Huron River, Island Lake State Park to Placeway Picnic Area
29 November 2015
Ellen and I and our paddling pal Doug thought that, if the temperature were above 40 after Thanksgiving, we’d squeeze in this short paddle of just over 5 miles on a scenic, meandering part of the Huron River. It’s a treat to paddle in November in Michigan, and really, 40 isn’t so cold, is it?
The weather forecast for today promised temperatures just over 40, so we made our plans. Let me emphatically tell you it was not over 40. As we headed out to the river around 1 p.m., all temperature gauges read 37 or so, and it got colder as we paddled. Consistently, there was frost on the river grass, and ice was forming on the more still edges of the river. Intrigued, Doug decided to use his kayak as an ice ram. It’s not everyone who has rammed river ice with a kayak, but Doug has–and Ellen and I got to witness it. It was thicker than it looked, and it made an unsettling iceberg-ish sound when he plowed through it. I thought “Titanic!” but didn’t say so aloud; likely Ellen and Doug didn’t have this same idea. But that’s no surprise: I’m the one in charge of thinking up catastrophes.
As we paddled along, in the distance we could hear guns at the nearby firing range, and there was at least one deer hunter out there with us, plus scads of mountain bikers and two other paddlers way off in the trees taking a break, but there were not many birds nor beasts on the river. We saw this kingfisher who made up for being the only one there by being extra fancy.
At some point when it seemed like it was getting colder and we had been out on the river long enough, Doug says, “Did someone make a wrong turn and miss the end of the river?” And I, slow on the uptake, go: “Us?!” And then we paddle faster for a while, panicking a little, wondering where the takeout is. We did not make a wrong turn; we soon got there. It’s not the coldest paddle we’ve ever been on (for that paddle, click here), but it was cold–maybe the edge of what we’d paddle in again in terms of low temperatures. Still, it was a great paddle, so we decided that it deserves the blog tag of epic journey!