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Kickin' Back on the Kickapoo/Sept 1-4/WI SCONSIN
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“OK, it's a plan. :-) And it will be a beautiful area!!!
Come one, come all for car camping with other activities that could include hiking, biking, mt. biking, canoeing, kayaking... even horseback riding.
I talked to a gal at the Kickapoo Valley Reserve today and she will be sending me more information. They are very strict on LNT regulations. Sounded to me, from information on the website, that ***everything*** needs to be packed out. No burning metal in the campfire. No huge parties (maybe a teeny, tiny gathering of backpackers??? lol)
It runs $4/day for a day use permit. So if you're there Fri-Mon it would be $16, OR you might just want to get the $15 annual permit.
There's also a $10/night fee for camping. If we have 5 people, you'd pay $2 a night (likely $6 for Fri, Sat and Sun nights). Or if 10 people, it would be $1 a night. You can have 10 people per campsite. If we have more than 10 (which I doubt, but ya never know ;-P ), we could split over a couple campsites.
So the fee would be something around $20 apiece total for the weekend. FYI.
Looking forward to it!! :-)”
“Dang I wish there wasn't a giant lake between MI and WI! Sounds like lots of fun Lizs.”
“two words: ludington ferry (ss badger)”
“I'm there! Can't wait!”
“OH!!! And don't forget geocaching (said Ms. I Have Found 168!)
There's a series of seven in Wildcat Mountain State Park, immediately north of KVR. You do the first six and get clues from them to get to the final cache. Basically everyone who's done it said it's a great series!
Took anywhere from 2.5 to around 4 hours to find them all. (don't tell dhutch about the 2.5 hours. LOL!)
Here's the website of the final cache:
last edited: 8/02/06 5:28:56 PM”
“You do geo-caching too??? So do I! I'm only at 26 or 27 though, but I do have one of my own and have plans to put another out this week. So cool! I'll pack my GPS too. I am listed under graska on the WI site. Are you on the Minn. site? what name to you use, I'll look you up.”
“I'm not sure, Lizs...everything is kinda up in the air right now...I've always wanted to kayak the Kickapoo...”
“Wishing ya the best, Matahari. Hope you can come and if not I understand.
graska, my geocaching name is also not too hard to figure out. lol... I don't do much on the MN site, although I did recently attend an event and meet some people. But you could find my name on the regular geocaching website.”
“Lonesome Polecat and Hairless Joe going to make this trip?
They made Kickapoo Joy Juice, if it needed more body, they threw one in!”
“LOL! WTF, Stovey????”
“..and lizsbaby calls herself a journalist. ;-)
Look Lonesome Polecat and Hairless Joe up.
They are both famous newspaper 'types' from the 50's to 60's, maybe early 70's.
They used up a lot of newspaper ink in those days.
last edited: 8/03/06 10:59:06 AM”
“Poor lizs....looks like al have to put my capp on and go dig her a hint up.”
“will you be bringing some of that along StoveStomper???”
“Kickapoo Joy Juice*
Posted at 10:17 in Beverage.
1 can frozen grape juice
1 can frozen pineapple juice
1 can frozen cranberry juice
6 mashed bananas soaked in lemon juice
Prepare the juices according to the directions on the cans, reducing the water by 1/4th. Just before serving, Add 2 liter bottle of chilled 7-Up and the mashed bananas. If you wish to make this an alcoholic punch, substitute a bottle of bad white wine for one half the 7-up. The Possum is optional.
*not as potent as the original”
“I really wish I could go but I am going to do something else in September that will preclude my showing up. It looks like a lot of fun!”
“Poor lizs is still trying to figure out what I was talking about. ;-)”
“Woo hoo! Just when it looked like an all chica trip, a guy signed up!
HELLOOOOOOOOOOO Randall!! (be afraid, be very afraid) lol”
Count me in.
“Can a poor backpacker attend? I've cached with liz... if that's any indication of things, it should be a great time. I'll be sure to leave my hormones in Minnesota :).”
“The Porkies confirmations are looking pretty sorry (midwesthiker.com), so I may cancel that trip (I'll decide 8/11). If so, I'm in for this one, and probably my friend Donna will join us, too.”
“Ya know Liz, JerBear told me the same thing!!! He also said I should watch out for the "Pink Thingy", LOL (I am guessing you what hes talking about)
But seriously, I was wondering if I could bring my wife and son (Since its car camping). Would that be ok? She is not big on hiking and I thought that maybe you girls could change her mind. Anyway, I am planning on contacting the reserve office and see about camping site reservations and stuff like that.
Well see ya later.
“I don't know if I can do this. I'm hitting Isle Royal on the 6th, so it won't give me a lot of time to get home and turn myself around. How wide is this river? I did a google and found no pictures. Lots of rivers end up much wider and more boring when widened. The reason I like the Namekagon so much is that it's narrow and meanders around so much. You get the sense that there's another adventure around every bend. Not so with those straight, wide, gently flowing rivers that tend to put me to sleep. Sell me a clue?”
“Randall, cool, bring'em! I'd e-mailed Jimmy San and invited him to bring his family, too. Am awaiting an answer. Sure this can be family camping. At Shawnee two years ago Ruby brought Calvin and Hodge. They were adorable!
You watch out what Jerbear tells ya!! LOL!
Lagrac, welcome! We may show you how to slow down a bit... mebbeee...
OK, I'm a salesperson, Nimblefoot. The Kickapoo, upstream at this point, is all windy, as in it winds (not wind as a breeze, lol). It's known as the crookedest river in the US (or some such thing). I had googled the other day and found some photos on Webshots. I'll have to post some links.
“Oh yeah, Randall, don't worry about getting ahold of them. I have information coming in the mail soon, so I'll be able to pick a campsite or a couple campsites close together. There are 21 different campsites.
They are primitive, no water, Leave no trace. No burying things, but carrying stuff out. If that wouldn't work for the family, there should be commercial campsites nearby, also. And we could still get together day or night, whatever.
Wildcat Mountain State Park is to the immediate north of the Reserve, which also might present more of a not-so-primitive camping option.
Let me get some info first. I don't want to overwhelm people at the Reserve with a bunch of calls. :-) Thanks!”
I love your itinerary for the Porkies. I hope you rescedule and even more, I hope it's on a weekend I could attend!”
“I'll post some Kickapoo River stuff for Nimblefoot later today. Computer locked up earlier... grrrrrr! And now I'm off to cover a parade.”
“Southern Minnesota parade - 2 tractors, a fire truck and a hearse. How long can it take?”
“Mayhap I will, graska, mayhap I will. :)”
“OK, info and photos on the Kickapoo...
Another trip report:
Here's a good article on it, should give a feel. Lets just say, if the river's not narrow given all I've been reading, well, I'll be amazed. It sure sound narrow!
Posted on Sun, May. 21, 2006
Trailing the Kickapoo
In southwest Wisconsin, a looping river plays peekaboo
by BETH GAUPER (who writes for the St. Paul Pioneer Press)
In southwest Wisconsin, following the Kickapoo River is a lot like watching a magic act: No matter how closely you pay attention, eventually what you see is going to disappear into thin air.
When it reappears, it will be in a completely different spot, and you'll have no idea how it got there.
"Look, there it is again,'' said my husband, as we drove Wisconsin 131 through the Kickapoo Valley. "It's meandering like mad.''
The Kickapoo is the most crooked river in North America and one of the best-loved canoeing rivers in the Upper Midwest. Surging out of a vast watershed around Wilton, on the Elroy-Sparta State Trail, it twists for more than 125 miles as it flows toward the Wisconsin River at Wauzeka, 65 highway miles later.
From the highway, motorists catch only glimpses of a placid brown stream, zigzagging for no apparent reason. But down on the river, canoeists see right away why it's so crooked whenever the water butts into rock, it dodges in a new direction. And there's a lot of rock old rock, the skeleton of the continent, with all its bones poking through because none of the last glaciers deposited any sediment to pad them.
Each glacier slid right around this corner of Wisconsin, from the Dells to Dubuque, preserving its pointy hilltops and flat valleys and leaving it without the glacial rubble, or drift, that covers the rest of the region.
Now, this part of Wisconsin is known as the driftless area. The Kickapoo Valley lies at its heart, and its unusual topography prairie savannah and marshes, cool valleys and sun-soaked cliffs make it hospitable to many rare plants and birds and more giant white pines than can be seen anywhere outside the far north.
"It's such a crazy place,'' says Jessica Bolwahn, a land restoration specialist for the Mississippi Valley Conservancy in La Crosse. "You've got pockets of northern species and pockets of southern species in a really small place.''
Yet this valley nearly became the sludge-covered bottom of a reservoir. It often flooded partly because rainwater flowed in from 140 tributaries and off its steep sandstone walls, but also because of clear-cutting and poor farming practices and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decided to build a dam.
It began buying land in 1969, condemning farms when owners resisted. But in 1970, the Environmental Protection Act established requirements the plan couldn't meet. After $18 million was spent and 140 families forced from their homes, the project ground to a halt.
In 2001, the land between Wildcat Mountain State Park and La Farge became the Kickapoo Valley Reserve, jointly owned by the state and the Ho-Chunk Nation. The Siouan Ho-Chunk, or Winnebago, were the most recent residents, but the river is named for earlier residents, the Kickapoo, an Algonquian nation whose name means "one who moves there, then here.''
Now, the 8,569-acre reserve is a green zone for fishing, hiking, canoeing, bicycling, bird watching and horseback riding. Wetlands soak up rainwater and serve as breeding habitat for more than 100 species of birds. There's a new visitor center, with exhibits and a push-button flood table.
Last Saturday, Torsten and I went on a bird walk out of the center with the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology's Barb Duerksen, whose finely tuned ear soon was picking out the calls of an Eastern towhee, a warbling vireo and a blue-gray gnatcatcher.
As a sora called in the distance, Duerksen picked up two stones and clicked them together, calling the marsh bird closer. Once she had done the same thing at the same spot, she said, and "it popped up right at my feet.''
"It's a really neat bird to see because it's so shy, and you don't usually get a look at them,'' she said.
Our trail led to a marsh, where we watched swallows, red-winged blackbirds and two shy coots. Old Highway 131 leads over the marsh and heads north through the reserve, now a six-mile wilderness trail for bicyclists and hikers. On the other end of the marsh, a new covered bridge crosses the Kickapoo, one of 12 bridges in the reserve.
After the bird walk, we decided to hike another section of Old Highway 131, where it hugs the river out of Rockton. The forest has engulfed the old guardrail and crept over its edges, but on a drizzly day, the asphalt road made the best possible trail.
Birds chattered nonstop in the trees, and at the foot of a sandstone cliff, a frog plopped into a puddle and sat there, staring at us. As we walked to the next bridge, we thought how much fun it would be to ride the whole route on a bike.
"It's great, especially for families with younger kids,'' says Jonel Kiesau, the reserve's education coordinator. "It goes through so many habitats.''
It was still drizzling, but we decided to stop by the Kickapoo Valley Ranch to see if it had any horseback rides planned for the weekend. It didn't the horses' hooves would tear up the wet earth of the reserve's trails.
"First and foremost is the preservation of the resources that are here, and second is horseback riding,'' said proprietor "Cowboy'' Joe Rogan, who had just returned from a meeting on the future of the valley.
Ecotourism now is a source of income for people in the valley. So is organic farming, and its hub is just down the road from the visitor center. On a hillside above La Farge, the new $6 million headquarters of the Organic Valley cooperative, started in 1988 by seven Kickapoo Valley farmers, now coordinates the output of 775 organic farmers in 23 states but still can't convert farms fast enough to meet demand. At the end of July, the cooperative puts on the Kickapoo Country Fair, so successful last year it's expanding to two days this year.
Since the rain didn't let up, we drove 30 miles farther down the valley, admiring the roadside scenery. North of Viola, one green little valley was particularly scenic.
"In Nebraska, that would be a state park,'' Torsten said.
Our destination was Gays Mills, famous for its apple orchards, which are covered with blossoms in May. It has an inviting main street, too, and at the Village Greenhouse we stopped to buy perennials from pony-tailed proprietor Joe Brandt.
"Organic farming is taking off, which ties in to the hippies,'' he said. "We've got a lot of 'em here; we have a lot of earthy people.''
At the Village Food Cooperative next door, we bought maple syrup from Laura Negronida, a Chicagoan who came to Gays Mills after trying the back-to-the-land lifestyle in California. The Kickapoo Valley, she said, is blessed by its location, away from highways and big cities.
"It's remote, which most people think of as the edge of somewhere,'' Negronida said. "This is remote by being in the middle of somewhere; people just kind of go around it.''
It was still raining the next day, so we drove the valley's two Rustic Roads. The trilliums had just started to come out on the steep sides of Tunnelville Road, a three-mile channel of vegetation that descends alongside a narrow valley that, through the trees, looked like a river of grass.
"It's amazing how green it is,'' Torsten said. "Look at that, it's just one green wall.''
At places like these, visitors may feel far from home.
"People who are from the flatlands sometimes feel claustrophobic here,'' says the reserve's Kiesau, who grew up near La Farge. "There are tight valleys, it's hard to see through the clouds, and the trees are dense. But if you're from this area, you feel hugged and cozy.''
Near the road's junction with Wisconsin 131, just south of La Farge, a herd of Texas-style longhorn cattle grazed. We followed the highway north to Rustic Road 56, which climbs a high ridge lined with Amish farms; one was serving as church that Sunday, and there were dozens of buggies parked outside.
In Ontario we stopped at one of the three canoe liveries along the Kickapoo, and were surprised to find Titanic Canoe Rental would be happy to give us a shuttle in the rain, since they already were expecting 75 girls from Lubavitch Girls High School in Chicago.
Titanic is the newest of three canoe rentals in town; they have 500 canoes among them, said owner Bill Teynor, and on Saturdays every canoe is out on the river. As he drove us back from the landing at Wildcat Mountain State Park, where we had left our car, Teynor told us his son Jason had started the livery nine years ago to help pay for college, then sold it to his parents.
"The kid retires and Mom and Dad take over,'' Teynor joked. "There's something backward about that.''
Even in the drizzle, the river was gorgeous. Virginia bluebells lined the banks, and hemlock and cedar clung to the tops of yellow sandstone cliffs, jutting out over the water like the prow of an ocean liner.
The silence allowed us to see more than our share of wildlife. As we rounded a bend, we startled a family of geese, and as the mother herded her goslings up a sandy bank, the father led us down the river, honking and slapping his wings against the water until he decided we were a safe distance from his family.
"He's going to have a heart attack when those 75 girls show up,'' Torsten said.
On a log, we saw a plump, long-legged brown bird that was either the sora or its cousin, the Virginia rail. We got an escort from a belted kingfisher, which seemed to wait for us to catch up as we followed its hollow rat-a-tat-tat down the river. Swallows made bombing runs over the water, eating, drinking and hunting in full flight.
The sharp loops also hid us from a deer herd that was crossing the river; helplessly, we watched as the deer panicked, one crashing its head into a tangle of branches as it tried to bolt up a nearly vertical bank. We had separated a fawn from its mother, who anxiously followed her baby until it finally rushed through the water, bobbing as if it had springs on its feet.
It was easy canoeing, made even easier because high water covered the sandbars. We paddled the six river miles to Wildcat Mountain in an hour and 40 minutes, then doubled back to Bridge 4 to watch the schoolgirls arrive. Many of them had tipped, soaking their long black skirts, but that just seemed to enhance their high spirits, and they thanked Teynor for the awesome trip.
"Titanic lived up to its name, didn't it?'' he said.
The Kickapoo is only knee-high, so tipping is no big deal. In July and August, says Ann Teynor, "everybody tips.''
Next time, we'll paddle all the way to La Farge. With all that spectacular scenery just sitting there, it seems a shame not to see it all.
Beth Gauper, who writes about regional travel, can be reached at 651-228-5425, bgauper@ pioneerpress.com.
TRIP TIPS: KICKAPOO RIVER VALLEY
Getting there: It's about 3½ hours from St. Paul. The Upper Kickapoo Valley is 25 miles south of the junction of interstates 90 and 94.
July 29-30, Kickapoo Country Fair in La Farge, with music, food, artisans and workshops.
Aug. 18-19, LarryFest outdoor bluegrass festival near La Farge.
Sept. 23-24, Gays Mills Apple Festival.
Oct. 7, Kickapoo Valley Reserve Dam Challenge Triathlon, with three miles of trail running, seven miles of canoeing and 14 miles of bicycling; there's a citizen class for people who just want to enjoy the trails and scenery.
Canoeing: Three liveries in Ontario offer day trips on the northern part of the Kickapoo River for $25-$30 per canoe with shuttle: Titanic, 1-877-438-7865, www.titaniccanoerental.com; Mr. Duck's, 1-608-337-4711, www.mrduckscanoerental.com; and Drifty's, 1-608-337-4288. Call in advance to reserve, especially for weekends.
Saturday can be very congested; if you must canoe on a Saturday, try to arrive first thing in the morning. Skilled canoeists can shave up to a third off the times the liveries say it will take to reach a landing. Highway distances between landings are short, making bicycle self-shuttles easy for people who own canoes.
Bicycling: The six relatively flat miles on Old Highway 131 through the Kickapoo Valley Reserve can be ridden on all but the thinnest tires. The reserve also has miles of mountain biking, and fit bicyclists can ride on Wisconsin 131, which has a bike lane, and other highways.
The 32-mile Elroy-Sparta State Trail, famous for its three tunnels, goes through Wilton, 1-608-463-7109, www.elroy-sparta-trail.com.
Horseback riding: Adjoining the reserve on County Road P, Kickapoo Valley Ranch offers trail rides for $25 per hour, 1-608-625-6222, www.kvranch.com.
Hiking: There are many miles of trails in the reserve and in the state park.
Rustic Roads: For a copy of Wisconsin's free Rustic Roads guide, call 1-800-432-8747 or look at www.dot.wisconsin.gov/travel/scenic/rusticroads.htm. To find the routes and your way home you'll also want a Wisconsin DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer, available from bookstores, sporting goods stores and Target stores.
Camping: There are 21 primitive campsites in the Kickapoo Valley Reserve, $10 for up to 10 people. They're first come, first served. Campsites are also available at Wildcat Mountain State Park, 1-608-337-4775, www.wiparks.net.
Kickapoo Valley Reserve: Day-use permits are $4. 1-608-625-2960, http://kvr.state.wi.us.
Accommodations: There are many cottages for rent, and it's handy to have a kitchen since restaurants are limited. We stayed at the comfortable two-bedroom Historic Ottervale School, three miles west of La Farge. It's $95 for two, $20 for each additional person, 1-608-625-6000.
Twelve years ago, I stayed at Trillium B&B on a ridge outside La Farge, where two cottages go for $65-$105, 1-608-625-4492. Other B&Bs include the Inn at Elk Run in Viola, $45-$95, 1-608-625-2066, www.elkrun.net, and the Inn at Lonesome Hollow in Soldiers Grove, $99-$249, 1-608-624-3429, www.lonesomehollow.com.
Adjoining the reserve in La Farge, the three-bedroom Seeleyburg Guest House rents for $60-$125, 1-608-625-4346. West of La Farge, the Kickapoo Valley Ranch has cabins, $119-$249 for two, 1-608-625-6222, www.kvranch.com.
Information: For a copy of the Hidden Valleys guide to southwest Wisconsin, call 1-800-592-6968, www.hiddenvalleys.com.
last edited: 8/06/06 5:25:45 PM”
“Wow! You are officially the queen of cut and paste. Too much for now; I'll read it after dinner. Sounds great, though. As much as I despise southern Wisconsin, I really want to do this.”
“Photos and stuff (remember, downstream -- closer to WI River -- the Kickapoo is a little wider)
THIS IS FOR STOVEY:
TUBERS!!! (dang taters!)
“LOL, I AM the
QUEEN OF CUT AND PASTE (and Google and Webshots SEARCH functions!)
“Muddy little critter, isn't it?”
“Got the info today and will peruse it. A couple campsites will allow 20 people to a group. So, no worries there (was thinking we might possibly get to around 10, which I'd seen was the limit)
Also, you can bury your poo... Aren't we all happy now??? lol”
“well, THAT'S a relief!!! ; )”
“Do we have to?”
“I don't suppose it's written that you HAVE to.... you can always go with the smear it on a rock route...”
“Trip still in the plans... whether or not TT's up... or Nimblefoot's golfing (OMG!!! eeek!!)”
“Looks like I'm definitely kickin' back with y'all on this trip!”
“I sent you my e-mail address, but of course, it's on here too.”
“Yeah, Graska, got your e-mail. Thanks! (too busy to do more at the time!)
Glad to have ya along, Bessie Lou. Now I think we should do a sorta head count. BL, you said you'd have another gal with you? Let me know on that. (1)
lagrac had said on the thread he was going, but isn't signed up. (1)
Randall said he might have his wife and kid along. (2 beyond his sign-up)
And Nimblefoot is a maybe. (I guess maybe if we can show him to the golf course??? Poor guy! He wrote he'd been golfing... AND LIKING IT!!!... and will NEVER hear the end of it!! LOL)
Dryfoot is a vague maybe.
We could be around 10. I need to keep a handle on that due to campsite requirements. 10 is the limit on most. Might have to go to the big campsite, which allows up to 20.”
“Although a bit farther south, I was probably within 20 miles of the Kickapoo Saturday. Beautiful area!”
“Backpacking Princess and I did this section last month, and it is an easy fun float. the outfitter told me that they get a lot of nudity on the stream, and we were not disappointed. Too bad I got a Wisconsin Bear Hunting license that took me six years in a row applying for to get that will keep me from joining this great trip.
“lizs, yes, Donna has confirmed that she's coming.”
WOW!!! Real Nudity, Sort of!!
Do we have to wear mud suits as well???
Mine has not been the same since I had it cleaned, the mud suit, I mean!!
See ya later and looking forward to the trip!!
“LOL, that danged Prosecutor. Getting everyone's hopes (is that what they call it now?) UP!
Here's some river info.......
The 22-mile segment from Ontario to La Farge is best of the river. "Good current, a narrow streambed, fantastic rock formations and a wild setting..."
Ontario to Rockton, 11.5 miles
Gradient: 3.5 ft. per mile
... Spectacular bluffs and sandstone cliffs... Flat-bottomed, steep-sided valleys known as "coulees"...
This first half of the river segment is shared with recreational canoeists (nudists??? LOL)
This trip ends at Bridge 10. Take out downstream left, several hundred yards past the bridge. It's an undeveloped bare spot along the shoreline.
There are five landings on this stretch.
Rockton to La Farge, 9.5 miles
Gradient: 2.1 ft. per mile
It's a bit less traveled than the first stretch. The river seems wilder and more remote due to fewer bridges and only one intermediate access.
There's more deadfall in the sharp turns, but usually poses no problem for experienced paddlers (us?!??? LOL) Accesses can be a bit muddy, but are quite adequate.
Like the first section, the river is seldom very deep under normal water conditions, except on the outside of bends.
The river is consistently 30 ft. wide, the water clear and the bottom sandy.
Take out is upstream-left at the Highway 82 bridge in La Farge.
last edited: 8/16/06 11:02:23 AM”
“List update, near as I can tell:
bessie lou's friend Donna
SAID TO BE GOING (NOT ON LIST):
LISTED AS "MAYBE" ON TRIP PAGE:
iSolo (almost for sure a "no" now due to other plans)
Chili (update, almost for sure a "no" now)
THE "MAYBES" WHO SEEM TO NOT WANT TO LIST THEMSELVES AS SUCH, DORKS! lol:
(just remember, we wouldn't call ya "dork" if we didn't....... MEAN IT!!! LOL! No, no, if we didn't like youz allz)
last edited: 8/16/06 11:32:55 AM”
Lizsbaby hasn't called me a Dork in ages... ;-)”
“Sorry, I can't possibly do it.”
“Stobey is the dort!
ah ah ah!
“Good Doggie! :-)”
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