Bending Branches

Osceola, Wisconsin

The River

It’s always calling.

It’s a short portage from our studio to the Des Moines River. There’s something about being able to drop everything and be on the water in minutes. There’s something comforting about a place you know like the back of your hand.

We know the current. Every turn. And it never gets old.

Paddling through river smoke on a summer morning. Crunching through overnight ice in the shallows in winter. And we’ve never seen a sunrise we didn’t like.

It’s an old canoe and a paddle that connects us.


Fueling Up in Osceola

After a stormy night on the St. Croix River at Interstate State Park, we headed to town in search of food and coffee, which we often make at our campsite with a hand-crank grinder and French press.

Just across Osceola Creek, we spotted an inviting little place, The Watershed Cafe. It partners with small, local farmers for nearly all of its ingredients, and we could taste the difference.

I went simple with the Classic Breakfast Sandwich and fruit. I was expecting “good enough” but got “awesome.”

Eggs done a perfect over-medium. Bacon, crispy. Melty Wisconsin cheddar (is there anything better?). And amazing buttery toast (bread makes or breaks a sandwich).

We settle for oatmeal or granola bars often enough when camping and rushing off to a shoot first thing in the morning. So after a few mornings without eggs, this place was just what the doctor ordered for Dave, who delighted in his Wisconsin Ham & Cheese Omelet. When in Wisconsin, you order cheese (we already snagged a bag of curds for the car).

We’re a bit partial to our campfire coffee, but sometimes the best coffee is the coffee you have.

Thanks for the fuel, Watershed!

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The Production

The factory has the scent of a bow-drill ember resting in charred wood dust. Ah. Breathe it in.

And the people crafting the paddles seem as satisfied as someone seeing an ember after several minutes of bow-stroking.

Inspiring – to see a factory full of passionate people covered in wood dust. Why are they so passionate? Almost every one of them is a paddler.

Canoe paddle product photography.

The Paddles

Like a tree, Bending Branches has branched out.

The sport of kayak fishing is growing like a weed, and these guys have developed a full line of angler paddles.

It does SUP sticks too, and they’re light and beautiful with carbon shafts and wood blades.

While we enjoy kayaking and SUP on occasion, if given the choice, we canoe (how would you have ever guessed?). And we prefer to wield wood.


Decoration & Device

Handcrafted wood paddles are works of art. We hang our paddles on the wall in our studio – decoration and device.

After confessing our love for bent-shaft paddles to Andrew, he fixed us up with a Java 11. He also handed us an Expedition Plus (straight shaft), which made a lot of sense since a Boundary Waters trip is always in the near future.

Crafted entirely from basswood, the Java 11 is light and durable. With a comfortable, classic palm grip and 11-degree bend, it paddles powerfully with minimal effort.

The Expedition Plus is made for the wilderness and whitewater. A red alder/basswood/roasted basswood blade is sturdy, and the T-grip provides maximum leverage and control.

Both paddles have full Rockgard protection to handle shallow gravel, rocky rivers, and push-offs (so you can paddle like you mean it).

We’re extremely attached to our branches.

director of photography
Ryan Hammocking on the Mississippi River


Canoe There’s Dave and Ryan went on tour, not as a band but as storytellers who love the great outdoors. They portaged, if you will, for seven days through Wisconsin and Minnesota and spent time with awesome people. They camped every night, smelled bad, had fun. They returned with a mountain of footage and teamed up with Logan (sound/video editor) to tell these amazing stories.