Sep 14 2014

Crego Park, Lansing


View Crego Lake in a larger map
 

 

Had a great time exploring a new park in Lansing this week.  It’s called Crego Park and it North of E. Mt St. Hope Avenue, just East of Aurelius Rd. It’s just a scooch from the Aurelius Rd. put-in on the Red Cedar River.

It’s a great place to get your feet wet kayaking. Actually, you don’t have to get your feet wet at all because they have a nifty kayak launch area made especially for special needs.  Not shown in the satellite view yet is a new, paved parking lot, new pier and handicapped accessible kayak ramp with rollers, and pull bars.  It’s designed for a completely dry entry and specifically for those who need help getting into or out of a kayak or canoe.

 There’s also a brand new toll booth here, so expect to be charged an entry fee in the future, usually on the order of $5 per day for residents.

Oh, yeah, they have fish too!  Only caught one largemouth bass, but there are reportedly more fish than the one I happened to catch on the hottest day of the week.

 

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Permanent link to this article: http://smallwatersmichigan.com/crego-park-lansing/

Apr 03 2014

A Modest Proposal – #MIClintonrivercheck

twitter largeimageI’ve been reading about Kayak/Canoe safety lately and came across the article from last June about the drowning of a kayaker on the Clinton River again.   Some of the notable topics in the article mentioned how fickle the river can be and how dangerous and turbulent it is after a hard rain.  The most important quote was from the Shelby Township Fire Chief:

“We’d like to come up with something that has information on the depth and current conditions up and down the entire river, and links to interpret the information,” Swinkowski said. “That might help the public and how people approach going out on kayaks and canoes.”

And while that seems like a nice, easy solution, let’s think about the reality of setting up such a dedicated website for this purpose.    I can only imagine the cost multiplication associated with some branch of the government handling this task.  For example, should there be single person hired to run this website, or page, dedicated to monitoring the conditions on the Clinton? That’s not going to happen with city and county budgets supposedly in arrears in today’s economy.   So, the task will be added to the workload of some underling who’s already overworked and underpaid tying up loose ends of all the important government administrators.   What we’ll likely get is a half-hearted approach to monitoring river conditions.   Next, add-in laggy response time, lack of interest, or neglect of this website leading to another tragedy.  Anyone trying to navigate the State Of Michigan DNR site or most any other government run websites knows what I mean by this.  Trying to find information is, sometimes, like playing the Lotto.  Then, it occurred to me that we already have an infrastructure in place – it’s called Twitter.    And, if we all participate, we can provide this information to the paddling community more accurately, more consistently, and for free.

No need to make and monitor inputs to a page on a county or local municipality website.   Using a hashtag (#) on twitter would allow any boater to instantly lookup river conditions on ANY river in Michigan.   Instead of devoting an entire infrastructure and development costs to run a website for river monitoring, we could all take some responsibility to monitor the rivers for our fellow kayakers and canoeists on a real-time basis.   Since almost all major rivers are served by a livery or two, they can be the backbone of the system by tweeting conditions of their respective runs on a daily basis during paddling seasons.   The rest of us could fill in the details at put-ins and take-outs not serviced by the liveries.  It would be a small contribution from everyone and result in a large value for the community at large.  And not only the Clinton, but ALL rivers in Michigan (or in any state, for that matter) could be updated on a consistent basis without the need for government to throw a pittance of pence at the problem and come up with a less than stellar solution.

So, I’m proposing a format for tweets like this:

# (hashtag, for those new to twitter) <“MI”> (for Michigan) <NAME> (insert name of river) <“RiverCheck”>  

And then immediately followed by info related to the <Date> <Location> <Conditions>.

For a resulting tweet that reads like this:

#MIClintonRiverCheck 4/3/14 High, swift water above Yates Dam from rain yesterday *CAUTION*

or this:

#MIHuronRiverCheck 4/2/14 low water level above Placeway Picnic Site – too many portages !!

You can then, without even logging into Twitter, go to the website and look up conditions on any river that’s been tweeted about.  TRY IT – CLICK TO GO TO TWITTER.   Then type in #MIHuronRiverCheck.  You should see the test post.  Websites could easily add a twitter post rfeed to an already existing website.   If we can get the hundred or so liveries on board, it will be a great start for this system.  And, it’s free.  

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Permanent link to this article: http://smallwatersmichigan.com/a-modest-proposal-miclintonrivercheck/

Mar 25 2014

It’s Coming…

KentLakeFrozenIt really is.  Spring, that is.   This is Kent Lake in Kensington Metropark about a week ago, still frozen over but slowly melting.    Unfortunately, it’s going back down to 10 or below tonight but Sunday will break the 50 degree mark.   Soon, soon we will be able to paddle the running water of the Huron.

Soon.

But, in the meantime, check out our MAPS section for some newly marked areas such as the Au Sable River and the Grand River.    And there’s more to come soon.   I’ve seen a lot of other competing sites and publications lately, but none have the accuracy of our marked maps.   If you’d like to contribute, or correct an error, just email us at masteryakerb@smallwatersmichigan.com  or comment on the map page.

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Permanent link to this article: http://smallwatersmichigan.com/its-coming/

Sep 27 2013

The Grand River – McNamera Canoe Landing to Burchfield Park


View Grand River – McNamera to Burchfeld Park in a larger map

 

I paddled a beautiful stretch of the Grand River today from the McNamera Canoe Landing to Burchfield park.  It’s 3 miles cut through a rural area south of Lansing.   Completely lined with trees, they were just beginning to change color.  In another 2-3 weeks, Autumn will be in full bloom and this area will look spectacular.  It’s primarily shallow, broad, and weedless.  The water is clear with a rocky bottom and dotted with a many tree fells, rocks, and deep channels that should have been fish havens.  Unfortunately, today’s catch consisted of only one smallmouth bass, but it was a nice size(20″), and a rusty brown color.   Other than that, fish spotting was few and far between.

This segment is undoubtedly a favorite canoe trip for the livery at Bruchfield park, which may ferry canoeists to McNamera and collect them 3 miles later back at Bruchfield.  Because of this, this stretch is completely clear of log jams with no need for portage whatsoever.   There is one large tree fell, right at the red barn shown on the map, but there’s plenty of room for boats to paddle through easily.

The current along this stretch is relatively slow, and can easily be paddled upstream for even novice paddlers. My partner and I floated downstream, and the 3 mile trip took a little over 2 hours, with plenty of time for fishing.

On the map, McNamera Landing is labeled with a yellow access marker.  This put-in is a wooden stairway leading to a drop-off to the water, which can be deep at times of high water.  The pic below shows only the top of 8 stairs to the water, and the river is too deep to stand in while getting into your yak, so this is essentially a dock entry situation.   This can be difficult for novice paddlers or anyone not used to getting in and out of a yak without a firm grasp on land, but it can be done.  Always remember to keep your butt low.  A low center of gravity is key to not tipping.

Bruchfield Park is, by contrast to the put-in at McNamera, a low sandy slope and labeled in green on the map above for it’s universal accessibility.   The only downside of taking out here is the 200 yard portage to the parking lot to the South. Still, I will absolutely return to this segment again, and I recommend it to anyone who’s never paddled the Grand River as a good place to start.

Bruchfield park is an Ingham county park, so buy a pass for the year or be prepared to pay a $5 entry fee if you’re a non-resident.

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Permanent link to this article: http://smallwatersmichigan.com/the-grand-river-mcnamera-canoe-landing-to-burchfield-park/

Sep 14 2013

Huron River Paddle: Placeway to Riverbend and back again


View placeway to riverbend and back in a larger map

Placeway Picnic Site
Put-in and paddle upstream.
2.0 MILES
Placeway Picnic to Riverbend
shallow area
lots of tree fells here, but no complete jams
Campsite
Large Tree
Spans the entire width of the river. Most of the foliage has withered away leaving just enough room for 1 kayak or canoe to pass underneath
Riverbend Picnic area
Turn-around

Only having done this segment once this year, I thought it was a good time for a river check.  Just last summer, the low water kept me from doing this segment at all.  This run is in Island Lake State Rec Area, which has many pleasant paddling opportunities.  However, the shallow, sandy area just a few hundred yards up stream from the Placeway Picnic site was enough for me to dismiss this part of the river as un-navigable.  I don’t like walking next to my yak, and I really don’t like carrying it around trees, and even worse is when that shallow river is devoid of fish.  All three reasons to find another part of the river less troublesome.   But yesterday, I decided to kill 2 hours and see what was up the river here.

I’m glad I did.  I met a few nice people coming downstream as I paddled up to the Riverbend picnic site and met a few bass on the way back.   The shallow areas were just deep enough to float my posterior without having to portage, and the water was generally clear along the entire route.   I encountered many trees on both sides of the camping site and one large trunk spanning the entire width of the river just down from the railroad bridge.   This was the tree that made me stop paddling this segment last year as I was growing tired of portaging around the giant root ball on the North bank every time I came through.  It’s just downstream from the railroad bridge.    Luckily, most of the branches have withered away leaving a hole just large enough for a kayak or canoe to get through underneath.

The 2 mile length took me about 90 minutes to paddle.  While not as low as 2 years ago, the river isn’t particularly fast in this area, so paddling upstream is not difficult, but beware, some of the bends can have stronger currents moving around them.   And with the many fallen trees, inexperienced paddlers could get caught between a tree and strong current.  Always wear a PDF, and always try to paddle in pairs.

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Permanent link to this article: http://smallwatersmichigan.com/huron-river-paddle-placeway-to-riverbend-and-back-again/

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