Flat River - Greenville to Belding Oct 20, 2012

Time for our annual color tour down the Flat River. We started with six paddlers for another dawn paddle from our usual spot at Jackson's Landing in downtown Greenville. The rain we have had almost daily for the last couple of weeks meant good water levels on a river that usually runs low this time of year.
The clouds from the overnight rain kept it dark longer than we expected, so we set out using headlamps and taking our time. It helps that one of the paddlers lives in Belding so she knew the river well.
The temperature was in the low 40's when we started out, but wearing a wetsuit kept it plenty warm.
As it grew lighter it was apparent that the rain and wind had knocked most of the leaves off the trees already. There were still some good colors, but mostly golds, browns and yellows. All the red and orange leaves were pretty much gone.
We startled several flocks of turkeys roosting in the trees. Even though the river runs through a state game area, there was very little wildlife seen.

The sky was starting to clear up, looking like the afternoon paddle would have clear skies. We got out at Bricker Road and drove to Belding for a good hot breakfast.

After breakfast we were joined by 9 more paddlers back at the start in Greenville. The day was warming up nicely, although the clouds were thicker and threatening rain again.

The clouds started breaking up after lunch, and the temperature warmed up to the mid 50's.

We took a side trip up a tributary to an abandoned train bridge spanning the stream. A couple hundred yards paddling upstream against a strong current brought us to the old stone structure.
 It must have been quite a beautiful bridge at one time. It was still an impressive sight with the fall colors.

Nearing the end of the paddle. It has been a good year on the rivers and lakes of Michigan. I think this may be one of the few times in my life I am truly sad to see the summer end. After working outside for 25 years, I am usually tired of  the heat and humidity of the summer and more than ready for cooler fall weather. And even though this has been a very warm year, there have been a lot of good times, with both daughters getting married and lots of kayaking with many memorable trips. There will be a few more occasions to get out before the end of the year, and hopefully some winter paddles. But the warm weather paddling is about over, and I am looking forward to what next year brings.

Today's paddle:17.8 miles total. Year to date: 251.4 miles.

View Fe to Beldinglat River Greenvill in a larger map

Michigan Paddlers Rendezvous Saturday Sep 29, 2012

 Pine River - Silver Creek Campground to Dobson Bridge
Saturday morning broke with clear skies again, but not as cold as Friday. Since I needed to leave after today's trip, I decided to paddle with a different group. This group was doing the middle stretch of the Pine, while the group I was with was doing the lower stretch again, which I had paddled twice in the last 3 weeks. This meant I would be paddling with nine people I never met before.

The temperature warm up to the mid 70's again, perfect for a fall paddle.
The sun made the fall colors stand out even more.
 There were no real difficulties in this stretch of the river, which was a nice change of pace after the challenges of yesterday's paddle. Just a leisurely paddle with plenty of time to view the foliage.

Spent most of the day paddling with a very nice woman from Kalamazoo. Very interesting conversation, and she helped me stretch out my back to relieve my leg pain at lunch.

As we passed Dobson Bridge, we noticed that several paddlers had stopped. While talking with them, I mentioned that I needed to get back to my car at Silver Creek. A couple of kayakers from Indiana offered me a ride back to my car after dropping off their kids. Saved me from having to carry my kayak and gear up 65 steps to our campground. Kayakers are some of the nicest people I know.
A very enjoyable trip today, making several new friends. I will have to sign up again next year.
Length paddled today: 12.6 miles. Year to date: 233.8 miles.