Listen to Ruth tell the story of Day XI: 

Day XI transcribed:

LogoThis is the Oct. 7 blog for day 11 on the river. I first wanted to start out answering a few questions people have asked. One is about if my boat is still leaking–it is. When I was in Point, my boat was completely unloaded and when I turned it upside down, I saw two pencil-lead-sized holes where I could see daylight straight trough the bottom of the boat. I knew I had been having slow leaks and it’s nothing that would sink the boat, but it gets really uncomfortable and heavy trying to paddle and then water kind of pools up on the bottom. If it gets high enough, then I’m sitting in it. So we turned it upside down, pinpointed those areas, and used the old shoe goo on them again. It seems better when I do that, but I still have to tip the boat upside down and put one of the ends down to make sure I get the water out whenever I have the chance.


Today I had gone from Stevens Point clear down to the Two Rivers put-in, which is in the Upper Dells. I skipped about 50 miles because those are big flowages with a lot of wind, sometimes a lot of motorboat traffic, and I think three more dams. I don’t want anybody to think I’m paddling every inch of the river because there are parts of it that just aren’t very fun when you’re out there in a little boat.

I had a River Angel, Laurie, drive me down there. She had a fairly small car, so because I have this folding boat, I was able to take it apart, take the frame out, take out the skin. Laurie helped me; she was terrific. We took everything and put it in my Duluth pack and packed it all in the trunk of her car. It’s truly amazing.

When we got about 50 miles down to the put-in, north of the Dells, maybe 10 miles or so, I opened up the frame again, checked everything. You may recall that I broke the back, sort of the backbone tubing on the stern, when I fell, and I was able to put the splint on that Ace Hardware had prepared for me, which was a 3/4-inch piece of pipe, about eight inches long, and I used it to splint the fracture. It seems good as new, probably a little heavier. After I put the boat together, I blew up the sponsons, which are inflatable tubes on each side of the boat. I noticed that one of the sponsons had been kind of twisted, so it wasn’t fully inflated. I think we kind of got that straightened out. When we put it on the water, the boat was floating much better. I had been kind of listing to the right and I thought it had something to do with the sponsons and maybe the leaks. A few more shoe goo dabs here and there and putting the frame together one more time is probably a good thing to do in the middle of the trip. Being able to fully inflate those sponsons made a big difference. I feel like it’s floating much better now, so I’m really glad about that.


Another thing is that people have been asking me how much weight I have been carried. I can’t remember if I already shared this, but I jettisoned a ton of stuff. I had that big post on safety, well I jettisoned the paddle float, I jettisoned the rope throw bag, I kept some extra rope, but not a ton. I got rid of my tarp, I sent half of my gorp back home. Just yesterday I also sent my Kindle and a little pocket radio home because I realized that I’m just not reading them. There’s so much out there in nature keeping my attention. I love listening to the blue jays, listening to the belted kingfishers, looking for eagles. If people are paddling with me, I just enjoy visiting with them as we paddle. In the evenings, I’m so darn tired that if I get in the tent or am with a River Angel, I just kind of conk out. I still have my tent, my cook kit, my fuel, a pretty big food bag because I still have a week to go, but I feel like I’m down to a good traveling weight now.

Coming into the Upper Dells felt like a real homecoming to me. Back when I was a graduate student in ’89, ’90, ’91, I did a practicum for a year with Upham Woods 4H Outdoor Education Center, which is a little bit further downriver here on the Dells. So I was able to explore this area a little bit. We used to do canoe trips, like what I did today, which is put in in the Lemonweir River, do an overnight and then you come down into Upham Woods.


There’s something about rock and stone, I absolutely love it. I’m staying tonight with Frank and Mariana Weinhold, who have protected Louis’ Bluff, so I wanted to blog a little bit about the actions they’ve taken as individuals, just because many of you may have land that is very precious to you and you wonder whether it will be protected when you’re gone. One thing that you can do is work with your local land trust and talk with them about your options. One of the options is to place a permanent conservation easement on the property that prohibits it from subdivision. Frank and Mariana have done that for what is really a landmark on the Upper Dells and that is Louis’ Bluff. Louis’ Bluff is visible for miles and I’m sure it has always been an important, significant landmark on the river. It’s incredibly visible, it has a rock face that’s 60 to 80 feet of sheer sandstone of all colors that comes down directly into the river. It’s very stunning.


Frank and Mariana, maybe seven or eight years ago, worked with the Natural Heritage Land Trust to place a conservation easement on their property so that after they’re gone it will not be subdivided. One of the other really kind of cutting-edge things that Mariana and Frank have done is that they’re working with us, the Natural Resources Foundation. Many landowners realize that management, especially in southern Wisconsin, is critical to the health of a landscape. If you just let it go, you may end up with a total maple forest and you’ll lose your oak opening, for example. We now have been starting to work with landowners who have these types of property that are either protected by an easement or they are a designated state natural area to hold endowment funds for management of those properties. That way, in the future, whoever owns the land, there will be a fund available to pay a qualified entity to do management work according to a management plan. I feel that’s really a holistic way of looking at the future of your property.


So if you’re a landowner and you’re interested in the future of your property and what you can do to protect it and also how you can possibly fund the care and management of it into the future, talk with your local land trust and/or give us a call at the Natural Resources Foundation. We’d be happy to have a confidential talk about what your options might be. Most land in Wisconsin is privately held. The government can’t and shouldn’t buy all of the special features like Louis’ Bluff. These are sometimes often cared for best by the private landowners. There are many tools you can use as a private landowner to help do your part to protect that property forever.

I hope that Frank and Mariana’s story will be inspirational for others who have considered taking similar action to protect their land through their local land trust.