Tuesday, April 21, 2009

April 18 Saturday

Falling asleep last night, I ached so much I wondered if I could really complete this trip. Then this morning I woke up feeling great. Took my dip in the river and got ready to go. Last night when I camped I wasn't sure exactly where I was. After looking at the map Dan gave me I believe I'm somewhere close to the Lower Huron Metropark.

As I paddled, I soon came upon a pullout for the French Landing portage, the dam between the Lower Huron and Belleville Lake. Again I'm not sure I came out at the right spot. This was a little bit of a trek to get around this dam and I'm thinking of the guys behind me who will have to pull their canoes and gear this far without the bike system I have.

Now that I'm on Belleville Lake, the river will be dammed up a lot between here and Ann Arbor so I will be getting out numerous times. The good news is the series of lakes have little current in them so the paddling will be much easier. So I'm figuring today's paddle will be much easier. As I continued to cross Belleville Lake, I was amazed at how beautiful the homes were on both sides. This continued all the way along.

I paddled across Belleville Lake with ease but once the lake narrowed back to a river the current became a little stronger as I approached Ford Dam and then Ford Lake, both named for President Ford who was from Grand Rapids, MI. This portage was relatively easy - out of a beautiful hydro park, over a highway and right down to Ford Lake.

Back on the water again, Ford Lake was another beautiful paddle. At the far end I took a picture of a real beautiful golf course which reminded me that our course back home opened up last Friday which means my golfing buddies are getting a head start on me. I'm sure because of that they will give me a few strokes per nine when I get back.

I went underneath the I-94 bridge and now I'm starting to get back into the river and the current is picking up. I passed under Congress Bridge with a number of people on top fishing with lines in the water. They couldn't tell I was coming through so I was careful not to hit any of the lines which accomplished. Once getting past the bridge, I looked back to see if I had snagged a line and the canoe went sideways. I'd just hit a small rapids and had to move quickly to get my canoe under control.

As I proceeded upstream, the current got stronger and stronger and of course I'm getting slower. At one point a fisherman on the bank hollared at me - "It looks like you're going backwards". I took a quick glance at the bank and realized I surely wasn't going forwards even though I was paddling as hard as I could. I still was a little ways from Peninsular Dam portage but found a little spot on the left where I could maneuver over and pull out.

Once on land I was in somewhat of a woods but I could see an opening above which turned out to be a little park. So I loaded everything onto my bike trailer and pulled everything up to the park. Looking at my map, I saw I was close to Huron River Drive in Ypsilanti so I knew I was able to bike to the next portage. As I'm biking down Huron Drive, I did not see the dam right away until I got past it. I looked down and saw no portage so I thought it must be ahead a little bit so I kept riding.

Soon I came to another dam but the river was a ways away and again I did not see any portage so I continued down Huron Drive. Soon I came to a third dam. Did not see the portage so the decision was made to continue as I was now at the outskirts of Ann Arbor.

Ended up pedaling through Ann Arbor until I got to the far end of Ann Arbor and Barton Pond. Here I was able to get back in and paddle for the rest of the afternoon until I got to a bridge where Barton Pond again became the river. At this point it was like when I had to get out earlier at Ypsilanti. There was no way I could make any progress. There was a small canoe landing here so I pulled in and checked my maps and realized I'm back near Huron River Drive and that the road followed the river all the way to Dexter. It was getting late so I felt it was a good time to get out and follow Huron River Drive to find a good place to camp for the night.

As I'm peddling down Huron River Drive I notice the current is very swift and lots of deadfall in the water. From here it looks like it's almost impossible to paddle so I kept going until I found a little cornfield in a place I figured I could tuck in without disturbing anyone for the evening.

It was now about 8:00 and time to quit to figure out my next day's strategy. As I lay in my tent, I kept thinking about the people behind me. How difficult this is going to be for them. I've got a feeling they are going to be doing a lot of walking, pullling their canoes and gear behind them through this entire section. My hat goes off to them for I do not know them well but I've got a good feeling they will not give up.

For me, I have no clue what I am going to be doing for I no longer have any maps other than a road map. I know that we are to continue to Portage Lake which is about eighteen miles from Dexter, just ahead of me. From there I thought there were supposed to be small rivers that we would follow and a short road portage as we worked our way to the Grand River. For the life of me, as I study my map, I can't figure out how that will happen.

Well, time for bed. I'll figure it out in the morning.


Blogger Keith Drury said...

I am amazed so often at how I go to sleep knowing I'm beat--then the wonderful gift of restoration in sleep renews us! Keep being renewed... !
coach #2

2:39 PM  

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