Trip Reports

The last two weekends I, among others, ventured across the state to run the mighty Huron river in Ann Arbor.  It was good fun with good people and good students.  Beyond that, this post is likely interesting to very few people.

Last weekend Todd, Linda, Dennis, Kathleen, Doug, Josh, Jeff and I went on what was mainly a scouting run for the class this weekend.  The river was running at about 550cfs, which is on the low end of medium.  Josh got to have his first solo experience in a whitewater boat and discovered just how important edging is.  He rolled 4 or 5 times, but no swimming.  It was Jeff’s first run with the group, but he seemed competent on the river.  For reference, I rolled twice on my first Huron run last year, but I didn’t spend nearly as much time screwing around on the wave as Josh.

At 550cfs, the Huron is pretty low.  There was an OK wave at the trestle, Zeeb was a little rocky in places and Delhi was good, but not too pushy.

The initial plan was for Doug, Jeff, Josh and I to re-shuttle and try out Tubbs rapids.  Josh and I were getting cold enough standing around at the takeout that we nixed our participation in that venture.  We did drive down the see the rapids and it looks reasonable.  Short, but stretching across the entire river.  Doug and Jeff hiked the bit up to them and gave them a try.  Initial review were positive both for a play spot and a good practice spot.

This weekend Todd, Linda, Denis, Kathleen, Jeff and I returned with the three students from the river class.  All the students did quite well.  There was one swim, but it was handled very calmly and apparently was not too big a deterrent to the sport.  I think both Kate and Jennifer were talking about acquiring their own boats by the end.  Dan, being Dennis’ brother, has that front covered for the moment.

The river was running around 440cfs, which is low.  The wave at trestle was minimal, but very easy to get onto and surf.  Most of the time there I spent entertaining myself practicing bow enders and the start of cartwheels.  Since this used the eddy to the side of the wave, it had the added advantage that I didn’t have to wait for others to be done surfing to have my fun.  At this level, Zeeb was very rocky and not really worth hanging around at.  Delhi was more difficult because of the random rocks, but also easier to navigate due to the low water.

Jeff and I considered going to Tubbs again, but Jeff was borrowing a boat and had to return it at the end of the main section.  I suspect if I am to do Tubbs, it will have to be a time when we plan on it ahead of time and shuttle there from the very start.

As aside note, we also discovered that parking on Huron River Drive and carrying kayaks over the bridge doesn’t really save you much time.

Trip Reports

The past two weekends have seen two runs on the mighty Huron river.  The following is probably only interesting to a few people who likely don’t read this, so it will serve mainly as a future reference for myself.

Last weekend the Huron was running at about 550 cfs.  On Sunday I joined several from the group (Lansing Area White Water Paddlers) to do scouting run.  Nothing to extraordinary as far as river surprises, which is good when you’re looking to take a class down it a week later.

Josh joined us for his first solo whitewater run.  He had previously been down the Huron in a tandem kayak with the UofM group last year.  That time wasn’t took exciting.  This time, he found out how important edging was.  Jeff also came over with Doug for his first paddle with the group.  Other attendees were Todd, Linda, Dennis and Kathleen.

At 550 there is a reasonable wave under the trestle.  Not sticky enough to do much on, but surfable.  The Zeeb Rd. wave was a little rocky and not much for surfing.  Delhi rapids was reasonable, but nothing too special.  Afterwards, Doug and Jeff went to take a stab at Tubb’s rapids.  Josh and I got cold enough waiting after Delhi to want to go again.  The report was that it is a very nice rapid.

This week was the river class of three students.  There were supposed to be some storms, but apparently they fizzled so the river was down.  Saturday was however pretty nice given that the forecast a few days earlier was for thunder storms.  Todd and Dennis mainly ran the class, Linda and Kathleen assisted, and Jeff and I pretty much stayed out of the way.  All the students did very well.  There was one swim, but it was handled well.

At yesterday’s level of 440 cfs, the wave at trestle becomes very tame.  Easy to get on and surf, but not too exciting.  I mainly entertained myself by practicing enders and attempting cartwheels in the eddy off to the side of the wave.  Fun, with the added advantage of not having to wait for someone else to be done surfing.

At 440, the Zeeb Rd. rapid is very rocky.  It’s a little better for practicing ferries etc. further back though.  Likewise, Delhi is very rocky, but that just makes it more technical since there are places to be avoided.  It also makes it easier to catch eddies, which I don’t usually do all that well at.  I caught 7 on one run, which is good for me – some others were able to catch 10ish.

Jeff and I drove together, and he was borrowing a boat from Todd and Linda so we did not go to explore Tubb’s again at the lower water level.

Kathleen and I had cameras.  Hers actually had batteries (oops) so there might be some pictures to come.

The Huron River is my Bitch

Alright… since Emily wanted me to post, but not about kayaking… she’s going to be disappointed.

I went for my second run down the Huron river today in my elf shoe of a boat. The first was last Saturday with the UofM kayak club. On that trip I dumped once on the first eddy, and was a little tense from there on out. The 40 degree water and equally cold air might have had something to do with that. I was able to eddy out, peel out and ferry which are more or less the essential skills and skills that I pretty much didn’t have last year.

This trip I was more relaxed. I didn’t dump immediately and found that I was much more confident when crossing eddy lines. I did roll a few times in a controlled fashion in the middle of the river just to cool off – 70 degrees in a When we got to the train bridge I gave surfing a go… come to find out it’s fun – and I was able to do it with what I will claim was reasonable competency. After this discovery I more or less ceased paying attention to skills practice and just played there and on the two more surfable waves downriver.

At the end there was talk of a trip for next weekend. My input was that I didn’t want them to plan anything that I wouldn’t be able to handle. Todd declared that this was not a concern and that I would be able to handle any trips the group did. That pretty much made me feel like hot shit.

Oh, and some dude was at the end taking video of stuff. He has my email, so if he’s cool I’ll get some video action of the group.

Also of note, there was a cute kayaker chick who caught up to us at the last rapids section. She had a black boat. Verifying my comment to Doug last year, black boats look sweet. She unfortunately was, with near certainty, married.


We skied Thursday at Sugarloaf. Very cold, but not too windy. Afterward we used the hot tub there one last time then went to the “Bag and Kettle” for food. Their burgers are reputed to be among the top five ski burgers. I will say it was damn good, and their microbrews were good too (at least the one I tried).

We drove out, leaving around 7:30 or so… into Canada, through Canada, back into the US. This last border crossing was not so smooth. I’m not sure what they thought was going on. The guard seemed concerned with the fact that it was our landlords van and that we were going through Canada for only a few hours on a drive that on a map would appear that we should never have gone north at all. They asked us to open the back window, then the entire hatch. They apparently didn’t find any problems and we got through in 10 minutes or so even with the hold up.

We got to our new place about 11:30. At least three of us almost immediately decided it reminded us of ‘grandma’s house’. It does. A little older, furnished consistently. Some ‘grandkid’ touches such as the Shrek bathmat and the Power Rangers towel. It did occur to us today that it may also belong to some mid 40’s slumlord who just got whatever things he could at the local Good Will. :-/ 😛

Jay Peak has absolutely amazing snow. Feet of powder and more terrain that we’ll be able to explore in two days. The glade skiing here is sweet – and really the draw of the place – skipping out on that kind of defeats the purpose. Mark and I dropped into one of the glades and kind of lost Doug and Jeff for the day. Apparently they weren’t a fan of tree skiing…

Temperature today was a balmy 25F which was awesome compared to the 5F of Maine. 😀 Sweaty as hell boucing throu trees though.

I think we’re going on a mini-trip to Burlington tonight to see the town and get some din-din.


Maine and its Wonders

So, Maine has been wonderful. The trip thus far:

We departed at about 2pm on Saturday. Crossed the border without a problem in Sarnia, drove through Canada all night and had a smooth crossing back into the US somewhere around 1 or 2am. We then drove the rest of the way to Sugarloaf. We arrived somewhere in the neighborhood of 5:30am and slept for an hour or so in the parking lot.

At 7am Sunday the cafeteria and ticket counter opened so we went in, got tickets and some breakfast and changed into ski gear. Sunday had some extremely nice snow, fresh powder the weekend storm.

Monday was reasonably warm and still very good snow. Tuesday was frigidly cold with 30+ mph winds, faster near the top. The temperature with winchill was said to be -60F at the top… they closed the mountain. Mark and Doug decided that that was unacceptable so they hiked up nearly to the top – took about 2+ hours to go up and I’m guessing about 15 minutes to come down.

Today was still cold (near zero) but not so windy. With ample cover the boarding and skiing was quite good.

Overall, the skiing overall has been great. I (and all of us who are doing both) have started most days on snowboard when everything is nice and freshly groomed. Around noon we ride back to the condo, have lunch and swap to skis for the afternoon. I’m really liking the option to switch since it prevents getting too worn out in one day – it was worth the effort and expense to learn to board somewhat before coming here. My skills on the board have developed nicely if I do say so myself – I’m about to the point where I can handle any blue run here riding normal, and most of them riding switch. On skis, it’s absolutely great to be able to carve a few nice turns and establish a rythm without running out of hill.

No MJN land speed records have been set yet. Mountains such as this are not really cut out for that since there is a lot of terrain variation. I’ve got one more day here, so we’ll see what tomorrow is like.

Off the hill, the staff here has been very accomodating – very pleasant. The place we’re staying is about 3 minutes walk from the base lodge and allows us to ski home any time as well as ski down a small hill to a lift up (since a 3 minute walk still kind of sucks in ski boots :-P). The place is quite nice – two bedrooms, one bath, reasonably sized living room with fire place and a small kitchen. I’ll have to remember to fire off some pictures of is prior to leaving.

That’s about it… tomorrow we check out, then ski one more day here before driving back toward Michigan to Jay Peak Vermont for two days of skiing there.

Another note, participant list for those who might care: Doug, Mark, Jeff, Callum, Kevin (Callum’s brother) and Inchai (a friend of Callum who’s name I may have just slaughtered beyond belief, but I know it sounds like the tea).

Hope those of you back home are doing well and those of you who have spring break right now are taking advantage of it in some manner. Weekend trip for later in March… still on? I vote yes, we’ll see how many are interested. Searchmont or Holliday Valley (since those seem to be the likely candidates)?

Until next time… out.

Skiing etc.

Life as of late:

Potential plans to go to Mt. Bohemia were dropped this past weekend due to lack of followthrough (not my fault). They have been tenatively rescheduled for next weekend. Since I was here, I decided to go to Caberfae with Doug a radio friend of his Jeff, Jeff’s girlfriend Paula and Mark.

So, Saturday night lab folks gathered at my place to drink and such. We had blended drinks of a couple varieties – the worst of which was some combination of MD 20/20, grape vodka, rasberry daquiri mix and ice. It wasn’t bad so much as it just wasn’t good. Result of the night: I got rather drunk and we all watched Temple of Doom. Doug came home sometime in there and we decided to leave at 8 am for skiing on Sunday.

OK, so I wake up at 6 and can’t fall back asleep. Doug, Mark and I all start to converge and get ready around 7… we pack, etc. and leave about 8:10. We get just past Saginaw on Hagadorn and I realize I have forgotten my coat because I usually wear it instead of packing it and had failed to do so. Meh, turn back to get coat, and end up leaving about half an hour later than planned.

So, we stop for breakfast as planned to meet up with Jeff and Paula. After breakfast we head out in two cars now, Mark and I in my jeep and the rest in Jeff’s Jetta. When we’re just beyond Claire I realize I left my boots at home. WTF! How do I leave to go skiing and forget my boots! Apparently I am a completely mindless twit in the morning without coffee. Annoying, but too far from home to do anything about it, so we continue to Caberfae.

We get to the ski hill, I rent boots, we’re all ready to go skiing, except the second car hasn’t show up yet, and D’s boots are in my Jeep. We fritter about for a while waiting for them. Eventually they show up, having stopped at some gear shop for a while. Great. About 1pm we actually get skiing.

The skiing was pretty good, a little icy in some places but not enough to so ruin the skiing. Doug snowboarded all day and Mark switched back and forth between board and skis. Everyone else was skiing. Caberfae doesn’t have much along the lines of ammeneties. No high speed lifts, no crazy resort, but everything necessary is present and reasonably nice.

At the end of the day we met up in the lodge – Jeff and Paula were going to head out while the rest of us stayed. Upon the communal ready-break, we all went back out to find that Jeff’s poles had been stolen. In hindsight, we’ve figured out that Caberfae seems to have much more problem with theft than most places – probably because of the location. It’s more of a local place than a resort for downstate people.

So, morals of this story:
Remember your shit.
Organize your shit.
Keep an eye on your shit.

If we had been fully organized we could have been on the hill by about 11. Instead we burned two hours with me forgetting my coat, meeting up for breakfast (not counting the time taken for breakfast), then not getting there together anyway because of an unannounced stop somewhere to look at gear.

The poles getting stolen sucks, and is odd. They were nice poles, but have a separate strap that unclips and stays on your hand. Without the straps, the poles are a fair bit less useful – particularly to the type of person who would want such nice poles.

My thoughts on rented boots: My boots are far too big for me. I rented a 9.5 and they fit as well as could be expected. My boots are a size 11. My boots have a significantly greater forward cant to them. I was finding it difficult to keep pressure on the front of the ski – important if you want the ski to turn all nice. It makes me feel kind of bad for people who want to learn to ski and have the desire to improve but are stuck with rental or otherwise bad gear. In this case, the right equipment can make a big difference.

It also occurs to me that likely no one really cares about the details of my Sunday.

Trip Report

For anyone who cares, Callum, Doug and I went up to the Straits of Mackinac to kayak under the bridge during the bridge walk this weekend. We got a late start leaving Lansing and between stops and getting ready, it was nearly 8pm before we go on the water for an hour and a half paddle. If you can do math and know a bit about seasons, you can figure out that that put us on Round Island about 45 minutes after sunset (mistake 1).

I really don’t like setting up camp after sunset. In the future, I think if we realize this kind of thing is going to happen, we should just nix the trip instead of doing everything an hour plus behind on a schedule that was tight to begin with.

Anyway… we did it. It was kind of a pain finding the camp site from the water in the dark, but I’m good like that so we found it and set up camp. We ate right in the middle of our tent circle (mistake 2). About the time we were getting done with dinner, racoons had started making their presence known, so we decided to start hanging food and stuff (mistake 3 – too hasty with the hanging).

We attempted to go to bed. They were sniffing all around the tents, which was annoying at the least. They eventually got over to the lines. We heard them over there and around the boats and decide we should check things out some. We ended up concluding that we should empty the boats and hang most everything that we weren’t sleeping on. Stuff hung – check. Sleep again – check.

The stringing was fine for PFD’s, clothes, etc. But they were more determined for the food. Somehow one tightrope walked out to my food back and took my bread – nothing else though. We heard this and got up… We didn’t do much though, since the bread was gone. Attempt to sleep #3.

Hear them over there again, messing with our shit. I went over and saw my food bag swinging slightly, so I knew they were still able to get at it somehow. Maybe they couldn’t have ripped it open, but I wasn’t interested in finding out. I got some additional rope from D and hung the bag properly from a vertical line and higher. After this, they still tried, but failed to get at it. It is still a mistery to me why they were only after my food, since it was, as far as I could tell, better sealed than the rest. We finally got some sleep.

Sometime fairly early in the above mix I whacked one of the ‘coons good with my paddle, so they were kind of afraid of us after that, but that didn’t stop them from trying to get into the food whenever we tried to sleep. The getting of my bread did seem to draw them away from the tents, which was helpful for our sleeping situation. The didn’t cause any damage to any stuff as far as I can tell, so that’s a plus.

So… next morning, we got up at 9 (mistake 4). I had set an alarm for 8, which would have been later than we’d have liked anyway, but I wanted sleep. At 8 I wanted more sleep, so I turned it off. Apparently no one else bothered with an alarm anyway.

We got on the water about 10 for the hour and half paddle over to the bridge. People are let on the bridge until 11, we were getting there at about 11:30. Yeah, that means we missed the bulk of the foot traffic.

Upon getting close to the Northern kason, we were cut off by the Sheriff. We told him what we were doing and he said we had to keep moving (no loitering I guess) and that we had to stay 1/4 mile from the bridge just like everyone else. At the half way point, D wanted to cross under – since we saw other boats doing that. C and I vetoed that, since we had been told not to and weren’t interested in getting our shit busted up by the Coast Guard cruisers. As it turns out, anyone going under the bridge was required to have an escort – something we could have listened to and requested if I had had my radio on me.

We crossed South to about the Southern kason before turning back. The original plan was to go all the way to shore, but that just wasn’t in the cards for today.

It was about 2 – 2:30 when we got off the water. We unloaded, me quickly (my efficiency was enviable to say the least), them slowly. I had time to take a shower and read 20 pages before helping load up the other boats. Once the process was complete, we headed to Truck Stop to get pasties which were wonderful as always.

Overall, the trip was still enjoyable. Fighting raccoons was fun with the exception of the lack of sleep it caused. If we had just been camping on the island for a few nights and could have slept as long as we wanted, this wouldn’t have been an issue. We didn’t get to see the mob on the bridge, which I guess was not so cool. Now that I know about the restrictions during the walk though, I wouldn’t be inclined to go back for the Mackinac crossing over Labor Day again. Any other day you can kayak right under the bridge screw around by the towers etc.

Lessons learned:
1. Hang food 5 ft or more with a vertical rope.
2. Never eat at the tents, regardless of perceived threat.
3. Make an itinerary with times for the trip, and stick to it. If you’re going to arrive after dark, don’t even bother departing.

In added news, I was riding in back for the trip and read about 2/3 of the first of the Left Behind series which I am thoroughly enjoying so far.

GLSKS Trip Report :-P

Wednesday night I headed to Clarksville to pick up Josh’s boat. I left EL around 5:30. We got his boat, filled up with gas, came back through EL to drop off his car here then headed out. I think we were officially on the road at about 8:15. This was quite a bit later than we planned, but oh well.

We hit St. Ignace around midnight and made the obligatory stop at the Truck Stop (which is now just “Stop”) for pasties. Damn, their pasties are marvelous. Continuing on, we got to Grand Marais sometime around 3 am. We went straight to the campground, pitched tents off to the side – in the overflow tent area and proceeded to sleep for 8 hours.

Thursday morning we got an official camp site and got all settled in. We spent Thursday afternoon getting officially registered etc. then hiking through a short part of the park from Log Slide to the Au Sable Light Station. It wasn’t a huge hike – a couple miles per direction, but it was quite nice and quite hilly. We didn’t go down the log slide, but we did cover the same vertical footage since we made it to water level at the lighthouse.

Thursday night we went went on the night paddle. After the night paddle, we hit up the local microbrewery, got a growler, sat down to drink some of it, and were informed that it was illegal to do so – so we had to leave and drink at the camp site. Tear.

Friday was the trip day, we paddled out from Miner’s Beach West to Miner’s Castle (which has one less turret than it did last year 🙁 ). We then turned 180 and headed toward Chapel Beach. The weather was slightly overcast, which was nice in the sun block sense. We got about half way and there was a storm report on the radio, so we sat around for a little while at the one beach between our put in and our destination. Once that cleared we continued on.

Just as we were getting to Chapel Beach, Storm Round II hit. It was a full blown storm with thunder, lightning and rain. Since on the water is not where we wanted to be, we sat around in the rain for an hour. Joy!!! In marvelous Michigan form, it cleared up to a nice sunny return trip. I got a little cold in the rain, but overall it had minimal effect. I was already wet from screwing around on the paddle anyway, so more wet really wasn’t a big deal.

Josh and I got back to camp just in time to catch the end of the presentation for the night – about paddling in LSPP – which I have done a little of and is nice. There was karaoke that night, but a 17 mile paddle takes a lot out of you and niether of us attended.

Saturday was classes for us. I took Rescue II in the morning, Paddling with a wing paddle second, then Towing II in the early afternoon. Both classes but the wing one were repeats for me and served more as refreshers than new information.

Saturday afternoon there was a rescue demo – which once again drove home the point that you really don’t want to have to count on the Coast Guard rescuing you. Saturday night was the pastie dinner put on by the local high school, followed by a presentation by Nigel Foster (kayak maker and paddler).

Saturday night, we went to the bar. This may seem like a good idea, and started out as one, but :-/. The served a 9% Belgian Wheat, which Josh and I drank lots of. We did meet a couple people. One I don’t know much about, Josh just started talking to him at the bar and he seemed rather drunk. One was a guy named Pete who was at the symposium, was lead in our trip the day before, and was from Empire. The third was a girl named Ashleigh who was a bartender there (off duty on Saturday) and had met Pete the night before.

So, we drank lots of beer, had a few shots, blah blah. At 2, we left and wandered down to the beach. I started feeling not so great so I laid down for a while – good idea on my part. A while later, I got up feeling better just in time to watch Josh pass out on the beach – mind you I never went to sleep. Eventually I got Josh up and dragged him back to our camp site. This was about 4 am.

Sunday morning – apparently at about 5:30 AM a giant storm rolled in. It thundered, lightninged, and rained – hard. The rain was blowing up my rain fly and into the vents on the top of my tent – so I had to close them. Josh’s tent had no vent closing capabilities. Neither of us had enough sleep to wake up for Sunday’s events – which is good – because they were all canceled anyway.

Apparently, due to this storm, Lake Superior retreated about 3 ft. Then came back about 25. This is bad when there’s a shoreline of 100 plus kayaks sitting there. They floated away. Someone in a motor boat was out there collecting. Mine was nicely pulled up and all my stuff was there. Josh’s was pulled up, but he was missing a wet suit and half a paddle :-(.

We loaded up and headed out shortly there after. Arrival at home happened around 8:30. Unpacking and such took a little while and is still not quite done.

Oh, and just to note. My battery was completely shot – ie. turn off the Jeep after running for an hour and it can’t start again. My alternator is probably crap too. Because of this, we had to get jumped about 6-8 times while up there. I bought a new battery at WalMart on the way back down for $40. This was $30 cheaper than Sears, and $50 cheaper than a mismatched on in Grand Marais. I will get a new alternator next weekend, when I go home and pull one out of the Jeep there.

My shorts got some form of acid on them, which first turned them pink, then ate the material away. It sucks. I now need to acquire new shorts. This is not an easy thing for the conk to do. (Clothes shopping that is.)

Overall, the trip was grand. It’s too bad Josh lost some stuff. But the storming didn’t really impede out events that much.