Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I am in Love

...with a river.

This last Sunday GREAT (The Grand River Environmental Action Team) hosted another paddle, this time on a more southerly section of the Kalamazoo River.  The previous trip took  us through marshland and farmland, but this section, oh, it was beautiful!  And we had a perfect day for it.  There was some chance of storms, but, well, you'll see what happened.

First, we all met off Goose Lake Road, west of Hanover and Horton, south of Concord.  GREAT provides boats and gear for paddlers who have neither, and the trips are free - what a deal!  Of course, they hope you will join.  I really must mail in my membership.

So, here we are at the launch site.  Paddlers included newbies, old hands, and several pups.

Due to circumstances, we launched about an hour later than intended, but soon everyone was on the river and we were off.

For about the first third or so of the trip I coached this lady along.  This was her first time in a kayak, first time paddling anything, so she had a bit of a learning curve.  However, she rose to the challenge and did a fantastic job!  We only passed a very few houses along the way - mostly we were in wooded lands, the only signs of civilization the sound of distant chainsaws and some trash in the water.

Already the leaves have begun to change.  In fact, since this trip, I've suddenly noticed a LOT of color in the trees, especially the sumacs.  Autumn is on its way.

I saw several more ruby spot damselflies this trip, but this ebony jewelwing was the only damsel whose photo I took.  I've learned my lesson about chasing these insects in a boat just for a photo op.  

Here are some views along the can see why I fell in love with it.  It's just a beautiful stretch of river, and I imagine in full fall colors it is spectacular!


We passed a few glorious patches of wildflowers.

Cardinal flower was in its prime.
At one point a couple of us pulled out for a break along a sandy stretch of shoreline.  Everyone comments on my Spitfire, and this gentleman was quite interested in it, so I let him take it for a spin.

 We weren't the only ones enjoying the river this day.  No deer or cattle were dipping their toes, but this duck was having a nice swim.  She was certainly keeping an eye on me - not completely sure I was harmless.

As mentioned above, the weather reports were off and on throughout the morning.  They said mostly sunny, but there was a chance of thunderstorms, especially in southern MI.  Well, here came the clouds.

There were a couple rolls of thunder, and it actually spitted a little rain, but it was hardly worth the effort of putting the camera away.  As quickly as the clouds rolled in, they rolled back out.  Whew!

We didn't have any culverts to shoot thru, but we did get to pass under a couple small bridges.

It was simply a delightful day on the river.

I'm not sure what was happening here, but this platform, with its steps to the river and its picnic table, was posted "No Tresspassing; Violators will be Prosecuted."  I wonder where the security cameras were.

All along the river we could see the devastation left behind by the emerald ash borers.  Dead ash trees blanket the whole state.  It's very sad.

There is very little vegetation in the river along this route.  We only passed a couple patches of spatterdock, and there was hardly any submerged vegetation, unlike the previous trip.

Bright red berries (cranberry viburnum, maybe?  I was passing too quickly to do more than guess) added their color to the scene.

All too soon it seemed we were at our take-out near Twin Pines Campground.  This stretch of the river is quite twisty - oxbows galore.  It made for a pleasant trip with a few little challenges, but perfect for a laid-back paddle on a sunny afternoon.

I'd recommend this stretch of river to anyone who is looking for a beautiful, easy paddle.  I know I'm certainly going to do it again!


  1. Lovely. I'm sorry to hear that the emerald ash borers have caused such devastation. They're just beginning to hit where I am. Municipalities are doing all the can to slow them down, but I suppose the end is inevitable.

  2. What a nice excursion. A great day for GREAT!

  3. Oh my, how this revives my memories of Girl Scout days back in the 50s, when we paddled and camped on several different Michigan rivers. I'm so glad you have found a river to love in Michigan, since it must have been hard for you to leave your beloved Hudson up in the Adirondacks.

  4. I understand your feelings for the river. So much of it is really beautiful.