Canoeing Badfish Creek with the Mad Traveler

Canoeing Badfish Creek

The put in for canoeing Badfish Creek

I was contacted by the Mad Traveler to join him on some Wisconsin canoeing in order to help him complete a Wisconsin paddling guide. Our initial plan for this last weekend was to canoe the Black River. Mother Nature intervened with several severe thunderstorms Friday and Saturday.

The next plan was to canoe closer to home on Sunday. The storms just kept coming and even that plan looked in doubt. On Sunday morning I got a message from Kevin saying the temperature was beautiful and the canoe was on the car. That was the only prodding I needed. I jumped in the car and met the Mad Traveler at Badfish Creek – about halfway between Madison and Janesville, Wisconsin.

Canoeing Badfish Creek

The beginning of our canoeing Badfish Creek adventure

Normally this creek is supposed to be clear and have very little water in it. With all the rain over the weekend in Wisconsin the creek was a muddy brown river flowing at a decent rate. Fortunately, it was not at a flood stage that made it dangerous.

The Mad Traveler had just recently bought a used canoe and was eager to try it out. It was a Pelican, which I had never heard of, but it turned out to be a decent craft. It was sturdy in the water and maneuverable, which turned out to be two qualities we needed.

Canoeing Badfish Creek

Canoeing Badfish Creek

The beginning part of the trip was very uneventful. The river weaved in and out of farm country and through some wooded section. We did not see any herons, which was a surprise, but we saw perhaps a half dozen Baltimore orioles.

Then we turned a corner and a dead fall was completely over the river. The only place it was feasible to go through was a small gap under a log at extreme river right. We had to do the limbo and get completely on the bottom of the boat to skirt under the log.

The Mad Traveler

The Mad Traveler doing the limbo under a deadfall

We turned another corner and two logs were securely across the river with no gap in sight. This was going to have to be a small portage. We pulled the canoe up into the tall grass and in doing so my paddle fell into the water and drifted downstream. I stupidly had not put the paddle all the way in the canoe.

Badfish Creek Wisconsin

Celebrating the retrieval of my paddle

Fortunately, it was not going anywhere thanks to aforementioned two logs. I scampered over the root of the tree on the shoreline and shimmied over the dead tree into the middle of the river and retrieved the paddle and then climbed back to shore.

We got back in the canoe and a few turns of the river found another deadfall completely across the river. This time we just barreled right into the sweeper where the current was not so strong and just picked our way through the limbs and eventually broke through.

Canoeing Badfish Creek

Getting up close and personal with Mother Nature while canoeing Badfish Creek

This turned out to be the last of the deadfalls that covered the river, but it did not end the adventure. There were many trees down that only allowed a canoe through at a certain gap. We had to line up the canoe perfectly and sometimes we had to turn sharply to avoid another log or tree after getting through the initial passage.

Fortunately, we were able to maneuver through on all of these passages without getting caught up or turned over. I did make the Mad Traveler and myself eat a few overhanging limbs full of leaves that could have been avoided, but we made it through unscathed although we had to wipe away a few spiders who joined for the ride.

Canoeing Badfish Creek Wisconsin

Heading for some more obstructions while Canoeing Badfish Creek

Normally the river is not this high and I think many of the deadfalls were from the recent high water. I don’t think the river is usually this adventurous. We got a little bit more than what we bargained for, but enjoyed the adrenaline rush created by avoiding the deadfalls and fast water.

Canoeing Badfish Creek

Enjoying a stretch of river without a downed tree

It made the ice cold New Glarus wheat beer in my cooler taste that much better when we emerged from the fallen trees and completed this fun stretch of the Badfish Creek.

New Glarus beer

Although it is always sad to see an adventure come to an end – It was New Glarus time

For more information on this river and many other Illinois and Wisconsin Rivers, check out Morrall River Films and their video canoe guides.

Also check out the Mad Traveler’s blog and of course stay tuned for his future canoeing guide in print.

We did a stretch from a bridge on Old Stone Road just north of the Badfish Creek Wildlife Area to  a bridge on Casey Road near Evansville, Wisconsin.


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The goal of Traveling Ted is to inspire people to outdoor adventure travel and then provide tips on where and how to go. If you liked this post then enter your email in the box to get email notifications for each new entry. Daily travel photos are excluded from your email in order to not flood you with posts. There is no spam and email information will not be shared. Other e-follow options include Facebook (click on the like box to the right) or twitter (click on the pretty bird on the rainbow above).

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About Traveling Ted

Ted Nelson has been adventure traveling since he was 10 years old on camping trips with his Dad to places like the Great Smoky Mountains, The Everglades, and Big Bend National Park. In 2005 he added international travel to his repertoire with a three month trip to Southeast Asia.

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18 Responses to Canoeing Badfish Creek with the Mad Traveler

  1. Trips By Lance June 25, 2013 at 3:48 pm #

    Ted, that looks fun. I’ve only been to Wisconsin once and that was Milwaukee. If you ever make it down to Memphis there is a great section of the Wolf River called the Ghost River that is worth an afternoon in a canoe. Parts of it are no more than weaving in and out of trees on the equivalent of a hiking trail in water. Check this out: http://ghostriverrentals.com/. And you can enjoy some good Memphis-made Ghost River beer.
    Trips By Lance recently posted..Dreaming of Romance and Food in Aruba

    • Ted Nelson July 1, 2013 at 1:21 am #

      Interesting that you mention this as I was just reading a post by my Wisconsin blogger friend, and he paddled a section of the Bark River that was so flooded it reminded him of the Wolf River in Tennessee. It looks intriguing.

  2. Leigh June 29, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    Nothing like a little unexpected excitement!

    You would enjoy Kejimkujik NP in Nova Scotia – and I bet you would LOVE this book as it weaves fishing and canoeing together – The Tent Dwellers by Albert Bigelow Paine
    Leigh recently posted..Canoeing in Canada: Don’t Miss a Trip to Kejimkujik NP

    • Ted Nelson July 1, 2013 at 5:04 pm #

      I could have used a little less excitement, but the paddle went well despite the many brush ins with overhanging trees and deadfalls.

  3. Lola DiMarco June 30, 2013 at 9:17 pm #

    Though doing the limbo and drinking are normally two things that I would find entertaining and would be excited for, in this instance I might have to say I’ll pass! Especially if spiders are looking to join in on my fun- no thank you! Way to maneuver those deadfalls though. You made it look so easy! 😉
    Lola DiMarco recently posted..Horseback Riding in Sligo County, Ireland

    • Ted Nelson July 1, 2013 at 5:05 pm #

      I don’t blame you Lola, this trip was borderline dangerous with the strong current. If the water was a little higher it would have been unwise to paddle.

  4. @mrsoaroundworld July 1, 2013 at 8:45 am #

    A bit tooooo adventurous for me! But a fun experience for you for sure!
    @mrsoaroundworld recently posted..Mallorca, island lux in Spain

    • Ted Nelson July 1, 2013 at 5:06 pm #

      Almost a bit beyond my level of expertise as well. I would have been more comfortable in a kayak or a solo canoe as it has been awhile since I have had to steer a tandem canoe. It was good practice though and we did not dump or get caught up on any trees, so we made it.

  5. Pola (@jettingaround) July 1, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

    Judging by the level of adventure, you’d think you went to the Amazon! 🙂 I’ll stick to beer and cheese tasting in Milwaukee, although I am tempted to go kayaking/canoeing this summer.
    Pola (@jettingaround) recently posted..Photo of the Week: Mountain views in Jasper, Canada

    • Ted Nelson July 1, 2013 at 5:08 pm #

      Funny what a little bit of Mother Nature’s fury can do as this is just a slow moving creek in southern Wisconsin. I would have felt safer paddling the Amazon.

  6. Leah Travels July 2, 2013 at 3:05 pm #

    OK, so this sounds like a misadventure. Tell me, was there beer drunk before this expedition?
    Leah Travels recently posted..Steep to Cheap: Two Great Houston Restaurants

    • Ted Nelson July 15, 2013 at 8:30 pm #

      There should have been before and during, but we had to settle for after.

  7. Erin at The World Wanderer July 2, 2013 at 9:45 pm #

    This looks fun! I still have yet to go canoeing, though I don’t think I’m ready for an adventure like this yet. Love the photos though!
    Erin at The World Wanderer recently posted..Music Monday: Let Her Go.

    • Ted Nelson July 15, 2013 at 8:31 pm #

      I don’t think I was ready for this trip. I prefer my canoeing to be obstruction free or at least a gap where we can fit the canoe through. Limbo, crashing through a tree, and portaging are not my favorite methods of canoeing.

  8. Raul (@ilivetotravel) July 4, 2013 at 2:20 pm #

    That was more work than I would expect if I were taken canoeing! Maybe the beer would have to show up earlier in my canoe journey and it would all be OK.
    Raul (@ilivetotravel) recently posted..Gear for Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro – Clothing

    • Ted Nelson July 15, 2013 at 8:32 pm #

      Unusual conditions in Wisconsin this year with all the rain. Usually this is a placid creek with a few obstructions, but this was a little crazy.

  9. Lisa @chickybus July 9, 2013 at 6:24 pm #

    Looks like fun, but…it also looks like the drink afterward was needed! 🙂
    Lisa @chickybus recently posted..Gili Meno—the Island Paradise I’m Still Dreaming About (#Photo Essay) #Indonesia #ttot #TravelTuesday

    • Ted Nelson July 15, 2013 at 8:33 pm #

      The post trip is always needed, but even more so when you have a trip like this.

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