My thanks to Ron Sell of the Unadilla Boat Works and the house on the Huron River upstream of Dexter.
He rescued Charlie at least twice last year, fed and beered him at the Side Track Bar and Grill in Depot Town in Ypsilanti when he was cold and wet and later put him up for the night at his house. Ron also put up the Intrepid 4 for a night this year when they gave up on going farther upstream on the Huron. I have yet to find out how much of the Huron Jon did.
I am plotting against Ron. He has an interest in the great explorer LaSalle's 1680 walk across Michigan and has run a couple of canoe trips down the Huron duplicating LaSalle's troubled trip on that river in 1680.
Before I did my Hugh Heward study I had done one on LaSalle's walk. Everything anyone knows about that walk was contained in a single letter LaSalle wrote to one of his investors back in France. A lot has been written in history books about that walk, most of it wrong I find. Anyway, I have worked out in great detail exactly the route I think LaSalle with four Frenchmen and an Indian took in the spring of 1680. I have written an article for "Michigan History" magazine about the walk and have done a couple of my so-called narrative/monographs on it.
The Lower Peninsula was hostile Indian country then so LaSalle and his party had to make a stealth crossing up river valleys and through swamps etc. When they got to the Huron at the site of present-day Dexter they stopped and built an elm-bark canoe hoping to float down that river to Lake Erie but the floodwood was so bad they abandoned their canoe about Belleville and walked the rest of the way to Lake Erie.
To make a long story short, I have given Ron a binder full of topographic maps with LaSalle's route highlighted in color in the hope that he will start a tradition like the Hugh Heward Challenge only instead of canoeists going down a river it will be cars, bicyclists or walkers going from St. Joe to Dexter, canoes down the Huron to Belleville, and then on land from there over to the Detroit River.....and I would like to still be around when it happens.
Coincidentally, my niece Patty Geisler of Watervliet lives on Paw Paw Avenue and the Paw Paw River runs behind her house. Also, she and her family own about a mile of the right bank of the Paw Paw River downstream of where it drains Paw Paw Lake (they also have a cottage on Paw Paw Lake). Further, she and her siblings have an annual reunion/golf tournament at the Paw Paw Lake Country Club known as the LaSalle Open..
When LaSalle and his party left his fort at present day St. Joseph on March 24 1680 they built a raft to cross the St Joseph River and bushwhacked their way up the left bank of the flooded Paw Paw River for 2 1/'2 days. In so doing they passed across the river from where Patty's house is now, which is where I was born and grew up. A few miles later they were going up the left bank across the river from where the family owns the right bank.They finally came out into open woods about where the Wolf Lake Fish Hatchery is now.
I have dangled the idea of a reenactment of LaSalle's walk before Patty (who has been following the UHHC) and she said: "Sounds interesting". Are you sensing a possible connection here? Ron and Patty will be hearing more from me on the subject.
I'll bet there are others among you who will read this teaser who might get hooked in. Speak up!