Fair Street to County Road V:
A somewhat grueling paddle prone to a lot of logjams that will need to be portaged but an otherwise charming little creek in a lovely environment of rolling hills, the highlight of which is finishing in a quaint bay teeming with wildlife diversity, most notable of which is a flock of pelicans.
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆
Trip Report Date: April 20, 2013
Skill Level: Intermediate
Class Difficulty: Riffles + Two modest ledges
Gauge note: We have no record of the gauge levels on this day.
We recommend a level between 4.5′-5′ on the NOAA gauge.
Time: Not recorded
Total Time: 4h
Miles Paddled: 5.25
Pelicans, sandhill cranes, osprey, snowy egrets, mergansers, bald eagles, coots, loons and geese.
Let me make this disclaimer: I am very glad I did this paddle but I’d probably need to be talked into doing it again (or bribed). Disclaimer number two: I had a great time with three other paddling buddies but I would have been grumbling had I done it alone.
What we liked:
While I knew a little about the creek than runs through the Lodi Marsh and into town, I hadn’t ever really considered paddling it. I love the Lodi area, so when my friend proposed the trip and then enticed me with the probability of seeing pelicans, I didn’t think twice about it. Spring Creek has a nice clear sandy bottom, as evidenced by the number of large clams living there. There are two ledges that add welcome, though unexpected thrills, the first of which is safe and easy, the second requiring a bit more caution. Deadfall straddles the entire width of the creek but for one easy-to-see slot at the edge of the ledge but you will need to duck under the deadfall, which makes running a foot-high drop a little awkward.
Without question the best part of this trip is the end. The intimate wooded area slowly opens out onto a marsh which then turns ends into a bay, where immediately you will happen upon all sorts of wildlife. In our case, a flock of pelicans, an osprey, three blue herons and four bald eagles. There are a lot of tight turns and stops that mark the trip until you get to the marsh. But once there everything opens up, it’stotally clear and placid. The contrast was a gift. After all the wrenching twists, portaging, pulling boats over deadfall and sawing off tree limbs in the leaf-canopied shade, suddenly you are basking in the sun, able to just float and take in all those crazy pelicans. Pelicans!?! In Wisconsin!
What we didn’t like:
There are a lot of logjams, many of them impassable. Some of the jams could be cleared out or sawed off but many need to be portaged. Only after fifty yards or so from the very put-in itself you will already need to portage. Get used to it. There are also several strands of wire you will need to climb under, some electric (though I don’t think there is current) and some barbed (a lot of it camouflaged by grass and weeds and detectable only at the last minute, unless you know where to look for them). There is a considerable amount of litter too, (as this stretch is downstream from the public park in Lodi) mostly aluminum cans and plastic bottles and I kid you not, no fewer than four very water-logged neon softballs.
If we did this trip again:
Unless the friend who first suggested this paddle bribes me, I don’t know if I’d paddle it again. That said, I will definitely mark mid-spring on the calendar each year and paddle the bay (which is part of Lake Wisconsin) to watch the wildlife. However, I will probably put-in above Lake Wisconsin (which is just the swollen backflow of the Wisconsin River dammed at Prairie du Sac). But if nothing else, I strongly recommend just putting in at the bay and paddling around to see all the winged wonders.