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Traverse Area Paddle Club

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Trip Reports

September 14 Pine River, Dobson to Low

Kathleen Imre | Published on 9/14/2020

Pine River: Dobson to Low – September 14, 2020

Report by Kathleen Imre

Eight TAPC members: Lois & John, Jackie, Ron, Mike, Jocelyn, Sara, and Kathleen, met at the Pine River Dobson Bridge Access, to begin our day of paddling. Unfortunately, John Walton and unofficial September club mascot dog, Piper, could not join us because Piper was recovering from an injury. Mark Miltner, of Pine River Paddlesports Center, met us at the Low Bridge Access parking lot and provided a shuttle back to Dobson. The air temperature was in the mid-50s when we started, and warmed up to the mid-60s as the day went on. With all the rain, the river was a bit higher (Hoxeyville gauge 4.2 ft., discharge ~280 cubic feet/sec). Hazy skies and a very light breeze made for good paddling weather. I learned later that evening that the haze was due to smoke from the massive forest fires in California and Oregon.

Our trip began as a pleasant, relaxing paddle to Peterson Bridge Access. The fall colors had begun to show in spots, and the shoreline was dotted with the colors of purple aster, goldenrod, (thinleaf sunflower?), turtlehead and cranberry viburnum. We saw a couple of ducks, kingfishers, a great blue heron, a Wood Turtle, a Painted Turtle, and a few songbirds. What I especially noticed was all the light-hearted conversation and laughter from our group; we were all ready to be outside after the past week of rain! There were very few other people on the river.

After a quick lunch break at Peterson Bridge Access, Sara left before the rest of the group in order to help with a kids’ biking outing later in the day. The seven of us then paddled together for the remainder of the trip. The riffles and few standing waves were a bit larger, and a few of the shallower scrapey spots were easy to slide over. It was a good day to practice maneuvering in stronger current, and a few of us commented that it felt strange not stopping at snags to look for trash, although some of us couldn't help ourselves!

At one point when John was ahead of the group, he called out that we must stop/find an eddy as there was an obstruction ahead. A Red Pine and a White Cedar had recently uprooted, fallen and blocked the entire river. He and Ron helped the rest of us carry our boats over these trees on river left, as it appeared to be the safest area to do so. Mike had a saw, and joined Ron and John to begin cutting a slot through the wood. They also helped carry the kayaks of some other boaters who came up behind our group while we were stopped. Eventually, a passage was made, and the offending logs were allowed to float downstream. During this endeavor, Mike’s canoe came loose, but was easily retrieved as it was upstream of the obstruction. Ron’s foot became temporarily stuck between a piece of wood and the river bottom, but he was able to quickly dislodge it.

We then resumed our paddle and gladly no other problems were encountered. Lois and John described to Jackie and Kathleen the path of the river near the old Stronach Dam, and pointed out the areas of the former portage path, pond and dam.

After loading boats and gear at Low Bridge, six of the group headed to Hofbrau in Interlochen for an early dinner.

Photos mostly from Kathleen, with a few from John and Jocelyn

Where we started - lunch site is 6.2 miles from here

Mark Miltner, our dear shuttle king

Jackie, ready to paddle!


Early signs of fall

The sumac are the first to change

Wood turtle

Lunch spot at Peterson Bridge Access. Lois's boat in foreground (could be an ad for Native Watercraft)!

Social distancing for a safe lunch break! Mike, Sara, Jackie, Ron, Jocelyn, and Lois.

Mike sitting, not standing, for lunch!

Lois and John, al fresco dining at its best!

Sara heading out early

Our destination - 14.2 miles from where we started

The birch "A-frame"



Ron stops to smell the flowers

River art

Ron & Jocelyn


Let the "fun" begin! John arrives at the section where a Red Pine and White Cedar have blocked the river

Ron and John help Lois and Jackie get their boats over the downfall on river left

Here is the river right sneak spot and mini-eddy that would be doable in a short boat (a Liquidlogic Trigger perhaps?!)

Many hands make light work, but the log wedge: not so much. Mike, Ron, and John


Mike appears very happy with this sawing task.

Ron and Mike worked well as a sawyer team,

Success! Great job guys! Pine River Paddlesports Center may have a spot for you on their river crew!

A view of our worksite from downriver

Getting a beer can that had been left behind by someone
This was all we found