On Memorial Day weekend, I joined the Hoofer Outing Club for their annual whitewater kayaking trip. About twenty of us drove to the northwoods, where the club owns several acres of rustic land near Lakewood known as Hooferland.
Our whole group went to the Pike river, the border with the Upper Peninsula, for our first day. The water had been low all spring due to having very little snow last winter, so we had a rocky run. This being my first time kayaking since I stupidly injured my shoulder half a year ago, I was a bit nervous and left my camera back at the camp. There were a few decent play spots, but the river was too scrapey for my taste.
A torrential downpour hit Hooferland in the middle of the night, and while my MSR tent stayed dry, the ground around the campfire was sodden. We almost could've kayaked in the puddles that formed overnight. It may have made for miserable camping weather, but everyone was happy because the Wolf River rose by 100 CFS (cubic feet per second) from the previous day which made for quite the enjoyable run of Section III.
The last rapid of Wolf Section III is called Gilmore's Mistake. It got its name 1868 when a surveyor named John Gilmore claimed that the river “ran underground," thus making it impossible for loggers to float their lumber downstream. Gilmore was mistaken, however, because a man named James McCloud was able to blast his way to logging freedom. Today, Gilmore's Mistake is a fun class II rapid, and there is little danger of running into logs being driven downstream by 19th century loggers.
Our cars were parked at the Wild Wolf Inn, which is next to the rapids, so I could shoot some photos without risking my camera getting wet. Our group had a ton of fun running the rapids over and over, practicing rope rescues, and playing in the hole at the bottom. It was a terrific day of kayaking.
For our final day, we packed everything up and drove to the Red River, near Shawano on the way home. This time I decided to take my camera with me, double-bagged in dry bags. I ran First Drop, then jumped out of my kayak and shot some photos of the rest of the gang running the rapid. Then on Second Drop, an eagle sat still long enough for me to photograph it. We see bald eagles all the time up north, which is amazing considering they were nearly extinct half a century ago.
We had to skip playing in the next rapid when we got another downpour, opting instead to hang out in the forest for an hour before the rain died down. Lightning strikes are among the scariest hazards on the river, right up there with being bitten by a muskie.
The biggest rapid on the Red is Monastery Falls, and it was really running. One of the guys in our group named Mark nearly flipped and got sucked into the hole, but he barely pulled through. And the last drop was powerful enough to throw me around a bit, so I got to put my shoulder to the test on my rolls.
We had no serious injuries and capped off our day with dinner at Flamingo's in Shawano, where they had half a duck with all the fixins for only $9. All in all it was a great weekend, and now I'm excited for some more kayaking this summer.