Friday, June 21, 2013


Load the van, again, and head on down 94

Known for driving well, having long conversations with people that have called the wrong number, and giving advice to people in stores who don't know what they are doing. I've actually done that as well. I was in Sears tool department one day killing a little time before meeting my brother and some guy was pacing the circular saw blades like he had no clue so I say, "I've used many of these blades, if you tell me what you're cutting I can tell you what kinds will work." This leads into a long conversation that draws in several others and before long I'm giving a grand oration on gullet design and rake angles... one employee thought I was the new manager they were expecting...I wonder how that worked out for the new guy and if they told him I almost got his job? 

Ok, so Blake and I are in Sconie for the weekend. We planned on riding River Falls Whitetail Ridge Friday then drive to Wausau for Nine Mile. After Nine Mile we would go south to Standing Rocks than over to Levis Trow. 

I pick Blake up around 5pm and head to Wisco. He tells me he only has Saturday so we cut Standing Rock out of the plan.

Whitetail is fun. I didn't think much of it at the time. It was good but not awesome. I expect Nine Mile or Levis is be mind numbing awesome.

After a good two hours of riding we Beat Antiques to Wausau. We arrive about 10pm but the park is closed and we can't find camping. The sign says we can camp with permit and we don't have one. The bugs are horrible so a bivi would be a blood bath. We start searching the net with our phones and find Rib Mountain about 15 minutes away. We roll heavy footed following the SatNav voice but get stopped by a sign, "Camping Not Available!". There is talk of a hotel, mostly from me. We are downtown Wausau and a rural bivi with the mosquito would be almost fatal. About then Blake finds camping at the county fair grounds. I figure 'no way!' but having no options I figure we may be able to bend the law and use it if we can gain legal access. The first gate is closed but the second is open. We drive into something that looks like central park NY in that it's a large plat of trees in a city. The sign reads 'Campgrounds ->' and a few seconds later I see a small RV and a light... more campers...A TENT! This place is open! Wha Hoo Wisco!

Two slow rolls around the lots and we get a nice spot in the corner. Set up, cook some dinner and it's lights out all for $13. I can see a stop light changing color from my tent. That's new.

It rains a lot over night. We wake up to light rain and bail to the shelter for a big breakfast of oats, pears, peanut butter and bagels.

Pack up and hit the trails by 9am. The park building is closed but it's pay to ride and the information says nothing about closed when wet. We have 20 miles of CX trails and 10 miles of single track so we ride the CX trails because we don't want to ride wet trails and the ski trails are grass or gravel. We find a runner and he tells us, "The trails never closes, go ride" so we go back out and cover most of the 10 miles but the wet rocks are just too hard and we are crashing too much so we load up and head to Levis.

Levis is open but YellowJacket is closed. We pick some trails and get going. The trail is wet and called Goat Hike or something. It's a mess and they just finished logging or chuncking to kill the pine beatle so it's ugly and wet. We still manage over 2 hours. Have a snack and head out on Toad Road but by now it's raining and the rocks are grease, it's slow and miserable. You stop and the bugs eat you. The wood bridges are so greasy they are unridable. At one point, I stall out yet I'm still peddling as my back wheel spins. I fall over and crash off the bridge.

 Above: Recent logging on the left and a muddy trail on the right.

 Above: Nice trail in front but I just passed the largest Ant colony that had to be 6 feet across. Below is a rugged looking turtle intent on making his/her way to a low swampy area about 50 feet away.

Below: Munch time.

Below: Toad Road is good if it wasn't raining.
Load the van, again, and head on up 94.

The heavy rain started just as we end a loop and head back to the van. It's over. It's raining hard so the trails are going to be swamps. 

We get back to town about 8pm. 


  1. Don't order filet mignon or pasta primavera at Al's Lodge. It's a diner. They serve breakfast 24 hours a day. Let them cook something they know.
  2. Wet trails are still rideable but not enjoyable.
  3. Mosquitoes are huge so if you are riding and inhale one, chew three times and spit out the bones. 
On that protein choice, good bye.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Low Credit Score

Some adventures name themselves but this doozy has so many it's like they grow on trees. That line is a lot funnier than it reads so let me explain the joke.

My buddy Brad says,"If I don't use my kayak I need to bring it back to my cabin" so I reply, "Then let's go." He proposes the Credit River and that explains the location.

If you read Eating Crow you may understand the Low and Score in the title but wait for the trees. If you haven't read Eating Crow it explains why I still had a good time and why Brad, um, less so.

Now that we've had a ladle of history and I've given heavy clues to the title, we need to bushwhack our way into the story.

The Credit River flows north to the Minnesota river. You can see some of it from the post called, Giant Salamander. Brad and I meet up at 5pm and drop a car at the expected take out and then head south to the put in.

We jump in and the first few miles are great but then the trees start closing in like big green tollbooths and we start paying in time. Its like a river peepshow. Every 100 yards we have to pay to see the beauty of nature and the cost is adding up as the risks get greater and the shows even shorter. The last few miles we walk and swim with the boat to save getting in and out every 100 feet.

About now Brad is finding the river to be more 'pay and pain' [another possible title] then fun. Logs, rocks and who knows under the water are bashing our shins and ankles. Bugs are eating us from the top down and the downed trees threaten to rake us into a thousand cuts or drown us all together.

We pass tree after tree and drag over land on many short portages until we are almost without spirit, if it wasn't for the low sun and fog like darkness creeping in our pace would have slowed to a crawl.

I always carry dry clothes when cold or wet is possible and a head lamp if I have less then a full day. Snacks, multi-tool and emergency space blanket complete my normal kit. The blanket is for shock following an accident while the other summons help, should this ever happen.

Log jams lead to deep holes and swimming is dangerous but twice I find myself floating and holding my boat. My pfd only gives a tiny margin of safety because the current would easily over power the life vest if I allowed myself to get near a downed tree forcing water under... So too would I go. I do not witness but I believe Brad may have had to claw his way out of such holes.

I have many more miles of river experience then he so I was working the boat and my skills allowed me a small measure of safety but this is more then we expected and it put Brad into a bad place. No way to bail out, no way to paddle and no way for me to help but to stay with him. The best I could do was boat down and then eddy out and wait for him.

To 'eddy out' means to catch the swirl of water behind an obstacle in swift water and use that back current to pull you out and up stream behind said obstacle. Coming to rest in the calm water between it and shore. It's the only way to stop next to jumping out and pulling the boat to shore which is what happen many times.

Staying together was slow and we were almost out of daylight by this time.

Brad has capsized at least 5 times. Lost his boat twice and paddle more then that. I help drain his boat many times so the fun for him is done, I'm still doing fine from my experience on the Crow but I'm worried for his well being. The best I can do is be stern and tell him to keep moving.

 Alas we arrive at the take out! Bugs are chewing on us as we load the boats. Soaked to the bone we drive back to the put in to separate gear and head home.

The Credit is a pretty creek but scores low on my list for kayaking. That leaves us with all the names. Bad Credit. No Credit. Credit Report. Taking on Credit, was more then we expected but once you sign up you got to make good on your promise and make the payments. We make the final payment in blood via mosquito about 9:20PM. The next time I take on Credit it's going to be winter and on that note, good bye.

Monday, June 10, 2013


Leaping over the Utah trip, again, I jump back on the blog with a multi-sport trek that at one point requires we rappel a waterfall and it's only 58 degrees outside. 

Last Friday I was at work with a plan to meet Pete at 6pm and show him the ropes of packrafting so I 

had already loaded a bike, raft and a climbing harness. I wasn't sure at the time why but I thought maybe I'll think of a way to use the harness before 6pm. 

I get a text message from Josh telling me he's out at 10am and planning on a freakshow of fun. As it happens I have a low task list at work and a van load of gear so I text that I can be out at noon and it's go time.

We meet up around noon and shove some groceries down our necks to fuel the fire and we are off riding to the put in.

First we need to stop for a tube. Those things are always going flat....

Into the creek and it's all fun and games for the next 90 minutes.

This is the first time I've had the Krampus (new bike with 3 inch tires) on the packraft. It doesn't fit real well but I manage to secure it well enough for flat water. I'd need to tie it better for big Class 1 Class 2 but we'll get into that before the day is done. 

As you can see from the photo below we are not too far from a civilized walking trail but then it's a Friday afternoon and we are playing hooky from work to go creeking.

Most of the time you wouldn't know we are in the city.


Yep, that's what we're laughing about. 

I don't have much of a story for the rest of the photos. Lots of things happen between us and those on Terra firma that makes for short yet energetic laughter but nothing that distills to 400 words or less so lets stay with the apparent tranquility of an urban creek.

About 90 minutes from the launch we jump out and jump on the bikes.

This is the repel. It's close to 50 feet and running quite well with cold water and it's only 58 degrees out. There is no way to avoid getting soaked.

Josh is first to drop in and is taking on the full spray of water.

We lower the bikes on a modified Tyrolean to keep them from getting banged up on the rock. You can see my green bike about mid way down. 

I ended up damming the flow of water while we lowered the bike so by the time I get to drop in the water is backed up and poring so I get soaked. Silly me, I stop to get this picture.

Soon after I change into a dry shirt ( I always carry dry gear when its cold) to ward off hypothermia and continue on to the river for more rafting.

Josh pulls the ropes and packs up the gear while I change. The water wasn't raining as hard for him so he got wet but not soaked like I.

This is the run that drains the flow we just rappelled.

We launch into the strong river current for a passage to the other side, paddle a narrow and then across  to a landing on a long thin beach of sand.

Remember the tube we needed to get at the start? Well, it's time to use it. To this point we've been airing up as needed. Josh rides south at this point and I loop back to get Pete and start a new trip.

Hello Pete! We are now in Saint Paul about 30 minutes after I left Josh and I'm still wet from the waterfall but it's time to get going again. That chow we got at Sea Salt is still stoking the fire but I feel it's a lot of ember now. It's close to 7pm and only 2 more hours of light but we have headlamps if needed.

The launch.

Pete is hauling the 9zero7 (fat bike) and I'm still hauling the Krampus. We rode a few miles up river to the put in and need them again to get back to the autos.

If you go back a few months you'll find this swing bridge as the launch site I used in winter to first run this stretch of river.

This outfall is spooky. The wind was blowing in making the illusion that the water was flowing in so by the time we got close to the column you see it felt like we were getting sucked into a monster. The sound of falling water added to the monsters roar so we got the hell out of there.

Down river we encounter a barge. He blows a horn a few seconds after we see him. I believe he sends a deck hand to the front to look for others and ward off an accident but we are well clear. The captain comes out to wave and say hello and thanks us for 'parking' while he passed. He was pushing 9 barge upriver through some hard bends and bridges so I was surprised that he was still friendly.

I have a new tool call a 'transview' so I can push my camera out a few feet to capture a more complete picture of where I am and who I'm with.

Pete and I paddle like mad to go upstream after playing in the high surge of the barge. Remember the Class 1/Class 2? Well the tugs large screws push up standing waves that are monsters to me and Pete. I jump right in and paddle with force to control the boat while yelling at Pete that its 'AWESOME!' Some of it is too large for me to play in with a bike on the bow but I do what I can and can't wait for the next chance to dance with the tugs wake.

We paddle to the same take out as I used last winter. 

A short ride to the cars and we are off to the pub for a pint.

Water-Water. A creek, a waterfall , a rivers, rain, and more river. After all the rain this spring it's hard to get excited to get out. Many times I've had a plan and figured it would just be better if it wasn't 50 degrees and raining so I find other things to do and 'save' the good stuff for when it's nice. That didn't happen but the day was still very cool and it gets me back to posting.

Update: Josh posted his story at Full On

The Otter in me forgot how fun water can be if it's not always in the form of rain and on that note, good bye.