Canoe on Starkweather Creek

Starkweather Creek Instead of Wingra Creek 2023

Starkweather Creek and Wingra Creek are best in late spring / early summer when water is high. Wisconsin has been in a drought but we expected the recent rains were enough for the local Madison creeks – not quite.

Wingra Creek Launch was a no go

We had a typical late 2pm start on a warm June day after having near-record breaking cold ones. Mary completed her volunteer ride with a bit of a delay. Katia newly has Wednesdays off from work, so we hope she is a frequent addition and motivation to our adventures. Deb was dealing with a knee issue which makes other activities like tai chi and pickleball out of the question.

As usual, we parked on Wingra Drive intending to check out the conditions under the first stone bridge from the bike path. Immediately it was evident that the creek was choked with weeds and algae. The paddle would be totally unpleasant!

Backup Plan Starkweather Creek

The put-in at Olbrich Gardens boat launch looked promising as did several places that we spied over the last day or two – the water was clear and inviting. When we got to the decision point of left / right creek channel we saw that it was not going to be the perfect day. First we paddled to the left. We got as far as the Milwaukee Street bridge but it eventually got weedy and then even weedier. It was especially hard for kayak paddling. In addition to weeds and a bit of algae, there were gnats galore. So back down the stream to the right branch of the creek – we didn’t get very far to see that the channel that goes past Voight Farm was awful as well.

Finally decided to paddle into Lake Monona since the water was quite calm but the atmosphere was smoky from fires in Canada. Getting onto the lake, some friendly but rude / ignorant people in a motor boat demonstrated their lack of etiquette for sharing the narrow waterway with paddle craft. Nothing bad happened except their exhaust – cough!

It was about 90-minute paddle which we all enjoyed all in all. Afterward we got together for Mexican Food from a new place which was totally delicious… and we were giddy for making the best of the day. Unfortunately, two of four of us had diarrhea the next day which is totally sad!

Wildlife: lots of ducks and turtles

The Photos