Spirit River

The Spirit River is a tributary of the Wisconsin and just above where it connects it is dammed to make an enormous reservoir. When I first kayaked it I put in at one of the public launches and paddled up stream. It took an hour 1/2 of paddling to get to what I call the good part. Where the lake narrows to more of the river’s natural channel. And that was cool enough. The fall shot is from the place where the last house is located. For miles there is nothing on this river except woods. It’s amazing.

But it had more secrets. During high water times you can paddle right out of the main channel into the woods. The riverbed is so shallow in spots that it just spills and drifts through the trees where only kayakers and canoers can follow. That’s the magic and the wonder of the Spirit. The shot with the leaning tree is in a side channel that is rarely accessible - a sandbar and some trees block it downriver, a tangle of trees block it up river leaving a narrow space to get to the main channel again.

And even better, I found a non-public, non-prohibited launch site that puts me directly into the perfect part of the river. Saving me 3 hours of paddling to and fro past any number of houses, camps and cottages. Oh and the launch site is about a 5 minute paddle to an amazing eagle’s nest. What’s not to love?

Eventually if you paddle up far enough the current becomes too strong and in general it’s too rocky and shallow to continue. This means you can just drift back, using the paddle just to steer. I encountered the menacing Otter Gang of the Spirit river in this way - here’s a link to a video of them blocking my path (kidding).


I’ll shut up now.

Specific Feedback Requested

Any and all is welcome.

Technical Details

Is this a composite: No
Shot with the Lumix G9, Lumix G Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 lens, handheld in the kayak, usually with a custom mode dialed in that is Shutter-priority based, but not always. Processed in Luminar and Lightroom.

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Excellent favorite spot and group of images. The leaning tree and the green forest image after are absolutely beautiful! They provide a great sense of the place, the mood and feel and look stellar on top of it. Great work.

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Kris, what a wonderful area you’ve got so close to you to explore and enjoy! Lucky you. Love the series and the otter video is so fun, nice touch.

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It is easy to understand why this is one of your favorite places. Your beautiful photos wonderfully demonstrate its outstanding beauty. Your otter video is excellent. What charming animals. Thank you for including it.

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Kris the opening view is lovely, with nicely saturated colors and a big visual swing from the right to that tallest tree on the left. I also like how the leaning tree triangle acts like a door inviting one to come and explore. Otters are way cool and your video show their inquisitive nature well.

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Hi! I love this series, each composition gives me a real sense of both the excitement…and the peace that you must find here. I really appreciate the commentary as well, some images say it all but I enjoy reading commentary from the shooter’s perspective as well…so thank you!

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Thanks everyone for your responses and comments about my favorite paddling place. I wasn’t going to post that many images, but it’s difficult to describe without at least a few. And it’s so varied. Otters a bonus. Once I found a garter snake swimming across. The current is so minimal that it’s easy.

I’m glad you liked the write up, @JohnCRudySearcher - I got a little long-winded there.