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Traverse Area Paddle Club

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Trip Reports

Sept 6- Upper Manistee

Glenn Bier  | Published on 9/6/2020

Upper, Upper Manistee River - Sunday, September 6, 2020

Some TAPC members have paddled the big Manistee River from near its source, where it is a small stream, C-38 to Cameron Road and below.  This upper, upper section of the Manistee River often changes, mostly due to the activity of our friendly, flat-tailed rodent residents, winter snow and ice, trees, and wind.


Glenn's truck and Marv's truck ran shuttle after a short celebration of Marv's birthday.  We sang him the Happy Birthday song, then Jackie made sure he got the first two muffins she made for him and us, blueberry and cranberry-nut.


On the river, after each beaver dam, the river dropped substantially.  There seemed an inordinate amount of trees and branches to maneuver around in the slower upstream current.  Also, sliding over "slots" in the beaver dams is quite challenging (yep), and the upstream "hazards" are numerous (yep) and tricky (yep), but passable.

After two or three hours, we finally arrived at the Deward "Ghost Town," where there are steps, a fence, and a nice pine needle-covered lunch area under some trees on river left.  We stopped, here, famished, for a very, very late lunch.  It had been quite a battle to get past the wood-choked waters above Deward.

Most paddlers don't put in above Deward, so many don't know that this center section of the upper, upper Manistee presents many low-hanging branches, downed trees, and fast current.  Our group of nine included Jackie Anderson, trip leader; Ron Coyne, sentry; Jocelyn Trepte, photographer and sweep; Brian McKillip, sweep; and me, Glenn Bier, sweep and photographer.  The remaining four of our group included Lambert Adams, Lindy Barnes, Marlene Puska, and Susan Steele.

One can get very wet from pushing and pulling trees and branches out of the way on this narrow, mostly shallow section.  I, personally, almost went for an unscheduled swim when I pushed too hard on a large tree stalk directly in our path.  Stepping in over chest deep, the water was coldly refreshing, but I finally got my footing, pulled my canoe ashore, put on a dry shirt, then rejoined the others.

At Cameron Road we all helped schlep boats and carry gear while laughing about the adventures of the day, which featured a head wind from the south most of the way.  Thundershowers were predicted, but we were all well on our way home before the downpours.

Another pre-Labor Day paddle in the books, and all our boats remained bottoms-down.  We love Michigan's Manistee River from its source to the sea (i.e. Lake Michigan), and we try not to underestimate its beauty, size, and power.