Kaul Park Ixonia signage (conflicts with Google)

Rock River Kaul Park upstream – mistakes were made! 2023

This was that time when the canoe took off down the Rock River without us…

Note that Kaul Park is finally available on Google maps as “CW Canoe Landing, Johnson Creek“. This is odd because not only do we think of it as being in Ixonia (Wisconsin) but the park sign indeed says “Ixonia” – in a very pretty font I might add.

The Launch – mistakes were made!

Mary had the idea to paddle, so within an hour we decided where to go and were on our way to Kaul Park. We hadn’t paddled upstream from there in a very long time.

The water levels are low. Our area of Wisconsin is still in “extreme drought” conditions. That made the concrete ramp longer and steeper than it usually is.

In preparing to launch, we followed our usual protocol. We carry the boat down to the water, then we fetch the paddles, pfds and waters. There was a bit of wind and since our boat is Kevlar (very light), I am usually overly cautious about holding onto it. Unfortunately, I overrode the voice in my head and convinced myself “it will be ok for a minute.” But the wind was just enough to catch the boat, and the ramp was just steep enough to allow the boat to move forward – our canoe launched without us!

Luckily, Mary was still on the ramp. She ran down to the water but couldn’t reach it – the boat was on the move down the river. She stepped into the Rock River a few steps but couldn’t reach it. Underwater her feet sunk into the mud (but not as much as it could have). The vision of the Yahara River flashed into her head – there is a unexpected deep drop off about three foot off the landing. Holding her phone above her head (note to self: leave the phone on shore next time), not knowing if she would plunge inĀ  – she stepped forward and was able to grab the boat just in time! She pulled it to the river bank and the disaster was averted – what a hero!

Like many waterways, the road does not parallel the Rock River but instead “encounters” it on occasion. We do not know what we would have done had the boat taken off faster than it did! There was no one else at Kaul park at the time. Even if there were people, they often do not have boats because people use it as a fishing spot.

We also realized that we do not have any identifying information on the boat – something that we will take care of before our next adventure.

One thing we did do right – we keep a dry bag full of clothes (including underwear) and a big towel in the car. Mary was able to change fully and was willing to press on with our plan. (We do need to add a pair of her shoes to the car though.) In colder weather we take the dry bag with us in the boat.

The Paddle

Well, after the momentous launch, the paddle seemed even more calm and serene. We saw these interesting ducks / coots that had a behavior we hadn’t seen before. They did not “bob” their heads into the water, they dove under the water and emerged many feet away. It was quite interesting to watch. Unfortunately they were quick and skittish, so we didn’t get a photo.

We paddled upstream for about 90 minutes. We were going to continue until “we see the bridge,” but we heard the clamor of raucous young men ahead… we suspect alcohol was involved and didn’t really want to encounter this, so we turned around just a bit before we would have liked. It was fine, though, and on the way back we were unusually “not chatty”; we enjoyed the sounds of the remoteness – many bird calls, frogs, etc. It was magical.

Wildlife: unusual diving ducks/coots, bald eagle, great blue heron, belted kingfisher, frogs, many turtles, freshwater clams, and many common birds that we see in Wisconsin.


11:30 Leave Madison
12:30 Arrive at Kaul Park, unpack, launch
1:00 Paddle upstream
2:30 Paddle Downstream
3:00 Take out and pack up
4:00 Home

Not only are there are no facilities at Kaul Park, they have cut down all of the trees so there is precious little “private area” to go in the bushes.