Our
trip was originally planned for Sweetwater Creek. We had plenty of
rain…. it just didn’t stop! The river hit flood stage at around
ten feet. That means the rangers would close off the park. Of
course no GCA trip leader would ever think about taking a group of
canoes and kayaks down at flood level. There’s too much hassle with
rescue units, tons of paperwork later and possible fines.

We
met at Lee Road Park & Ride around 9:00 A.M. and agreed on a
creek that is not known to many outside of Douglas County. Annewakee
Creek is an exceptional ride when the level is right. It was a
little lower than I wanted this day, but still high enough for a
first-timers trip. To judge whether the creek is runnable, from the
put-in on Annewakee Road, look down the creek at a large rock in the
middle. If the water is over the rock then it’s worth running.
Anything more is creamin’.

The
creek has three major rapids and plenty of play spots. The first is
“Cole Start Rapid” named after my good buddy and property
owner of the take-out, Jim Cole. It’s at least an eight foot drop at
a 70 degree slant, and be ready to go submerged. We ran it just left
of middle. I would rate it a class 3.

About
100 yards later, past several ledges, we came to “Sudden
Impact”. I recommend scouting this rapid. The main current of
water flows along the left bank, down along a steep slide, and splat!
Against an undercut boulder. It will spray water a good 10 feet
high (sorta awesome). That’s why it’s called “Sudden Impact”;
that’s why you want to scout; and that’s why you don’t want to get
caught there. The idea is to get a running start and ski jump while
leaning back. But if you casually drop over like some of us did,
then crunch! Your boat nose will hit, and the hole will pull you in.
However, at this particular water level we found that next to the
right bank it’s deep and the hydraulic is not a keeper. Everyone had
a successful run (i.e. not flips or swims). I believe this rapid may
be a class 4.

So
we worked on down about 50 yards to what we call the “Trolly”.
River left next to the bank is a large rock. Enter here and be
ready to brace. If I remember right, you’ll drop to the left, then
right, and then left again at the bottom.

This
is the one that usually gives me trouble and flips me. It’s fun and
there is some recovery at the bottom. No one flipped today. I would
personally give it a class 3 plus.

There
are plenty of play spots along the section I just described, and if
you’re a class 3-4 boater looking for a new, virtually unknown creek
run, I would recommend this one. You’ll see no houses. The put-in
is on Annewakee Road, and the take-out is on Highway 166.

The
next river we ran was the Dog River. It was running at minus 1 foot
on the gauge, which is on the bridge at Highway 5. We put in at
Banks Mills Road because there is ample parking and some nice warm-up
spots to surf.

This
river is a political controversy since Douglas County Water and Sewer
Authority built a dam at Highway 166. They’ve staked claim and
turned it into a wealthy man’s social club. The elite clique is also
hostile to kayakers. To gain permission to paddle this once popular
river you must pay $5.00 a person, another $5.00 per boat, and at
least half of your group must be residents of Douglas County.

Needless
to say, WSA has closed this river off to kayaks and canoes.
Fortunately I know someone who lives just above the reservoir on the
river. This gentleman has gone more than the second mile in allowing
us to take out on his property. Unfortunately Bob is planning to
move. It would sure be nice if a GCA member who is looking for a
secluded, uniquely different place to live would move in.

Besides
all that, the river was fun with plenty of spots to play; and some of
us ran the “Little Narrows” twice.

The
group was experienced and pleasurable to paddle with. It included:
Tom Giles, Jim Ledvinka, Shawn O’Keith, Duncan Cottrell, and myself
(all in Kakays).

Thanks guys; I had a great time.

by
David Holcomb
March 1, 1997.

[Note:
Attorneys tell us that since the date of this trip, the courts have
decided against the Douglas County Water and Sewer Authority in the
Dog River access case, and that negotiations are underway with WSA to
work out the mechanics of providing equal access to the Dog River for
all users, regardless of residency or time of year (the reservoir has
always been closed in winter). The case was decided in Federal
Court. Attorneys are still working on a couple of sticking points at
this writing, but there are no plans at present for an appeal. –
Editor.]