Nothing puts a smile on my face like paddling on the river.
Yesterday, Ranger John Rainwater paddled by kayak on one of my favorite stretches: Thompson Bridge to Eagle's Landing. Low water seldom allows us to get north of Hayward, so we jumped at the opportunity created by recent rainfall.
Dragonflies glinted in the sun, our personal escort to freedom from mosquitoes (yay!) and minnows flitted in the shallows. This entire stretch is noticeably shallower than the Namekagon is further downstream. We scraped bottom a bit and were forced to exit the kayaks and drag them several times. As you pass under Peterson Bridge, try staying all the way on the right and you may be able to float right through. On the plus side, the clear, shallow water lets you easily watch the rocky bottom. Keep a sharp eye out for fish! It's amazing to realize that the occasional sunken log could be well over one hundred years old and a remnant of the logging days of the 1800's!
It is sometimes difficult to take in everything that you float past, and this section of river is no different…
The narrow river winds past big cedars and mossy banks where bunch berries bloom. Rows of painted turtles basking on logs allowed us to get surprisingly close before rhythmically "plop, plop, plopping" off into the water. I lost count of the eagles and osprey we spotted overhead, and at one point several common mergansers with their chicks in tow easily glided through rocky narrows ahead of us as we struggled to follow. In the wild rice beds of Phipps flowage we flushed a hooded merganser that led us away from her babies by nosily grabbing our attention and splashing away.
The flowering blue flag along the banks is very pretty, but if you have time stop and take a moment to look more closely: they are a lovely study in color, variation and pattern.
Too soon we arrived at our take out… another beautiful day on the Namekagon.
Take a day to relax and refresh. Come experience this sweet, intimate stretch of your National Scenic Riverway, where the water's clear, the current's strong and the wildlife is up close and personal.