Day 11

August 10, 1998

I reluctantly crawled out of my tent at 8:30 a.m. still tired from yesterday's canoeing and portaging. I grabbed my ultra-light rod and reel and a small white rapala and fished the snags along my sand bar while the sun dried the fly of my tent. After 30 minutes I had caught three small, smallmouth bass and broke camp shortly after a wild turkey glided into my island campsite from the floodplain forest on the opposite bank. It would be a fast ride down to Lake Wisconsin aided by the strong currents and moderate winds at my back.

"It was a lonely run of an hour and a half down to the mouth of the Baraboo River (from Portage) through the mazes of wing-dams surrounded by desolate bottom lands of sand and wooded bog." 
Ruben Gold Thwaites 1887, Historic Waterways

On my way down to Lake Wisconsin, I fished the rock bluffs at Dekorra and a few others that border the LDB. I managed to catch another smallmouth at one of them. I called home from a large shoreline tavern at Dekorra and left a message that all is well.

New sand bar islands seemed to be readily colonized by willow and purple loosestrife. I only observed a few isolated plants of cardinal flower and these were on older established islands. A few submersed aquatic plants were noted in the upper end of Lake Wisconsin. I reached Tipperary Point at 1:30 p.m. and thought of my father's stories of his Irish setter "Tippy" who loved to lick the last sugar-sweetened coffee from unguarded dinning room table coffee cups, much to the dismay of my grandmother.

"These islands were often mere sand-bars, sometimes as baron as Sahara, again thick-grown with willow and seedling aspens; but for the most part they are well-wooded, their banks gay with the season's flowers, and luxuriant vines hanging in deep festoons from the trees which overlay the flood. At their heads, often up among the branches of the elms, are great masses of driftwood, the remains of shattered lumber-rafts or saw-mill offal from the great northern pineries, evidencing the height of the spring flood which so often converts the Wisconsin into an Amazon." 
Ruben Gold Thwaites 1887, Historic Waterways

I found a small deserted island about another mile downriver and decided to call it home for the night after my brief 14-mile paddle today. The island actually had three campsites and I chose the unit with the western view. There was evidence of frequent use by the presence of tables fashioned out of boards affixed to trees and a rotting privy at the center of the island. I was surprised by the absence of garbage in the underbrush. However, I did manage to find an old charcoal grill and frying pan that had seen better days. Red oak dominated the upper canopy on the island. No poison ivy was encountered which was a striking contrast to the island I camped at last night below Portage.

I took an hour nap in the mid-afternoon and had a brief swim in the wind-swept Lake Wisconsin. After a beautiful sunset, I headed for bed. At 9 p.m. a couple with a dog arrived by boat and took claim to the southerly-facing campsite. They were pleasantly quiet in setting up camp at this late hour.

Sunset on Lake Wisconsin.