Bought kayak this spring. I did not go all out but bought a fairly cheap OldTown Vapor 10 from Dunhams for $275. I did a fair amount of research on the matter but did not really have an expert to consult. So by the time my friend Rob was in the market a month later I knew a bit more. He ended up getting a little nicer one on sale as well at Dunhams. I love that place. They have the cheapest stuff. I would have gone to my REI faithful but they were asking a couple hundred more for the same yaks.
After doing a few sections of the Huron river by our houses be had a itching to do an overnighter on more serious water. After doing some checking, it appeard the Pine River outside of Cadillac MI had the roughest water in lower Michigan (not really say a whole lot there) and could accommodate our need for a multi-day trip.
I did all the planning as Rob doesnt have clue what he is doing on most things, but is brought along for comedy relief. He had not been camping for about 20 years.
Here is the rough idea
Basically we were to drive up and get to Cadillac by 2pm. Have the outfitter (Shomler Canoes and Kayaks) drive us to Skookum putin and leave out car at Low Bridge. we would spend the next 3 days kayaking down the river and camping along the way. Ending the 3rd day at our car and heading home.
We arrived on schedule at the outfitter. They grilled us about not getting out of kayaks in the protected area of the Ne Bo Shone. Dont get out of the kayaks!, dont camp!, dont fish!. We just were using them for a ride they could have taken it a little easy on all the lecturing but no big deal. The "NeBo Shone" became an ongoing joke for the trip, as in we were gunna show back up to the outfitter at the end with a deer and some beavers strapped to our kayaks and say, "here; we shot these in the Ne Bo Shone and just wanted to show our thanks by giving you some of the meat."
They eventually drove us the the putin at Skookum. We rode three across in the cab of above pickup. Now Rob does not camp too much, read ever, so he bothered me for the last month on what to bring. He had it all planned out and when we got to the river below he realized he left his water bottle. That was pretty bad but not bringing socks would prove more costly.
We only had 2 hours of paddling to make it to Silver Creek Campgrounds. The water was fast and due to that the river was really curvy. We would cut back on ourselves at pretty much every corner. If you look at the map at the top of the blog you get a feel for how winding the river was. We had a few quick near misses as we collided with underwater rocks and learned pretty quick that this was not the river to have too much horseplay when coming through the rapids.
we saw very limited wildlife that first day. The highlight was 2 deer and this family of ducks which are called Common Merganser, but I did not know that at the time so i just told Rob they were Bearded Mallards.
We made Silver Creek Campground around 5pm. assclown spent the cash on the transport instead of using a credit card so we had nothing for the campsite reservations for the next 2 nights. We just hung a blank tag outside our campsite and hoped for best. He gathered some fallen logs and started a fire. It took a while as there was a big thunderstorm the night before. Rob went fishing (good thing I packed food as he didnt catch anything) and I fell asleep in the hammock.
We cooked some dehydrated meals after setting up shop. We started the fire so early that by 930 we were out of wood and ready to try and sleep instead of looking for more.
We both woke up around midnight freezing cold. It dropped into the 40s and I of course had nothing put one pair of long pants/shirt, my tarp and a thin fleece bivyy sack. Rob had no socks, but he did have a tent. He wrapped an extra pair of underwear around his feet and wore another as a mask. We could not stand it and went searching for firewood. We had the fire going till about 4am and then tried to get some sleep. We both slept till about 10am and hit the water by 1130.
We did not see much wildlife on this stretch but we had great weather and plenty of rapids. We stopped off for a break at Dobson Bridge. From here we had another 2 hours to our night stop at Peterson Bridge. We saw a few more day kayakers on this day.
At Peterson we pulled off the water and dragged the yaks a hundred feet to our site. Of course we had no money, but we talked the camp host into letting us stay and even getting firewood with a promise to return by car tomorrow to pay him back. we had a a couple families around us but they were mostly asleep early.
Rob went fishing and caught nothing again so we ate another round of dehydrated meals. We held off on the fire until 9pm and kept it going until around 11.
It was another cold night. We both woke up at 2am freezing but I had drank a fair amount of Vodka the night before so was able to fall back asleep until 6am without trouble. The moon was full that night and it was like a flashlight down on is it was so bright.
Above is a picture of Rob in the morning. He was so cold he took out his emergency poncho and wrapped himself with it. Not sure that it did too much. We were back on the water by 7:30 and finished up at Low Bridge by 9:30am.
Thank god our car was there when we got done. we kept joking that we would be stranded there with no cell phone coverage.
We stoppec by a local gas station on the way out of town and actually ran into the camp host from last night and were able to pay him back right there. We had great weather and a lot of fun on the river. We are trying to plan a trip down the AuSable in October to see some colors. I think 3 days and around 25 miles is a good distance for us.
Until Next Time,