The advantage of quiet river paddling is you don't have to constantly concern yourself with handling fast current or rapids. There is steering involved, of course, to avoid fallen trees in the water, or sometimes negotiate a snag which blocks your way.Otherwise though, there is plenty of time to relax and appreciate your surroundings.
Part of the fun of smaller rivers is the way they meander. On the Pecatonica, rounding each curve is another discovery through varying, picturesque territory. On that day, the sound of birds was constant; we heard the songs and calls of dozens of species coming from the thick bushes and towering pine and deciduous trees lining the banks. The river averages just 35 feet in width; narrow enough that the trees, at times, form a canopy overhead, adding to the serene and secluded feeling.
Two of the bridges we passed under had intricately-made mud swallow's nests lining their entire length, and our presence, though brief, caused quite a commotion.
One of my favorite stretches of this river is lined with moss-covered rock. As we paddled through, we could feel the air temperature dip. It was cool and dark, and we looked up and marveled at tree roots growing right out of the cliffs.
Having my binoculars along when kayaking, to me, is almost as crucial as having my paddle. On the Pecatonica that day, besides spotting deer, muskrat, birds, and butterflies through the lenses, I could simply get a closer look at the locust trees in bloom, dappled sunlight on the hill, footprints at the water's edge, and the gentle ripple in the water ahead. We paddled into the early evening, breathing in the sweet smell of honeysuckle, and looking to see what the next bend in the river would reveal.
Eagle Optics Staff
Binoculars: Bring them. See what they bring you.