Tag Archive | adventure

Kayaking Door County, Wisconsin

Last 4th of July, we went camping in Door County, Wisconsin for the second time. I can’t explain the magnetic pull this area has on me, just like Jens Jensen. I totally get why he chose to be here. It’s very strange, as I can’t see myself as a full-time resident here. Winters can keep you pretty isolated, along with down-right frigid temperatures… Not my idea of fun.

Although Wisconsin has a lower housing market than my Chicago suburbs area, Door County has it’s “Cape Cod of the Midwest” reputation and adds a higher percentage to that market percentage. Add on waterfront to the description and tack on 100% to the price.

I’m not in the high enough tax-bracket to achieve a two property household, so I’ll just dare to dream for now…

This post got lost in the drafts folder, as I was looking to add some video from my sport camera… Trying to load it onto YouTube as I write… Got that spinning wheel of death right now. My upload speed is probably at -2% right now. .. I’ll keep you hanging right now as to if this succeeds or not, by posting it at the end… If I can 😉

There are a total of three locations we kayaked in this post.

FIRST: Kangaroo Lake

It is a 1,156 acres (467.8166 hectares) lake that’s only 12 feet (3.7M) in the deep end. Kangaroo Lake received its name from its shape which resembles a Kangaroo with its head (North end), pouch or hands (mid-east side), and feet (south end). The best part about the lake is the fact it is shallow and big boats can’t be on it. The Lake Association has banned them to preserve the easily disturbed, silt bottom. This makes for a kayaker / canoers dream paddle location.

My hubby used to come here and fish when he was a wee lad. You can catch Panfish, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike and Walleye. The water is very clear and it’s pretty easy to see the fish below. It ain’t so easy to catch one, though. 😉

There is even a small island in the center that I’m pretty sure is privately owned. There is a beautiful house with wonderful landscaping with boat houses, et all. We did see a young gentleman arrive at the dock from the mainland and waved to him. He tipped his hat back. Clearly, there is activity happening here, I just didn’t put a lot of time researching it. Anyone know???

Mama duck escorted her kiddos across the lake. I hope boaters pay attention to wildlife =-)

Early in the morning, the water is pretty calm.

Next we visited Mud Lake:

While driving around the area, we saw a pull-off area and felt the need to investigate. Turns out there was a launch into Reinboldt Creek, which takes you to Mud Lake. This is from the DNR website:

Mud Lake Wildlife Area is a 2,290-acre property located in northeastern Door County near Moonlight Bay. The property consists of a 155-acre shallow (maximum depth 5 feet) drainage lake surrounded by an extensive shrub and timber swamp. Immediately surrounding the open water is a narrow zone of shrubby northern sedge meadow dominated by sedges, willows, dogwoods and sweet gale. The wetlands and lake provide habitat for the federally-endangered Hine’s emerald dragonfly (Somatochlora hineana) among many other wildlife and plant species. The open zone grades into second-growth wet-mesic forest of white cedar, white spruce, balsam fir and black ash. This is an example of boreal forest habitat which a rare community type to be found in Wisconsin. As a result records of boreal forest species such as Common Goldeneye have been documented to nest on the property which is rare in Wisconsin.

I wish I could tell you that the two below videos were from my sports camera. Nope. Still working out the kinks. The hard part is that the screen will ‘time-out’ and there’s no light or anything that lets you know it’s recording. I think ti’s not recording, hit the button again and then turn it off. Gaaaa! I’m getting better and I do have some longer ones that I’ve uploaded to YouTube. I’ll connect to those when I’ve edited out all the swear words 😉

I wonder why the rocks are so red. Very cool, tho!!

Now we’re at Gills Rock.

This boat launch had plenty of parking and an easy in/out for small boats. There’s a Fleetwing shipwreck to go check out. The water is clear enough to see the cargo, 25 feet below.

The area was originally full of alder (Alnus), willow (Salix) and cedar (Juniperus) which has given way to forests dominated by spruce (Picea) and, then later, pine (Pinus). Mixed forests of eastern hemlock (Tsuga) and hardwoods such as beech (Fagus) and elm (Ulmus) became standard by about 7,500 years ago and have persisted. I saw many birch (Betula) and Eastern red cedar (Juniperus), like the ones in this photo.

There are many animals that rely on the cliffs for shelter and food. The gulls in the photos below soared just above the water looking for fish.

We are starting to get a bit more elaborate with our rock stacks. We’ve been adding levers to the mix. Clearly, mine is the one with the flowers 😉

A recent rock slide.

It couldn’t have been a more beautiful day.

The seagulls were swooping up to see if we were offering treats.

Hieroglyphs of people canoeing.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Middle Fork River Kayaking

Middle-Fork-River

We came here to camp for the Memorial Day Weekend and take advantage of all the waterways to paddle around in. We used Kickapoo Landing to shuttle us on Saturday for a 13 mile float down and on Sunday for the 8 hour.

The Middle Fork of the Vermilion River is a tributary of the Vermilion River, which flows to the Wabash River in Illinois. The Middle Fork rises in Ford County and flows southeast to join the Vermilion near the town of Danville. In its entirety, the Middle Fork is about 77 miles (124 km) long.

Middle Fork River is Illinois’ first State Scenic River, designated in 1986 by Governor James R. Thompson. In 1989, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Manuel Lujan nominated it as a National Scenic River. The Middle Fork is the first river in Illinois to be included in the National Wild Scenic Rivers System. The State Law (Public Act 84-1257) and the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act give permanent protection to a 17-mile segment of the river in Vermilion County.

The Middle Fork River has eroded the countryside through glacial deposits, which created sheer valley slopes and tall bluffs. This resulted in sandy cliffs on the riverbanks, which attracts swallows to nest in the safety of the vertical landscape. During a flood, the muscle of the river slices new channels, moves boulders and uproots trees.

There are five canoe access points along the 17 miles of the Middle Fork River. There are additional canoe access areas further upstream also. You can take a short paddle of a few hours, or make a weekend of it and camp overnight in the campgrounds.

The Middle Fork River Valley supports a great diversity of plants and animals including 57 types of fish, 45 different mammals, and 190 kinds of birds. Of this diverse wildlife, there are 24 species officially identified as State threatened or endangered species. Other special qualities of the Middle Fork River valley include unusual geologic formations, various historic sites, and over 8,400 acres of public parks.

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Turkey vultures are almost always overhead looking for squished snacks. They enjoy hanging out in dead trees. A group is called a ‘venue’ or a ‘kettle’, as they resemble bubbles rising in a kettle while riding the thermals in the sky.

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Many communities of swallows were in the bluff sides. They were swooping around us to get all the bugs that were flying around, although gratefully, not mosquitoes! I wonder if all the cottonwood seeds posed any difficulty in them hunting? BTW, a group of swallows is a ‘flight’.

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Rapids!!

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We didn’t see anyone for a while and decided to dock. There were many locations similar to this to dock. I swear it was only seconds after I pulled out our lunch when a large group of loud folks docked right next to us. Gesh, no peace… We left for a quieter nook.

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Fat fingers were a common occurrence while kayak without a waterproof cover on my phone. I wanted to be sure I had a good hold of it and sadly, covered the lens at times. Oppsy!!

However, fast action on my part did save me from loosing my camerone. I did capsize on a rock the first day… It felt like it happened in sllloooow mooootion. First, please don’t be alarmed, 95% of the river is only two feet (.6M) deep. There is no chance of drowning, just stand up! You can loose your equipment tho, my hubby had to grab my runaway paddle.

What happened was I hit a large rock which turned me 90º, I leaned, the water came in and filled it sideways. I stood up and held the water filled kayak  against the rock until my hubby could pull it to shore with me. No biggie, remove plug and drain. Call it a mulligan and paddle on.

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That’s me!


© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Gross Reservoir / Dam and South Border Creek ~ Colorado

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We took a wonderful, dam drive out to the Gross Reservoir area looking for a dam place to hike. The reservoir area was kind of boring. We decided to go towards Osprey Point which headed up! We found this parking area and heard water… That was an invite in my dam mind!

This river was a Class V Kayak run:

Class V- Extremely difficult. Long and violent rapids that follow each other almost without interruption. River filled with obstructions. Big drops and violent currents. Extremely steep gradient. Even reconnoitering may be difficult. Rescue preparations mandatory. Can be run only by top experts in specially equipped whitewater canoes, decked craft, and kayaks… Mmm, so we’re juuuust a tad under-experienced 😉 Safe to say, we didn’t brink our Yaks.

We decided to hike the random railroad tie steps down to the water. Pretty dam steep my friends. I walk leaning back in case I fall, I’m way closer to the ground. I had my grippy shoes on for rocks, however all bets are off with the dam loose soil. We noted the sign warning of cougar attacks and how to thwart one… Remember, you never need to outrun the thing chasing you, just who your with 😉 I also hoped to not be part of a horror movie where the dam dam breaks and we’re washed away…

It was well worth walking down to the water. Toe test proved it to be pretty dam cold. No wading for me, although we did see a few fly fishers standing in it, no prob.

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Owned and Operated by Denver Water. I think there are seven reservoirs total. Colorado is pretty anal about their dam water. I get it. It will be worth more than gold, once people get their heads out of their dam asses!!
Elevation: 7,225 feet (2,220 meters) — spillway
Capacity: 41,811 acre feet (one acre foot = 325,851 gallons)

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Karma Khameleon ??

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Ilex!!

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Husband!

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Gross Reservoir

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The Dam Lookout

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The Dam Mountain View

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Helen Hunt Falls ~ Colorado Springs

We had just had a great hike at Garden of the Gods and more time to come here. The mountain drive was fantastic!

Helen Hunt Falls is located on Cheyenne Creek in the North Cheyenne Cañon Park of Colorado Springs, Colorado. The falls are named in honor of Helen Maria Hunt Jackson (October 15, 1830 – August 12, 1885), a United States poet and writer who became an activist on behalf of improved treatment of Native Americans by the U.S. government. She died in San Francisco, California in 1885 and was later buried in Colorado Springs.

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© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Fourth of July Trailhead ~ Colorado

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The Fourth of July Trailhead would have been a great place to hike the Indian Peaks Wilderness… However sadly, Mother Nature decided to rain and hail on us that day! As we drove up, the sun would shine, then hide. We figured we’d see what was happening when we got up there. Que the hail!

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It seems climbers see a place to climb, haphazardly park their cars and get out the ropes. I guess it’s good to be near a paved highway if you were to fall. My luck, I’d fall and a super bus will be rounding the bend =-(

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North Fork Middle Boulder Creek

After going through the town of Eldora, Colorado (pop. 142) we drove on about five miles to a single lane, dirt road. Although the road was narrow with steep switchbacks and steep in places, Chris had no trouble making it all the way to the parking area. I could not drive this road in my Mitsubishi Eclipse… Well, I could if I didn’t mind losing all my ground effects! Better to take a higher riding automobile.

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Not that you can see, however directly after the little row of Aspen on the left, was a good 500 foot drop.

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We truly like our adventures. We did much of the navigation by memory as we had no signal from the three cell phone companies we had phones for in the car. Even after looking on maps now, after the fact, they are not represented well as they were dirt. I think I will invest in a paper map, however, I still bet these roads are not on the map.

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wpid-wp-1444237089574.jpgThere are many stories of how the trailhead got its name:

  • For the purported silver lode discovered by C.C. Alvord on July 4, 1872 in a mine along the south flank of S. Arapaho Peak.
  • The trails to the lakes and high passes are typically not clear until after The Fourth of July.
  • Some also attribute the name to brilliant wildflowers reminiscent of fireworks on The Fourth of July.

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© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Fox River Kayaking 8-21-2015

We bought KAYAKS!!!

We’ve been putzing around renting kayaks and canoes for far too long. My husband did all the research and we settled on the Bass Pro Shop brand Ascend. He went with the fishing version and I went with the sports car version =-) Both are 10 feet long and about 50 pounds. A few things really make these ‘Yaks’ the bomb… The storage space is enormous, I can fit a full cooler in the back. The cupholders at the front keep your drink from spilling all over your legs (Who thought a cup holder between your legs was a good idea?). However, best of all is the adjustable, padded seats!!

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Cheers! Our maiden voyage is on the Fox River. We were a bit farther south than the last trip on the Fox.

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The starlings really enjoyed squawking in this large dead tree. I spied these flowers on the shore… It was a Geocache!

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Enallagma cyathigerum ~ Common blue damselfly

Damselflies and dragonflies spend the greater part of their lives as larvae, sometimes as much as three years. Adults live for around 12 days on average and in this short period they must breed. Mating can take up to 20 minutes and the females lay their eggs in the tissue of plants both above and below the water line and are capable of remaining submerged for some time. The male will stay guarding her at the point where she entered the water.

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Too bad we didn’t get to see a train.

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Nice and calm waters. No motor boats, too shallow. Only about 3′ feet mostly. There are some deeper spots.

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A Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla ) scurries around looking for crawling snacks.  Very cute.

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl