El Niño brings winter kayaking to Wisconsin!

For those of you who don’t live in the upper Midwest, you probably at least know that winter means most rivers are frozen and the brave few scurry into the below freezing temps to run short stretches such as piers gorge. The rest of us practice in the pools while waiting for the thaw. Well, this year is a bit different….so far.

In November, the river levels were low, but still runnable and many were enjoying the unseasonably warm 50-60 degree days on the wolf and the peshtigo. But then, just as we thought the cold was arriving, and the river levels were reaching minimum flows…we took off to Tennessee for a run of the ocoee, Obed, Cumberland south fork and the nolichucky…only to drive back through a December thunderstorm that dropped 3″ of rain in Green Bay over 30 hours. The rain continued as a light mist for days and we recorded the wettest December on record since the early 1900s! What did this mean? Everything was running at levels of the spring thaw! So put on your dry suits and get on the water!

Instead of shipping our dry gear in for their winter repairs…some home made patches would have to do for now. Willy, Jeremiah and the boys hit up the fox river’s island st. Wave at kaukauna…a stretch that typically releases less that one gate on the dam all summer long was open to 6 full gates!

The buzz started churning about manitowocs Cato falls wave that grew very popular after a similar spring rain storm about 3 years ago. Unfortunately, the 3″ of rain wasn’t enough but the extra rainfall just before Christmas made it fast and bouncy for all the wave moves you can imagine. [youtube]http://www.youtu.be/ggg7fheT3RE[/youtube]. The ice cream headaches aren’t as bad now as they are in spring thaw :)

Others found runs across the state including the black River at hatfield, the pike, wolf, pesh….and even, the Lake Michigan waves were coming in tall enough to surf!

Now, to wrap it all up with a Christmas bow on top, Winter Storm Ashley is coming through today with 12″ of snow! I can tell you this is the first winter I ever experienced where Wisconsinites were complaining about winter being too warm for snow! So…we will see if tomorrow everyone is happy to have it, or the usual winter weather complaints come back :) all signs now point to a potentially wonderful spring thaw! But who knows what it will have in store for us next…

In the meantime. Pool sessions are scheduled for team River runner Green Bay. Find them on Facebook. Also NEW paddlers has lessons at the Y in February and March. Manitowoc pool sessions are on Tuesday and Thursday nights…find liquid rush on Facebook. And caldera pool sessions start Saturday’s in January! :) if your area is hosting an event or pool session, email me at alknutson@me.com and I’ll help get the word out.

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December 12th, 2017

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