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Traverse Area Paddle Club

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Trip Reports

July 26 Pere Marquette River

Kent Scharff  | Published on 7/26/2021
Trip report by Kent

Pere Marquette Paddle, From the Perspective of New Club Member


What a lovely day, a lovely paddle, and a lovely group of people!  Eight of us made the trip laid out by Lois and John (big thank you!):  Lois G. and Jocelyn T. paddled canoes, and Marlene P., Loretta P., Susan W., Gerald W., John H., and myself (Kenton S.) were in kayaks.   Marvin was again the “shuttle bunny” making our beginning and ending of the trip such a breeze. Thank you Marvin! We were on the water at about 11am and off by about 3:30pm.  Lois, Gerald and John shared the lead duties over several sections of the river. 


The current was splendid and we were joined only by one other kayak, a drift boat, and two wading anglers on the river (none of whom looked to be having as much fun as we were).  Other than that, we had the river to ourselves. 


The trip began with tiptoe acrobatics from John to avoid wetting his shorts while simultaneously enjoying the cool water at

our put in point at Bowman Bridge.  This set the tone early for our future wading and swimming bouts ahead.  Shortly into our trip, Jocelyn and Lois had a quick game of toss the sponge as Lois’ deck sponge got away from her momentarily and Jocelyn was quick to retrieve and make several toss attempts before it landed safely back on Lois’ canoe. 


We were spotted early in our trip by a majestic adult Bald Eagle perched with wings outstretched high in a White Pine over the river who was undaunted by our presence below.  An awesome up close sight to behold!  Throughout the trip, several Great Blue Herons, numerous Belted Kingfishers, and a young family of Common Mergansers joined us.  The flora was in its prime with several gorgeous flowers blooming along the riverbanks. 


We had a swim stop for Lois, and a snack/wading stop for the rest of us about an hour in.  We eddied out to stop on a nice big sandy extension of the shoreline.    


We lunched at Rainbow Rapids.  It was interesting to see all the equipment people had brought on the trip. Lunch included an enjoyable conversation of paddling, the Olympics, and the judging of the personal picnic seats brought by each. I think it was unanimous that Kenton’s plastic shopping bag from Meijer’s was judged the most compact, surface friendly and the most uncomfortable seat.  John and Lois agreed from their fabulous portable king and queen “thrones” that I will soon be purchasing.  Marlene had the most color coordinated kayak ensemble I had ever seen; various shades of orange from her kayak to clothing to her PFD!  I was admiring Jocelyn’s canoe, and when I eventually helped her load it at the pull out, I realized my sandwich weighed more than her boat, amazingly light!


A quick battle plan to attack the subsequent short rapids concluded lunch.  These provided a paddling rush as we took turns running them to avoid the strainers on the outside as John captured “hero” shots of each of us (thank you John!).  That was our Olympic Slalom run and we all received gold medals. 


Following the rapids, we had a leisurely paddle the remainder of the trip avoiding the usual strainers and eddies, while enjoying a few sections of riffles and great conversation all the way. 


Ice cream at Dairy Queen ended the day for several us as we sat in the shade at picnic table reviewing our trip. 


An outstanding day all around.  I am excited to share many future trips with my new paddle mates!






Photos by John & Jocelyn
John samples the water temperature before the trip starts - verdict - cold!

The group launches

Great blue heron

According to Rebecca Lessard from Wings of Wonder, the eagle is warming up his feathers and stretching one leg. He is not injured.

Lois takes a dip

A family of mergansers