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Two Old Broads Attack the West Branch

West Branch, DuPage River

West Branch, DuPage River

Itching to get on the water in my kayak, I put out the word about a trip down the West Branch of the DuPage River from Winfield to Mack Rd. on Sat, May 26, 2012. Since it was last minute I had only one other yes from a fellow 60’ish gal. One of my faithful paddlers shattered her shoulder and besides she plopped out of her kayak in 2 inches of water the last time and had to endure the cacophony of insults from “faithful” friends.
I always promise my friends an adventure and I pre-warned my “yes” friend about the low water. As one ages it gets harder to hoist those kayaks overhead on top of an SUV. My solution was to build a Harbor Freight trailer and have it modified at a local trailer place to hold 10 kayaks. Hey, some people collect coins; I collect kayaks and canoes….16 to date not to mention others I have sold, given away, traded. So I had the trailer hooked up and off we went in 2 cars to do a shuttle….park a car at beginning and end……..and hope it doesn’t storm in between or we poop out!
My friend had a smaller opening kayak and wished she had taken a different one………too late…….and threated to use her Fenn tool to cut a wider opening for next time. The put-in at Winfield is a nasty walk to a wooden step down. This time I took a wheel cart to hold the stern and easily walk it. Since the water was low it was a big step down. Solution: hop in the water, drag the kayak in and plop my butt in first with legs to follow. My friend very carefully went feet first from the step with my help steadying the kayak so she wouldn’t have to endure an unexpected full emersion baptism at the beginning.
After a successful start we carefully picked our way through the deeper channel (six inches instead of three!) and managed to get as far as several fishermen standing in ankle deep water where we got stuck. Now two older women getting stuck right in front of two good looking guys in four inches of water is indeed embarrassing. I pushed with my paddle and told one guy I didn’t want to get out because it was too deep. The other guy kindly offered to pull my friend over a few obstructions, again quite embarrassing. They probably thought these two old broads escaped from the nut house.
What I like about the West Branch on this route is that it goes through forest preserves, it’s quiet, has lots of wildlife and flowers, it’s near to home and you would think you’re in the middle of nowhere. To give you an example…..on this trip we saw purple and yellow wild irises, wild roses, forget-me-nots (the Alaska state flower), dame’s rocket, yellow water lily, cormorants, great blue heron, great horned owl, sanderlings, cedar waxwing, northern oriole, tree swallow, woodpeckers, merganser ducks with 8 babies, red-tailed hawk, muskrat, jumping fish, mating dragonflies, to mention a few.
In spite of the low water, we had plenty of fun and funny moments. It’s a cathartic experience…………for anyone and especially for two old broads who needed one!

Cathy Godfrey
27 May 12

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