The following is a true story, only the names have been changed, to protect the guilty.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Kinni

A couple weeks ago I was joined by Vandy and Famous Dale for a mid-week trip down the Kinnickinnic River in Wisconsin. I have heard a lot about this river and was eager to paddle it, but found specific information on put-in and take-out points difficult. This difficulty would prove to make our trip much more interesting. I knew we were supposed to to leave out of River Falls near a dam, the only problem was I didn't know where the dam was located.

bumper boats
  After putting-in somewhere on the north end of town we were confronted by a sign reading DAM after only twenty minutes in the boats. No problem, we'll simply portage around and get back to it. Easier said than done, upon exiting we met an older gentleman that explained we would have to walk a mile or so to get back on the river. I didn't believe him and we stared scouting for a quick way around.
yeah, itch weed :)

The first dam is just to the left of the cliff
 We toyed with going right over the dam and scaling the thirty feet to the bottom. It was not flowing very well and would have been easy, but we figured we might get arrested or something since there was a power plant directly on the other side. Not giving up I walked around to the back side of the plant and found a way to the river via a steep, brush covered, hill with a nice crop of itch weed at the bottom. We simply let the boats free fall down the hill, pin-balling their way through the trees. I led the way through the itch weed sacrificing my legs in the hopes of clearing a path for my brothers as a sort of apology for my poor recon skills in finding the proper put-in.
very little water was flowing over the second dam

This guy at the bottom though he was going to hit by a flying kayak
   Back on the water, all was well until we were blasted by the foul stench of the River Falls shit plant. Paddling through another large body of water made by yet another dam, we skimmed along the water through what we "coined" as floating mats of shit. They were moss like, about the size of a salad bowl and there was no way I was going to touch one of them. As we paddled past the shit plant's discharge the rank odor was so foul the three of us were ready to hurl. I'm guessing most people don't paddle through here and that's why there is a void in the access to this portion of the river.
Famous Dale

Most of the river looks like this
  Moving on... When we got to the head of the second dam we just wanted to get moving so I was first to suggest, and implement, my plan for dropping the boats down the dam. I really didn't care at this point what happened to my boats, (Vandy borrowed one of mine) the smell was bad and we had burned up precious daylight fumbling around on the previous portage. Anchors away, all three boats skidded down the concrete and bounced on the rocks at the bottom, coming to rest a bit more scratched up, at the base of the small cliff that walls in the  river.
note the grey color of the water, it smells bad too. 

We scurried down, and around the cliff to meet up with our boats and get underway. The rest of the trip down river was beautiful and fun. The river is filled with small rapids, sharp turns and steep cliffs on both sides. We passed no less than twenty fly fishermen (trout) on our seven mile journey to Kinnickinnic State Park. Unfortunately the foul odor of the shit plant up stream stayed with us the entire time. The stench gradually got less and less as tributaries diluted the main flow. The water below the plant was also grey in color ,unlike the clearer, odorless river we paddled above both dams. I'm still surprised that trout live in the river, and wonder if any of the fishermen really know what the waters they are fishing were subjected too ,or if they eat anything they catch.    Bon Appetit'       Aside from our less than desirable route, I will go back again for sure and skip the sewage plant. At a gauge height of 10.5  when we went, the water could be a little higher to be ideal, so I'm watching carefully for the time when it goes up.      


  1. Some times point-source pollution is a little more memorable than nonpoint-source pollution. Oh, and that sewage treatment plant, yeah, they are regulated.

  2. I have no doubt the plant is regulated but it sure smells ,It also makes you wonder what is acceptable to put in the water. i wish i hadn't seen the plant on my first time down but I'll definitely be back. You In ?

  3. DR, I got your message requesting beta for the river long after you would have started that day. I was out on my own adventures then and didn't check the telecomm device for a while (as is supposed to happen). The put-in I used was at Park & Bartosh in River Falls, right at Glen Park. It is a bit of a hike down a hill to carry the boats but not bad. When we did it the water was up a bit more than normal and it looked clear and was non-stinky. Plastic kayaks are a better idea than a keeled aluminum canoe.


    p.s. Rice Creek was "fun" last week. Bring a chainsaw. :)

  4. I would be game the next time you want to go exploring. I can even find out which streams have bacterial impairments through our impaired waters listings :-)

  5. Hey Joshua it was good to meet you and your friend in person today on my ride. It's funny how meeting the personality behind your blog made me realize there are people and not just bikes on it. Looks like you have a great family. Let me now about the ride? thing you mentioned it sounds great. Jared