Solitude and Wildlife
Date Paddled: July 31, 2016
Nearest City: Platteville
Put-In: Baker Ford Road
Take-Out: Big Platte Road
Duration: 3.5 hours
River Miles: ~9
Shuttle in miles: 5.5
Difficulty: flat-water, riffles, Class I/I+
Our first “official” paddle of Kayak 50! After many long and tiring hours of driving we finally arrive and are ready to put in. Peter biked an easy shuttle of 5.5 miles as I contemplated our adventure while sitting in my beached kayak. The long months of planning, ordering gear, organizing, and dreaming were finally paying off!
I walk down the bank and check the Platte. It’s running well for this late in the season with sage green water alternating between quick, Class I and I+ rapids, and just a bit of flat water mixed in.
The river was alive with wildlife (l to r): beaver (evidence), green heron (very secretive), bald eagle nest (eagle spotted beforehand), mystery mammal (muskrat look alike), egret, and swallow nests. We also saw great blue herons, cedar wax-wings, yellow finches, and many more!
While not normally a big fan of garbage, I’ll admit that this car was a bit of an exception. The fact that it was incorporated into the stream bank through long years of “flattening” surges, had me contemplating a topic that comes up every so often: When does graffiti become artifact/of archaeological interest? I actually hate to admit that the dates from the 1800’s at the top of Kaaterskills Falls in the Catskill Mountains of NY have (in my mind) actually passed into that realm. Oh, did I mention – they are chiseled into the rock. This car? What do you think?
I should mention that we saw this sort of “bank stabilization” along other rivers. There is some lively discussion about chemicals leaching into the water, along with mounting evidence that this sort of hard surface actually creates small eddies that further erode banks. Natural riparian zone plant natives do a great job as do beavers in rivers that are slow enough for them to slow down even more, not the case here on the Platte.
As we continued our paddle under big skies and fun rapids, we counted our blessings. One down, forty-nine much anticipated and mysterious paddles to go!