Pigeon River May 17, 2014

After missing the last couple of weekends with another nasty head cold, I needed to get on the water. But with most of my paddling buddies busy or out of town, and one of the clubs not scheduling any trips, I was left with only one option Saturday - paddle with a large group in the Paddlepalooza at Hemlock Crossing County Park on the Pigeon River.
Paddlepalooza is sponsored by the local Coast Guard Auxiliary to promote boating safety. They provide safety equipment checks and tips for safe paddling. They also provided grilled hot dogs and snacks at the turn around point, and free shuttle back to the vehicles for those who don't want to paddle upstream back to Hemlock Park.
The forecast of a cloudy day with scattered showers cut the expected crowd in half, and those of us who did show up were rewarded with a glorious sunny day. It did start out a bit cool with temperatures in the mid 40s. Being so close to Lake Michigan a cool breeze held it to a high of around 55 degrees. But it was plenty warm enough to be out enjoying the day.
I knew the river was fairly wide, and ended at a lake, so I decided to use the old Aquaterra Sea Lion I picked up on craigslist. I bought a sea kayak to use when we go to the UP again this summer, and I figured this would be a good run to try it out.
At the beginning the river was a little narrow, with quite a few branches hanging near the water. But the 17' kayak turned easily enough and I was able to get through without any problems.
The Grand Haven Tribune sent photographer Becky Vargo to record the events of the day. This picture of my kayak is courtesy of her.
The water opened up more after about a mile. Grassy banks lined both sides of the river. The obstacles became fewer and farther between.
The river bed is mostly sand and the banks are quite mucky, limiting the places to get out and stretch.
The kayak did paddle nice and turned quite easily considering its length. But the seat proved to be quite uncomfortable after only a couple of miles. I will need to find a way to adjust it as I had a terrible time with my legs going numb, and had to stop a half dozen times to walk around and get my circulation going. If I can't adjust it enough I may need to sell it and find one more comfortable.

The paddle back upstream was a little more difficult than expected. The rain of the last week made the current a little higher and stronger than normal. Paddling a different boat than I was used to made it a little more work. But it was still a good day to be out on the water.
Miles paddled today: 7.9. Year to date: 59.9.

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White River - Pines Point to Diamond Point April 26, 2014

Saturday morning broke with sunshine and the promise of a nice warm spring day. Jeff put together a trip down the White River so I decided to go with his group rather than paddling in the Hugh Heward Challenge again. Clouds built up on the drive up to Pines Point campground though, dropping the temperature to the low 40's.
 By the time we finished the hour long vehicle shuttle the sun returned, although it remained a bit cool.
The five of us set out on the river with a slight breeze and bright sunshine.

 Carla and Kristine portaging around one of the many trees down in the river.  Being early in the season no one has been through to clean up the downfall yet.
There were a couple of trees everyone had to portage, and half a dozen more that we had to pick our way through or portage around. Everyone stayed dry, although Kristine had quite a scare when she got tangled in a tree. Jeff and I helped get her safely free, and while she was shaken, she did stay upright and unharmed.
 The late arrival of spring has kept everything drab and gray, although pockets of green vegetation have started to appear. It will be nice to have leaves on the trees and grass and flowers again.

A quiet creek provided a good spot for a quick lunch break.
The temperature did warm up to the low 50's as the day went on, although a stiff breeze kept it cool most of the day.

The water level was a bit high, and the many trees in the water provided for a challenging day on the river.

A good afternoon on the river, and my first sunburn of the season.
Miles paddled today: 12.5. Year to date: 52.