Saturday, April 14, 2012

Paddling the Flat River



Near the take-out
My brother and his wife came into town this week and Friday we headed up and explored the Flat River.  I let them take my canoe and I paddled a kayak.  This was a new river to me to float (and of course, it was also new to them).  We put at 10:30 AM, just down from the small community of Smyrna, which has a bar and grill and a small bakery/grocery store.  The river was mostly wide and shallow, with a rocky bottom.  Shortly after we started, we ran through the one spot with fast water and a drop, the site of an old dam.   There was a long paddle in the backwaters of Whites Bridge dam, a hydroelectric project.  Not only did we have no flow to aid our efforts, the wind was in our face.  About halfway through this backwater, we stopped and enjoyed lunch along the bank.  In addition to what we’ve brought from home, I picked up in the Smyrna bakery a loaf of cinnamon bread and a jalapeno baguette which were delightful.  


Whites Bridge Dam
There are a number of small hydro-electric dams along the river, but only one on the section we paddled.  I had originally thought we’d try to paddle all the way into Lowell, a nice community where we could have had dinner, however, it would have involved two more dam portages and several more miles of flat water paddling.  Whites Bridge Dam was an easy well-signed portage, made all the more humiliating by the fact that as I got back into my kayak, I slipped and half of me got wet.  But it wasn’t too cold and I slipped on a jacket and paddled on.  Shortly after the dam, we paddled under Whites Bridge, a “Brown truss wooden bridge” that was built in 1869 and the oldest covered bridge still in use in Michigan.


As the afternoon warmed up, we saw lots of turtles out sunning. I wish I could have gotten a photo of one of the rocks that had a full-blown, hard-shell orgy going as there were a dozen or more turtles getting it on.  Unfortunately, by the time I got my camera out I had floated passed it and had obviously disrupted things as most had slid off into the cold water (the turtle equivalent to a cold shower?).



Whites Bridge



A White Pine

We took out at the Fallasburg Bridge, which is a part of a park that’s named in honor of the town by the same name that once had a chair factory that was suggested to be a forerunner of the furniture industry that grew up in Grand Rapids.  Like Whites Bridge, the Fallasburg Bridge was also built using the “Brown truss” method (which is named from some guy from New York State who developed that particular way of trussing covered bridges).  It's two years newer than Whites Bridge, having been built in 1871. It was a little after 3 PM when we pulled up to the bank.  It took another 45 minutes to pick up my truck and load the boats before we were heading home.  It had been a nice day.


Fallasburg Bridge

26 comments:

  1. I am glad you are having a good visit with your brother and sis-in-law. Too bad for the turtles. lol

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    1. Those turtles just need to be a bit more discrete!

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  2. Nothing beats a scenic river backwater paddle on a windy day except for perhaps one on a calm day.

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    1. The wind just gave us more exercise than we'd originally planned

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  3. Sage: I'm on the road in Kentucky, but your post reminded me of something funny. I asked a waitress at a hotel restaurant for "Hot Chocolate". She looked at me and stopped dead in her tracks. "Now that's one I haven't heard in ages". She was so tickled by it that she comped it. I imagine some time in the canoe will call for a similar hot beverage.

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    1. In my winter canoe trips, I often take hot water thermos with tea bags and pkts of hot chocolate. I hope you enjoy being back in your home state!

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  4. Knowing myself as well as I do I just know I would have tried to hook a secret line on my brothers canoe and let him do the work in those no current portions.

    So those bridges are 130 years old? Must be something in the air over on your side of the state, they never would have made it that long here unless they were in the Ford Museum.

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    1. It is pretty neat to be able to drive across such an old structure (but the limit is 3 tons and one vehicle at a time)

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  5. I've been checking out such trips my self. My problem is the weirs that cross all our rivers. They would be little issue in the countryside but in towns they would be a portage nightmare. When such trips are done here it's in a convoy.

    (chuckle) one expects to see Meryl Streep peeping out from those boards

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    1. Meryl can still turn my head, but she's losing some of her sex appeal with her role as Margaret Thatcher!

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    2. Yeaaaaaah; I'm not going to see that.

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  6. Cool. That bridge is very neat. Lana has been getting a lot of turtle sunning shots lately. So far no gator sunning. that will come.

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    1. If I get a gator shot up here, I think even the die-hard naysayers of global warning will be converted.

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  7. Sounds like a great trip. Thanks for the report and pics.

    Cheers.

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    1. One of these days, I'll have to try my paddling skills on some Missouri water

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  8. Sounds like a great way to spend time relaxing and enjoying the outdoors! Love the pics

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    1. It is always good to be on the water!

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  9. nice...sounds like a fun float...with lots to take in...cool ont eh turtles and the jalepeno baguette sounds great too...

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    1. That was a neat combo--jalapenos in bread (it's there Friday special, if you're ever in the area)

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  10. This entire trip sounded amazing....I would love it! Thanks for sharing it...now I want that food;)
    Hope all is well with you and your family.

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    1. We're all well and we eat well when on the river! Congratulations to your son!

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  11. I would not only travel in circles as I've never been able to figure out how to move forward, but probably would have fallen into one of those dams. As for the turtles...gee, I thought only humans were so promiscuous!

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  12. how pleasant



    Warm Aloha from Waikiki
    Comfort Spiral

    > < } } (°>

    ><}}(°>

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  13. How beautiful. All of it. I, however, could not ride through a covered bridge. :-) I've seen enough movies to know that nothing good can come of that!

    :-)

    Pearl

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    1. You might've gotten some interesting and possibly unwelcome hits if you'd titled this "Turtle Orgy."

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