Wisconsin rivers from the road and sometimes from the kayak

Wisconsin River
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Mosinee area

Half Moon Lake, by kayak


The Mosinee Flowage is a most interesting area for a kayaker. Mosinee is just south of Wausau. This flowage is much larger than I thought. I spent this part of my visit to the area on the western part of Half Moon Lake, north of but part of the Mosinee Flowage, and Wisconsin River system, and “sailed” down a side river which was a dead end but lots of fun.

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The yellow dot shows where I put in, at the Half Moon Lake Access on CH KK. I show the route I took, and after about two hours returned to home port. Here is what I saw.

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This is the Half Moon Lake Access on CH KK. Up at the top of that knoll is a good size parking area. I drove may car right down to the water and removed my kayak. One little note of caution. While the paved area goes into the water, the water depth increases rapidly, so you have to be a bit careful or you’ll go in waist high fast. Look off to the right by the rocks. At the base of the rocks is a fairly shallow, sandy and even bottom, so I dragged my kayak over there and got in. Piece of cake.

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As soon as I pulled out and straightened up, I was looking straight at the island ahead of me. It’s early-September, you can see a little color change in the trees.

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Here you can see a canoe ahead of me. I had talked to them earlier. They were headed kind of east-southeast and then southeast, then exit Half Moon Lake and make their way across the Mosinee Flowage to Riverside Park. That’s a pretty good ride, but they had two people paddling. My route was to take me south-southeast and then to the west, so we parted ways.

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When I kayak, especially in places like this where there is almost no one else, just nature, I find myself getting a kick out of little things. That big bush sticking out all alone in the middle of the lake, I thought, was neat.

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A wonderful reminder fall is not officially here, but it’s here and will move quickly.

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I’m now heading to the southwest.

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Frankly, I was surprised at how quickly I made it to the dead end here. I must not know my own strength. Ha! Anyway, if you look back at the satellite image, you’ll see off to the north there is a little inlet and small pond-meadow area. You can see the entry area in the middle of this photo. I headed in.

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Almost immediately to the west, to my left, the pond dead ends, so I hooked a right toward the east.

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So in I go, heading east. Perhaps you’ve noticed, but it’s me, my kayak, the water and the flora-fauna, and in there a bunch of birds, deer etc. and no one else to be found. I did not check my cell to see if I had a signal. I should have, but everything was calm, the kayak was running smoothly, and it was all beautiful and kind of fun, you know, like Lewis and Clark looking for the way out!

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The water grew shallow as I got in deeper, but no problem for the kayak, though my paddle would strike ground every once in a while. This is one of times where I could spot those early signs of fall. They would just pop out from among all the greenery.

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I think God wanted me to really appreciate this area, because all of a sudden the sun popped through as bright as could be and I got this last, most colorful shot.

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Now, this is not the greatest photo I ever took. By this time I had come to the end of this inlet and had turned around and was heading west. All of a sudden I saw a large bald eagle flying up there across my bow toward the tree line. Because of shortcomings with my water-proof camera, I could not track and shoot him while in flight. I took about four shots in the blind but missed the lad every time. I did see him land on this limb, and he stayed there. I quietly turned the kayak around and zeroed in on him with my zoom full blast. This is the best of the shots. It ain’t great, but it ain’t all that bad --- at least he’s identifiable.

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Like I said, little things in life. So in the middle of this pond is this clump of something, on which colorful wildflowers have grown.

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I’ve left the pond and now am headed back to the northeast, just admiring the scenery. Not sure about you, but when you are out here, the scenery just does not get old.

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Off to my right, looking into one of the many dead-end inlets, I spotted this very large evergreen that had fallen into the water. It must have fallen recently, because it’s needles were still sparkling green. What a shame I thought, so I drove in there.

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You can see where she splintered off to the right, with the splinter sticking up at a 45 degree angle. Must have been lightening I thought. I drove in a bit closer.

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I suppose a more daring fellow would have gone in further, under the fallen tree, which is now known as deadfall, but there was not much farther to go and it looked like a bit of an obstacle course in there. I was also mindful of how dangerous some deadfall can be. It would have been just my luck that the old fur would have dropped on my head right as I passed under! Yep, I’m a chicken.

Mosinee Flowage, by kayak

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I started out at a takeout on River Road on the east side of the flowage. If you look carefully at the starting arrow, and just go downstream a bit to where the river narrows again, at the bottom center of the photo, you can see the dam that creates the flowage.

The yellow arrows are meant to show the general route I think I took. I printed out an aerial view to take with me for navigation but stupidly left it at home, so I was out there on my own with my memory of the aerial photo. For most of the trip, I was the only person out there. Toward the end, I spotted two other kayakers.

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This is what I saw shortly after putting in. Sorry to mess up a neat photo with an arrow, but if you go around that point, you would head upstream the Wisconsin River as I had hoped to do. Once I made it up to that area, I saw I had a long way to go for my intended destination. It was at that point I decided to head to the northwest along the island that takes up most of the photo.

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I knew there was a way through that “island,” and kept going in and out of what turned out to be little coves, until I finally found a main thoroughfare through, so up to the northwest I went. This was the entry to one of the coves as I was seeking out the Great Northwest Passage!

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And yet another, way off to the left of the photo. If I would have had my aerial with me that I left at home, I would realize I had a way to go before hitting the great passage.

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One of the things that struck me out here was the number of tree stumps protruding out of the water. I guess this might have been a forested area before they put in the dam and created the flowage. The truth is these are easy to see and avoid, but they do make one wonder how many deadfalls there are beneath the water and how far down they might be. I would guess that a motor boat would have to pay attention and learn the area. In a kayak, you can see down there and to my memory, they must have done a good job clearing the area because I did not see much deadfall down there.

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So here I am approaching what is another cove. It is almost dead center the photo, just to the left of the high grass. So I went in as usual to see what was what.

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Oh boy, this looked good, with one exception. From this distance, I could see a deadfall running across the water and wondered, “Is this yet another cove or a passage that is blocked?” In I went.

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From a distance, it looked like I could make my way by the left side of the fallen tree.


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Yep, I made it through and as I rounded a curve all of a sudden the water widened significantly and I felt sure I had found my way through, to the northwest, the other side of this island.

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When I pulled out of the cut-through, the water open widely and if I would have kept heading to the northwest, I would have made my way into Half Moon Lake.

But I didn’t do that because of time constraints. By pure luck, I found another passage that would take me to the southwest and back to the Mosinee Flowage. I’ll show you some shots of this running through this passage. It was magnificent.

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At about center photo, if you look hard, you can see some dead trees lying in the water.

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There is great advantage in going through these kinds of areas in a kayak because of your slow speed and shallow draft.

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There’s the end of the passage and the breakout into the Mosinee Flowage. Yippee! I was happy. I can imagine getting lost around here.

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And I made it out to the Mosinee Flowage. I could tell by the houses I could see on the other side where I was.

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I was now on the south side of the flowage at River Park, which is a nice little park with an excellent put in point for my kayak. I will launch from here next time. I think as it is closer to Half Moon Lake, which looks like fun as well.

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I made my way along the southern shore of the flowage and envied this home and its location.

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I am now heading to the southwest back to my put-in point. This final leg was a real workout. I think I had a wind from the northeast and the current was surely flowing to the southeast, so it was a battle to make headway toward the finish line, and I was pooped when I made it. I was essentially cutting across the wind and current. Lots of fun the whole day., and as I said I am fighting wind and current. But I did manage to get a good shot of the Mosinee Paper Mill, and the bridge.

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And that’s a wrap. Good day, fun day, first time here, loved it and will be back. Now to home and brewski!