Badfish Creek VI
Old Stage Road to County Road H
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Making the most of what may well be the last bit of sunny warmth in 2012, I decided to double down on turkey day and combine the very best segments that southern Dane County has to offer in one last huzzah: the best stretch of the Badfish (Old Stage road to Casey road), the confluence of the Badfish into the Yahara and the last bit of the Yahara before its confluence with the Rock.
November 22, 2012
Cooksville: ht/ft: 4.25 | cfs: 61
This is too low to paddle. Instead, we recommend a minimum of 100 cfs.
Old Stage Road, Cooksville, Wisconsin
County Road H, Fulton, Wisconsin
Time: Put in at 9:30a. Out at 3:00p.
Total Time: 5h 30m
Miles Paddled: 16.25
Wildlife: A great blue heron, a green heron, a bunch of hawks, an exaltation of starlings (not larks), some fish, and a couple deer (in addition to that disembodied one).
What we liked:
A longer trip to be sure but I was alone, had no camera to stall me and was thrilled to have a thoroughgoing workout on the water. This trip is not for everyone, certainly but here are my two cents about why this makes such a compelling little journey:
1: You get the very best of the Badfish Creek, with all its tight curves, flushing riffles, islands and sheer intimacy. (Fallen trees become more prevalent after Casey road as you get closer to the Yahara but you can still find your way through without having to portage. Casey Road to the Yahara confluence is still great and nothing close to as frustrating as the Badfish upstream of Old Stage Road.);
2: The Yahara, while much wider than the Badfish, still offers a great deal of intimacy. Plus the banks on each side of the river are taller. It’s hard to imagine that this same river is what threads Madison’s two lakes together because in this setting you really feel like you’re in the country, away from things;
3: I love the last two miles of the Yahara before its confluence with the Rock. There are steep banks calling to mind the Eau Claire River with picturesque cross-stitching of canopied trees. Plus, once you enter the Rock you feel like you left another world (it appears huge after the intimacy of the Yahara).
I’ve mentioned this before but I personally get a kick out of confluences. This trip offers two: the Badfish into the Yahara, which is a considerable change and then the Yahara into the Rock, which feels like entering a new landscape altogether. The Badfish is all tight turns and fast riffles. The Yahara, while wider and generally straighter, is no less swift and intimate. The Rock looks gigantic compared to the other two, which adds to the overall diversity, though you’re only on it for a mile; so no real worries about development and motor boats.
This area of the county always offers wildlife and this trip was no exception. In addition to the usual suspects – great blue herons and hawks of all sorts – I saw my first green heron of the entire year. There was also an incredible moment when I spooked something in a bush overlooking a bank and the sound of snapping cracking was an insurgence of berserk crispness. I assumed it was a deer or two I had scared off. But no, it was a highly excitable orbit of starlings; their stiff wings a staccato of a mean Gene Krupa drum solo. I felt like an impromptu conductor of some dissonant orchestra. This sublime moment was matched by the ridicule of some positively clownish-looking goose. Red-headed, speckled, looking like a Raggedy Andy, he or she hunkered down on a branch by the banks and watched me with cautious curiosity. Whether it was the very same “crazy-looking turkey-like thing” mentioned in Badfish V, I can only hope, as that would have tied the season’s book ends only too perfectly.
What I can say for sure is that this trip was every bit as complete with weird death as previous Badfish paddles this year; along with the bloated raccoon carcass and a decapitated rabbit, I spotted the skin of a deer (not the whole deer, mind you, just its skin). This was midway through the annual deer gun hunt season in Wisconsin, so it’s not unfathomable that someone shot a deer, shucked its skin and kept the meat. But it was a little eerie to see that floating on the water, caught up in some brush. But that’s all part of the Badfish experience.
What we didn’t like:
Nothing really. There was a stiff headwind coming from the south that licked me good during a straight stretch smack into it on the Yahara. Despite going downstream with pretty good current, I was met with whitecaps and wavelets splashing me as though I were on a lake. It was an unexpected exercise but frankly it just added to the overall diversity of the entire trip’s experience. And as soon as the river noodled eastward, it felt like someone had flipped a switch and the wind machine shut off; all was calm and quiet again – time to relax and bask in the sun.
If we did this trip again:
One of our favorite paddles, Badfish Creek is a staple that we’ll paddle again and again.
Badfish Creek Overview: Badfish Creek Paddle Guide
Badfish Creek I: Route 138 to Murwin County Park
Badfish Creek II: Old Stage Road to Highway 59
Badfish Creek III: Old Stage Road to Casey Road
Badfish Creek IV: Old Stone Road to Casey Road
Badfish Creek V: Old Stage Road to Casey Road
Badfish Creek VII: Old Stage Road to County Road H
Badfish Creek VIII: Old Stage Road to Casey Road
Badfish Creek IX: Sunrise Road to Old Stone Road
Badfish Creek X: County Road B to Sunrise Road
Miles Paddled Video: Badfish Creek II: Old Stage Road to Highway 59
Miles Paddled Video: Badfish Creek V: Old Stage Road to Casey Road
Article: Paddling the Badfish Creek
Good People: Friends of Badfish Creek Watershed
11.5 miles. A nice pedal by bike with no real hills to contend with but it can get windy.