April 15 was unusually warm with fierce winds; steady winds were probably 25 miles-per-hour with gusts up to 35 or 40 miles-per-hour. The result was that our canoeing across the open waters of Grand Lake were curtailed for reasons of safety and because paddling was simply too damn hard. We were on the water for less than an hour, and later in the day the wind very nearly blew the Billie V right off the top of my truck. I’ll not attempt to transport the canoe in such conditions again if I can help it.
Grand Lake is the source of the Grand River and, before seeing it for the first time yesterday I thought of it as being like Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth. Barely real, and if it turned out to be real I knew it would be somehow otherworldly. The reality was not far off of that long-held expectation. The water clear and beautiful, the setting serene and unspoiled. Logically this must be the cleanest stretch of the river, here at the very beginning before she has has meandered past farm fields fertilized with phosphorous and nitrogen, before municipalities have returned their borrowed water to the flow.
It’s not easy to explore Grand Lake because there is no public access. I secured permission from a property owner to park in his driveway and access the lake from his land. It seems a shame there is not at least a low-key access point offering non-motorized access to Grand Lake, although I’m sure the few property owners on the lake would, understandably, disagree. Once one acquires a slice of Heaven it seems to be human nature to want to keep it for oneself. ‘Twas always thus. Grand Lake will likely remain an unknown, inaccessible gem.
The lineup was different this day, but still family. Brother Tom stayed in Grand Rapids to continue preparations to move our mother to a new assisted living facility within a few days; bless him for that. In his place I was joined by son-in-law Sean and grandson Peter Eldon. Peter is six and did a great job of sitting still when we were on the water, but his dad and I were still a bit nervous for Pete’s sake (groan) in the high winds. Sean is a more experienced paddler than I and took the Billie V’s stern seat. I planned to try some fishing and explore the lake extensively but the wind kicked our butt. A quick across and back on the lake were all we could manage, along with poking our nose briefly into the place where the river flows out of the lake. I suspect the fishing is very good on Grand Lake; two big fish (small-mouthed bass?) flashed under the canoe while we explored the putative channel connecting Grand Lake to Mirror Lake.
I never tire of contrasting the Grand in her early reaches, in Jackson County, and at her terminus where she empties into Lake Michigan.
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