Yahara River X
Mud Lake to Lake Kegonsa
☆ ☆ ☆
The river section connecting Mud Lake (via Lake Waubesa) and Lake Kegonsa, this very brief section has a couple of pretty but fleeting moments – fun for a late winter jaunt when open water is a rare commodity, but hardly worth spending your time on otherwise unless you live immediately nearby.
March 7, 2015
1′ per mile.
Cooksville: ht/ft: 3.8 | cfs: 170
Water levels are almost always reliable.
Put-In + Take-Out:
East Dyreson Road, McFarland, Wisconsin
Time: Put in at 3:30p. Out at 5:30p.
Total Time: 2h
Miles Paddled: 4.25
Wildlife: Tundra swans, geese, ducks, mergansers and muskrats.
So there I was, gifted with a Saturday promising to be in the 40s and sunny after a month of unseasonably freezing weather while facing this dilemma: the air temp says “go paddle!” but the water temp still says “not so fast!” Once a river and especially a lake decides it’s had enough and just freezes til spring, it takes a lot of energy to thaw the surface of ice. By stark contrast, the air temperature can drop or dart 30 degrees in half as many hours like a flick of a switch.
But when it gets this warm this close to the actual equinox and there’s a warm front, you best believe I’ll be finding some puddle to paddle! That’s how this wee segment of the Yahara came to be. That and I wanted to check out the old truss bridge at Dyreson Road before it’s removed (it’s closed now and on the repair list, which may mean removal). Thus, this is not truly a trip report in the vein that we normally do. Rather, it’s meant to serve as a brief vignette to say, nay declare: “Hurray, spring is arriving! Carpe paddle!” We mostly want to show a few photos to help inspire everyone to dust off those boats in the garage. Warm weather, daylight savings, Canoecopia – come on all y’all, it’s spring! Woo hoo!
What we liked:
The very short segment of the Yahara below Mud Lake and just downstream of Dyreson Road is pretty and fun. The water is crystal clear, the bottom a mix of gravelly rocks and sweet sand. A few boulders dot the streambed and the environment changes from marsh to sedge meadow and oak savanna. And as I’d hoped, the truss bridge is quite easy on the eye. Given the time of year, too, the wildlife was pretty wonderful: there were at least a hundred tundra swans out there, plus dozens of mergansers and several mischievous muskrats. Lake Kegonsa itself was stunningly pretty as a series of meltwater pools surrounded by slushy ice enclosures. The contrast in textures alone was worth kayaking out to.
What we didn’t like:
Saying nothing of paddling back and forth (which presupposes paddling upstream, which I find perverted and plain wrong), or that both Mud Lake and Lake Kegonsa were inaccessibly frozen, at no point can your imagination pretend that you’re away from it all, as there are houses along the shoreline pretty much the whole time. Connecting McFarland and Stoughton, this is not surprising, to be sure. But it’s a factor discrediting paddling this section of the Yahara in its own right, unless you’re already nearby.
If we did this trip again:
This time next year, sure. But otherwise probably not. As long as the water is open, the best of the Yahara begins below the Dunkirk dam down to the Rock River.
Yahara River Overview: Yahara River Paddle Guide
Yahara River VIII: Lake Kegonsa to Stoughton
Yahara River IX: Stoughton to Stebbensville Road
Good People: Friends of the Yahara River
Guide: Yahara Waterways Trail Guide
Wikipedia: Yahara River
None since this was a forth and back junket.