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Small Inland Lakes
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August 5 Boardman
Trip report by Lois; photos by Kati
The Traverse City area had had a lot of rain in the two days before this trip, so I was hesitant about my original plan, going all the way from Brown Bridge Landing to Beitner. Those of us who have been through that entire section know that the last hour (past Shumsky) has a number of very low bridges. Even in normal conditions, we usually have to bend far forward and practically kiss the deck of our kayaks, or in the case of a canoe, get down almost as low as the gunwales. So I checked the USGS gauges online in the morning, and also asked Kati "Scout" Flees to look at the platform at Beitner on her way to the put-in. With the water level up, it was a pretty easy decision to play it safe and change the takeout to Shumsky, and also look for trash (as long as we all had eagle eyes and lots of bags).
Kurt Reinhart was using his new kayak on its maiden voyage because he thought he had signed up for a cleanup trip. He took up his position at the back of the group, while the rest of us pointed out the stray water shoes, beer cans, a nice kayak seat cushion and his largest find. At first glance, he said, "It's a decent canoe paddle". But then he handed it off to me, since there was more room in my solo canoe. Yes it was a paddle, but no, it wasn't decent. It weighed about 12 pounds, and in fact, was a kayak paddle with 2/3 of one blade broken off. We left it at the trash receptacle at the end.
The river was moving quickly, but we had no trouble with maneuvering, avoiding trees fairly easily. Both Kathy Ledford and Ron Coyne appreciated the time to practice eddy turns, peel-outs and back ferries. Ever the teacher, I was instructing Ron on the subtleties of ducking under the low bridges, when I pulled my own head up too soon. OUCH! I hit my forehead on the log that was on the downstream end of a bridge - I think my sunhat obstructed my view, but it did cushion the blow a bit. Ron said he heard some colorful language, and Judy James and Kathy also heard the sound of the collision. I never lost consciousness (I am typing this report later in the day, so I seem to be okay), or my paddle, and we all caught the next eddy down to evaluate the situation.
There was no blood, I was thinking straight, and was able to paddle the canoe with no trouble. I had a clean bandana which I could soak with ice water from my bottle, and constructed a "Willie Nelson" headband to keep my forehead cold. Judy (on her first TAPC outing) wisely took over the sweep position. I really appreciated everyone's concern for my status. Soon we caught up to the other two, who had pulled over to wait for us. We all made it to the takeout about 20 minutes later. I have quite a bump, but my brain seems to be working properly. See post-injury photos at the bottom of this report.
Did we mention that the first step of the Shumsky landing was completely under water? Pretty easy landing there - we just floated up on land and stepped out. The river was high and it was trucking!
Oh - one more noteworthy thing - I was so preoccupied in the morning, making sure that we would be safe - that I missed the turn into Shumsky, and suddenly I was approaching the railroad tracks a mile or so too far. The group of cars just followed me - what a team! They didn't even mock me when we got into the shuttle car. Thanks to Kurt and Kati for helping with the car/kayak shifting. She got some great pictures of the great blue heron on camera; it was even flying upstream! The weather was perfect too.
Moral of the story: Keep your head up while driving and keep it down when going under low bridges!
The view upstream from our launching site
First the great blue heron just sat there
Then he began to fly upstream....
Right past Kathy's head
Kurt in his new cleanup rig; Ron & Lois in the background
This is the paddle we retrieved - not particularly useful
The landing at Shumsky made for an easy exit!
There was nobody else around, so Kati took this one.
Judy, Kathy, Kurt, Lois and Ron
There's Kati now! Lois is covering the major head bump.