Well, I guess this is our summer to be on the water, because we did it again. All four of us this time, canoed another sixteen miles (according to the rental place; Google maps calculates the route as more like thirteen) down the Bois Brule river in northern Wisconsin. My grandfather has a cabin on the river, and it’s a marvelous (if completely primative) retreat full of the magic of childhood wonder in a fantastically beautiful setting. Cabins always seem to have this wondrous feel to them, so much so that I’m looking into finished cabins myself to see if I could create my own little home from home in which to make my own magical memories. I think that I do need to look into getting myself one of these Portable Cabins, I would use it a lot and it would be of huge benefit to me. A friend of mine was talking about getting a cabin somewhere in the mountains so we could getaway for the summer once in a while. Hearing about her idea, got me thinking about my grandfather’s cabin and how great it was growing up in that kind of environment. Getting a cabin would just be an amazing idea. Escaping from the hustle and bustle of life once in a while, just sounds great to me. I can imagine it now, just have a summer without worries, sitting on the Poly Furniture on the porch, just enjoying the night or evening air while reading a book or looking around nature. It just seems so comforting to me. (Click here for the satellite view of the route we did.)
This time, Anna had a camera along, so I can give you a better idea of what we enjoyed. And enjoy it we did. This is a spring fed, meandering river that flows north from roughly Solon Springs, WI, out of Upper St. Croix Lake. (You can read about the river here.)
Before I recount the revelry on the water, I will point out that there is something a “tradition” in our family: When traveling to or from Duluth and environs, we WILL encounter bad weather. It could be on the way up or on the way back; it could be a thunderstorm, or strong winds, or hail, or a tornado, or even a blinding snowstorm, depending on the time of year. All of these have hit us on one trip or another. Anna captured some of the drama of the storm we drove up through by hanging out of the car window. We didn’t actually encounter any severe weather, but there were a few moments of heavy rain.
The cloud formations were nothing if not startlingly beautiful. And the colors equally dramatic: from green to red. We took a while longer that we anticipated getting out of town, so we arrived at the cabin after dark. No matter. We know the way down the hill, even in the dark. Well, that’s not EXACTLY true. I forgot to bring flashlights all around, so we had one light source between us. Let’s just say there was one person at the end of the line who slipped and fell between sweeps of shared illumination. 🙂
Since we were there in one car, it was logistically much preferable to rent canoes and float the river, rather than paddle upstream using canoes at the cabin, or to try to juggle two canoes and four people with a single-vehicle. (Think about it. It’s crazier than trying to cross a river in a rowboat with a fox, a chicken, and a bag of grain when there’s only room for two in the boat…). With that being said, some people do prefer to use their own rather than renting. It could be as easy as doing a quick google search into something like scanoe shoppok if you’ve always wanted to own your own canoe, especially if this is an activity that you enjoy being a part of.
We got onto the water at about 11 AM. It was a BEAUTIFUL day. We had had storms the night before, but there were only blue skies above for our day on the water. Judy and I took one canoe; Anna and Elise the other. We were delivered to Stones Bridge landing and proceeded to park our cares while we floated down the calming current.
There was VERY little traffic on the river that day, even though the previous day had record traffic, according to the rental people. We were able to take our time and enjoy every minute of the river. The girls grew up (in short spurts) on the Brule, so it is familiar territory. It’s a joy for us to see them navigate the river so well, too. (Although I must say they were pretty cute hanging over the side in their life vests to splash the water when they were little.)
There were RAFTS of forget-me-nots, the beautiful little blue flowers that I associate with Brule. We saw, per usual, bald eagles, fish, turtles; and quick-eyed Anna even spotted a fox in the woods. The water was unusually high, so we had very few challenges with rocks (there are MANY) and the stretches of rapids were fun rather than fear-inducing as they can be on the rare day.
The river goes through several “lakes”-actually more wide spots than actual bodies of stationary water-where the water spreads out and takes its time before continuing on its way north to Lake Superior. These provided occasions for the girls to jump into the water and swim, the cold water providing relief from the hot sun and the labor of paddling.
It felt very good to get back to the cabin, but the day wasn’t done. We decided to go to the mouth of the Brule to finish the day on the shores of Lake Superior. There were a few other groups there, but there was plenty of sand to share, and we found an isolated spot. We built a campfire and watched the sun go down, letting the waves massage our minds with their music. It was a fabulous ending to a relaxing (if full) day.
We toyed with the idea of tackling the Mays Ledges on the lower Brule the next day, but opted instead for more beach combing. Anna continued her dominance as natural agate finder. Both girls rival Judy for love of being in the water. The temperature of the big lake was at least tolerable enough for swimming in the shallows. In short, it was very peaceful.
We’re thankful for the opportunity to experience simple joys as a family. It won’t be long before both girls are away at college. This weekend will be a treasured memory.