It was meant to be. The Blue Dolphin canoe, pocked with holes and abandoned at a DNR boat launch, was destined to become the Bark River search and rescue boat. Mike Fort connected me with Jay, who works with the DNR at Lapham peak, and who had been storing the boat in his backyard for years, and Pati and I lashed it atop her subaru and brought it home. It was soon refurbished and christened in the tannin brown waters of the Bark River.
The long neglected Bark River was crisscrossed by huge downed trees, choked with thick floating mats of duck weed and festooned with the refuse of the Village of Hartland. My good friend, Mark Mamerow, is a seasoned canoeist and I was lucky to have his stable hand at the stern.
We took many a trip down the Mighty Bark in the Blue Dolphin with chainsaw, chest waders and garbage bags and, slowly, cleaned up the river and made it navigable again. I’m looking forward to the “river rats” return to the Bark in 2016 — it’s been a while and I wonder if the river is still open all the way to Lake Nagawicki.
You might want to get a bird’s eye view of the river before we take you up close in this gallery.