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Traverse Area Paddle Club

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Trip Reports

June 28 Upper Manistee

Danny & John  | Published on 6/28/2021
Trip report by Danny Pinegar; photos by Jocelyn and John

"Pour It On"

The mighty Manistee was the challenge for a group of 8 on a gorgeous Monday. I almost missed the paddle, due to an error in navigation. Note to all: don’t rely on your GPS to find put-ins! Although a wonderful tool, one can end up on the wrong side of the river or only near the site.  I eventually made it in the nick of  time thanks to the TAPC website's handy directions. 

This particular section of the Manistee is close its headwaters.  It started out quite technical, which, although challenging, made for an interesting test of one’s steering skills. The water snaked its way through many beaver dams, downed trees, narrow passes, often with zero room for error. At several points the motto was “Pour it on” started by Lois, which means "Paddle your heart out to crash through jammed up debris"!  

As the river opened up, I was captivated by the levels of scenery in front of me. First was the crystal clear water with the sandy bottom, next - the reflection of the landscape, followed by the lighter green of the river grasses, and finally the darkness of the pines, contrasted by cottony clouds followed deep blue skies.   It was a feast for the eyes! 

After lunch, I broke from the group, since I needed to get back to TC, and time was of the essence.  I took to a continuous paddle with efficiency in mind. As I paddled my heart out a prehistoric great blue heron and I traded leads as the water passed below us. I reminded myself to use the legs, abs, torso and not just arms for a full body workout. Keeping my back paddling to a minimum, it didn’t take long to hear the cars and realize that the pull-out at County Road 612 was near.

At the home stretch, feeling the end and the fruits of my paddling, the river literally threw in a roadblock. A giant white pine tree had recently dropped, and had spread its enormous trunk clear across the waterway. It was either a difficult and mucky portage or a tricky up-and-over. I chose the latter, climbed up on top the log, balanced my kayak precariously, worked my kayak onto it and splashed down the other side, with the bow sinking below the surface. John would have been proud!  I’ll assume that the rest of the gang made it over that literal log jam. (See John's addition to this report below)

I have to end with a shout out to all the planning and organizing that Lois and John do to get me on these paddles. I wouldn’t be any kind of kayaker without their guidance and graciousness. See you all on the next adventure. 

John's addition Besides Danny, Lois & me, others were Jocelyn, Marlene, Brad (who traded boats with me, and now wants an Inuit), and Debby & Mike

After lunch we had a pleasant paddle until about 100 yards before Hwy 612. There, a large white pine totally blocked the river. The water right in front of the tree was neck deep, so options for getting around were limited. If you chose to climb out of your boat directly onto the tree, you were aware that the tree was covered in pine sap. If you attempted to drag your boat around either the left or right side of the river, you would have to negotiate muck that was thigh deep. Do not attempt something like this without shoes that are securely attached to your feet!

Note from Lois: I found out later that you can get pine pitch off your hands with a big wad of hand sanitizer: the gooier, the better.  We all had it on our hands from getting through that last obstacle.  Thanks for the tip, Marlene.
P.S.  On Tuesday, after half a dozen phone calls, we found someone who has promised to clear the tree.  It will be a massive job!
P.P.S.  It got done with 90 minutes of work.

Before the shuttle, the club presented Marv with a gas card for all the shuttle services he does for the club.

If you want to paddle this stretch, you have to drive about 20 miles of gravel roads



Debby slides over a beaver dam

Danny uses his snowboard skills to slide down a beaver dam.

Marlene cruising over

John concentrates on hitting the slot.

An easy section of the river

Some of the flowers along the river (Marsh Marigold going to seed, Indian Paint Brush,
Blue Flag Iris, new female Tamarack cones)

Lunch at the Lower Deward Access

Marlene makes her way through an obstacle

John and Brad trade kayaks

Lois is ready to "kiss the deck"

Lois steps over a log; this spot had a sandy bottom, so it was no big deal

Jocelyn gets over the big white pine blocking the river

Mike blazes a path for the others to follow

Lois and Debby check out the path; they are still smiling - they had no choice!

Lois makes her way under the log - did we mention that there were other logs in the way underneath the surface?

Marlene gets under the tree while Mike watches

Finally Mike scooches under