Trip report by Abby Puckett, a recent graduate of TCCHS. She is also a neighbor of John & Lois, and has been coming along on cleanup trips since she was a little kid. She'll be entering the U of Michigan this fall.
It was a warm but slightly cloudy morning as Lois, John, Belle and I set off for our three hour kayaking voyage down the Manistee River. Worrying about the ominous forecast for later that afternoon, we arrived at Hodenpyl Dam around 10:15 to begin the trip. After meeting our fellow paddlers, Roseanne and Henry, we unloaded the cars and prepared to launch. As Lois, Roseanne, and Henry drove to drop off the cars needed for the shuttle back to Hodenpyl Dam, John gave Belle and I a lesson on how to navigate the mostly calm, but at some times unpredictable currents of the Manistee.
Looking across the wide river, I was nervous to see whitewater rushing across rocks, trees laying near the banks, and fishermen’s lines stretched into the water. This paddling trip was my first since 2015, and my first time on the Manistee. As Lois so ominously put it, this was “no Lower Platte River cleanup.”
However, John’s instructions on how to ferry across the river and prevent capsizing, as well as Lois’ follow-the-leader strategy at the beginning of the trip helped our journey run smoothly. I quickly gained confidence after a few minutes of paddling and even enjoyed some of the faster, trickier sections of the river. After about an hour and a half of paddling, we stopped for lunch on the side of the river and then resumed the voyage.
The second half of the trip, though it was less unpredictable and slower than the first half, allowed Lois, Belle and I to have a nice conversation, something that was difficult during the part of the trip when we had to go down the river in a single file line. Before I knew it, the bridge was in sight and the trip was over. We even made it through the day with only a light sprinkling of rain as we neared the end! After packing up the car, we headed home, but only after Lois and John treated us to some much needed ice cream. I arrived home tired from a long day of kayaking, but smiling about my exciting adventure.
Belle & Abby
River Mom, Lois
Belle & Abby
Belle, Lois, & Abby