White River - Pines Point to Diamond Point May 27, 2013

Brian scheduled a trip down the White River on Memorial Day. Being fairly close to home compared to most of the rivers we paddle, this is a real treat. Last year with the lack of rain at least a couple of trips were canceled on this river since the water levels were too low. It has been two years since we have been able to paddle here. I have only done the upper section, so this would be a new area for me.

A group of twenty paddlers set out on a cloudy day with temps in the low 60's. Not especially warm, but compared to some of the paddles this spring it wasn't too bad. Except for a few light showers while we were shuttling cars, the rain stayed to the south of us. We mostly stayed dry, at least those of us who didn't get in trouble with all the fallen trees.
This section of the White River flows through the Manistee National Forest. The put-in at Pines Point campground is fairly difficult to find, and the take-out at Diamond Point campground is not much easier. There are no roads or access points to get onto or off of the river between the two spots, so once you start out you are committed to a five hour paddle.
We saw the first of three eagles barely five minutes into the trip. He took off from a tree just a few yards ahead of us, then landed in another tree to pose for a quick picture before taking off again. We saw two other eagles later, both very close to us on the river. The second one was extremely large, but was a young bird, without white feathers on the head or tail yet.

The river started out with challenges right away - lots of trees down in the water so we had to maneuver around them or cut branches out of the way to provide a small passage. There were more than a few swimmers, some more than once, as many of the paddlers were out for the first time this year. A lot of time was spent helping out the unfortunate ones.
There was a good current most of the way which kept us moving at a good pace, at least when we weren't fighting the trees.
The mosquitoes were out in full force, made worse by the wet weather we have had this spring. Between that and the mayflies hatching, you needed to paddle with your mouth closed to avoid swallowing a bug or two.

The water level seemed a little high; there were a lot of standing trees in the water.

There were very low banks on most of the river, since much of the river flowed through low marshy areas. That made for some difficult navigation in some areas. The river would branch off in two or more directions, and more than once we found ourselves at a dead end after choosing the wrong channel to follow. Contrary to what some of the group thought, though, we never did get lost.

One of the few areas that had large banks along the river. A couple of these trees looked ready to come down at any time.
The river also varied greatly in width, from barely twenty feet wide in some areas to more than eighty feet wide in others.

Lots of spots where you could maneuver around one tree only to have to make a sharp turn to avoid another.
It was a good, challenging paddle today, and a chance to catch up with some old friends and make a few new ones. Next weekend we hope to do the upper stretch of the White River from Hesperia to Pines Point. The river in that section is faster and may present even more challenges.
We timed it pretty well as we ran into rain showers shortly after leaving the take out and drove through heavy rain all the way home.
Miles paddled today: 12.5 (+/- depending on the route actually paddled and how much backtracking we did). Year to date: 121.4.

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