One river, two creeks – Part 1

Luckily the whole COVID-19 situation doesn’t keep me from the outdoors and kayaking certainly enforces social distancing. Once the bugs were out in their hordes, I hit the water and my first paddle was new for me. Well, new-ish. I launched at a spot on the Spirit river just above where it meets the Wisconsin, but below the dam (obviously!). I’d heard that putting in here gets you close to a creek or two that you can paddle up. My thing exactly. So off I went.

Colors of spring

It was just at leaf-break and the colors were softly pastel. It’s one of my favorite parts of spring. It seems each type of tree has a different color leaf when they first unfurl. I went down a little side channel (of course) and found stillness and my first soft-shelled turtle, but it swam under the boat and disappeared.

Fresh green


Secret paddle

Once I was on the Wisconsin, I had to keep my eyes peeled for an opening in the trees. A secret little creek nearly impossible to get into. There were some trees down at the place where it joins the Wisconsin, but I could get around them. It was shallow, but high enough and so magical.

The spirit of exploration


Glory overhead


Beauty remains

It’s here that I came upon these guys –

A triad of turtles


Balancing buds

The creek is very shallow and has many bends. So far as I can tell, it has no name.

What holds the power

While I know that other people have been here, it feels untouched and unexplored. As if I’ve entered a mythical land created just for me.

The wind tells the story

It’s hard to tell from these shots, but the creek has a pretty fast current. Check out this grass bending to its will –

Under a bird’s eye

At this point it started to get hard to make any progress. Partly because of the current and the fact that I couldn’t get enough of the paddle into the water to overpower it. And partly because it was very shallow and bendy. I had to aim the boat carefully in order not to run it aground and lose what little momentum I managed to build.

Land of 1000 perches

I wish I’d had the presence of mind to stand up for a few shots. From this low vantage point it’s hard to tell just how meandering the stream is. But eventually it got too much and I turned the boat around (omg was that a process in itself…I really should have gotten out to turn it, but I think of it as skill-building! ha.) Then I could drift back. Of course I had the wrong lens on for these two. Always the way.

One looks much like the other

But it was the right lens for this –

Drift into sunset

And believe it or not, all three turtles were still in their spots, still let me go past them quite close and didn’t care at all. I guess if they’re not familiar with people or boats they don’t get so upset about them. In more populated lakes they dive for cover the second I come in view!

The never-ending story

I almost didn’t stop for these shots thinking that I couldn’t process them well enough. The colors and the light were so delicate, but direct and backlit – no clouds. My eyes, constantly adjusting for the changes in brightness, could put it all together beautifully, but oy…could I do it in post? Well, I did stop and I did work hard at creating images that aren’t too fake looking, but conveys the subtle beauty of the scene. It was still better IRL though.

Then I got to playing.

Tannic reflections

Oh it was fun!

And before I knew it, I was back on the Wisconsin. But the memories linger and I think I’ll be giving the creek another look. Maybe in fall when all those Tamarack pines are in their golden glory.


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  1. Pingback: Best of 2020

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