paddle planned ( chain of lakes) and some great nights out.

The paddle is one of my local favorites... Oconomowoc River and a chain of four lakes - Lac La Belle, Fowler, Oconomowoc and Okauchee lakes. some great little eateries and taverns along the way too. But as for now... Being Monday;

Riding the wave of government bureaucracy and inefficiency - The Capt'n

Sunday, August 26, 2007

End of the road...or the beginning

Packing it all in, is it the end of the road or just the beginning?

We had another high wind day a head of us, but it would be to our backs most of the way. We watched other paddlers coming into the area as we did earlier in the week. What journey are they on, will our paths ever cross again?
As we departed Quetico, it felt like we were headed in the wrong direction. Was it really over? Where have the days gone?
We really dragged out leaving camp this morning. Just didn't want it to end. What's another cup of coffee and another handful of mini-wheats going to cost us in time? Who cares...


A little proof that we did indeed make it in and out of the park. My map reading skills were excellent. Unfortunately the application of what I read needed some work. :-/ But I got us around with out injury or fatality... most important Laura and I are still together ready for another adventure! :-)


When it is all said and done... hopefully you are left with wanting more. A great trip, one not soon to be forgotten. I've paddled in some pretty cool places, add this one to the list.

We took two days driving home easing back into the world. A little beer savoring and dinner out in Ely before we hit the road for home. Nothing like a steak cold beer and flush toilets.
The rain came and we heard the news... flooding and Hwy 60 bridge was washed out and the area was making the CNN news.
We took it slow. Spent the night in Chippewa Falls and took a brewery tour at the Linnie Lodge. It rained for 6 days straight after leaving Canada. Someone turn off the faucet.


Life can be one long portage, but the distance travelled and your journey are priceless. - The Capt'n

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Warm summer days and lazy nights

Ah life out on the water. Those warm summer days and the lazy nights. Totally in our element totally relaxed and loving it.

Laura taking it all in as we leisurly get our day moving. Looking forward to an easy day of paddling and working our way down the lakes. Wind is really howling, we plan to stay to the lee of the windward shore.

We thought we had seen the last of the boat pulls, but one more for good measure. Wasn't too bad, not compared to what we have seen in previous days.

Laura smiles for the camera as we take a short break on one of the many islands we came across. A very windy day of paddling. We did get pulled over by a ranger making his way up the lake. Very pleasant. He asked for our travel documents and we were on our way.

I over shot our destination.... again and we had to do some very hard paddling into the wind to get to our island. We arrived and settled in. We were 6 hours from the world. We soaked up as much of the experience as we could.

A little swimming, cribbage and the last of our hot meals. So windy today that nobody was on the water. We would later learn that many groups were pinned on the wrong shore waiting it out.

Ely, where the road ends and the adventure begins - unknown

Friday, August 24, 2007

Portage paddle and drag

We had great sunrises on our journey through the Quetico Park. Here is a shot as we were getting ready to break camp for a very long day of paddling a portaging.

Water levels on the lakes were great. There were no fire ban in the Quetico, but the rivers that interconnected some of the lakes on our map turned into a boat pull and drag.

Here is an example of what turned into a boat drag. Two hours of shear hell allowed us to find beautiful spots like this beaver dam.

Finally a little open water. dead tired, we were on the hunt for a campsite. It was easy to make claim, when we came across this golden eagle nesting in a tree.

This was an outrageous find. We spent hours watching this golden eagle. He was a proud confident very dominant fellow.

Take a look at the size of the nest to the left. A juvenile eagle came into the nest and didn't set well with the larger eagle we caught on camera. They both were very vocal. It appeared the larger eagle was throwing the younger bird out of the nest (home) and the younger bird didn't want to go. It spite of our encroachment into their world... parenting had to be done.

Make it happen - The Capt'n

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Refections MR340 - Thanks Kicker Fools

Long day of paddling

We had a very long day of paddling today and a lot of portaging. It was a good move to get our load down so we could single portage the route. It would have been a real drag having to go back and forth a couple of times to get our gear.

We paddled from Burke Lake to Sunday Lake. Sunday lake to Meadows Lake. Then Meadows lake to Agnes Lake. After a quick snack, it was off to Louisa Falls.

Laura and I hike up the right side and made our way up to the top. Here is a view from the top of the falls. The water pouring over as very cold.

It didn't stop Laura from taking a swim in one of the pools that were formed by the rushing water. I think I see mermaids.

Another shot of the falls from a different angle. We spent a couple hours here as we had lunch and boiled water. The sun felt so good after swimming through the falls. The weather was perfect.

Picture of the falls and Lake Agnes in the background. Can't see it from this shot. Still a very windy day of paddling, but if you made your way to the windward shore and hugged it. It was OK.

We battled the high winds and worked our way up the lake for 5 hours. We were looking for the portage onto Silence Lake, but it was starting to get dark, so we made our way to this great campsite on a peninsula which offered a great view and a family of beavers.

It was so cool cause the little one was riding on mom's back and they would go back and forth in front of our camp site. Every time the dad would slap his tail and dive under the little one would try and imitate.

Powered by nature - The Capt'n

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

On the water

We were on the water early. We were able to leave right from he outfitter's pier. Our first lake was Moose lake. We had about a 3 hour paddle up to Prairie Portage were we would use our remote CANPASS to cross the border into Canada.

There was lots to see as we skirted he windward shore to stay out of the wind. At least a 1/2 dozen bald and golden eagles soaring high above our heads.

Our arrival to Prairie Portage found us in the ranger station going over documents. It got kinda confusing, as we didn't make any of these arrangements and didn't really know what was paid for through the outfitter and what was paid in other fees. We ended up having to pay an additional $60..00 dollars for camp site fees. We were very lucky to have brought any money at all. Right before we left I just through my wallet into a dry bag. Laura's mom was originally heading up this family outing so we were going at it a little blind to the details.

Our first portage went pretty good. We did a one haul over to Inlet Bay and met some paddlers coming across from Bayley Bay. Laura and I were wearing matching shirts with our Mid-America X-treme logos embroidered on and they thought we worked at the ranger station and started asking us all sorts of questions about crossing back over to the U.S. Yea, we looked a bit dorky.

We made our way into Bayley Bay and stopped on Sunday Island for lunch. The wind was really blowing and Bayley Bay is quite large. Huge rollers white capping coming down the lake. I over shot the portage and ended up near Hobo Island, so we had to battle our way back a bit. We were taking waves over the gunnel's and bow so a bit of maneuvering was needed. The water was pleasant and the shore pretty close by. We weren't in any danger, but it made it exciting to surf the swells and bash some waves coming across the lake.

As we prepared to portage onto Burke Lake we met an outfitter and another paddle coming back to the world. They said rain was coming and we could see clouds in the distance filling in. We opted for a short paddling day in hopes to stay dry our first day out. We camped on this very cool island with plenty of shelter and a great fire pit.

It never did rain, it blew over north of us. Stopping early was still a good move as we swam and hung out and started to un-wind. Played some cribbage, sat around the fire and went to bed early.
The makings of a beautiful vacation. - The Capt'n

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Quetico Adventure Continues


On our way up we stopped in at Amnicon Falls State Park did a short hike around the falls.


There was a very cute bridge over a narrow passage.



We were feeling adventurous and made the decsion to detour and make a run up the north shore of lake Superior. The weather was outstading and there ere a couple of light houses in route we wanted to see.


Our detour took to a road that was closed, so we really were on a detour. We named it the "detour from hell" as we left the pavement and hit gravel and then dirt. 30 plus miles... blah.



We made it of the detour and arived in Ely, Mn. shortly there after and hooked up with our outfitter. We originally had six in our party and the other 4 needed to rent canoes. When they bailed on us, we were beholding to the outfitter to take one of the rened canoes. A Souris River Quetico 17 in kevlar. It was old and beat up. The bottom oil canned, but it did the job. I eneded up really liking by the end.


On our way to the put in, we encountered a moose on the hwy. The picture is a bit blurry do to the lighting. He was huge and trotted off ino the woods.



The rest of the early evening we sorted gear and downsized our load. Our plan was to get our gear down to a one haul carry. Our present state: A triple carry... We worked the magic and got a manageable load. We were good to go.
We headed back into Ely for dinner. We hit this cute resturant the Cranberry, threw back a couple of brews and had dinner. We were planning to get out on the water early the next morning so we headed back to the bunkhouse on Moose lake.
Ely, Mn - a nice place to visit, would'nt mind living there 8 out of 10 - The Capt'n

Monday, August 20, 2007

Quetico Adventure Begins

Our drive up to Ely, Mn. was very enjoyable. Laura and I opted to leave "Scout" home ( which was an extremely good idea).
Our first stop was in the small town of Spooner. Wisconsin. It was a great night out as we went to a very unique local tavern and a high end sports bar. Very contrasting establishments.

The local pub " The Wobblin Duck" was a trip. The beer was extremely cheap and for good reason. The tapper line must have been dirty or the beer skunked cause Laura and I both had to dump out our drinks.
I had an interesting conversation with a local gentleman as Laura took our mugs to the bathroom for dumping. He spoke Nort'woods and I nodded my head allot. He gave me what could have been considered a high "5" but he missed my hand and I think he tried to hug me... We made our move for the door. But not before I waxed Laura in a game of billiards.

We caught this sunset on our way out of the Wobblin Duck. The Jersey Sports bar was your typical sports bar. Great local beers ( more on local breweries later) and a billion TV's.
Spooner WI gets a 7 out of 10. great little northern community - The Capt'n

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Quetico Provincial Park

Sunrise on Lake Agnes

We have returned safe and sound. Over the next few days I will share some of the highlights of our paddling adventure. The short version: Outstanding!
Our favorite quote of the trip:
Unattended children will receive espresso and a free puppy - The Great Nort'woods

Thursday, August 9, 2007


File photo Quetico

Quetico Provincial Park is a premiere wilderness park in the northwestern part of Ontario, Canada. It's landscape is laced with a network of quiet lakes and small rivers, which make it one of the finest canoeing areas in North America. First time going there, imagine that. Can't wait to experience it.
We may be taking "Scout" our 9 month old shepard-moose mix pup. He gets a test paddle tonight if the "Weather Gods" permit. "Scout" did pretty well down at the MR340 when we camped at the finish.
One thing "Scout" has going for him is he loves to swim. He can really motor, but he is pretty rambunctious, so we'll see if it is a go. Otherwise it is off to Aunt "B"'s pet spa at a staggering $350.00 dollars for a 9 day visit. :-/

File photo Quetico
I think this will be the last post till our return. Unless of course there is an incident tonight worth noting.
Like "Scout" swamps the canoe and we all take a swim!!
Time to get lost, then find myself - The Capt'n

Monday, August 6, 2007

Weekend warriors

Went camping with Emily and Marissa this past weekend. Never got a boat in the water. The rain came in fast and furious. A poorly placed tent and improper rain fly configuration makes for a very wet and soggy experience. Spent the better part of Sunday morning at a local laundry drying out gear and sleeping bags. We had gotten lazy and just threw the flys over for the dew. But the thunderstorms rolled in and we got drenched.

Managed to get in a game of mini-golf, listen to some whacked music at Riverfest and grilled burritos over an open fire. I ate so many smores I am still feeling the effects of all the sugar

5 days till we leave for the Quetico for a week of paddling and camping. Looks like it's Laura and I, as the rest of the gang has bailed out for one reason or another. Which makes logistics and planning much easier. But we'll miss their company.

Marissa before the rain came. The last of the smiles for the weekend.

"A rainy camp weekend with your kids, shows no mercy" - The Capt'n

Friday, August 3, 2007

MR 340 the after

The start - River John on the bottom in red Sea Wind - Alan and us top right - photo Connie

When Mark and I were closing in to the finish, I told a story about two of my best friends and how we met. I ended the story by, " I wouldn't be surprised if these to characters were at the finish when we arrived."

Low and behold, there they were. Mike Polzin and Tom Grow. Camera and champagne in hand. These two took us under their wing, They got our boat up and secure on shore, took us shopping for clothes (as our stuff was in a vehicle that had not yet arrived). Got us checked into a hotel, fed us and joined us for a fabulous meal. What a great way to end the challenge. Bestest friends in the whole world!!

We had Friday and Saturday to mill around and meet the racers as they came in. Awesome to hear their tales. I have fond memories of the Trail-Head Brewery just up the road. I sat down with Wayne and Ann from Team Huki and heard their story first hand. Unbelievable accounting. What an adventure that was.

Mark caught a ride back to Kansas to retrieve the Team Kruger Van. Laura arrived and joined in our celebration of teams arriving. We met up with Dawn and Alan later in the evening and had a wonderful meal at a restaurant called "Canoe". Very fitting. Very relaxing and very enjoyable.

Funny things I am starting to recall:
Don't set you tent up on a bunny nest. The little ones tend to get nervous and send your dog into a tizzy.

Nicknames - they are wonderful... A new one came up for some one "Cabin Boy" hmmm who could that be?

In a world of supplex nylon and self inflating mattresses--- Long live the blue jean and foam egg carton sleep system. - You go John boy!

The End - or the beginning - The Capt'n

Thursday, August 2, 2007

MR 340 the during - part 3

Night leaving the checkpoint at Miami Photo by Connie

Our third morning found us in great spirits. We had calculated our ETA to St. Charles around 7:00pm, made phone calls to family and friends.... and pushed on.
We battled the heat, mused each other with our attempt to stay cool. Mark was wearing multiple shirts soaked in cool ice water. I had a bilge snake wrapped around my neck drizzling ice water into it. We were quite the site.
Our goal today was to keep it moving and enjoy. We talked for hours, but to be honest I can't remember any of it. I do remember laughing a lot. Humor was our friend. It fought off the boredom, it fought off the heat. It made the hours go by effortlessly.
We did meet up with Karin one of the race directors that told us the Huki story. The had what was left of the Huki in the back of their chase boat. It looked like scrap material, no resemblance of a outrigger canoe.
We did have some fun with Doug Berg and Dave Dahl. They were in a faster tandem canoe about 30 miles out from the finish. They were slowly working their way closer. Mark and I would sprint a head almost to exhaustion. We figured if they were going to beat us, we were going to make them hurt a little. We did this cat and mouse antic a couple times before they pulled along side. Their comment was priceless: "Man you must have gotten quite a boost from that discharge pipe. We couldn't catch you." We held back any comments as they went by. They got us at the finish by 25 minutes or so. We were hard pressed to wipe the grins from our faces.
More to follow...
Just too much fun! - The Capt'n

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

MR 340 the during - part 2

Mark and I in the Kruger Cruiser - First evening - photo by Merek
Really settling in, the Kruger Cruiser felt like home. There is magic on the river, the connection through the craft in which we paddled. Life is grand. Couldn't imagine being anywhere else. Mark and I reflected on the Lewis and Clark expedition, wondering if we were experiencing anything like what they endured. We agreed we had it easy compared to the up hill battle they encountered.
Day 2 is a bit of a blurr. I remember - eating chicken and hot roast beef sandwiches... I remember laughing so hard my sides hurt. I remember the ice and the calculating of our journey and our ETA's to different check points. One thing that sticks in my mind, was the well staffed energetic and very accommodating race staff and volunteers. Very impressive in-deed.
The second night on the Missouri was slow going. We were flashing markers through the fog and moving cautiously down river, trying to stay in the channel. Our travel was safe and calculated. No sense wrapping the boat on a buoy or pinning on a wing dam. Cuts into the fun factor a whole lot.
After moving slowly for about 6 hours we beached river left to catch a nap. It was too dangerous to go any further on an hour and a half sleep. The buoys tend to suck you in and they can be quite menacing in the middle of the night. As we found out early the next morning. Team Huki had been taken out by a barge just down river from us...
more to follow...
What a ride - The Capt'n