Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Friday - September 18th: Petenwell Dam to Portage, WI

Great night’s sleep and again it looks like another beautiful day for paddling.

Again the portage at the Petenwell Dam looked like it would be a tough one. So I took out at a boat landing short of the dam and pedaled around to the boat landing on the other side of State Hwy 21.

I was not on the water long for as I got into the Castle Rock flowage, I again was starting to be confronted with the green algae I had on the Petenwell flowage. Last night my canoe was covered with the stuff and it made for a messy unloading of the canoe. Plus no way could I use the water for washing. So rather than chance paddling through such a mess again, I made the decision to bike around this flowage.

Where I re-entered the water at a boat landing below the Castle Rock Dam I found a big yellow sign saying “Boat launch $3.00”. First one of these I’ve come across. As I thought, “Do they really charge canoeists portaging around the dam $3.00?” I noticed another sign saying, “Canoeists re-enter here”. Made me feel a little better.

I’ve been looking forward to this section. Soon I will be entering the Wisconsin Dells area which is one, if not the number one, tourist area in all of Wisconsin. Through this section both above and below the Dells Dam the river is lined with numerous sandstone high bluffs and rock formations.

Just past State Hwy 82 the bluffs began. Just gorgeous. Only one problem, I could not find my camera. Normally I have it and my cell phone in the small food container I have just in front of me, but neither the camera or phone was there. I was sure I did not leave anything at my campsite last night for I’ve been checking twice everything around me before I leave. (Never used to do that) Then I realized I set my tent up last night for the first time and before I went to sleep I put the phone and camera in one of screen pockets in my tent which is packed away. So I have no pictures of this area.

I will say that if you ever are in this area it’s a must-see either by canoe, boat or one of the many Wisconsin tourist boats. The high sandstone cliffs and numerous rock formations are unbelievable.

I took out at a private landing on the west side of the river short of downtown and the Kilbourn Dam. Glad I did for there was a huge sidewalk sale going on in downtown Wisconsin Dells and if I’d gone all the way to the dam I’d have been right in the middle of it. I got around all of this and was able to find an easy access to the water below the dam on the right.

Now with camera in hand I will take as many pictures of the lower dells as I can. Other than to restate that’s a must-see area I will let my pictures do the talking. (Please check photo album)

The rest of the day’s paddle was an interesting one. Once past the Dells area the river became very shallow. It was wide, but you had to continually move from one side of the river to the other to stay in the channel. If not you would find yourself getting out of your canoe and pulling across a sandbar. Of course on more than one occasion I found myself doing so, thinking I could take a shortcut.

Because of the sandy shore line and the many sandbars it’s a popular canoeing area and probably party area evidenced by the numerous places I saw remnants of campfires. Oh, to be young again! I did encounter four guys paddling this area. They were either getting in or out of their kayaks when I came by. I said “hi” and keep going only to hear, “That old dude is really booking!” Can’t say that that made my day.

It was getting dark as I approached Portage, Wi. I could hear the traffic from the I-39 freeway as I was continually getting in and out of my canoe to pull myself free of a sandbar for now it was difficult to find the channel.

Just short of I-39 I found a fairly isolated place and made camp. Another long day, but by far the most scenic. Need to get some sleep. For tomorrow I hope to be on the water early for I must get to Prairie du Sac hopefully by early afternoon. Tomorrow is Saturday and I will be driving to Green Bay to meet Jim and Newt for the Green Bay Packers game on Sunday. Hopefully I have a car waiting for me.


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