Hugh Heward Challenge April 27,2013

The first 70 degree day of the year with clear skies made for the perfect therapy after one of the most stressful weeks in a long time. After being forced to stay off the rivers by record rains and flooding for the last two weeks, it was time to get back on the water.
 The Hugh Heward Challenge has been held on the Grand River for the last 14 years at the end of April. Rodney, Carla, and I joined members from several kayak clubs to do the 26 mile Half Hugh. Rodney had done the Full Hugh once, but didn't care to paddle 50 miles again. I had doubts my back would handle even the Half Hugh since I had never done more than 16 miles at a time, but decided I had to at least try. Carla was under the mistaken impression we were only doing the 13 mile Quarter Hugh so she was in for a surprise when I told her that we were paddling 26 miles, especially since she was out for a moonlight paddle the night before. But being the good sport she is, decided to go on the 26 mile run.
Carla also thought we were going on a smaller river, so she brought her whitewater boat. She needs to read the emails more carefully. The area below the dam was the only "whitewater" we would see. Luckily for her Rodney brought both his wooden kayak and his 14' Perception Rhythm, so he let Carla use the Rhythm. She was so pleased with how it handled she may buy one for herself.
  We put in below the dam at Fitzgerald Park in Grand Ledge. The remnants of the rain made for a good swift current, although the water levels had receded to near normal. We paddled at a pace of nearly six miles an hour for most of the trip.
An old abandoned bridge spanning the river.
There are a lot of islands in the Grand River. The size of the river meant that fallen trees didn't present any problems.
Not something you expect to see - an old ten speed bike hanging from a tree in the middle of the river. Did someone put it there, or did it get hung up from a flood?
A four person canoe going down the river as we took a lunch break. There were also several people practicing for the Au Sable Canoe Marathon coming up in July.

Setting off for the last 13 mile stretch after lunch.

 We saw a couple of eagle nests along the river. Both appeared to be occupied. An eagle flew out of the second one and circled above us for a while, apparently upset at being disturbed. He didn't get close enough for a good picture.

Pedestrian bridge entering the city of Portland.
At the end volunteers had a hot meal waiting for us. Grilled hot dogs and three types of chili made for a good meal at the end of a five hour trip.
Miles paddled today: 25.3. Year to date: 96.1 miles.

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  1. Looks like you guys had a great paddling adventure! Still looks like winter based on all the bare trees in your photos!

  2. The cold spring weather seems to have kept the leaves from coming out. Now that it is 70 degrees every day, they are starting to appear. I would rather kayak with the leaves out instead of the greys and browns, but you have to make the most of any opportunity you get.