Kayaking into fall is delight for sight


As folks in Monroe County look for ways to enjoy fall, while the weather is still willing to allow, local athlete and outdoor enthusiast Kimberly Mathews has plenty of ideas. At the top of her list is kayaking. “Kayaking is a fun way to see the river and river banks, with friends of all fitness levels,” explains Mathews. A recent sunny day found her kayaking at Amundson Park. Now is a perfect time of year to get out and kayak. The temperatures are cooler, the leaves are changing color, and there are less insects, like flies and mosquitoes. 

Mathews recommends that beginners start in smaller bodies of water. Kayakers of all levels should bring water, sunscreen, life jacket, snacks, and rain gear if the weather is iffy- but “don’t be afraid to get wet!” 

Although Kimberly is an expert, she says that there is always more to learn. She always jumps at the opportunity for a new adventure. This spirit has given her the chance to experience many new adventures, like at a recent sea kayaking and primitive camping trip, on Lake Michigan’s Rock Island. Kimberly is mostly self-taught, by trial and error. She has used her expertise in kayaking to teach others. She has also helped teach kids with disabilities to kayak, where she also picked up new skills, from the lead instructor there. 

Once you try kayaking, you might just get hooked and want to make the plunge and purchase a kayak, or kayaks, of your own. Kimberly recalls that she bought her first kayaks at a garage sale. “They had two kayaks, so I bought them and used them with my sons right away, here in Sparta, on the La Crosse River.”

Fort McCoy’s Pineview Campground Beach and Pettibone Beach in La Crosse are great places for beginner. In high season, they offer rentals, too. There are a number of local businesses that offer kayak rentals, with drop off and pick up service along the La Crosse and Kickapoo Rivers. These businesses include Kickapoo Wild Adventures, and Ellistone Canoe Rental. They are a safe bet, until the snow starts flying. 

Brandon Elliott, one of the owners of Ellistone Canoe Rentals, offers this nice and easy trip in Sparta: “We can take you out for a nice, three hour trip, starting from Amundson Park, then we can pick you up at the Rockland Boat launch. It’s less busy and more peaceful this time of year,  so you can see more wildlife, like deer and even turkeys. Also, the local foliage is coming into that gorgeous state of autumn, where leaves are changing color, then begin dropping down around you as, you kayak… it’s just beautiful.” 

Shaun Budde, owner of Kickapoo Wild Adventures in Ontario, offers rentals from 2 to 6 hours. They also offer some overnight options. Shaun says he loves kayaking in the fall: “with those warm and sunny, yet crisp October days, leaves falling, you can see way more into the hills than in the summer. I call this our ‘Less Beer, More Binoculars’ season, as the nature lovers come out. There is great bird watching this time of year also.


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