Back to the Wisconsin River

I grew up playing on the Wisconsin River near Poynette. After high school two good friends and I did an annual canoe trip from near Mauston to Lake Wisconsin for at least 10 years (once two of us capsized in March at 10:00 at night and the air temp was 17 degrees).

Back in ’91 after hiking 1,244- miles of the Appalachian Trail with my trusty golden retriever Ben I canoed the entire Wisconsin River. Fast forward 23 years – my 15-year-old daughter, Selina, is a complete-into-it teenager and an outdoors kind a person.

Four weeks ago Selina had a knee injury resurface in a bad way and she has been very hobbled up ever since. The good people at the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge kept her job for her but in reality a lot of the fun has been removed from Selina’s summer.

Two weeks ago I told Selina that she could make the choice on what our next adventure would be. Selina chose a canoe trip with our golden retrievers Fire and her pup Ruby.

Here is one of the challenges. Selina works until 3:30 p.m. on Saturdays and on Monday she had a doctor appointment at 2 p.m. to get her MRI results. Knowing this, I figured that we could canoe to an island somewhere and hang out for two days.

That was not what Selina wanted to do. She wanted to travel and so I came up with a plan. We would canoe from the Wisconsin Dells to Hookers Resort near Poynette – about a 25-mile journey.

Saturday, Aug. 6

High 86, Low 65

My goal was to get on the river and paddle at least four miles, find a really cool campsite, cook an awesome supper and relax. That goal was met when we discovered a winding channel on the quiet side of an island and made camp at the top of it.

I will not let Selina work as the pain it might cause is not worth it, so she played fetch with Ruby.

I put up our tent, unloaded the canoe and flipped it for a table, organizer and a keeper-of-stuffout of-the-sand setup. Steaks from our beef and sweet corn from the garden was din din and it was excellent.

Sunday Aug. 7

High 89, Low 63

Today was a perfect day in paradise. Smallmouth bass were feeding in clear view of our campsite and as we casually broke camp I cooked a hot dish from hamburger out of that same steer.

Our plan was simple: paddle, float, take lots of breaks and meet up with Selina’s 25-year-old brother, Travis Dushek, somewhere on the river near Portage.

Travis was going to bring his pup (Ruby’s sister) out in his boat and our plan was to hang out and enjoys a summer day on the river

Ash is Travis’s pup and holy moly is she an interesting critter – agile and a jumper (from boat to canoe) would be a good description. We floated by Portage and listened to music, Travis and I enjoyed some always tasty Leinenkugels and it was a good day to be on the water.

Later, we parked our rig for the day on a sandbar. Travis hung around until he had just enough time to go home and watch the Packers in The Hall of Fame Game (which was later canceled) and than I fried up some homegrown potatoes and bluegill fillets.

Selina and I are early to the sleeping bag when it is just the two of us and it is pretty neat sleeping on the sand in a tent with two golden retrievers. The following morning we paddled to Hookers Resort (an awesome cook-yourown steak house) and headed to the doctor in Mauston after loading our gear into my truck.

The results from the MRI were good news. At this point no surgery is needed and hopefully physical therapy that starts this week will heal a torn ligament.

Selina lost her sophomore year of cross country (as a runner) but she is going to be the manager.

The pup will grow up to be a duck fetcher and long after my last sunset has passed, the Wisconsin River will still be flowing into the Mississippi.

Live large!


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