Water still higher than normal but we’ve got sandbars

The weather forecast looks great through middle/end of Sunday! Central Wisconsin saw some rain the past couple days so we're about due for a small rise in water levels in the middle of the weekend so you'll want to keep an eye on the edge of your sandbar to make sure it's not getting covered overnight (stick a paddle in the sand at the water line). Although water levels are still higher than normal, even with this rise we'll still be under our threshold to cancel trips. The sandbars will be fewer and smaller but they're there. This is one of the busier weekends of the year so expect to share the larger ones. -Ryan

Bookended by Storms

Looks like we've got a likely chance of storms Thursday night and Sunday night but for most of you, Friday to Sunday currently looks good! Saturday in particular looks just about perfect with highs in the 80s and lows in the high 50s.  Should be reasonable July camping weather! Water levels have held steady all this week and look to remain so at least through the weekend.  Even if the storms this weekend were substantial (they don't appear to be) it would take at least a few days for it to have any effect on us locally so at this point, I'm feeling good about this weekend.


Smooth sailing ahead

Aside from a few pop-up storms this evening things are looking pretty good. We were able to salvage a lot of this weekend (including 50-60 people out overnight tonight). Weather has been great and forecast says it should stay that way. Long term is also looking dry so our newly acquired reasonable water levels should continue or get even better. Either way, it's nice to see so many sandbars out again!

Things are looking up (or rather down)!

That big drop happened! Sometime Saturday night we'll see water levels begin to drop 6" or more. Doesn't sound like much but it's more than enough to get significantly more sandbars above water. At this point, trips beginning Sunday and beyond are good to go! If you've already got a reservation with us, you'll see your trip status reconfirmed. As a bonus, all hints of storms and rain have moved out of the 3 day forecast! Weather is looking ideal! I've rarely been so excited to see a lot of yellow on this chart! WI River water levels

Choose your own adventure

New updates are out and they look good. Kind of. In a very relative way. The weather forecast also looks to be pretty stable with small passing rain showers totaling less than a 1/4". We're just so close to that sandbar availability line that it hurts. So here's what we're gonna do: in the interest of safety first we're canceling Saturday overnight trips by default - BUT - if you've done this trip before and know what you're in for, willing to settle for what qualifies as a sandbar in the loosest sense of the word, likely share that sandbar with new river friends, and generally accept that this will be something of an adventure, we'll send you out. More details in your email. Starting Sunday morning and beyond, things are looking much better and I expect we'll be sending out overnight trips. -Ryan Quick update at 1:30pm - we're looking at another 1.5-2kcfs drop upstream tomorrow morning which would get to us in time for Sunday night trips. We're currently at 16.5kcfs (down from 17kcfs this morning/last night) in our area. Assuming this goes to plan, it would mean we're in the clear for Sunday and beyond as levels should settle at or below 15kcfs (our overnight cancellation threshold). Confirmation sometime tomorrow if/when that drop happens.

So painfully close

While the storms were a bit of a wild ride locally, it looks to have spared a lot of central and northern Wisconsin. That said, with the new river predictions out in the last hour, we're just on the wrong side of where we need to be for at least Friday night trips. Saturday isn't looking great but it does look possible that we'll let people attempt Saturday night trips if they really want to (and the further we get into the week, the better the outlook), but for now, Friday night is officially out. Day trips will be in good shape. There are a number of places to pull off the river but with the high water levels, you're also able to get into a lot of neat backwaters that are normally inaccessible - this is especially great for wildlife sightings. Our neatly defined threshold of 15,000cfs is a little fuzzy in the real world. While there are technically a small handful of sandbars/islands out on the river right now, there just aren't enough to expect everyone to find a place to camp. 6" makes a huge difference at this level. If we didn't also have so much local rain that doesn't show up in the gauges and river predictions right away, we'd probably give you the option to try. As it is, we just don't know whether or not you'll wake up underwater at 4am Saturday morning. How will we know for Saturday night? We're currently expecting the dam 36 hours upstream to drop between 1-2,000cfs mid to late Thursday morning. If this happens, we'll check the new output against what's happening directly above us at Prairie Du Sac and if it looks like we'll stay level or drop close to that 15k number, we'll give the option. This is likely when you'll see my next update. In an ideal world, we'd see the graph below putting is in the white boundary. As it is, we can stand to be a little bit into the yellow, but we definitely want to be trending down. High water on the Wisconsin River

River conditions for 4th of July weekend

We're so close! The latest river update avoids a spike in water levels, BUT, it's right on the line for where we'd cancel overnight trips. It looks like we'll have a handful of sandbars regardless but at this level, a few inches makes a big difference. Likely no decisions to be made until tomorrow morning after we have rainfall totals but it's certainly looking better than what I thought would happen. Assuming things stay as they are, we'd offer full refunds and recommend canceling but allow people to go overnight with the knowledge that they can't be picky about campsites.

We’ve got a new website!

[caption id="attachment_900" align="alignright" width="400"]Working late on the Wisconsin Canoe Company website Typical working conditions, except this was a technical issue that I had to deal with at 2am in a Flint, MI hotel. Ugh.[/caption] Over the course of the past few months I've been going back and forth over whether or not we needed to put together a new website.  The old one had been working pretty well for the past 6 years and while I couldn't always get it to do exactly what I wanted, it was functional.  I've had many debates over many beers about website form vs function with my friend Nick Wilkes of Devil's Lake Climbing Guides fame.  While I can barely build websites for my own projects, Nick occasionally gets paid to do this kind of stuff which ultimately drove me to his point of view.  Thus, thebestcanoecompanycompanyever.com 2.0 was born. I'm amazed at how fast technology advances on all fronts.  I mean, it's easy to see in the grand scheme of things - self driving cars, drones, video games, streaming tv, smart phones, etc - but in the case of rebuilding this website, I've come back to a field I largely ignored since 2010.  What took me three or four weeks for a mediocre outcome back then doesn't even compare to now.  This site, built from the ground up with freely available tools on the internet, fully responsive to all screen sizes, and pretty decent looking (if I'm allowed to say so) was done single handed in under a week for a grand total of $3.50 (paid for icons).  Crazy.  Huge shout out to all of those developers and programmers that poor countless hours into open source software. Given this is all brand new and put together by a complete amateur, please forgive the occasional screw ups.  Better yet, please point them out by emailing us! I promise it'll be appreciated.  Thanks guys! Hope to see you out on the river this summer! Ryan

Colorado River Canoe Trip

Another off-season activity - we'll often run semi-private (friend of a friend kind of thing) trips to various parts of the world.  In this case, we did 100 miles on the Colorado River below Moab, Utah to the confluence of the Green/Colorado Rivers in 2014.  This was 100 miles straight into the heart of nowhere (well, technically it was the middle of Canyonlands National Park).  No roads, cell service, or otherwise for miles. P1050341 P1050331 P1050294 P1050282 P1050243 P1050237 P1050224 P1050184 P1050172 P1050169 Canoeing the Colorado River with Wisconsin Canoe Company      

Building a canoe

I am often asked "What do you do in the winter?" and while the typical answer is "a lot of napping" it really depends.  After the 2012 season, I took up amateur boat building with a great group of retired guys that had some boat building experience and a great workshop (it was a barn). [embed]http://imgur.com/a/qGZIW[/embed]

Behind the Boats

Ever wonder what life is like running a canoe company? Some people do. I've gotten questions ranging from "How many times have you been to the Boundary Waters?" (one) to "What do you do in the Winter?" (it depends) and my personal favorite "You must love paddling" (paddling is #4 on the list).