Maunesha River IV
Elder Lane to Twin Lake Road
A repeat trip of this tiny stretch done after heavy rainfall and though the water was up, the deadfall was down, making for an unpleasant return.
June 13, 2013
To run the rookery section (II and IV) without scraping and walking your boat, you’ll need to catch this immediately after a hard, solid rain.
Elder Lane, Bristol, Wisconsin
Twin Lake Road
Time: Put in at 7:15p. Out at 9:30p.
Total Time: 2h 15m
Miles Paddled: 2.5
Wildlife: Hands down the single most humongous beaver I have ever seen swimming in the water and then of course, the beloved heron rookery.
Time worth driving to: 1 hour
So where we talk about “If I Did This Trip Again” here is proof in the pudding. The night before we received a heavy thunderstorm and a whole lot of rain. I didn’t have the luxury of taking off work so I had to settle for a late afternoon/early evening paddle. This short segment of the Maunesha seemed like a fine candidate for such an occasion (read: seemed like a good idea at the time!). The river was much deeper than the month before when I first paddled this segment, at least a foot deeper. The upshot: I’m glad I revisited it, this time with a friend for whom this was his first occasion but it’s probably off my to-do list now.
What we liked:
The water was indeed swifter and the fascinating segment inbetween Highway 151 was a blast. Where last month I scraped and had to scoot my caboose just to get by, here I coasted along. Until you have to portage! The heron rookery (the undeniable highlight of the trip) is as breathtaking as ever but now with the added benefit of some immature birds (I think that’s the correct term, though it does sound funny) craning their necks over the nests to take in the surprising sight of two goofball kayakers floating below.
What we didn’t like:
The godforsaken downfall after the northbound bridge of Highway 151 is just awful. There’s not much in the way of getting around these beyond portaging but the portages are none too easy, with high muddy banks, thick weeds, ticks and nettles galore. My buddy and I did our best to clear out and cut down what we could (spending at least an hour all told) but it’s hard to banish the thought that all of this is for naught come the next storm…
My friend got himself in a nasty (and nearly perilous) situation. He was in the middle of a long-winded (but quite entertaining) story and wasn’t paying attention to the logjam in front of him. Reacting to it too late and with such strong current coming behind him, he got pinned against a tree and then turned over. Fortunately, he was able to forcibly exit his kayak before it took him under but the boat was submerged and then was stuck beneath the surface. Now we we’re in a situation. He was safe and able to stand up, priority #1.
Cue in the kindness of strangers. Two young guys came out from the middle of nowhere (“nowhere” in this sense being someone’s farm field) and helped our sorry asses out. I got out of my boat (hello cold water!) and led it up to the bank, wherein one of the guys pulled it out onto dry land. Eventually, after more tree-sawing, swearing and sweating (there really were blood and tears, too!), we managed to extract a gazillion-gallons from his water-filled kayak, dumping it out over a log and then relaying it back to dry land as before. We also shared a much-needed (and dare I say, deserved) beer with the boys. Thanks again guys!
When my friend and I portaged and got back in, we discovered that we were only about 100 yards from the take-out, which was met with a mix of “are you shitting me?” (all that toil when we were so close to being done) and “thank God!” (for it had been a bit much and we were done).
If we did this trip again:
I could see myself doing this again but probably only if taking someone out who’s never been there and wants to see the herons. I truly believe this little stretch is so worth doing at least once. However, if you take nothing else from this post, let it be this: take out at Branch Road just after that northbound Highway 151 bridge (there’s an access point river-left). All you will miss by taking out there is a lot of frustration, hard work and heartache because from there to the Twin Lake road bridge, is almost a half-mile of miserable portaging.
Maunesha River I: Waterloo Road to Firemen’s Park
Maunesha River II: Elder Lane to Twin Lake Road
Maunesha River III: Waterloo to Portland
Maunesha River V: County Road TT to Canal Road
Maunesha River VI: Marshall to Firemen’s Park
Good People: Capitol Water Trails
Good People: Maunesha River Alliance
Maps: Capitol Water Trails
Wiki: Maunesha River
2.5 miles. Be careful on the takeout road, however. There were a shockingly large amount of regular cars driving to and fro, all of them quite fast.