Kickapoo, And Wildcat Mountain.

Kickapoo, And Wildcat Mountain.

I went and camped at a place called Wildcat Mountain State Park a couple of weeks ago.
Just for a night, so I could spend the day with my roomie kayaking the Kickapoo river.
I was down for a whole day love affair with a river.
The last one had me hooked.

When I came back from Wonewoc, one of my customers at work overheard me talking about it.
He said he was from that area, and was confused as to why I would go there.
A heart he did have. He was there celebrating his one year anniversary with his wife.
They were very cute.
He seemed so earnest.
It became clear that he just wondered why I had canoed the Baraboo river, when there was the Kickapoo.
Now, I could tell him, that I wish to sail down each and every.
Name a river, I want it. I want it in my hands, and between my toes.

(side note: i may or may not have just eaten an entire box of peanut butter patties)

He told me to get on the river in Ontario.
It’s 3 hours away from my house, so I decided that I should spend the day on the river, and camp.
A quick search for campsites had me at Wildcat Mountain. Mountain?
I love you, Southwestern Wisconsin. Seriously.
It makes me want to map it’s coordinates, and tattoo them all over my back.

We set up camp quickly, then went to the kayak rental place.
He gave us vanilla extract to rub on our heads and other extremities to keep the ‘skeeters away.
Dudes.. It totally works.

We met this little girl with her new puppy that told us, “It’s his first canoe ride.”

The Girl and the Dog.

As we were walking down to the river, the kayak guy said, “Is that camera waterproof?”
“I’m a risk-taker,” I said wryly.

We saw our campsite from our kayak, but didn’t know it when it happened.
I thought it was just another rock formation.
Where the eagles fly...

I loved this river no less and no more than the last one. They were just different.
The last was in the middle of nowhere. It was water, then tall grass. No banks.. No buildings.
This, there were bridges. And more people enjoying it.
More places to stop and swim.
And hecka more rock formations.

And more stuff altogether.
Banks, stumps, trees, rocks, sand, drips and drops, little caves..
Muskrat. (we saw 3)
Which is basically like a wet rat.
Two times something jumped away from me in some tall grass.
Something big.

Here’s my redheaded roommate looking awesome.
It might be the fedora.
(a hat that some neighborhood ruffians complimented heavily, while i creepily paddled by without a peep.)
(i can be a very strange bird, folks.)

Cool Chick.

There was a moment, about 5 hours into our trip, where my camera started taking fuzzy pictures.
It just would. not. focus.
I shook it. I turned it off and on. I took the battery out. I put it back in.
I took the memory card out.
I put it back in.
All the while snapping poor photos of some beautiful shit.
(legit, how many pictures does one need of foliage, and a bend in the river?… it was all breathtaking.)

I figured out what was wrong with it is the same thing every time.
I had switched it from automatic focus to manual.
That moment, though, down the river, I missed looking at an eagle soaring straight at me.
That my roommate tried to point out, but I did not see her.

In that moment, I was upset that my camera was broken.
I was mad at it for “just breaking on me.”
There was also fear. Fear of not having one, I guess.

About twenty minutes later, I was trying to crane around to snap a shot of some mushrooms.
A bad shot. Because it came on quick, these cute guys.


I turned to right my kayak, and I was headed towards a branch.
Not just a branch, but one with a red rope tangled in it.
One, that in a split second with a camera in both hands, I tried to avoid with my face.
And my face and the camera ended up in the river.

Side note: When you tip your kayak, your feet are not glued inside of it, and you do not just hover with your head under water like an ostrich. You are just tossed, and then you are standing. (if you are lucky) With a camera that was once on, and had since gone off.

I laughed, of course, because that is my go to response.

We made it the last hour and a half.. A little less frisky than before.
Later, my roommate would be short with me for a good couple of hours before letting me know she didn’t appreciate when I “jokingly” told her to “shut the fuck up.”

We had to drive 7 miles out of town to a town that smelled like straight up feces IN YO FACE to get bug spray.
I had forgotten to pack one of the 7 bottles I have currently in my “beach drawer,” and the only store in Ontario had sold out.
Did I mention that my little tip in the river washed all that vanilla off, and I was eaten alive the rest of the way?
Oh, yes.

We would watch the sunset from the overlook.
After Kate and I had sprayed ourselves down, and she had eaten so much it made her drool.
The bugs swarmed, and as soon as the sun hit the horizon, we were out.


Our campsite was pretty empty, as it was a Monday.
But we stayed next to a couple that I’m pretty sure was high on methamphetamine.
They turned on their lantern then off again.
They laughed and talked all through the night.
They dug around in icy coolers with their whole arms.
They listened to country music on a little radio.
That they also turned off and on.
At one point, after she had gone to bed, he hooted back at owls in the trees.
For a good 30 minutes.

The roommate’s tent was further from them than I was..
“Did you hear that owl last night?” She would ask in the morning.
“OH, I’LL GIVE YOU AN OWL,” I would say.

There was a dampness in the air that hung in our tents. We were sweating, and were chilled at the same time.

2:00 a.m.: A chupacabra skitters about in the brush. I sit up and listen. Strain to see. Too scared to turn on a flashlight.
3:00 a.m.: A pack of coyotes howl menacingly for a good long time.
4:00 a.m.: The chupacabra is back, breathing. I sit, staring into the blackness, certain it’s looking me in the eye.
5:00 a.m.: I get up to pee on a path near the roommate’s tent, away from the creepy weirdos.
7:00 a.m.: We both arise, about an hour of sleep between us, to the tweaker still up with beer in hand.

We had all the plans in the world to go hiking that morning, but the bugs were even worse than the night before.
It was all we could do to methodically pack up and hightail it out of there.

We did breakfast at Paul Bunyans.
All you can eat breakfast?
Served lumberjack style? (!!!????)
With doughnut appetizers?
So it wasn’t a total loss.