We’ve encountered a lot of fences and barriers, and I think every single one of them is ugly. We’ve met a lot of deadfall and blockages, and I’ve never enjoyed hiking around them. We’ve seen trash, abuse, drainage pipes, sewage, seaweed, muck, carcasses galore, and god-knows-what-this-or-that-was, and I’ve never thought, “we’ll that’s pretty”. But, while sifting through hundreds of photos from the past ten years, there have been some that caught my eye for being tragically beautiful, for one reason or another.
By “Best of the Worst”, I’m talking about the best photos taken in the worst (potentially worst, or uncomfortable) situations. My favorites are usually those caught right at that moment – ya know, where you or your beloved are stuck in branches or barbs or brambles or all three. It always makes me smile, because someone actually thought to take a picture to remember just how awful that moment was or was about to be. That, to me, is humor at its finest. Anyway, let’s celebrate the ten “worst” photos.
01: Dell Creek
One of the aforementioned decisive-moments.
02: Piscasaw Creek
It doesn’t get much uglier and anxiety-inducing than a death-gate stretched far across a river (leaving no options to exit, especially in high water – yeesh).
03: Six Mile Creek
Of course, there’s alway the “iron death-gate”, one that doesn’t neccessarily sneak up on anyone but is especially heartbreaking after a long and questionable run on Six Mile Creek.
04: Mecan River
There are blooms, scum, muck, mud, and then there’s this.
05: Fox River
Oh, and sludge. Damned if I forgot about sludge…
06: Morrison Creek
The self-described “Michelangelo moment of handing off the handsaw” gets me uneasy just looking at how brave and reckless two men can be to help other paddlers. God bless ’em.
07: Pecatonica River
Having encountered a few last-minute wires, I know that even in slow-current being this close to this fence for a photo-op offering no clear way through, is anxiety-inducing at its finest.
08: Sugar River: West Branch
Sadly, this is just reality some weekends.
09: Yahara River
Here’s a sad picture of what many “beautiful” portages look like. One we run into way too often.
10: Pecatonica River: East Branch
If you think this is about the potential deadfall, please look again. Hint: it’s about the dumper.