So we loaded up the trailer with four kayaks for Carol, Tracie, John & me, and headed over to the South Branch. What a stunning day! There were frost warnings the night before, and on the way, we passed this foggy pond with a lone swan, obviously trying to soak up a bit of early morning sunlight.
This was our 4th TAPC trip to the river this season, including a cleanup in July, and we are pleased to report that we spotted very little trash. For Carol, it was a maiden voyage, and she was mesmerized by the beauty of the surroundings, and the peaceful atmosphere, even during the first hour from Paddle Brave down to Chase Bridge. It was a relaxing float for the first couple of hours, since the ladies took off while John ran the shuttle. He caught up just after we pulled in for our lunch break, a bit upstream of the castle - at an easily accessible beach. The sunshine felt good, as we peeled off our spray skirts and extra layers of fleece. The weather just kept improving all day - no wind and lots of sun. It was my first day wearing Chotas since the spring, and by the end, I wished I had my sandals along.
We spotted one soaring eagle, and noticed evidence of beavers. The most interesting wildlife involved the human kind. There was only one other party of 6 adult paddlers, but then there were the kids from Clarkston HS, who were up north for a camping/bonding weekend. Most of the boys and girls on the cross country team were spending a couple of days at Higgins Lake State Park, and paddling the South Branch from Chase to Smith. Apparently this is an activity that the coaches have been organizing every fall for decades.
The kids were terrific! Very polite and articulate, and we never heard any harsh words uttered. Even though their canoeing skills were limited, no-one ever blamed their partner when they hit gravel bars or bashed into downed trees. And that happened a lot! They accepted coaching from John, and learned some river reading skills quickly.
They did have some unorthodox paddling styles, like sitting in the aluminum canoes facing each other so they could converse more easily, or standing in the stern position so they could see better. I am used to being around teenagers, and was impressed with their poise and strength.
We took another break at the outdoor chapel to stretch our legs and admire the view from above. After the trip was over, we headed to Dawson and Stevens in Grayling, which was another highlight of Carol's marvelous adventure. She loved the CocaCola displays, and we all had tasty food, especially the Mulligatawny soup. A great day, with smiles from everyone.
Written by Lois, photos by John & Lois