May 28, 2010
Taking advantage of two wonderful weather days, I paddled on Thursday and Friday. Thursday morning, I paddled from Gotham to Muscoda with Harriet Pedley, Richland County Zoning Administrator, to assess shoreline development on the north side of the river. The morning was spectacular, one of those Chamber of Commerce days, with sunshine and a slight breeze. Lots of good birdlife and great scenery.
Thursday afternoon, I paddled solo from Muscoda to Port Andrew (Blue River). While the day remained glorious with a little more wind, but not bad, the trip was marred within a mile of the Muscoda bridge when I found a dead juvenile eagle on a sandbar. I spoke with Dan Goltz, DNR Wildlife Biologist stationed at Boscobel, and he asked me to bring it to the boat landing where he would meet me. (NOTE: Possession of an eagle or eagle feathers is a federal offense! Report the finding of a dead eagle to your local DNR station, conservation warden, or call the tip line at 1-800-WDNR-TIP.) The bird was in a fairly advanced state of decomposition. I marveled at the talons and beak. I estimated the bird to be about two years old. I paddled with the stench of death the rest of the trip which cast a somber tone over the voyage. My mind reflected on the dead bird and wondered about what happened to cause its demise. The circle of life, for some it is a larger circle than for others. My spirits were lifted by the sight of a beautiful adult and a juvenile eagle a couple of miles downstream. While I remained reflective, the emerald bound shores, deep blue skies, pileated woodpeckers, swallows, herons, cranes and eagles helped to restore my soul.
Friday, I paddled solo from Peck’s Landing (Spring Green) to Otter Creek (Lone Rock). Another perfect day. Not a cloud in the sky, minimal wind and mid-70’s. Today was definitely Eagle Day on the river. At one point, I could see 5 eagles soaring overhead. I saw a number of adults and several juveniles. Also, sand hill cranes and a red shouldered hawk; not to mention the other cast of usual suspects than frequent the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway. The word “Wisconsin” or “Ouisconsin” is translated in several ways and no one has been able to say definitely which translation is correct.
One definition is “Gathering of Waters” and another is “River of Flowering Banks” while yet another is “River of 1000 Isles”. The trip today made all three translations readily apparent and plausible. Particularly, the phlox and St. John’s wort in bloom on the banks and countless wooded islands. If you haven’t paddled on the Wisconsin River, you should. You will be amazed.
Pictures from paddling.