The upper part of the Betsie River reminded me of the Two Hearted River in the Upper Peninsula with the heavy scent of cedar filling the air. Clouds gave way to sunshine as we launched with temperatures in the upper 60s to low 70s to make it an ideal day.
We had to pass through the culverts under North Manistee County Line Road at the launch site.
This was the first kayak trip since New Years Day with a larger group. We had 19 paddlers show up, although after today some of them may not be kayaking for a while. Even some of the more experienced paddlers were having problems. Kayaking in early spring means a lot of trees down in the water. The livery companies haven't started yet, so no one has been through to clear the river. But everyone helped each other out and except for a couple of swimmers and a broken paddle, most of us made it through without problems.
We spent a lot of time picking our way through the downfalls with a combination of maneuvering through branches or ramming over logs. There were several portages around some of the bigger blockages, made more challenging by deep fast water and muddy banks. We were able to move some of the logs and cut through some brush to make it easier for the less experienced paddlers.
A strong current kept us moving along at a good pace, at least when there weren't any trees down.
We had to wait several times for some of the paddlers to make it through the tougher sections. There were very few spots where you could land easily and get on shore so we mostly had to wait in our boats.
Much of the river is through national or state forest land, so there are few houses or roads. It made for a nice peaceful day.
The forest floor was carpeted in many areas with hundreds of trillium. We had never seen so many before.
A stop at a local restaurant afterward for food, drinks and great conversation with some old and some new friends made for a perfect start to the summer paddling season.
Miles paddles today: 12.8. Year to date: 108.9 miles.
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