Saturday, April 24, 2010

Kayaking 40 miles in one day on the Shiawassee River

Pictures and GPS data from the Earth Day Adventure - 40 kayak miles in a day - Argentine to Corunna ArgentineToCorunna    Geo-tagged, dated, and mapped
(  Nice clean high resolution pics from the trip  )

Google Earth and Panoramio


Kayaking Shiawassee River: Argentine,MI to Corunna,MI

I trust everyone had a wonderful Earth Day.

Steve H. Willi G. and I sure had a full one. Our Shi-trio Started 6:00
AM to spot a vehicle in Corunna MI. We then started at our last finish
point at McCaslin Lk. Rd. in Argentine. With an extra special amount of
gear to handle a variety of possible conditions we launched at 8:45.
The weather was clear sunny and brisk. It was almost 30 deg. when we
hit the water. The great news was tempered by the fact it wasn't
perfect news. There were 20 trees down blocking our path on the first
segment going to Byron. This was so much better than the hundreds of
trees I observed 2 years ago. Having lots of fun scooting under trees
or hopping them we made slow but steady progress. It took until noon to
finish the first 8 miles. If we can find just a few volunteers this
will be opened up to the less adventurous paddler.

After a quick lunch in Byron learning history from the residents and
spreading the word of the State Heritage River Trail we were off. The
portage needs some work but isn't worth more than minor complaints. We
found the confluence of the main branch and the South branch of the
Shiawassee and traveled up stream on the South branch just to say we
did. The last tree we had to hop was about 10 feet after the river
joined. At this point the Shiawassee changes from an intimate little
meandering stream to a full fledged river. Although blockages do occur,
mostly the trees that fall into the river don't reach the far bank
leaving a good passage. We sped past the launch point at Byron H.S. and
Headed North towards Walnut Hills Campground the next access point. At
this point we were making great time, (Willi will post his data
sometime.) so we sped past and headed for Geeck Rd. Park. This proved
to be a bit longer stretch than our energy reserves could easily
handle. Catching lunch #2 respectfully on the shore of some private
wooded lot a mile further we found the park. Onward we cranked. The
entire segment from Byron to pas I69 has moderate to fast current.
After Geeck Rd. Park more and more gravel and stone geology started
giving us minor white water or swifts. Just enough to make you pay
attention but not enough to be dangerous. This was quite fun. Not to
far past Newberg Rd the Shiawassee Town (Shiatown) pond starts ending in
a very nice park at Shitown. Time for another snack and a little bit of
playing at the base of the dam. This could be fun at moderate to high
flow rates but we did not have the proper safety gear. I'd want
helmets, throw bags, heavy skirts, and competent partners to handle this
stuff at high water. The next segment to Vernon and on to Corunna is a
long quick paddle. We were starting to run low on energy and muscles at
this point. Shiatown was about 32 miles into our trip. More moderate to
quick current was welcomed and stayed with us up to the gravel mine a
mile and a half from Corunna. They have a concrete road across the
river! Willi and I were so tired by this point we struggled to crawl
out of our boats to cross the road. It was after that we noticed you
can pass on the left. We new there was little energy, brains, or
motivation left. The sun was setting and we were getting cold. Steve
had gone ahead to get his van at the park in Corunna past the dam.
Speaking of the dam As we limped into town with the last of the day
lingering in the sky we noticed that there in nothing to stop you from
paddling over the dam except the roaring of the water. Don't do this at
night folks. We pulled out and waited for Steve to bring the van around
to load up Finish time 9:00 PM. Condition exhausted hypothermia, and
hungry. Distance 40 Miles.

The wildlife was not prolific but varied. Dear, beaver, muskrat, mink,
porcupine, a books worth of birds, amphibians.and fish kept us in
wonder. The fact that we saw maybe a dozen people all day was great
too. I would advise trying out all the sections of the Shiwassee as they
are varied and interesting. I will not advise doing 40 miles in a day
before the river is cleared.

One last note. We walked into the Wrought Iron Grill in Owosso at
10:30 We had been looking forward to a good meal at a known excellent
restaurant . The bartender advised us that the grill was closed (go
figure) and we should talk to the owner in the blue shirt. This
wonderful man interrupted his conversation with friends to listen to a
plea from 800 lbs plus of hungry men and helped us out. He figured out
a meal that he could make without trashing the whole kitchen, and came
out with enough food to stop even our ravenous apatites We had the
rapt attention of all the patrons as we explained how great a time we
had on the river. It was time to go home. I got into bed about 1:30 AM
this morning.

What a wonderful Earth Day!

Douglas Lanyk
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