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Traverse Area Paddle Club

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Trip Reports

Upper Sturgeon 8-22-20

Linnaea Melcarek  | Published on 8/22/2020

Report by Linnaea; photos by Glenn, Paul, and Linnaea

Ron had heard from a friend that the section of the Sturgeon from Bush Road to Wolverine was worth checking out. Since the club had never done it (at least not recently), we decided to see what it was like. Five fearless souls decided to join in the exploration: Ron Coyne (trip leader), Glenn Bier, Linnaea Melcarek, Ron's friend Bert Adams, and Paul Wilkins.

The drive in to the put in was bumpy and sandy, but do-able for a car. There is a path down to the river from the corner of Bush Road and Sturgeon Water Drive (alternately named as Erickson Road; not marked from the main road). This path is narrow and starts out flat and easy, but then has a steep drop down to the river. We all had kayak carts to make toting everything easier, as it was a fair distance from the road to the river. Rich (not present on this trip) had recently constructed two new carts made of welded metal for Linnaea, and they worked great! 

Once the shuttle was complete (which took about 45 minutes), we set off down the river, not quite knowing what to expect. The first hour or so had a number of somewhat tricky maneuvers through tight spots. We had a few sprinkles along the way, but no heavy rain. The skies were overcast throughout, which was actually nice, because this section of river has very little shade, and we would have been frying on a sunny day!

The second half was quite easy by our standards, with just some riffles here and there, not many twists or turns and no tricky paddling. After we started to see people in tubes, we realized that we likely weren't going to encounter anything too difficult from there on out. The trip had been designated a "difficult river," but I would reclassify it as "intermediate." Shortly before our stopping point in Wolverine, the West Branch of the Sturgeon entered the river, instantly increasing the flow, which is what gives the next section of Sturgeon its wild character. Nothing too wild for us today, just some fun times exploring a new (to us) and beautiful section of river with friends! Now we can say that we've done the uppermost navigable portion of the Sturgeon, because not far upstream from our put-in is the Green Timbers property, known to contain multitudes of deadfall in the river.

The path down to the river. It's a little hard to appreciate how steep this is from the photo.


Muddy path to the put-in.


The Sturgeon from our starting point.


Death Camas (Anticlea elegans) was prolific at our launch site.


A bald eagle flew above our heads early in the trip and then perched nearby.


Glenn, Ron and Ron's friend Bert paddle ahead of Linnaea.


Bert likes to kick back on the river.


Bert and Linnaea enjoying the river.


Glenn investigates a blocked area to find the best way through.



Ron, Linnaea, Bert and Paul going under a bridge.


Passing under a lovely covered bridge.


There were some lovely misty sections on the river.


Paddling under the freeway was noisy but interesting!


Near the takeout in Wolverine. The West Branch is visible coming in on the left.