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.
View Pigeon River in a larger map