Two Faces of Starkweather Creek

July 30, 2015

Setting: Friday evening, temp about 80, sunny. We planned a short urban paddle on a creek we hadn’t been on for several years, followed by music of Hanggai in the park across the street from the launch

Water level: adequate, no gauge.

Put in: at the excellent concrete ramp at Olbrich Park at 6:55 pm.

The paddle: M had scouted the creek that day by bike along the Starkweather Creek Bike Path to confirm that it was not obstructed or too scummy.  For the first 1/2 mile or so, we could hear the music of Dengue Fever at the “Silk Road” Sessions on the other side of Atwood Ave. The water level was good for paddling, and the surface was generally clear of invasives.  There was minimal trash (sometimes a problem along this urban creek), and no unpleasant odors.  The Friends of Starkweather Creek organize creek clean-ups periodically. We appreciate the efforts of these volunteers. We paddled upstream to just north of the dog park on Commercial, just south of Hwy 30. We turned around so we could get back in time to see Hanggai at 8:30.

Wildlife: many mallard ducks, one black cat under the Milwaukee St bridge, possibly the pet of the person who put the couch under this bridge?

Take out: 8:15.  We carried our chairs and our beet rollups across the street and arrived just as Hanggai started their set. We split a beer from one of the food stands and enjoyed a cool mosquito-free evening on the shore of Lake Monona under a blue moon listening to our favorite Mongolian band.  #magical


August 4, 2015

Setting: Tues evening, sunny, temp in low 80’s. We wanted to see if we could get past Hwy 30 into the Starkweather Creek Wildlife Area.

Put in: Oldbrich Park launch at 6:45pm

The paddle: We were not able to go much farther than our previous paddle due to an obstruction by tree debris, and since we don’t do portaging, we turned around. The water level was definitely lower than the week before, and the surface was scummier. We got a bit hung up on rocks under the E.Washington St bridge but didn’t flip or have to get out of the canoe.  We passed up the takeout and paddled into Lake Monona a few yards to get some photos of the Capitol before heading back to the takeout.

Wildlife: many mallard ducks, a cormorant?

Take out: 7:30

Take away: best to canoe Starkweather Creek after a decent rain.


August 30, 2015

Setting: Sunday evening, temp in the upper 70’s. We wanted to try the east branch of the creek. We encountered lots of big boats coming and going at the launch, leaving the smell of diesel hanging over the area.

Put-in: Olbrich launch 4:35pm

The paddle: We took the east fork but could not get under the temporary footbridge erected for the bridge reconstruction by Severson’s gas station, so we reversed course and paddled the west branch again as far as the E.Washington St bridge. The water was higher than the last paddle, and the rocks under the bridge were barely visible. The water level was good for paddling, and we took photos of the water level that we can refer to when are thinking about paddling this creek in the future.

Take out: 6:00pm

Wildlife: many mallards, which entertained us by leapfrogging over each other as they paddled ahead of us, and at least 30 turtles sunning on rocks and logs.