Friday, August 16, 2019
First canoe camping trip for grandson Will Pelton (8)! With oldest son Scott, who has not taken a canoe trip with me since the first Brightsand River trip in 2013.
The Namekagon River is part of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. Managed by the National Park Service, the Namekagon is one of the original eight Wild & Scenic Rivers in the nation. Most of the Namekagon is undeveloped, offering a genuine wilderness experience (we saw just two old cabins).
Our 26.4 mile route started at the County Road K Landing (Mile 31.2) near Trego, WI and ended at the Namekagon Trail Landing (Mile 4.8). See Map.
We arrived at Jack’s Canoe Rental shortly after 9:00 to pick up the shuttle. The shuttle followed us to drop off the canoe and all our gear at the County Road K landing. Then he followed us to the Namekagon Trails End landing to park the truck, before we jumped in the van before he drove back to drop us off at our canoe. Very friendly driver.
We loaded the canoe and we were off!We quickly realized that we were too top heavy. We made it about 50 yards before pulling over to repack the canoe. We were quickly back on the river.
Beautiful day on a gorgeous river.
Given the amount rain received in Central Wisconsin, I was surprised to learn that water levels were only average. We had to get out of the canoe a few times to get through some low spots. We successfully navigated the heavily loaded 18.6′ canoe through several Class I rapids, but we slid off the side of a submerged rock that tipped all three of us into the water. We quickly jumped to our feet in the very shallow water and dragged the water filled canoe to the shore. Lost one paddle, but we could see it floating downstream (we found it later hung up on a tree limb). We took out all the gear and placed everything on shore, before dumping out all the water from the canoe.
We moved Will to sit behind Scott and laid down the biggest bags in the widest part of the canoe. This setup proved to be the most stable.
We stopped at a sand bar for a snack and saw tracks from raccoon and deer.
We saw a doe with 2 fawns. They looked at us for awhile before jumping into the brush.
We stopped at the Whispering Pines Landing (Mile 21.3) and were impressed with the nice landing. We unloaded the canoe, only to find out that no camping is allowed :(.
We repacked the canoe and stopped at the beautiful campsite at mile 19.8 at 4:00 pm. Glad we found this site early, as several canoes floated past looking for a place to camp, one guy shouted out “You have the best campsite!” We setup the tents and chairs. Hung a clothes line to dry out our wet gear.
Will stayed busy collecting firewood and managing the fire.
Scott and Grandpa played catch with Will, who practiced his one handed catch of the football.
Grandpa made pizza – a big hit! Enjoyed a clear night with bright stars with a nice campfire. Nice to talk with Scott after Will went to sleep. We reflected on our day, we covered 11.4 miles, saw a bald eagle, two hawks, a big turtle, a doe and two fawns.
Saturday August 17, 2019
Woke up on a crisp, clear morning. The river was like glass as the morning mist rolled over the water.
Made pancakes for Will and egg, sausage, cheese breakfast sandwiches over English muffins for Scott and I.
Heavy dew covered our tents as we broke camp. When we turned over the canoe, we noticed that the wood support for the front seat was broken. Some duct tape and ratchet strap held everything together for the rest of the day. We were on the water at 10:00 am.
A perfect day for paddling! Sunny, warm, with a light breeze. Deeper water, with fewer obstructions allowed Scott to paddle hard. We passed a number of groups tubing or slowly canoeing down the river. One guy in an aluminum canoe had a charcoal grill going as they floated downstream.
We stopped twice to stretch and have a snack.
We arrived at the Namekagon Trail Landing at 2:00, we covered the last 15 miles in just 4 hours! Busy landing, we almost bumped into two women that were wading in the river. They helped us stop the canoe in the strong current. A large group of ATV’s were congregated in the parking lot behind the truck. They moved out of the way and we were able to load the truck quickly.
Given that we finished several hours ahead of schedule, we discussed various options on where to go to spend the night. Will wanted to go to Grandpa’s house. Will was a trooper for the entire trip and I did not want to push him too far, so we headed home.
Will enjoyed driving the pontoon and tubing on a beautiful evening.
Grilled some cheese burgers and enjoyed a campfire. Watched a red full moon rise in the east and fireworks over the lake. Reflected upon a wonderful trip!