THE OLD MAN AND THE OTHER RIVER III

7/13/2022    

The Wisconsin River forms no State border; however, it is the dividing line between many counties within Wisconsin. The dark brown color it absorbs is a combination of tannin acid from tamarack trees and a little poo from various farm and wild animals. This is pure nature. The skiff was now under power and heading downriver. The crew of 2 took the first 20 minutes to get familiar with boat’s characteristics and trying to read the river water. Within 15 minutes, they hit their 1st sandbar and another 9 were coming their way all day. The obstacles averaged 140′ long, 30′ wide, and they surfaced like a whale. In no time at all, the light sand shows up ahead of the boat, and it’s a guess as to go left or right. Maintaining a high-water level from heavy spring rains spread over 12,000 sq. miles of drainage, this helped and hindered at the same time. In low flows, the sand bars are visible above the water; but with high flows, like on this day, the water rushed 8″ over the top, producing 2 scenarios. 1) You pulled up the motor and let the current slide you over the top or. 2) You got beached and had to get out and push. As the water got instantly black, you had seconds to jump back in before the sandbar disappeared into an 8′ deep abyss. Walking islands is what they were and after 3 or 4 encounters, it was now second nature. The lower Wisconsin River punches through the driftless area in the SW. part of the state. It is absolutely gorgeous as the bluffs stand like sentinels high above the river on both sides having alternating floodplains and steep banks from time to time. Rock formations were like castle turrets, and flat lands were packed with flora and fauna just behind the river’s edge. For 5 hours, the photographs of Ansel Adams unfolded in front of these 2 mesmerized skiffers and nary a word was uttered. Puttering downstream, a new photo album of river wonders was around every curve. The weather was perfect, and serenity took the helm. 

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