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Traverse Area Paddle Club

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Trip Reports

July 3 Middle Bear Creek

Linnaea Melcarek  | Published on 7/3/2021

Trip leader Linnaea was excited to share this beautiful river with TAPC members on the first-ever club paddle of this section! By the time of this trip, Linnaea had paddled the entire navigable length of Bear Creek (and some parts that aren't really navigable), from a former railroad crossing upstream of Healy Lake Road down to its confluence with the Manistee River. Fellow club member and frequent paddling pal Mitch initially proposed the idea that these upper sections of river were worth exploring, so he deserves much of the credit for our discovery of this worthwhile river. However, Mitch and Linnaea discovered that the upper section (upstream of 9 Mile Road) has many obstacles and will require significant work before it would be appropriate for a club paddle.

But on this day (July 3, 2021), we paddled the middle section of Bear Creek, from 9 Mile Road to Spirit of the Woods Road/Clubhouse, just below Coates Highway.  The nine trip participants were leader Linnaea, Wayne, Jackie, Ron, Gail, Crystal, Jeremy, Robert M. and Marlene. There were obstacles, including numerous minor bumpovers (and a few not so minor), squeezes through tight spots and under low logs, as well as a couple portages around major logs. It's a shallow river and not very fast, so any obstacles didn't pose much danger and were a great opportunity for practicing our maneuvering skills! We also all got a lot of practice in reading the river to find the deepest spot where we wouldn't get grounded on a gravel bar! There were a few scrapes and bumps by the end of the day, but everyone had fun (or so they claimed!) and it was decided that this was definitely a river to which we will return.
 

Jackie and Crystal at the launch site. This is a DNR site although there is no sign. It's a decent put-in, but it could be improved with some steps down to the river.



New club member Wayne helps Gail get over a tricky bumpover. Wayne was a great help the entire trip!


Wayne helps Marlene get over the log.


And, Wayne helps Jackie over. He helped everyone (except Linnaea)!


A beautiful, obstacle-free section of river!



This section of river has one major obstacle that no-one could get over without exiting their boat. Wayne prepares to assist folks in portaging this log.



Ron helps Jackie down from the log portage.



Gail exits the culvert at Kerry Road. This was a particularly long and dark culvert with a surprising bump at the end!



Beautiful Bear Creek! We shall return!