Jake’s Picks: The Wisconsin River in Winter

It's not usually this cold. Honest. Photo by Jake Stachovak. It’s not usually this cold. Honest. Photo by Jake Stachovak.

By Jake Stachovak

I called it the "Portage-to-Portage Project," because I grew up near Portage, Wisconsin. It's on the Wisconsin River, which flows into the Mississippi, and I planned to start and end there. This trip was as much about a move home for me as it was about paddling the route. I got hooked on paddling after I'd moved to California, and I was worried that moving back to the north would cut my paddling season short. However, the first few days on the lower Wisconsin River in early December erased all my fears and showed me that there was amazing paddling to be found even very late in the season. At one point I found myself paddling a mirror-smooth river through snow-covered hills with numerous eagles perched in the surrounding trees, and I was happy to be able to call it home.

Beta: Put in at the DNR Landing in Muscoda and float downstream to the Port Andrews boat landing (6.4 miles), Boscobel (15.6 miles) or the Woodman boat landing (24.6 miles). The river is normally ice-free until after Thanksgiving.

Don't forget: Your pogies.

Afterward: Warm up at the Vale Inn Restaurant in Boscobel.

Web: wisconsinpaddleguide.com

Ed Note: In 2009 and 2010, Jake Stachovak paddled around the eastern half of the United States. These are some of his favorite stops along the way.

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