Tag Archives: Michigan

Trip Report: Little Traverse Bay, MI, 7/1/08

Sorry about the long period between posts. I’ve been busy starting my new position at work and on the road. Fortunately, I was able to get on the water a couple times while I was in Michigan.

My first outing on the water was between the beach at Petoskey State Park and the waterfront of Harbor Springs, MI. This route is seen in the plot below:

LittleTraverse.png

Note that this route does not show the return leg. This is because I lingered in front of Harbor Springs too long to make some adjustments to my cockpit coaming. This lack of movement caused my GPS to shut down, and I failed to notice. The roundtrip was about 8.2 miles in length and took about 3.5 hours.

Some of the notable points during this journey:

    Petoskey State Park to Harbor Springs, MI:

  • The initial northward leg wasn’t too tough
  • However, I did forget to don my paddle leash from the outset, d’oh!
  • Turning west I faced a breeze of about 5-10 kts. This would eventually strengthen to 15-20 kts as I reached Harbor Springs.
  • The Cooper did very well paddling into swells and waves I made at about 3 feet. The skin-on-frame design slithers over the waves easily.
  • Two waves in rapid succession were a challenge, but this would be true regardless of kayak type. The Cooper did fine when the second wave broke over the bow deck.
  • Thank goodness I was able to hop out near the public boat launch in Harbor Springs and resecure my cockpit coaming.
  • The return leg would prove much more interesting.
  • On the return leg the wind and waves originated from the SW
  • Again the Cooper did well in 15-20 kt winds and 3-4 foot swells.
  • The key to not capsizing in such conditions is rolling your hips into the oncoming swell. The lower center of gravity provided by the original seat is also of great help providing stability in these conditions.
  • Another simple, yet key modification, of the original Cooper seat is the addition of a Seal Line Discovery Kayak Seat Cushion. Let about 1/2 the air out and you have a massive improvement in seating comfort!
  • The leecocking of the Cooper did get a bit annoying. I really need to install my rudder one of these days.
  • If I had a track of the return leg it would show I cut across the “corner” present in the outgoing leg. I did this to shorten the period of time I was getting pounded by waves
  • Upon arriving at Petoskey I had to turn the Cooper so the bow was pointing W/SW, into the waves. Trying to ride the waves into the beach is a recipe for disaster.
  • I timed my exit from the boat almost perfectly, but the bottom was a foot deeper than I thought! Fortunately, I was able to get my other leg out of the boat and get away with a little hopping around using my paddle and the kayak for support.
  • After that I got washed up on the beach and I stowed my kayak near a Hobie Cat. The next morning I would find the cockpit full of wind-blown sand. ALWAYS turn your boat over if you’re going to leave it assembled overnight!
  • I celebrated my expedition with a delicious 1/2 lb. perch dinner straight from the Great Lakes and prepared by my friends at Scalawags. I washed this awesome grub down with a couple bottles of Bell’s Pale Ale.
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Video: Shooting the Bear River Rapids

Kirk over at Hearthside Grove managed to come up with a great YouTube video of kayaking on the Bear River near Petoskey, MI:

After watching it, I really wonder if I can get a 16’6″ skin-on-frame sea kayak downriver in one piece. That may not be possible. I might just have to write about another potential journey on the Black River which is on the eastern side of Michigan’s northern lower peninsula…

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Bear River Falls and Rapids

Kirk over at Hearthside Grove was kind enough to venture out in the cold and take some photos of the falls and rapids near the mouth of the Bear River. Kirk posted his shots to Flickr, and I’ve linked to them below:

Falls:

Falls

Rapids:

Rapids

The rapids are probably manageable for the savvy whitewater paddler, but there is no way I can see getting a 16’6″ folding sea kayak through those! Thanks again to Kirk for proving that I’ll need to figure out a spot to get fished out before the river mouth!

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Northern Michigan Paddling Resources

This post was prompted by an informative comment left by Kirk up at Hearthside Grove up in Petoskey, MI.

Kirk was able to confirm that yes, there is a significant drop-off near the mouth of the Bear River where it enters Little Traverse Bay.

Getting fished out before this point will be a must!

Kirk was also able to point out a couple local businesses able to assist the intrepid paddler:

  • The Bear River Canoe Livery, just outside Petoskey, is probably able to answer the remainder of my questions about the Bear River. They rent paddling gear and offer a variety of canoe and kayak trips down the Bear River.
  • The Bahnhof, just inside Petoskey also offers a variety of kayaks for rent or sale. They sound like they have a good range of experience on staff, and are probably able to help with all your paddling needs!

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Projected 2008 Outing: Bear River, Michigan

For the next entry in my series of proposed outings, I present the Bear River!

BearRiver.png

The total length of this planned route is about 12 miles from Walloon Lake to the bend just before the river enters Petoskey proper. There are a few things to keep in mind about this proposed route, and I need to try and research them before I get there in July!

    Bear River, Michigan Pointers:

  • Overall Journey Length should be about 12 miles.
  • This distance should be manageable since it will be with the current.
  • From the internet it is unclear if the Bear River is navigable by kayak over its entire length. 24k topo maps don’t do much to clarify this either.
  • It’s also unclear what type of boat traffic I might have to share the river with in the summer.
  • Regardless of the level of boat traffic an early start is warranted.
  • I plan to get fished out before entering Petoskey because it is more likely there will be an open area to knock down the Cooper.
  • The other reason for not paddling to the mouth of the Bear River is that area has some Class II/Class III rapids. The Folbot Cooper is a very capable sea kayak, but at 16’6″ it is unsuited for that type of use!
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Projected 2008 Kayaking Outings, Part I

The first outing I’ve planned for 2008 is something that I’ve wanted to try for a while. The plan is to camp out in the Dunes at Petoskey State Park in Petoskey, Michigan.

This should serve as a great jumping off point for paddles along the coast of Little Traverse Bay to the marinas at Harbor Springs and Petoskey, Michigan.

The projected routes are shown in the image below. Both of them are about 7 miles long, roundtrip:

2008_petoskey.png

The only concerns about these two tracks are the appearance of whitecaps or excessive boat traffic. Docks or some kind of landings should be available at the midpoints of both routes.

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Summer 2007 Kayaking Recap: Indian River, Part II

After my run to Mullett Lake on July 6th, I decided to paddle southwest towards Burt Lake on July 7th, 2007. This trip was about 5 miles in length, and the track is shown on the screencap below:

To_Burt.png

The nice thing about this trip was that the return from Burt Lake was WITH the current, and as a result it saved me a bit of work.

Once again I have to praise the performance of the Cooper. It is surprisingly nimble and quick when one needs to make a U-turn in front of a fairly trafficked channel mouth. There is simply too much boat traffic present to venture into the lake during this time of year!

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Summer 2007 Kayaking Recap: Indian River, MI, Part I

This the next post recalling my adventures during the summer of 2007. I spent the first half of the July 4th holiday week camped out at Interlochen, MI and I spent the second half of the week staying at the house I grew up in. Fortunately the river running by our backyard still had enough depth to allow me to float the Cooper and head out toward the Indian River.

A plot of my first foray into the Indian River is shown below:

To_Mullet.png

Note that the river meanders in a northeasterly direction between Burt and Mullett Lakes. For my first venture, I paddled toward Mullett Lake and back to our house on July 6th, 2007. The track shown is about 8 miles in length. The highlights of the journey were as follows:

    Indian River, MI, Towards Mullet Lake, 7/6/07:

  • I’m about 175 lbs., and even after adding a basic gear bag the Cooper’s draft was shallow enough to easily float in four or five inches of water!
  • Paddling downstream toward Mullett Lake was no problem. Even though the channel is full of powerboats one can easily cling to the reeds at channel’s edge.
  • There are also some nifty shortcuts through the reeds that powerboats simply can’t go.
  • In the direction of the current, keeping up with boaters was no problem because the Indian River is a no wake zone…unless you run into one of the more impatient types out there.
  • One of the best parts of kayaking is how closely you can approach waterfowl in a kayak.
  • Once again an energy gel proved invaluable at the turnaround point of my paddle.
  • Paddling southwest against the current was an entirely different story…stay off to the side and use the shortcuts through the reeds! Wait up for boaters if necessary.
  • Overall this journey was about 8 miles in total and it took me a little more than two hours to complete…not a bad day’s work!

I probably should’ve gotten out earlier to avoid some of the boat traffic, but in the end this was a great way to spend a sunny summer afternoon on vacation!

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Summer 2007 Kayaking Recap: Duck Lake, MI

…so early in 2007 I bought myself a folding kayak from well-regarded manufacturer Folbot. This post is the first in a series of recaps of the things I actually did with my new boat during the past year!

The screencap below shows plots of the first two paddles I ever took in my Folbot Cooper. These voyages were done at Duck Lake, MI which is adjacent to the Michigan State Park campgrounds at Interlochen, MI. Comments follow the screencap…

Duck_Lake.png

The southern track was about 3.5 miles on July 1st, 2007, and the northern track was about 3 miles on July 3rd, 2007. Here are some highlights of each route:

    Duck Lake, Southern Track, 7/1/07

  • Took two hours to assemble the boat the first time!
  • Turned out I was missing a C-clip + bolt to secure the longerons to the crossframes!
  • Thankfully some helpful gents up from Chicago gave me some zip ties to finish putting the boat together! They worked nearly as well as the actual C-clip!
  • I set off from the boat launch to the southeast heading for the opposite lakeshore. Once there I downed an energy shot
  • After a brief break, I looped around and headed due south.
  • Duck Lake’s southern end is interesting because there is a great deal of treefall in the shallow areas. This leads to a rapidly deepening area in the very southwestern corner of the lake.
  • Turning back to the north I saw a guy messing around in his powerboat. Never a good sign.
  • The guy must’ve been drunk, because he managed to unintentionally beach his boat on the nose of land immediately to the right of the Green Lake Landing Strip! Haha!
  • After that I turned northwest and followed the shore back to the campground’s boat launch.
  • Humping a 50 lb., 16 ft. kayak through a campground is no joke!
  • Turned the boat upside down and tried to keep it out of the dirt at my site for the night.

    Duck Lake, Northern Track, 7/3/07

  • Got an early start, but the weather didn’t look so hot.
  • Noticed a tingling sensation in my shins, but I thought this was due to the school of minnows circling my legs.
  • Followed the shore in a northeasterly direction until a brief H2Obreak in the reeds near the mouth of Tonawanda Creek.
  • Very few powerboats in the lake, one benefit of getting an early start!
  • Came around to the southeast, then headed back to the launch in a southwesterly direction. Waves probably 1 to 1.5 feet.
  • The sky is threatening, but there is nothing more than a drizzle falling
  • Feathering my paddle right-handed 60 degrees makes a heck of a difference going into a headwind!
  • Have to mention that the Cooper is a tremendously stable and confident boat even in challenging flatwater conditions!

Overall, these were a successful pair of maiden voyages! Well, other htan the tingling in my legs that ultimately turned out to be swimmer’s itch! Argh!

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