Have you seen the new U.S. Postal stamp series of "Wild and Scenic Rivers"? This author thinks that this stretch of the Betsie River should merit a postage stamp in it's honor! Seven TAPC members made the river journey from County Line Rd to Fred's Landing on Labor Day Monday. Contrary to some other beautiful local rivers (especially on a Labor Day weekend), we encountered no other paddlers and only a few fishermen on this stretch. Paddlers were Lois, Tracie, Jacqui, Kathleen, Marlene, Terry, Cyndi. Marv helped with the shuttle.
What we did encounter was solitude, beautiful late summer wildflowers, an abundance of monarch butterflies, a huge (10") painted turtle; a great blue heron and a bald eagle - both in flight. The weather was also pleasantly warm.
The river condition was challenging only due to many downed trees, submerged branches, and shallow spots. This stretch is not used by outfitters and therefore in a relatively natural state. On the positive side, not much human debris was seen.
In several spots, paddlers had to push or "scoot" their boats over shallow spots. Sometimes they had to maneuver around both downed trees and shallow spots simultaneously. Everyone worked together to help each other.
On one occasion, the author of this report, being a little rusty in her paddling skills, and perhaps momentarily inattentive, capsized under a downed tree as her kayak tried to pass under it without its paddler! Companions helped to quickly get her back underway. The water was surprisingly not too cold, just very wet! The trip and the paddlers continued on after only about a 10 minute interruption. No harm was suffered except a bruised ego. And since the wet paddler was already wet, she was able to assist several boats over the next shallow spot! How convenient was that!?
Overall, the trip was a beautiful way to celebrate the beginning of autumn and one of northern Michigan's wild and scenic landscapes. Old friendships were renewed, new friendships formed, and some ideas for future paddling adventures were inspired.
Written by Cyndi Dickey (yes, the capsized paddler!)
Photo by Jacqui: Tracie's seal launch at County Line, with Terry assisting