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Finding open water is usually a challenge in January in Wisconsin. Also, it’s usually too cold to even want to paddle. January 5, 2012 brought 40 degrees, sun and calm winds to the Fox Cities area and we decided to take advantage of the mild temps and go paddling.
Safety is something we take even more seriously when going out kayaking and canoeing in winter. Always dress for immersion. Be prepared and be extra cautious. Also not go alone. If you’re inexperienced wait until summer when conditions are better to practice your skills.
January Paddling Slideshow
Wisconsin has been experiencing a balmy January so far in 2012. January 5th reached 40 degrees! For us hard core paddlers that means we start looking for open water. One of the only places open this time of year is the Fox River through Appleton.
My friend Terry and I launched his canoe from the banks of Lutz Park. The boat landing was iced up but the current along the sea wall was keeping the water open and made launching easy. We were able to paddle West for about a mile into Little Lake Butte Des Morts, almost to Stroebe Island, before the ice blocked our way. On December 21st during our last outing we had a channel all the way to the 441 bridge. Today we played ice breaker for a little while until the ice became too thick. We followed another smaller channel back and broke through another section of ice to enter the main channel.
The eagles from the Fox Valley area are making their winter home along this stretch of open water. We counted at least 18 different eagles. In one of the photos in the slide show you will see 16 eagles in the trees in 1 photo. This is by far the largest collection of eagles I’ve ever seen in one place. It seems like the eagle population is growing in Northeast Wisconsin. All summer I spotted eagles while out paddling. The most I’ve seen at one time before today’s paddle was 3.
We paddled almost up to Appleton Lock #1 before the ice made us retreat back to Lutz Park.
A 2 hour canoe outing in January was a great treat that most of us Wisconsin paddlers can’t do with all the cold and ice that we normally have in January.
When it’s thundering and lightning and you can’t go paddling you could always go shopping for some paddler art. This art is created for the paddler to enjoy off the water. You can find these spark plug paddle sculptures at Just Act Natural in Downtown Appleton.
Canoe guys – $55 at Just Act Natural in Downtown Appleton.
Kayak guy – $55 at Just Act Natural in Downtown Appleton.
Spark Plug Guys are created by Dick Cooley from West Bend, WI. Dick creates whimsical sculptures from scrap metal. A spark plug is the common component in all of his work.
Paddling a canoe solo in the wind can be challenging. This video is filled with some great tips about how to control your solo canoe in windy conditions.
Do you enjoy solo canoeing? If you have some tips for other canoers please share.