Always busy but never rushed....
Long trip to the property with Dave, who arrived on Thursday just as I had, and with Bryan and Fred, who came late on Friday. Our goals were to measure for stairs so they can be drawn, and to do some clearing along the driveways. In addition, check out fishing spots and other kayaking locations to support the business.
I arrived Thursday a few hours after Dave. We started on the stairs immediately.... not an easy task. Transit was dead, so we had to rely on cell phones and digital tape measures.... but we did get what we needed. I now can create a rough drawing of what I envision in order to communicate with stair builders.
After measuring for stairs, it was off to try some fishing at Paddy's landing. We had seen Paddy's during our kayak trip down the Black River on June 30, and I thought it looked like excellent river access for fishing. A few walleyes and multiple smallies proved I was correct. Dave and I fished that for awhile with storms all around us. We took a break to go into town for pizza at Rozario's (best pizza ever!) watching the radar. Luckily, there was a couple-mile strip of no rain with storms on both sides of us. We went back to fish more, thinking we would get soaked and never did.
We hit Paddy's again early the next morning, but the bite was off. After going back for breakfast, we started working at the front of the property, clearing out the overgrowth on the driveways. It was amazing how far we were able to get with the time we spent working.
After lunch, we loaded up the kayaks and headed up to Trow Lake. This also exceeded my expectations as we found that you are able to paddle up beyond the main lake into a shallower extension of Trow Lake except for the Hall's Creek channel running through it. But, that channel is an excellent holding location for fish. Walleye and perch were the fish of the day.
We kayaked all the way up to where Hall's Creek becomes, well, Hall's Creek again, narrowing back down to creek-width. The distance up to where that occurs, however, is quite a distance and an enjoyable paddle. Once again, storms all around us but not a drop on our heads.
After a truck key mishap, it was back to the property to rest a bit and prepare supper for the arrival of Bryan and Fred. A relaxing night by the fire, and good sleep after a full day of work and paddling.
Breakfast on Saturday morning was followed by more clearing all the way back to the clearing. We then took off to kayak the Black River; what I call "Black River - South". This covers the kayaking legs from County Road K down to the dam in Black River Falls. We chose to kayak the same legs that we ran in late June, from Powerhouse Landing to Hall's Creek Landing.
When we ran this section of the Black River in late June, the flow was at 220-243 CFS, but for this run we were dealing with flow rates of 70 CFS; way too low for what I would consider acceptable. However, we still wanted to do this run just so we know what it is like when the water is this low.
Getting stuck in rapids and doing the scoochy-dance to get yourself unstuck is not much fun and really puts your abdominal muscles to the test. Having to get out of your kayak to pull yourself free of shallow rapids on rocks and boulders is challenging. This was certainly low water. But while this can make the trip a bit frustrating, I would still run this stretch of river at these depths. The groundings don't happen that often; I think it happened to us six or seven times during the three-and-one-half-hour trip, and on half of them there was probably a line that could be run to avoid the hang-ups.
It should be noted that when we made this trip at 220-ish CFS, the trip took a little more than two hours, compared to 70 CFS that took three and one-half hours. Yeah, lower flow rates literally means "the water is moving slower". While we use it as an indication of depth, it is really about flow velocity.
The river certainly takes on a different look at feel at the different heights/flow rates. The entire perspective of the river is different when many of these boulders and rock outcroppings are exposed, and it is interesting to see what you are travelling over when the water is higher and flowing stronger. For me, however, I am glad to have run it at both very low levels and moderately higher levels in the same season. The fishing holes also expose themselves at these lower levels. In fact, Fred caught a 25" Musky on this trip, along with two very nice Smallies.
So, would I run this again at these levels? Yes, I would. The beauty is spectacular, and it is worth the few hangups to see the river exposed like this. The way I have to look at it is that 98% of the trip is enjoyable with no issues; it is only that 2% that is troublesome.... and that is usually in the most beautiful spots.
220 CFS: Awesome.
70 CFS: Still awesome, but be prepared to get stuck a few times and scraping along a number of other times.
Paddy's drop, a rolling wave, was still runnable if you entered it from the far right entry into the wave. And, it is very worthwhile to paddle back up the east channel of the island in order to see some micro-waterfalls. Sometimes when you are looking down the river at where you are going, you miss some really rewarding scenery. When the water is low like this, small waterfalls are exposed that are covered up at higher water levels.
Bryan did take on Quarry Drop, a 2-3' waterfall in the middle of the river just a bit south of Brickhouse Road Landing. The main picture on this blog entry is of Bryan taking that drop. I wanted to try it also, but the downstream wading did not appeal to me. The flow on the west side of the island is nice if you can find the right line towards the end of the large island. As you near the end of the large island, there is a smaller island in the middle of your run that is best navigated to the west, or river-right, of that small island. The flow will carry you nicely back into the main channel.
After the trip, it was back to the property to begin to get things situated for departure the next morning. It was a fairly easy pack up, as I was much more focused on this trip on getting things out, and then putting them away when done, even if you are going to need it again the next morning. The trailer, which we will allow for rent to future campers/paddlers, makes this much easier to manage all of this than it would be without it. A place for everything and everything in its place.
A really good trip with the guys. We had excellent weather, were able to get much work done, and still able to experience the Black River at these low water levels.