Revisiting an Old Friend

Every fall, my good friend, Carl, and I share a birthday only one day apart. His is October 11th and mine is October 12th. So over the past few years, we have declared our shared bday’s as Birthday Boating Weekend!

This fall, our birthdays fell on Thursday and Friday. A great excuse to take off work and enjoy a 4 day weekend! Leading up to our weekend, we contemplated West Virginia, Tennessee, Pennsylvania…all getting quite a bit of rain. Then, the rain hit the Midwest! Flooding again in Iowa and neighboring states running high as well. A few days prior to our departure, taking the weather, the water levels, and time available into consideration we decided to visit an old friend again….The Peshtigo River in Wisconsin!

Since the rivers were up in Northern Wisconsin, we decided to hit some area streams as well. The first day started off with a run up to the Four Falls section of the Pike. This stream is just neat. Its a narrow stream with brush reaching in from both sides. There’s four falls (more like slides than falls) and everything in between the falls is completely flat. There are no rapids or boogy water, just a flat meandering stream in between, so it may not be for everybody. The level was higher than any of us had run the stream at before but the falls still looked fun so we put on and had a hoot at each slide. Here’s a bit from 18 ft falls.

In the take out parking lot of Twelve Foot Falls park, that’s when we ran into an issue. While backing the van up (Jean Claude is the van’s name), Marty soon realized the shifter on the steering column had nothing. You could move it freely and the selector was stuck in reverse. Of course the parking lot is a ways from anything and I can’t imagine how much or when you could get towed out of there. But lucky for Marty and I, we had our top secret, super sleuth engineer…shaken not stirred…Carl! He looked under the steering column, couldn’t really find anything, then crawled under the van and aha! Found the shifter cable had broke loose from the post. He was able to hold the cable to the post and the shifter would work! So long story somewhat shorter…Carl was able to MacGyver the shifter cable to the post with tape and zip ties and we were mobile once again. His fix held all weekend!

Day two, we decided to hit another area stream running high, Yellow Bridge rapid on the Pike. This was also running higher than any of us had been on before. We put on and had again had a hoot, catching eddys, a little side surfing on a missed line by myself, and some rock boofs. The rapid was so much fun we walked up and reran it again. From here we headed to the Peshtigo put in!

All unloaded at the Peshtigo put in and about to take off for the shuttle…again super sleuth Carl noticed Jean Claude was misbehaving again. With the sound of whistling air, the front tire on the van was quickly losing air and flattened right before our eyes. So, out came the jack and tire wrench. Marty and Carl made quick work of the first 7 lug nuts..then the 8th one. Ugh, stuck on and nearly rounded off. After what seemed like a gallon of wd 40, walks to cool off, a butane torch, and a hand impact wrench encouragement..Carl and Marty turned the final lug nut off successfully. Then for the spare…it’s there, under the van all ready to use, but do you think we could get it to release…heck no!

So defeated in our attempt to change the tire, I rode my motorcycle to Kosirs to see if I could beg someone for a ride to get our tire fixed. As luck would have it, Dale was willing to jump right in and help. We hopped in his pick up and drove right up to the put in. He loaded up the tire and suggested we just go ahead and run the river. He would gladly take the tire to his neighbor to fix and it would be done when we got to Kosirs. Wow, now that is what Midwest nice is all about! Thanks a million Dale! So we boated the beloved Peshtigo, had a blast and once at the take out, Dale gave us and the fixed tire a lift back up to the put in. We put the tire on, with 7 tight nuts, and 1 slightly stripped, snugged lug nut and we were off to our campsite at Kosirs for the evening. Another lucky day!

Day three and four was all about the Peshtigo. Carl has been paddling the Peshtigo since he was first double digits. He and my main paddling partner, Marty, took me down the pesh for my PFD when I first started whitewater kayaking.The Peshtigo certainly has a place in my heart. Besides being gorgeous, its just plain fun! Six named rapids on the run, each with their own characteristics. You can make the river as difficult or as laid back as you like depending on which lines and eddys you choose. Some people like it for playboating, but for me it’s a downriver funfest.

Our four-day bday adventure was a blast, another one full of memories. We stayed at our favorite campsite at Kosirs. We ate way to much delicious food at the local Rapids Resort Restaurant right by the river. We spent time with great friends and came home with river drenched gear and smiling faces.

-Hannah Ray J

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