It’s all fun and games until somebody falls in—and even then, we couldn’t help but smile and clap.
Our friend Bill and his wife, Maggie, helped to coordinate a day trip on the Baraboo River on Sunday, September 1. With everyone else in the water, carefully slid one by one down a steep embankment, Bill crawled atop his kayak, pushed off and proceeded nose first down the hill, the front of his blue kayak dipping under the water and then tipping him right over its side into the waist deep river.
I certainly didn’t laugh because I’d nearly toppled in myself a few minutes earlier. Bill, Greg and I were on sit-on kayaks, which didn’t quite meet the water as smoothly as the sit-in kayaks when taking their nosedive down the slope into the river. Luckily, it was a warm, sunny day and Bill didn’t stay cold and wet for too long.
There were 14 of us in our group: three couples who are my friends from my book club and three new couples who are friends of our friends. We drove from the DeForest/Madison area about 90 minutes northwest to Union Center, putting in at the bridge just past the intersection of Highways 33, 80 and 82. We were a colorful array of 12 kayaks and one canoe.
It was fun to mingle and get to know everyone better as we paddled along the river, chatting with one person for a while and then paddling alongside someone new. Obviously, the men and women in our group like to kayak as much as Greg and I do and had many great tales to tell. We added at least a half dozen more places to our kayaking “places to paddle” list by the end of the day.
The Baraboo River was ours alone—besides those among our group, we saw nobody else on the water. Yet we were hardly a quiet group. Conversations were constant and laughter was frequent. We startled a few eagles out of the trees as we made our way downriver. At one point, three eagles soared high above us, screeching in the sky.
Those in the front of the pack had the best chance to see the wildlife as they turned the riverbends first. One person was fortunate to spot a buck along the riverside. Someone else saw a blue heron. We all saw the snapping turtle—and some of us may have been slightly intimidated by the small herd of cattle that acted as if they might join us in the river as we paddled by their pastureland.
Our group stayed close together most of the time, taking turns ducking under branches and maneuvering around fallen trees, branches and debris. The river was clear enough to pass through from Union Center past Wonewoc with no portages, yet there were enough obstacles to make it interesting. Everyone handled their kayaks (and canoe!) well and, besides Bill’s initial splash, nobody tipped during our four-hour trek down the Baraboo River.
The biggest challenge of the day was getting out of the river along its steep, muddy banks. I hung out on the water a while, watching to see who had found the best place to climb out. Thankfully, once a few of the men made it out, they began pulling the rest of us ashore.
The entire day was a great display of camaraderie and teamwork. I loved kayaking the Baraboo River with this friendly kayaking crew—longtime friends and new friends alike: Bill and Maggie, Mike and Christine, Mike and Mary, Sandy and Greg, Diane and Tom, and Carl and Eleanor. I look forward to our next adventure together!