Back at It

Huron River, Island Lake State Park to Placeway Picnic Area

10 June 2018

It’s taken us a long time to get out paddling this year; the weather, our work, and the height of the river conspired to keep us away until this morning, when we went for a quick trip on the Huron. Starting out from the Kensington Lake Dam in Island Lake SRA, we floated down to Placeway picnic area, a trip of a little more than four miles. In that time, we saw a thousand swallows, probably a half-dozen herons, and one very busy osprey working the river, and a swimming chipmunk. The water was calm, the air was cool, and it starting misting just before we landed—a perfect summer morning.

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Deer Growling?

Huron River, Argo Park to Gallup Park

paddle 531

31 May 2017

The river was fat this morning–in lots of places, the banks were under water on either side, and our put-in spot was under water too–but it was down from what it has been this delightfully rainy and cool spring.  We got out before the canoe livery opened and so had the river to ourselves, except for a few fisherman, lots of waterfowl and their babies, and also one very large deer not far off in the woods river left whom we actually heard growl, loudly.  Do deer growl? He seemed happy, so maybe it was a playful growl? Was it really not the deer growling but something else behind the deer, a predator?  The river carried us past the deer before we could tell.  This was the only bit of drama–the rest was smooth paddling on a fantastic day.

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A Quick Visit to the Bridges

Huron River, around the Obama and Foster Bridges


19 May 2017

We only had about an hour to spare on this blustery spring day, but we wanted to get a paddle in, so we headed to the pond right above Barton Dam for a quick paddle-around.  A mama goose and her lone remaining gosling, who looked sorta grade-school aged, were miffed at us for interrupting their breakfast time at our put-in spot and scooted away grumbling at us.  We also saw a blue heron, a green heron, and a whole passel of red-winged blackbirds, those old friends of waterways anywhere.  Big fish darted beneath our boats; a muskrat or beaver kept bobbing its head up in the pond and then going back under, Marco-Polo-style.  Good company overall.

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Huron River, Argo Park to Gallup Park


15 April 2017

Ellen and I got ourselves to the river early in the morning for this paddle to beat high winds we knew were coming later in the day.  As I was waiting with the boats for Ellen to get back from our take-out spot, a jogger who had just run over the dam passed me saying, “You’re gonna have a fast trip!  The river is screaming over the dam!”

She wasn’t lying. We’ve had a ton of rain; the river gauge read 1710 that morning, down from over 2,600 earlier in the week, but the current coming off the dam was still strong and turned our boats into rollercoasters for the whole bit of river between the ponds.  The river banks were underwater and surly waterfowl swum around tree trunks anxious, we think, that we might get too close to their nests. So it goes in the spring.

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Birthday Paddle

Huron River, Hudson Mills to Dexter Metropark


19 February 2017

Mother Nature really turned it out for my birthday, giving me two days of glorious, sunny weather in the 60s.  Ellen and I took the hint and inaugurated the paddling year with this 6-mile trip.  It was wonderful! Except for the glorious weather, there were no signs of spring yet; trees and plants were winter brown or gray. But Nature’s winter outfit is lovely in its own right, and it uses a palette that appeals to the heart of this lifetime Midwesterner.

We shared the river with far more many boats than usual–everyone wanted to get a piece of the weather–but very few animals. We saw a couple big fish darting around the crystal clear river beneath us, a ton of oriole nests (no orioles), and  a handful of geese, but not much else, except a deer swimming across the river right in front of us! Yeah, that sort of made everyone else’s absence seem excusable.

This was also the first time I’ve been able to paddle on my birthday in my home state, a nice treat.

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November Treat

Huron River, Lower Huron Metropark to Willow Metropark


18 November 2016

Ellen and I and our paddling buddy Doug had actually planned a shorter trip for yesterday, but it was 70–70 degrees! in Michigan, in November!–so we took the treat Mother Nature was giving us and instead did this 10 1/2 mile paddle on our local river.  What a lovely day it was!  It was consistently sunny and warm, and though there was a pretty stiff breeze, it wasn’t unpleasant; sometimes it would push us along, other times it would shake loose a mess of leaves from the tree, and I would feel like I was in the leaf equivalent of a snow globe.  The river was low, so we didn’t have much help from the current, but we didn’t mind–it just gave us more time to soak in the beauty.  We were more or less alone on the river–we saw just one other other boat, and not much wildlife to speak of, save for a lone blue heron, a very alarmed kingfisher, and some woodpeckers.

We did have a sort of epic takeout situation that required us to use every bit of agility each of us had, so I told myself I’d put a note here: next time we do this paddle, use the Big Bend takeout!  Mostly because there’s an actual takeout spot there

Have a look at what the  weather has in store for us today, below.  Glad we got out yesterday.


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All the Gear Got Wet

Grand River, Culver Road to Reed Road


15 October 2016

This was our put-in--look at that water clip along!

This was our put-in–look at that water clip along!

Yesterday was a lovely, crisp fall morning, and Ellen and I headed over to Jackson to paddle with our pal Kat, who spends her summers running her outstanding business Quiet World Sports. We don’t get to paddle with Kat enough, and you can tell because our paddling gear is still in decent shape. The only time it really gets used rigorously is when we go paddling with Kat.

This is a good thing—Kat’s a paddler’s paddler. When we paddle with her, we paddle water that only infrequently sees boat traffic. We bushwhack (see evidence in the slideshow below), getting bark in our hair, spiders on our necks, and bushels of twigs and leaves in our boats. We do seal launches, scooting our boats bow-first into the water and hoping not to tip. We use all the paddling strokes we know in her hairpin-curvy part of the river, which is close to the headwaters and has amazing flow. We get out of our boats into knee-high water to climb over downed trees and drag our boats over them behind us, avoiding poison ivy vines as thick as my wrist. We discover beaver dams and shoot the mini-rapids they create. In other words, SUPER FUN. And not our standard fare, so a treat!

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Our trip was a little over 6 miles, and we saw no other paddlers. But we did see approximately five thousand ducks, usually in packs of ten, and usually startled out of their minds by us; about the same amount of giant, giant carp, which also bolted upon our arrival in their part of the river; one fleeing heron; and one very cold-looking turtle huddled in some grass on a bank.

Oh, also, getting back into my boat at one of the places we had to climb over a log, I fell over and out of my boat, sort of half of an eskimo roll. It wasn’t pleasant, and when it happened, I lost my favorite hoodie to the river, but I dried fast. I think I’ll consider that hoodie less a loss than an offering.

P.S. So rarely do I get to use the “scary statues” tag on this blog, I gotta throw in this deeply unsettling fireplug that guards over the spot where we put our boats in.


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