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Recent entries


Versatile Hunter

Northwoods Adventure

Mon, June 12, 2017

Is it just me or are our lives spiraling out of control these days in that as we age we seem to have more and more responsibility and stress—be it families, work, home upkeep, hobbies, bills, and the countless other things pulling at our time—and with that, time seems to just move faster and faster.  Each week goes faster the older we get and the stress of being a good husband, wife, co-worker, and friend only increases. 

As we become more involved in the things we need to do, we lose more time from the things we want to do, be they hobbies in the outdoors or other things.  I’ve spent a good deal of time since starting a family contemplating these things and by no means do I think I have it exactly right.  What I do believe is, based on my experiences, and those of some prominent writers and experts on the subject of leadership and time management, we need to strike balance between what we as individuals need and what we as parents, workers, and the various other pulls we have needs are met.  Balance is easy to talk about and hard to achieve. 

What the outdoors provides for many of us is a chance to get away and to forget all of those things that stress us out in our daily lives.  What my friends and I experienced in the Northwoods recently was only one such example.  The four of us decided to attempt a 4 day canoe camping adventure and began planning months before.  We had grown up canoeing, camping, fishing, and hunting together and back in the day it was easy to get out and do those things.  As we’ve aged, and as our responsibilities have mounted, like many of us, our time outdoors has shortened.  We all have children, wives, homes, jobs, and the like.  Prioritization is key these days, and sometimes the outdoors just doesn’t make the cut. I do believe that getting outdoors is still a priority for me and my family and I do a lot of it just in different ways.  These days, that time is often logged in minutes rather than hours.  A hiking trip to a local creek here, a short fishing trip to the local pond there, and even a few short hunting trips with the little man.  All of those trips, however involve much preparation, thought, and at least some level of stress given that children and family’s safety is always paramount.  Truly “unplugging” is just so difficult to do.

Our trip was planned to a tee given that we would be starting 30 miles above our takeout with not much opportunity for miscalculation.  This would be very similar to a boundary waters experience in gear planning and obviously primary mode of transportation.  The Flambeau River State Forest was intentionally left as a wild and scenic area, nearly devoid of development for a reason that we would soon come to understand.  We packed what we thought we could fill 2 canoes with and that would last us the 3-4 days on the water.  We also rented an extra canoe just in case we got there and had more gear than we could fit in 2 canoes as a backup plan.  Having never done this before we needed to have some basic outs.  This stretch of river contained 8-10 rapids and although they were considered Class I and II (the least dangerous), we were in canoes and at least two of the rapids would trip up all but the most experienced canoers without portage.  A dump on day one would potentially spell disaster for the rest of the trip but we were also prepared for that with a ton of bungees, dry bags, and industrial strength, double wrapped garbage bags. 

My suggestion on a trip like this is to call ahead—the WI DNR, like many State DNRs, can be extremely helpful when it comes to planning.  The particular people at the Flambeau River office went out of their way to provide us with helpful, up to date information for things like water levels, preferred campsites, fishing tips, and more.

The fishing was slow given that the water was about a foot high and we were unexperienced on this river.  That being said, piloting a canoe down a river, manipulating rapids, making sure you keep on time and ensuring you don’t miss take outs for campsites doesn’t mean full time fishing. We managed to catch a dozen or so smallies and two really nice channel catfish on crank baits.  We kept one of the channels approaching ten pounds and I must say that it was one of the cleanest and best tasting catfish I’ve ever eaten (and so thought my four year old when I brought it home).  We also had a follow from a Muskie.  Talking to the locals it’s pretty obvious that the River is a real sleeper for big Muskie (mention them and you get the old nod and smile but little discussion on the topic).

The campsites were absolutely amazing with freshly mowed spots right on the river and outhouses for each one.  The sites were set up in some great spots along the river with the most amazing one we stayed at being literally right next to one of the major rapids.  That might have been my best night’s sleep as the rapids did a good job of drowning out the sound of multiple dudes snoring in symphony. Ha.
The last day’s paddle was rough given some lack of sleep, a four foot drop Class II shelf rapid, a lot of open water with a headwind, and knowing that our adventure was soon to be over.  We ended wisely, however, deciding that instead of making the 7 hour trip home mid-day we would instead stay at a local cabin on the river, enjoy a hot meal in town, and then hit up the country bar that lay on the banks of the river to top it all off.

With no cell phone coverage to speak of, 6 people seen in 3 days, and being in the outdoors with some good old friends, this trip is ripe for an annual follow up adventure.  Perhaps we find a new adventure each year and perhaps the next trip is the Boundary Waters or something similar. I know my boys will be with us in the not so distant years to come.  Regardless, the ability to unplug and leave responsibilities behind, even if for only a few days, was something every person needs to experience more often.  Once again, the outdoors does its job as a soul-cleansing, life changing place that brings us back to sanity and reminds us of just what “the good life” should perhaps really look like. . . . .




Do as much of all that stuff while you are young enough to do it.  Unfortunately, I passed up on too many good, fun things when I was younger, figuring I’d do them in retirement.  WRONG!  Retirement gets here and everyone drops chores on you…“he can do it, he’s retired and has nothing to do.”  Plus, your energy level goes down and health issues pop up to limit your activities. And, if it’s not my shortcomings, it’s trying to find someone to do share the activities.  I’ve found that 65-70 year olds are constantly limited as to what they can do, relatively good shape/health or not.

Posted by riverrat47 on June 13

You’ll run out of health before you run out of money.  Get out and live life.

Posted by buckbull on June 19

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