Saturday, September 12, 2009

Coach on the Wisconsin River - Preliminary Report

Larry "Coach" Hoff plans to launch his Kruger Seawind expedition canoe on Lac Vieux Desert (from French for Lake of the Old Clearing or Old Garden) on Sunday September 13 2009 and go all the way down the Wisconsin River to the Mississippi River by September 22. As usual, he will look like a traveling junk yard with his folding bicycle portaging rig stuffed in behind the seat.

Coach, shown here with his gear during the 2009 Hugh Heward Challenge. Nancy Anderson looks on.

Lac Vieux Desert, the head lake of the Wisconsin River, is a relatively large and shallow lake which lies astraddle the UP/Wisconsin State Line southeast of Watersmeet. It's drainage area is one of only two places in Michigan in the Mississippi watershed. (The other is in the Lower Peninsula in Berrien County at the Indiana border.) Thus if you put some used beer in the woods up there it will eventually flow into the Mississippi, down the big river past St. Louis and New Orleans and end up in the Gulf of Mexico....a long trip.

The Wisconsin is that state's longest river at 430 miles, some 160 miles longer than the Grand, Michigan's longest river. Quoting from Wikipedia: "It flows south across the glacial plain of central Wisconsin, passing Wasau and Stevens point. In southern Wisconsin it encounters the terminal moraine formed during the last ice age, where it forms the Dells of the Wisconsin River. North of Madison at Portage, the river turns to the west, flowing through Wisconsin's hilly Western Upland and joining the Mississippi approximately 3 miles south of Prairie du Chien. Although the river was originally navigable up to the city of Portage 200 miles from its mouth, it is now considered non-navigable beyond the lock and dam at Prairie du Sac."

The Wisconsin exits Lac Vieux Desert at its southwest corner the promptly turns northwest almost reaching the Michigan border before it turns south again approximately paralleling US 45.

Coach anticipates some problems with low water at the beginning. We'll see whether he does the upper river by canoe or bicycle.

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