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Traverse Area Paddle Club

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Trip Reports

September 22 Autumnal Equinox on the Main AuSable

 | Published on 9/22/2018
People: Lois & John, Suzan & Jeff, Anne, Dan, Jocelyn, Marlene (and shuttle bunny Marv), Betty & Mike (who taught us all about the history of the area)

Equinox on the Au Sable


We saw simple Summer slip into abundant Fall as the 10 of us enjoyed the 13-mile paddle trip from Penrod's in Grayling to Stephan Bridge.

It was a perfect equinox day, replete with startling splashes of colorful early Fall foliage and wildlife scenes . . .


Weather:  just about perfect, temperatures in the 60s, a gentle breeze now and then.  Current:  strong and steady, fine for paddling, an estimated 3-6 feet deep most of the time with a few shallower gravelly spots.  Skill level:  easy to paddle with confidence, just a few stretches of ripples.  Capsizes/unplanned swimming:  none.


Fall paddling means chilly mornings and dewy grass.  And, when the sun shines, warm afternoons; which is what we had. Dressing in layers of moisture-wicking insulating fabrics is the key to comfort, up to four is what I heard paddlers say.  A  couple sported ski caps, already! Gloves and boots, of course.


We saw several Great Blue Herons standing calmly, fishing . . . a few species of ducks and Canada geese preparing for migration . . . We flushed a female wood duck and she arose splashing water, banked a quick sharp turn about eight feet away, and we could see her distinctive white eye mask.


Fly fishermen cast their lines easily in the afternoon sun along the Au Sable's stretch of "Holy Water", politely giving us responsible sportsmen's courtesies of safe space to pass. "Catching anything?"  "Not yet . . . Just got here . . . A few nibbles," were the usual replies.


Special thanks to 1)  Lois and John for leadership and helpful insights on equipment, clothing, terrain, etc., 2) "Marvelous Marv" for steady hands on the shuttle truck wheel, and 3) Mike, for interesting anecdotes about being a fourth generation member of an Au Sable land owning family.


Our paddles swoosh the water, wake gurgling alongside as the sun sparkled off the water and the river flowed around a bend, Fall gaining momentum as we near Stephan Bridge landing.


As the Au Sable Valley turns into Autumn, "gathering swallows twitter in the skies" (Keats), darkness falls, and stars sparkle like ice in the clear and crisp night air


-- Respectfully,  D. C. Troutman

Photos by John and Jocelyn
This was on the grass next to our kayaks as we were getting ready to launch. A hint of what was to come.

Max was decked out in his fall wardrobe

Anne bravely executes a seal launch keeping her feet dry and warm.

Mike's paddle blades rivaled the trees for color.

The trees turn earlier away from Lake Michigan

Jocelyn's canoe was glowing in the sunlight.

People are getting ready to launch after lunch (taken with Jocelyn's new iphoneXs