Tom Writes . . .

First leg July 24, 2016 – Source of the Grand River (Pretty much)

The Grand River is the longest river in the American state of Michigan. It starts in the middle of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, and flows north and west, to Lake Michigan.  It enters the lake less than a mile south of my family’s home in Grand Haven, Michigan. My brother Joe and I want to canoe the whole course of the Grand River, paddling downstream, from the source.

I had imagined a sunny summer day on the river, but I woke up at 6 am, and it was raining like Noah. I left my home in West Michigan before 7 am, and the rain never really let up. At the same time, Joe was driving from the eastern side of Michigan, but he did not have rain. The rain was moving from my side of the state toward the place where we were to meet, a little place called Michigan Center.

We met up there in the center. And we scouted the places where we could start to canoe. We wanted to start at “The Source” of the Grand River. However, the Grand River actually has no “Source.” I understand now, why all the famous intrepid nineteenth century British explorers had such a hard time and took so many years to find “The Source of the Nile.” The mighty Nile is just like our nowhere-near-as-mighty Grand River, at its start. No single specific “Source.”

gr truck july 24Canoe trips take a great deal of scouting and arranging. e.g. One needs to find a place to put the canoe into the water, and start. This place might be behind a convenience store, or in somebody’s back yard. There are very few Official Canoe Start Sites. Then, one needs to find a similar place downstream, to stop, and pull the canoe out.

You need to take two cars from the start spot to the gr chase vehicle july 24pull-out spot, and leave one car there. Then, you need to drive back to the start spot in the other car, launch the canoe, and paddle. After hours of paddling, you need to find the pull-out spot as viewed from the river (not always easy). And, then, load up the canoe, and head back to the start spot, to get the first car.  Is that clear? Clear as a muddy river?

 

 

gr store sign july 24Joe and I assessed the weather. Rain and lightning. We assessed a couple of pull-out spots. Dubious. So, we drove to the not-even-a-town of Liberty, Michigan. We put the canoe in at a lake known as the Mill Pond, at the Liberty General Store. We paddled the twisting length of that lake, upstream, until we grounded the canoe out on black silty mucky mud. Impossible to paddle farther upstream. We brought black silty mucky mud up into our beautiful new canoe, on our paddles, just by paddling that far.

The Mill Pond actually is lovely: Mostly covered in water lilies, with white flowers and yellow flowers and lily pads. We saw swans with their swan babies (cygnets?) and kingfishers. We probably were lucky to be there on a cloudy rainy day. I believe that place would be a big mosquito paradise on a regular sunny summer day.

So, we can say we paddled to “The Source of the Grand.” But please google the Liberty General Store. It does not have an actual web site, but if you click on the Google-provided map, it shows the Millpond, and it shows creeks leading farther upstream. I assure you, it is impossible to navigate those creeks. Joe and I really did canoe to “The Source of the Grand.”

We paddled back. In the process of pulling out the canoe, I lost my cell phone down in the mucky lake. Felt and was a fool. But! We got it back, and it still works! Thank you, Poseidon and all river gods and goddesses! I will tell that whole story some other time in some other forum.

Joe made me tie all the knots for holding the canoe onto his truck for the trip home. I worried, but he says they all held.

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