Last week I went on a paddle-pedal adventure, taking advantage of the great new segment of the bike trail between Boulder Junction and Manitowish Waters. I parked my bike at the bridge overlooking Rice Creek., then drove back up to H and K, putting in at the Manitowish River just below the rapids.
Its been years since I had been on that part of the river-it was actually better than I remembered. The water was moving swiftly, and there were some downed trees to create strainers. I never had to get out of the canoe, but I did have to pay attention. There are houses along the first part of the river, but otherwise it felt peaceful and remote, especially after the first hour of paddling.
At about the time the river flowed into Island lake, wind and rain and even a bit of hail came up. I made the mistake of cutting a straight line towards Rice Creek, which meant I had the full force of the wind and choppy waves hitting me sideways. Had I to do it over, I would have taken the long way around, sticking to the southwest, then cut across the lake when I got to the Creek.
At any rate, I made it across to Rice Creek, and then the wind basically carried me upstream. You can see me moving through the wild rice in the video above. (whoops, trying to get the video uploaded now) I saw these otter playing, but I couldn't really slow down enough to get a good video.
Lots of wild rice in Rice Creek! Very quiet and peaceful. The weather got better, by the way.
I was in the water around 8 a.m., and out around 2 p.m. Once I got my legs to work again, I biked along the trail (did I say how great this trail is?) back to my car-about 30 minutes maybe.
Wildlife spotted: The otters, a mink (or fisher or something) eagles, kingfisher, blue heron, a huge cloud of redwing blackbirds descending on wild rice, lots of ducks and Canada geese.
Quiet hunting: Bad weather makes for good quiet hunting. This was the big motorcycle weekend, but there was only a segment where I heard much of them. The river initially runs along highway H, and that means you do hear vehicle noise from time to time. Mostly, I noticed the sound of wind through the trees.
I had a thought if anyone takes this trip-please remember that although the trip starts and stops along the bike trail on Highway K, for most of the trip, the river will move well to the south. If for some reason you have an emergency and need to get out of the water, don't go north (to the downstream right) -the area is very remote. Instead, look south (downstream right). In the early part of the trip, the river hugs highway H. In the second part, there is a boat landing to the left just as you move into Island Lake.
Though this is a "quietwater" trip, there were a number of strainers to look out for early on, so you should have basic canoe handling skills. Otherwise, this is a great trip. I can't wait to do it again when the fall colors come out.
One more thing: The day before I ran along the trail close to the North Lakeland School and spotted a large coyote starting to cross, just in front of me.. I wasn't able to get my phone out to take a picture, it was gone in a moment. Did I say how great this trail is?