NOTE: IN ORDER TO BETTER SEE PHOTOS IN THEIR FULL 1600 PX. RESOLUTION, VIEW THEM IN THE ALBUM FORMAT BY CLICKING ON THE LEAD PHOTO OR ANY PHOTO IN THE POST. This is especially true for landscape shots. Thanks to Mark for the idea of adding this alert so the photos can be seen at their best!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge

We went over to Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge twice on this vacation. The first time we rode our bikes from Perrot State Park on the Great River State Trail which goes right past the campground and directly to the NWR. It was a very level ride on a sandy former railroad bed and we were at the NWR after about 2 miles of riding.

The reserve has three major plant communities on the refuge: sand prairie, backwater marsh and hardwood forest. The 4 mile loop drive is also part of the Great River State Trail, so we just kept pedaling! They've had a little more rain this farther north and as a matter of fact it rained a couple of times while we were here, helping them continue to escape the drought that southern Wisconsin is experiencing along with a lot of the rest of the country. Very shortly after the above photo was taken I skidded to a halt on my bike because there was a bald eagle on a branch to the right. Of course I had put my camera away! We eyed each other for a minute or two and then he finally decided to take off. I've never been so close to one before, that sandy trail must have softened the sound of our approach! We also saw a doe with two fawns running ahead of us alongside the road before they finally crossed and took off into the woods, and of course wildflowers. Anyone know what this yellow one is? With my luck, I'm sure it's an unwanted invasive species!

Otherwise it was a quiet ride and halfway through the loop we stopped at the observation deck to try to see some birds out on the wetlands. We walked over to the ranger station to talk to John Currier, the ranger who would be leading a canoe trip on the refuge in the morning, to firm up our plans to participate in the group paddle.  As we finished our bike ride we kept an eye out for the road to the boat landing so we would know where to arrive at sunrise.

We were up at 5:00 am the next morning and at the boat dock by 5:30. There was a group of 28 expected, so the rangers had us and a few others who had arrived early launch our kayaks and head out into the water.  I was glad that we did, because we got to see the sun rise, while the ones who arrived later missed it because the sky clouded over by that time.

As the group assembled, I got quite a few stares. I was loaded up for anything....GoPro camera strapped to my forehead, Canon SLR slung around my neck and point & shoot clipped to my lifevest! We made a video of the trip, but it'll take me awhile to edit it and get it up on the blog. During the paddle we saw a couple of groups of pelicans fly over, learned a bit about the invasive purple loosestrife...and stuck very close to shore because of the threat of rain, which was a disappointment. I was hoping for a paddle through the Mississippi backwaters and we never left the main pool on the NWR! Still, it was nice until the rain started an hour later and we all headed in. The most exciting part of the morning after seeing the sunrise was seeing a mink cross the road as we were driving out of the refuge! We'd never seen one in the wild before. This is a nice little refuge, and if you like to paddle there is lots of water here to do it as long as you don't mind the sound of the trains which run alongside the river!

These campers from Texas were at our park, too - loved their mosquito netting outfits!

1 comment:

  1. What a nice report - thanks! The paddling pics are lovely, can't wait to see the video.