Saturday, August 8, 2009

LaSalle Relay Inaugural - Second Leg

Son Jim took advantage of another of his unpaid State Worker furlough days to bicycle another leg of the LaSalle Relay St. Joe-to-Detroit River cross-peninsula route. You will remember that on July 24 he and fellow State Worker Dale Turton bicycled the route from St. Joe to Kalamazoo. I reported on that trip by Email of July 28.

This time on Friday August 7 he started at Springport and bicycled to the Waterloo Farm Museum. His route took him through Tomkins Center, Rives Junction, Pleasant Lake and Munith. He crossed the Grand River on the Maple Grove Road bridge. I volunteered to drive "Sag Wagon" for him and caught up with him in my Chevy Malibu Maxx at Munith and then waited for him at the Farm Museum.

Before heading back to his bicycle-carrying Pontiac Vibe parked at the Springport High School we toured the Portage Lake Swamp and Hugh Heward portage territory crossed by Charlie Parmelee and Doug McDougall in 2008; walked, waded and back-portaged by Neil Miller and Brian Prodin on April 17 of this year, and portaged with wheels by the Ultimate Hugh Heward Challenge paddlers this last spring. We were really impressed by the difficulties of terrain and distances covered by these guys in 2008 and 2009 and by Hugh and his Frenchmen in 1790.

On the return trip we took an alternate route and made the Berry Road Bridge crossing of the Grand. You may remember that I believe the LaSalle party's 1680 encounter with the Mascoutin Indians (who mistook them for an Iroquois war party) took place at the Grand River crossing between the Maple Grove Bridge and the Berry Road Bridge.

The Jackson County roads were uniformly good to excellent for bicycling in contrast to Calhoun County's poor roads that we had explored by car earlier. The scenery and terrain are very attractive.

On a trip to Ron Sell's Unadilla Boat Works earlier in the summer for Jim to try out a Bell Rob Roy solo canoe we explored the route LaSalle had walked from the site of today's Waterloo Farm Museum to the Huron River at Dexter. Island Lake Road, which follows the old Indian trail, is very rough and unsuitable for bicycles as are most of the roads leading to it. Our tentative plans for next year's LaSalle Relay call for this 6 1/2 mile stretch to be hiked. If we go for bicycling beyond the Farm Museum we will have to work out an alternative route.

Jim is hoping for opportunities to bicycle the gap between Kalamazoo and Springport before he goes on the Dalmac Lansing-to-Mackinack bike tour on Labor Day weekend. We have not yet reconnoitered the roads between Kalamazoo and Pennfirld in Calhoun County by car.

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