"A man of wisdom delights in water."
Spring is the best time to kayak in the Midwest! The water is high, and the rivers are not crowded. Accordingly, the March 2023 Edition of MILES PEDDLED (MP) will be recommending several kayak and bike combo adventures. Please recall that the magnificent July and August 2021 Editions of MP outlined several exciting kayak and bike combo adventures. Please visit the digital version of MP at https://www.milespeddled.com. Playlist suggestion: TAKE ME TO THE RIVER by Talking Heads.
Management at MP will be combining kayak and bike adventures, but if the Loyal Subscribers (LS) wish to only enjoy some spectacular paddling, the Number 1 best website to view is: MILES PADDLED. See https://milespaddled.com.
Before we get to the subject matter at hand, an update from past editions of MP is in order; and, there will be a CALL TO ACTION to the LS of MP.
First the update. As all of the LS to MP know, Management at MP is a proponent of biking in all forms, including, but not limited to, e-biking. When considering the use of an ebike, think of it in terms of a replacement to your car and an aid to the environment. According to the MILES PEDDLED INSTITUTE (MPI) and THE BUREAU OF TRANSPORTATION STATISTICS, in 2021, 52% of all trips that people made using their car were 3 miles or less. This is a distance that could easily be covered, probably faster, by an ebike.
To facilitate the use of ebikes, the City of Denver recently launched an incentive program for people to buy ebikes. Denver residents, depending on their income, could get a check between $400.00 to $1,200.00 toward the purchase of an ebike. On average, the people who responded are now biking a minimum of 26 miles per week and are replacing approximately 3.5 car trips per week by the use of the ebike. More cities should adopt a progressive program like Denver. Management at MP will always support an ENLIGHTENED PROGRESSIVE PROGRAM. Playlist suggestion: GET UP, STAND UP by Bob Marley and the Wailers.
Now a call to action. All of the LS to MP are fortunate individuals. Fortunate in the sense that they get this publication; but more importantly they have the resources to give back to the community. One very easy and fun way to give back to the community is to ride your bike for charitable causes. For example, on June 24, and June 25, 2023 the National MS Society will be holding its BIKE MS TOUR DE FARMS.
A few years back, the CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD (COB) and MASTER MP did the Bike MS Century Ride. In a word, SPECTACULAR. Visit https://BIKEMS.ORG/RIDE. Register, Ride and Rejoice by giving. Playlist suggestion: WONDERFUL WORLD, BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE by Jimmy Cliff.
Now, take me to the River.
1. Chippewa Falls and Eau Claire Wisconsin
BIG RIVER by Johnny Cash
· Chippewa River:
This journey will take you to northwest Wisconsin almost to the border of Minnesota. There are several good sections of the Chippewa River to paddle. As previously mentioned, check out Miles Paddled which will give you their recommended paddle.
Management at MP are adventurous folk. Thus, we recommend that you book a campsite at LAKE WISSOTA STATE PARK just to the northeast of the beautiful city of Chippewa Falls. (“Wissota” a combination of “Wisconsin” and “Minnesota.” The Cheeseheads have such a way with words.) From the campgrounds you can kayak directly across Lake Wissota, and after a short portage (the French verb meaning “to carry”), you can directly access the Chippewa River and paddle south for as long as you wish, but you should at least make it to Loopy’s Grill & Saloon.
With a little pre-planning this kayak can be done with one car and a combination of your bikes. The bike trail will be outlined in the next section.
· Old Abe Trail:
The Old Abe Trail starts on the north end in Cornell, Wisconsin and runs parallel to the Chippewa River for 63 miles, going through the heart of Chippewa Falls and Eau Claire, ending on the south end in Durand, Wisconsin. The trail crosses over the Chippewa River at several junctures.
A special note to JULIA CHILD (JC), just off the trail in Eau Claire, Wisconsin is a Woodman’s Food Market.
As usual, Management at MP will trust its loyal subscribers to use GOOGLE MAPS or the more enhanced DMAPS to plan the details of their trip.
2. Shawnee National Forest
Please recall that in the Outstanding October 2021 Edition of MP Management outlined a hiking and biking combo adventure in the Shawnee National Forest (SNF). There is so much to do in the 280,000 acres of forest located in Southern Illinois that Management will now provide its LS with a kayak/bike combo adventure. More to follow regarding SNF in the trivia/quiz section of this Month’s edition.
BLACK MUDDY RIVER by Bob Dylan
· Lower Cache River:
According to DMANOPEDIA with a little help from the Illinois DNR Cache River State Natural Area website, please note the following:
The Lower Cache River offers paddlers a quality kayak/canoe experience, 3 to 6 miles in length, through magnificent cypress-tupelo swamps. The highlight of the trail is Illinois’ largest state championship bald cypress tree. As you paddle through the many cypress trees which grow in the river you will see many that have signs on them which state their age. Some of the cypress trees are over a thousand years old.
Visit the Illinois DNR website for a fact sheet and a paddle trail map.
Special note to SANDARELLA: Please recall that you must take this trip early in the season to avoid the snakes. More in the trivia section.
· Tunnel Hill State Trail:
The Tunnel Hill State Trail (THST) starts in El Dorado, Illinois, and travels southwest for the next 56 miles terminating in Karnak, Illinois. It is a rails to trails and has section where you pass through a train tunnel and go over an elevated bridge. Part of the trail goes directly through the Cache River State Natural Area (CRSNA) near the visitor’s center. At the visitor’s center you can watch a film regarding the Cache River wetlands and access trailheads that will lead you to the 1,000 year old cypress trees.
3. Starved Rock State Park and North Utica, Illinois
Many editions of MP have waxed poetic about Starved Rock State Park (SR) and the wonderful little village of North Utica. This story will be a little different.
DOWN BY THE RIVER by Neil Young.
· Vermilion River:
The entire length of the Vermilion River (VR) is south of the Illinois River. The VR joins the Illinois River just to the west of SR. VR flows from the south to the north. North of the Illinois River is the Little Vermilion River (LVR). Please do not confuse the two rivers. The VR is the only river in the State of Illinois that has Class III and Class IV rapids. Thus, kayaking the VR is only for experienced whitewater kayakers or those foolish enough to allow Master MP to lead them on an expedition up the VR.
Here is the story from those that survived to tell it.
One beautiful fall afternoon Master MP lead a group of intrepid explorers on an expedition up the VR. “Vermilion” is the French word for “red,” which in this case could stand for the blood of WONDER WOMAN (WW), SANDERELLA and THE MAD VIKING (MV) who were foolish enough to join Master MP on this adventure.
The first hour of the paddle was fun and exciting – Class I and Class II rapids easily handled by this experienced kayaking troupe. Then, without warning, the fun stopped.
As the troupe approached the WILDCAT RAPIDS, WW takes the lead to show everyone the correct passage route. Alas, WW disappears, capsizes, and starts tumbling down the river.
Not to worry, Master MP to the rescue, or so he thought. Down he goes.
Next, SANDARELLA and MV. If anyone can handle these raging rapids, it is MV with his years of nautical experience. As usual, however, MV over-estimated his abilities, and his tandem kayak capsizes throwing the spectacular SANDERELLA and himself into the troubled waters. If there was a bridge over these troubled waters I am sure the group would not have felt weary, weak and had tears in their eyes.
If ever there was a time for someone to rise to the occasion, this was it and thank goodness it happened. Miraculously, MV transformed himself into NORWEGIAN JESUS (NJ).
As we have all been taught, Jesus walked on water. Well, NJ did the next best thing – he walked through the rapids and saved SANDERELLA and WW. NJ then shepherded his two disciples up the river to the sandbar where Master MP laid exhausted, sipping on a strawberry rhubarb cider. The group then proceeded to have a well-deserved shore lunch. Playlist suggestion: MY OWN PERSONAL JESUS by Depeche Mode; or check out the cover by Johnny Cash.
Check out the video link which will give you a taste of the Wildcat Rapids.
Recommendation: Skip the Vermilion and paddle down the Illinois River. Playlist suggestion: LONG HOT SUMMER DAY by Turnpike Troubadours.
· Illinois Michigan Canal Trail:
The Illinois Michigan Canal Trail (IM) is one of Management’s favorite trails to ride mostly due to the history and historical artifacts that can still be seen along the trail. The entire trail is approximately 62 miles in length and on the east side begins in Joliet, Illinois and continues west until LaSalle-Peru, Illinois. If you were paddling the Illinois River (remember the Vermilion is not for you) a good place to start would be in Ottawa, Illinois and ride the trail to LaSalle-Peru which would be approximately 20 miles one way. On your way back, stop at North Utica and have a glass of champagne at August Hill Winery and/or a burger at Skoog’s Pub & Grill both of which are right near the trail on Mill Street.
Time for the Trivia/Quiz section. In addition to the kayaking and biking that can be done in the vast SNF, there are numerous other activities. The Trivia/Quiz sections will get you started. Note the following:
1. GARDEN OF THE GODS
One of the best places to hike in SNF is GARDEN OF THE GODS (GOG). There is another hiking area in the United States with the same name. In what state is the other GOG?
Are there venomous snakes in SNF?
In 1880, 3 of the following 4 states produced the most wine in the United States:
· New York
4. TRAIL OF TEARS
Which American President was responsible for the TRAIL OF TEARS?
· John Quincy Adams
· Andrew Jackson
· Martin Van Buren
· John Tyler
TEASE TIME: The April 2023 Edition of MP will be entitled BREAKFAST AND BIKING. As the name implies, this Edition will recommend several bike trails where the LS can stop and have a wonderful breakfast. Bon appetite! Playlist suggestion: BANANA PANCAKES by Jack Johnson.
Time to go, but until next time: “Run like the river.” – Suzanne Collins. As always, remember to: R, R & R!
Answers to Trivia/Quiz Section:
1. GARDEN OF THE GODS
The other GARDEN OF THE GODS is in Colorado near Pike’s Peak.
There are 3 species of venomous snakes in the SNF which are copperhead, cottonmouth, and timber rattlesnakes. For the most part, however, there are no bears or cougars.
In 1880 the top 4, in order, wine producing states in the United States were: California; Missouri; Ohio; and, Illinois. New York was a distant 7. Today, there is a SHAWNEE HILLS WINE TRAIL which features 11 award winning wineries along a 35 mile scenic drive in the SNF. Visit DMAPS or Google SHAWNEE HILLS WINE TRAIL for more information.
4. TRAIL OF TEARS
Guided by the policies of President Andrew Jackson, over 40 indigenous American Indian tribes were forced to undertake a western migration through the Ohio Valley and southern Illinois to re-locate in the south and southeast. Part of the trail goes directly through SNF. At least 3,000 Native Americans died during this forced re-location.
We need the honest history of our great nation, warts, and all, to be told and not censored by revisionist politicians such as Ron DeSantis. What makes America great is our willingness to admit our mistakes, take steps to overcome them and strive for a better future. We must try to be the best nation that we can. Playlist suggestion: TRY by Pink.