Sunday, June 28, 2009

Gerber Lake

Day 9 (6/28/09)
When I went looking for a kayak I wanted one that would double as a fishing vehicle. Today we decided to try out that feature. I had cast from it before but not anywhere I really expected to catch fish. We headed for Gerber Lake, a small inland lake north of Plymouth that I had been to a couple of times before. After yesterdays, forgetting of the paddles, we were well prepared. There are actually two small lakes connected by a strait. I wanted to show Eileen the whole thing so we immediately went to the farthest lake. Most of today’s photos are from Eileen because I was busy fishing. Within the first couple of cast I caught a little northern. Maybe ten minutes later I hooked into the “big one”. Record book speaking it probably wasn’t that big, I am guessing about six to ten pounds, but for me in a kayak it seemed like a monster. It pulled me around quite a bit before I was able to land it. Fortunately Eileen was there to get some pictures before I set it free. Eileen had fun just exploring and photographing the lake. We both decided it was, a must return to, spot.


Day 8 (6/26/09)
Today we went back to Waldo. Our goal was to make it up river past the bridge on County Rd N. We made it but didn’t get to much farther before we would cut our way through one set of fallen trees only to encounter another. We did learn some lessons though. Second, I learned that, although it is nice to stay in your Kayak, sawing in your Kayak makes a very big mess. In the future, especially when it is this nice and warm, I will get out of the Kayak to do my sawing. Third, Eileen learned that if you lose your hat, don’t turn around in your Kayak and try to snag it. You end up wet. Forth, Crocs rule! They may be ugly and dangerous around escalators but when it comes to kayaking, especially in a river where you sometimes have to get out in the water they have to be the perfect footwear. It was another great day. The weather was perfect and except for the horseflies which were a constant annoyance everything went great. Oh, I take that back, everything went great after Eileen went back home to get the paddles which I had taken out when I took the jeep in for servicing. Let’s call that the first lesson learned. We have now made a checklist for before we go.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Yak Hauler

I decided that since the Yak Hauler (my jeep) is now going to be more responsible then its occasional trip to my Moms, Sheboygan and the couple of block journeys to school, when I can’t ride my bike, I should probably get it in for some general maintenance. Then I get the call that the repairs are going to be in the area of two thousand dollars. After picking myself up off the floor and realizing that I don’t remember the last time I did anything to it short of changing the oil I decided to have it repaired. It turned out the brakes were getting bad and the ball joints were shot. Because of the bad ball joints the tires were wearing funny and since I was going to replace them in the fall I decide to change them now. There were a couple other incidentals but for the most part it should now be road worthy and ready to take on the challenge of hauling yaks to wherever our whims lead.

Hingham Flowage

Day 7 (6/24/09)Remember this is supposed to be “The Onion River Exploration Project”. Well, we finally made it back to the Onion. It is still a very steamy day. On the news I heard that the last time it was this warm was July, 2007. Even on the water it was a little warm but once we made our way up the river we spent some time in the water. This leg of the project took us to the Hingham Flowage. The first thing we noticed about the Hingham flowage was that it is much more developed. Unlike Waldo, where there were no houses, Hingham’s entire east side is developed and, considering the size and quality of the lake, we were surprised at the number of huge expensive estates. We immediately knew that we were not going to like Hingham as much as Waldo. Once we started up the river things instantly got better. The houses disappeared and except for a Coors’s cardboard case hung up in a windfall there was little sign of civilization. Once again I was amazed by how something so remote and beautiful can be hidden right under our noses. Eileen even confessed that when I started planning to explore the Onion she thought I had lost the last few marbles I had left. After doing Waldo and Hingham I think she is as addicted as I am. Eileen stated it best, when on our way back down the river, she said, “Well back to reality”, and around the next corner there was a huge monstrosity of a house.


Day 6 (6/23/09)
What do you do when it is +90% temperature and +70% relative humidity? You pack up the yaks and head to the lake of course. It was amazing how different the temperature was when you get out on the lake. Since I had just a muscle shirt on I was actually a little cool, but it felt good after spending all day working in the sun. Once again, I prefer the scenery of an inland water way, but for cooling off the lake is great. It was kind of scenic with the haze muting everything. There was a little more wave then we had seen before so that was pretty fun. I keep hoping to see another sunset like we did the first night when we didn’t have the camera but it wasn’t to be. We only stayed out for about an hour but it cooled us down.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Finally, On the Onion

Day 5 (6/14/09)
We were finally on the onion and loving it. It is everything I hoped and more. The first thing we noticed was that even though we were on a small flowage, there were no houses. It was just us the birds, deer, and fish. The fish were quite funny because all over the flowage they were jumping out of the water. Not just the casual swirling you usually see but literally leaping out of the water. They seemed to be suckers of some type and I think they were spawning because you could see and hear them in the shallows. We made our way up through the flowage on the northern side. It was a little muddy but as we got closer to where the river came in it got clearer. We were amazed, as we started up the river, how easily we were able to paddle upstream against the current. It was once we were on the river that things got really fun. As we worked or way up stream through the branches we came across a deer, beaver and a baby turtle to occupy our time. At times the water was no deeper then a hand but the kayaks moved through it easily. We did bounce off a couple of hidden rocks and logs but nothing major. The only reminder of civilization was the sound of cars coming from the highway. It was so hard to turn around and come back but we decided we should wait until we were more prepared to go further. It left us wanting more and yearning to get out again.
Day 4 (6/13/09)
Again we went down to the lake. Although the lake is handy, being only two miles from our house, it offers limited scenic value. Unless you are into the lifestyles of the rich and famous there is not a great deal to look at. We did have a great time however because the water was a little rougher and gave us a chance to practice at a new level. We learned one valuable lesson and fortunately we learned it the way we did. When we took off we went against the wind, probably by dumb luck. We paddled for an hour south before deciding to head back. It took less than half the time to get back to where we had started. We were very glad we hadn’t gone the other direction and had to double our time getting back. The weather was beautiful and we had a great time.

Back on Michigan

Day 3 (6/12/09)
We took our second run on the lake. It was kind of cold so we only stayed out for a little over an hour. It was so amazing how quickly we started to feel comfortable with our Kayaks. We went south along the shore and spent a lot of time just practicing maneuvers. The only problem I have had so far is that after an hour or so of sitting in the same position my butt gets sore. We decided to call it a day go out the next morning.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Just Checking

Day 2 (6/6/09)
It was very cold when we got up, 50 degrees, but we decided to go exploring anyway. As it turned out we never really got on the water and spent our time checking out various flowages and lakes in the area that we would like to try. I think my idea of kayaking the onion, at least up by the flowages, might be in question. It looks like much of it might be impassable. The flowages on the other hand looked relatively promising. Hingham really had no public access except at the dam but it looked doable. The water looked a little dirty in both Hingham and Waldo but we were told there were fish including northern pike in the Waldo flowage. I can’t wait to give it a try. On a whim, since we were in the area, we also went over and checked out Lake Ellen at Cascade. It looked promising but was by far the busiest and, with powerboat traffic, might be the most dangerous. At Lake Ellen the rain started. It never really got beyond sprinkles but with the temperature being what it was we decided it would probably be uncomfortable even if we didn’t take a dump.

Maiden Voyage

Day 1 (6/5/09)
Tonight we went on our maiden voyage. Like so many things in our life it was on a whim. When I got home from school the weather was beautiful so we decide to go down to the big pond (Lake Michigan) and give them a try. Although the lake was not really rough it defiantly was not smooth either. On my first attempt backing out, to steal a saying, my kayak “rolled over like a friendly dog”. On my second attempt, however, everything went smoothly. I was surprised at how warm the water was. Perhaps since the wind had been coming in from the east for a couple of days it had brought the warm water over. At any rate, it wasn’t bad at all. Eileen had no trouble at all and we decided her tri hull was the perfect design for her. From then on we were giddy as school girls. It was great. We soon had our sea legs or ass as the case may be and were going up and down the shoreline. I wish I would have had a camera it was absolutely beautiful. To the west the sun was setting and to the east the moon was rising. The clouds were shades of violet against a blue sky. I am not sure if it was coincidence but once we were back on shore it just didn’t seem to have the same luster. I am afraid we are hooked. If it is not to cold we are going out in the morning.

Onion River Exploration Project

I have decided that since my life wasn’t busy enough, I needed yet another hobby. I have recently finished reading the Tecate Journals by Keith Bowden. It is about canoeing down the Rio Grande. I have decided to prepare for and kayak down the Buffalo River which runs past our family farm back in Buffalo County. It has been kind of a pipe dream of mine since I was young. So why, you may ask, is this called the Onion River Exploration Project and not The Buffalo River Exploration Project? In looking in to a place to train for the trip I thought the Onion River the obvious choice and in researching it found it to be very interesting in its own right. It also fits my philosophy of finding adventure close to home. I don’t want to waste a lot of time and gas traveling somewhere when I have something close at hand which I have never seen. I am somewhat concerned about how navigable parts of it might be so I am going to do it in sections, not necessarily in order.