canoe

Paddling the Paint river of Michigan's Upper Peninsula...and a little bit of the Net too

Evan and I realized we both had the weekend free about 3 days before this paddle, and didn't know for sure if we were going to have some adventures until about 12 hours before I left Eau Claire to meet him in the North. Our plan was to figure out a river or rivers to paddle Friday night while hammocking around the campfire, and that is what we did.

We settled on a 13 mile paddle that started on the Net river for the first 2.5 miles, and finished the remaining 10 on the Paint. Immediately and for the entire day the scenery was U.P. goodness. Large spruces and pines mixed in with birches and maples, all lining a rocky shoreline bordering slow waters. The Net river, from what I paddled and aerial photos above our put-in, seems to be large open lake-like sections divided by short wavy pinch points with very small rapids, maybe class I on a good day. There are a few very small rapids upstream on the Net, but American Whitewater reports suggest nothing more than waves. We did have a few logs/beaver dams that spanned the stream but had enough water over them that we could scoot across, use your best judgement here.

Once we hit the Paint we eventually found some rapids. The first was pretty short and a fun little warmup, then a bit longer one, and finally we arrived at the Upper Hemock rapids. This was a fun one that has the most rad campsite right on the rapids, river left, with what looks to be a huge eddy to pull into. We saw some canoers who were portaging the rapid while we passed through. It starts with an S curve at the top, where the portage and campsite are. After the bending it was a matter of finding the line with enough water. Plenty of stuff to avoid, and occasionally a ledge that spanned a good chunk of the river. Nonetheless it was pretty small and not bad, and I'd say we were on the lower side of navigable. A little more water here would make it more flexible and peppy, while a lot more water would make it straight up party time in there. I'll pray for lots of rain before the next trip so we can camp on the rowdy and then run some laps, huzzah! 

Our group recouped in the eddy below the rapids, and I managed to get a pic of Evan running the last bit of em.

After a short distance we started to notice the river slowing down, like it does above dams or large rapids, and sure enough we came to a horizon line. Hello Lower Hemlock Rapids! This was the highlight of the day and everyone crushed it, including Abbie who was paddling her Necky Looksha LV for the first time. I think her success sealed the deal on her relationship with the boat. I gotta say this rapid was larger than I expected, and that's a good thing. It was a blast and had plenty of waves to enjoy. Many hoots and hollers all around. From here it was a few flat, moving-water miles until our takeout at the Bates-Amasa bridge landing. Plenty of space, but otherwise just a dirt landing. Who needs more?

Between the Upper and Lower Hemlock rapids were some really cool little tributary streams. They are pretty tough to find but if you take a minute or so and listen quietly you can sometimes hear them. One 100 yard section had 3 little creeks and super steep hills bordering the main river, it was absolutely awesome northwoods scenery.

Paddling the Eau Claire River (Chippewa River tributary one)

There are many options for paddles down the Eau Claire river near Eau Claire, Wisconsin. One of my personal favorites is the urban run from the base of the Altoona Dam to Hobb's boat landing or further to Porterville. Here is a video from a September 2016 high water run down the Soo-Line rapid, which normally is a pretty tame I-II.

Big Falls is a few miles above Lake Altoona and takes up all of a huge corner on the river. There is an island that splits the falls into 2 unique drops. 

This picture was taken within the Eau Claire city limits. The lower Eau Claire runs 3.3 miles from just below Altoona Dam to the confluence with the Chippewa River. This section is arguably the most scenic and certainly the most peppy.

The Eau Claire River is a sandy river, which is a big contrast to the Chippewa which is much more rocky. This can be forgiving to your boats at lower water levels.

Another shot of the Eau Claire river from within city limits. The river valley really lights up at sunrise.

Big Falls.

Extended weekend paddle on the Namekagon River - September '14

If you paddle Wisconsin, you will eventually find your way to this classic Northwoods river. For 100 miles the Namekagon winds through northern forests, bogs, and meadows. With numerous campsites and landings you can make any size trip you'd like.

We used the map below.

We put in at the highway K landing early on Thursday morning. The scenery was great from the start, as the fall colors were really hitting a groove.

We didn't need to put in a ton of miles that first day, so much exploration occurred. We decided to check out Mckenzie creek first. Now the map is a bit tricky and there is conflicting information out there. The creek we explored was the little trib right before the leisure lake trail. Anyways here's what happened:

There were not any fish in the big open water area above the beaver dam, however the water was crystal clear and fun to explore.

After having a great first night around the campfire, we hit the water again for another day of adventures.

After utilizing a few different filter methods, we all agreed that on a river like the Namekagon a waterbottle filter would make the most sense. This short clip shows exactly what I mean.

At one point on the 3rd day, James was somewhere upstream and we were unsure of his location. Here is where we found him.

Earth caves on the Namekagon? sweet! Although we had some clouds on the last 2 days, the scenery was still amazing.

I would highly recommend any portion of this river to all! The rapids are very manageable and the campsites are well maintained. For help planning a trip or more information please send me an email: jake@ringoproductions.com. I'd love to hear about your trip and plans!

The Lower Black River, 53 mile Overnight Kayak

When I found a few extra days it seemed like a no-brainer to take the kayak out on a paddle trip. The Black River downstream of Black River Falls was my choice. I had heard good things about the sandstone cliffs and surrounding landscape. 

Much thanks to my buddy Zach! He helped with the shuttle for this one and made my life a lot easier. I put in around noon on Tuesday, May 5th at Perry Creek Recreation Area and made my way downstream for about 27 miles. 

It is pretty amazing to explore the various cliffs and tributary river valleys that line the river. Also plentiful are springs that pour into the river. In addition to this the wildlife is active and abundant.

The next day was 26 miles to the boat launch along highway 35. Woke up and got some camp coffee going in the percolator. Always use straight river water for this, just something about it. Hit the water by 9am. Spent some time with eagles pretty close, 20 minutes hanging out with the one. Rained hard for a while, which was awesome. 

This is certainly a trip worth repeating, and could easily be stretched out over a few days. Below you'll find highlights from the paddle.


Zumbrota River, Minnesota, 23 mile day trip

Met my dad in Zumbro Falls, MN and paddled from river mile 46 to river mile 23 on the Zumbrota River to the take out in Theilman. Neither of us had spent any time in this river valley, let alone on the actual river so it was a nice surprise to find steep wooded banks and large cliffs lining the shoreline. In doing some research before the paddle I had found other accounts of quick trips on the Zumbrota, and so was  expecting over 5 miles per hour. At 3:30 into our paddle I reminded dad to start paying attention and looking for the take-out; as in theory it could come any time around 4 hours and on. Immediately after saying that I looked to the left bank and sure shit if it wasn't the take-out. We nearly missed it. 6.7 mph is not too bad and might be the fastest 20+ mile paddle I've done. 

After completing this trip in a whoosh I'd definitely like to return and cover the entire river. It looks like Minnesota DNR has set up a few shoreline campsites along the way.

Here is a link to the Interactive Water Trail Map for the state of Minnesota, a very valuable too for kayak and canoeing.

Didn't capture a ton of camera stuff from this trip but here is a short minute of some of the stuff we saw along the Zumbrota River while we kayaked.


Chippewa River - Overnight kayak trip - 2 days, 33 miles

The Chippewa River drains one of Wisconsin's largest river basins and provides many opportunities for a paddle adventure. The lower 66 river miles are free flowing to the Mississippi and gather some spectacular scenery.

The put in for this trip was Hobb's boat landing in Eau Claire. Prior to launching, give the usgs gauge a look to get an idea of what level the flow is at. The link here is to the Durand gauge. From Hobb's the river meanders through the city before heading into a more rural setting. Along the way you can get a great look at the Silvermine Ski Jump near the Porterville boat landing. If you look closely you'll notice that the bike trail makes a few appearances on river left. This also gives one the option of doing a self-supported trip with a bike, rather than dropping vehicles. 13 miles from the start is the Caryville boat landing off highway H. This is a nice landing with lots of space and provides a great takeout for a day trip. On this occasion, I pressed on.

Camp spot for the night was 16 miles in to the journey on what is locally known as "Grassy Island". This is a small island on the upstream side of what is know as the braided section, an area of the Chippewa that splits into 2 relatively equal channels for the next few miles. The downstream side of the island has a nice sand bar that exists at medium flows and under, however at high flows likely ceases to exist. Your accommodations aren't much as this is undeveloped, however the old truck rim for a fire ring is a nice perk. 

Day 2 was 17 miles from Grassy Island to Hubbard's Landing off highway M. This takeout is a few river miles upstream of Durand, WI. For this specific paddle I was forced to take out here as it was late March and the river still was iced over in Durand. In this section the river gets a bit wider and starts acting like the large river that it is. The bike trail makes many appearances again, as well as the Dunnville bottoms where the Red Cedar Trail meets the Chippewa River Trail. For more info click the linked names and you'll be taken to a trail map.

One of my favorite parts of this section is the confluence of the Chip and the Red Cedar rivers. The "Green" Cedar as it has been nicknamed meets the dark tannin stained waters of the Chip and the contrast between the waters as they mix is quite perfect, if not a bit bizzare. 

The Chippewa River bike trail is not very far from this takeout and once again allows you the option of self-supporting with a bike if you so choose.

Here's a short video that shows what I found in late March in this section: