And just like that the trip is over! After sleeping on the concrete under a pavilion (our tents are somewhere on the river bottom in Grand Rapids) we paddled through Tuesday morning and the last grey and rainy miles to Grand Haven. Belting out “Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog” we went out and around the light house and washed up on the sandy shores of Lake Michigan. With a touch of bittersweetness we stowed our paddles for the last time and pulled up the vessels to await our pickup. Our apologies for being silent on the blog the last couple of days but things don’t always go as expected. In a few days time we will get together and start hashing out a full retelling of the story including everything that happened since Lansing and all the fun stories that didn’t make it into the blog yet. Thankfully the camera’s memory card survived the wetness and we will have more pictures! A HUGE thank you to all the river angels who helped us along the way. That includes every single person who gave a good word of encouragement (or discouragement), a place to stay, a bite to eat, a lift and even just a smile. We couldn’t have done it without you.
We finished approximately 370 miles in 24 days and only lost…. 2 paddles, 2 hammocks, 2 tents, 1 cast iron pan, 3 cooking pots, 1 water filter, 1 hatchet, 1 Emberlit camp stove, 3 KleenKanteens, and only a tiny bit of dignity at that darn dam.
Hightailing it to town before breakfast after our campsite unexpectedly flooded. Luckily we camped on the highest ground!
Half paddling – half walking through Island Park in Grand Ledge.
We made it to Grand Rapids!
….and swamped our canoes going over some rapids.
Luckily the Grand Rapids emergency response team is a top notch outfit and they rescued most of our gear as it floated downriver. We can’t thank those cats enough. We have all the vessels and will be back at the trip tomorrow! Yes there are some GP news outfits that covered the story but you will also get the full scoop here in the time that it takes us to get our wits about us and recollect the whole ordeal, plus the last few days since we updated you in Lansing.
We are dry, safe, warm and have a place to stay for the evening. We will have more soon!
Since Eaton Rapids we have taken a couple of slow days to enjoy the river and not bust our backs. Yesterday we made it to Lansing and parked the canoes in downtown and went exploring. We found Midtown Brewing Company, a great comic book store, the Lansing City Market, and a whole slew of other exciting things.
Thankfully a friend of the river, (and now a friend of us) Pat got a hold of us and set up a camping place for us just outside of Lansing at the residence of a wealth of canoeing information. Jim Woodruff is one of the top experts on Michigan canoeing routes and lives right on the Grand River. Pat met us in Jim’s yard, introduced us all and the rest is history. Can we never leave?
But no! There is river yet to be paddled. Next stop is Grand Ledge where Eric will leave us and the trio (Josh, Silas, and Mateo) will be at it again.
To get an idea of the floods, this tree is probably out of the water at normal levels. This is on the River Raisin.
Just a few minutes into the Grand River and we have our first obstruction, an old bridge
Our campsite just downriver of Onandaga. The night of the big storms!
Pat on the left, then Mateo, Josh, Jim Woodruff (is sitting down), Silas is above him with Eric on the right.
Wow! Four days on the Grand River and it has been the best of times and the worst of times… Our first day was a dream of floating down the river through marshes with the sun beating down on us. We made it to Vandercook Lake where our friend Breton put us up for the night.
The next day we made our way through a few more lakes and a short stretch of river as we approached Jackson. We went swimming for the first time! Mostly because Josh almost flipped the canoe and Mateo jumped in, it looked so refreshing we all hopped in and floated with our canoes. After a dinner in Jackson we had to paddle in the dark to find a campsite. We ended up camping on a nettle ridden hill in the middle of a floodplain. We broke camp early and got out of there!
Yesterday was interesting… it started off with sunshine and few clouds. Around noon the first rain shower hit, around two the first thunderstorm hit. Lashing rain, lightning and no choice but to keep paddling. It cleared up after about 45 min but the honey moon was short lived. We made it to Onandaga and the folks at the gas station let us know there was more storm coming. We high tailed it down the river and were able to make camp in a pine grove with enough time to make a fire and dry some clothes. Sleep came in bursts as the storms kept on till early in the morning. Another quick camp cleanup and we shot down river to Eaton Rapids for breakfast and some resupplying. Thankfully the river has widened out at this point and there are no more logjams! On the flipside the winds have picked up and we saw whitecaps on the river today.
Next stop Lansing! Oh…. and Silas lost another phone to the wetness so if you are wanting to get ahold of us shoot a text to (517) 212 5883. that is Josh’s number
Walp, wouldn’t you know it, we made it to the “top” of the River Raisin! It’s all downhill from here.
Since Clinton, Mateo and Silas struggled through the stretch of river to Manchester, this stretch of the river had the strongest current we have seen . More than once we had to get out the canoes and walk them through rapids that were too strong to paddle up. Especially having both us in our own canoes made it all the harder. All of our hard work paid off as when we made past the dam in Manchester the current slowed considerably and it has been relatively smooth sailing since!
An impromptu camp meeting was set up and some family and friends came out to share snacks, stories, and mosquitoes at Fellows Bridge on Sharon Valley Rd.
On the next day (the 18th) Silas’s mother joined in a kayak for a few hours and saw us past Sharon Mills and the mill pond. After crossing a fallen tree we entered into a wild place, signs of beaver (which we had been seeing since just downstream of Manchester) became quite common, Hummingbirds, Phoebes and Red-winged Blackbirds nested just above the river and water snakes lounged on logs. We made an early camp downriver of Norvell and caught a corner of the wild storm that passed through.
Josh rejoined us on the 19th along with our friend Eric. We met them at Pierce Rd and made through Norvell and on to Brooklyn by late afternoon!
In just a few short hours we are splashing into the Grand River! If you want to join us, the best bet is to shoot Silas a text at (734) 657-0007. He dropped his phone in the water and is working with a new number for the time being… Hope to see you soon!
After a great breakfast in Tecumseh with Josh and Silas’ parents we sent Josh on an adventure into the real world to watch and participate in some music! We are looking forward to his return with our friend Eric in a few days. Silas and Mateo started upriver again and initially enjoyed easy paddling through Red Millpond in Tecumseh and a stretch of lazy river that was an absolute blast to explore.
Not for long though, the rain picked up and the river straightened out which means more water coming at us with nothing to slow it down. On the plus side, there was not one long jam! A whole afternoon of paddling and we didn’t have to get out of the canoe once, that may seem like a small thing but it seemed like a dream to us. After a enjoyable but exhausting afternoon of fighting against flood currents we made it to Clinton! Sopping wet and maybe just a little envious of Josh we called in the cavalry and had ourselves picked up and brought to home base for a hot meal, shower, and night of restful sleep. We will be at it again tomorrow though! Manchester is our next stop, be sure to get a hold of me (Silas) at (517) 358-2715 if you want to hang out with us for the evening or come for a day paddle. I’m also going to dump a few photos of our first week below, captions included!
Old railroad bridge
The mouth of Black Creek on the left. Check out the difference in water color.
A grand old oak tree somewhere between Dundee and Blissfield, one of many!
Tied up to a branch to take a hard earned rest from the current.
Mateo enjoying the scenery in the solo canoe
We`ve made it to Tecumseh! After 3 days of paddling since Blissfield we are happy to have it behind us. This stretch was definitely the hardest. After we passed the South Branch River Raisin, the river became much narrower and nearly every tree that fell came down across the river. Of course the recent rain has made the the currrent much stronger but we have made it passed the worst parts of the river and are looking forward to relatively easy paddling.
Sorry for the sporadic updates but this has been a whole lot more than we expected. Days of paddling through jungle like river bottoms, trying to light fires in the rain, climbing over log-jams with fully loaded canoes and paddling upriver has left us whooped at the end of each day. We will try to update as we get to towns but also look for a full account of the trip after we are finished with the mighty Raisin.
Remember that you are welcome to join us at any time and it only gets easier the farther we get. Contact us on here or get a hold of me more directly at 517 358 2715. Texting works best. Talk to you soon!