Summer won’t stick around forever, so get out and take advantage of it! This past weekend I decided to take full advantage of the beautiful weather and headed out solo on the lower Wisconsin River for a three-day kayak trip. I started paddling Wednesday evening with all the essential gear in tote and managed to get about 10 miles downstream where I found a sandbar worth calling home for the night.
The next few days were spent exploring the area, fishing, and getting a little rest and relaxation in. Due to some commitments on the home front, I headed back upstream on Saturday morning, rounding out the total trip mileage to a little more than 20 miles.
Kayaking and canoeing are not only great upper body workouts, but the twisting and turning is a great way to build core strength in a way that is nearly impossible to replicate with a machine at the gym. Another big perk is that the peace and quiet of the river is a great way to let your mind unwind.
Some lessons learned from my journey:
1) I highly recommend that you head upstream first, paddling against the current. Ending the trip was extremely taxing after a few days on the river. To avoid this dilemma, have a car parked downstream that can be used to transport you back to where you launched.
2) Make sure to bring plenty of water, as the exertion, heat, and sun can all quickly dehydrate you.
3) Apply and reapply sunscreen. When you think you are doing well apply again. The sun is constantly beating on your shoulders and reflecting off the water. I happened to leave my sunscreen in the vehicle and am still feeling the effects of sunburn today.
4) Always wear your life jacket. Having your jacket in the boat or strapped to the deck will not do you any good in the time of need.
5) When you think you have gathered enough fire wood for the night, gather more!
To enjoy a few hours, a day, or several days on a kayak or canoe trip, you don’t have to be an expert outdoor enthusiast. However, it is something that should be done with care as there are legitimate safety concerns.
Practicing ahead of time and doing a little online research of the river prior to your trip can go a long way. Another option is to take lessons from a professional or find a guide that will take you out. If you don’t own a boat, most areas have a location that will allow you to rent kayaks, canoes, or paddle boards for a reasonable price—generally in the $40-$60 range per day.