“Pristine and untamed… that’s how the state’s newly designated ‘wild river’ is described. The Totagatic will stay wild and undeveloped, protected forever. Join Jo Garrett and her crew as they paddle down river on the Totagatic one of only 5 wild rivers in Wisconsin.”– In Wisconsin, Wisconsin Public Television
The Totogatic River is one of the most wondrous parts of the St. Croix River watershed. It flows into the Namekagon River just a few miles above where the Namekagon joins the St. Croix.
I have only paddled it a couple times, both in the middle of spring, when we were surrounded by budding trees and singing birds.
The River Alliance of Wisconsin shared the video above today.
I responded that my memories were of being “deafened by bird song, blinded by beauty.”
The video features a few folks who know the Totogatic very well, including Kathy Bartilson, who gave me lots of very helpful information when I told her I wanted to explore the Totogatic, and helped me learn how to try pronouncing it. Kathy is now retired from the Wisconsin DNR, and I’m sure enjoying all the snow on the Yellow River.
The video was produced in 2010, shortly after the Totogatic was finally added to Wisconsin’s short list of officially “wild” rivers. Cathy, as well as John Haack and Fred Blake, seen in the video, and many others, worked long and hard to get that designation.
In 2015, I paddled the river with Suzanne Lindgren, editor of the Country Messenger and Osceola Sun newspapers. We made this little video with her recordings of birdsong, and my photos:
We found, like the river paddlers in WPT’s video, numerous trees fallen across the channel, and discovered there’s always a way under, over, or around. It adds to the adventure. That trip also took us over the corridor where the Line 61 and other Enbridge oil pipelines cross under the Totogatic.
On a trip the year before lower on the Totogatic, my partner and I never once had to navigate obstacles, though there were a few tight spots. The birds were just as loud.
It’s time to start planning a trip for this spring, if the snow ever melts.