Monday, October 5, 2009

Ultimate Kruger Challenge - Report #6

Brian Weber's Kruger Canoe Adventures blog is being continually updated. By my count the eight "Pro Boaters" have made it to the Harvey Bridge as have the two Florida paddlers. Mark is going on down to Lake Michigan and I think two or three more with him or behind him.

Correction on my 1949 trip down the Manistee, it ended at the US 131 bridge, not M31.

The car we used to get to the river from our home in Watervliet was a 1946 Chevrolet, one of the first off the assembly line after GM started building cars again after World War II. My brother paid $900 for it new. Gasoline was 27 cents a gallon and graduate engineers earned $300 a month.

This trip took place 14 years before Verlen took up canoeing............

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Word from Coach

Word from the Coach (via email)

--- On Sat, 10/3/09, Larry Hoff wrote:

Hi Jim,

This is exciting. Not sure you are still up, but I will be watching Toby's spotter for a couple more hours. May have to get one of those things. Tell Dan, in my eyes he's the champ in this challenge. I know it had to be bad for him to leave. Tell him I know Verlen is very, very proud of him.

These's guys are the best. I feel very honored to have been able to meet them this spring. I can say the same about you and your son, Jim and daugther Karen. You've done well my friend.


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Ultimate Kruger Challenge - Report #5

Saturday night. There is no joy in Ann Arbor but they are happy in East Lansing.

The Manistee 100 miler is underway. You can follow it on Toby's Spotter. There is a link to it on my blog,

Dan got sick again and is off the river. His wife has picked him up. Mark is doing the 7 mile portage solo and is going to put in the Manistee and go all night. Hopes to "reel in" Toby. Jack is going to join Dan's nephew at the M72 Campground and go down the Manistee tomorrow.

I am reminded of a trip down this same stretch of the Manistee 60 years ago. My late brother Dick and I spent two days paddling down the river, ending at the M31 Bridge. Our canoe was an 18 ft Old Town OTCA built in 1921. It was the same wood and canvas canoe my other brother John and I had used for our long wilderness trip in Western Ontario in the summer of 1948.

Two things stand out in my memory about that long ago Manistee trip. The first is that we froze our butts off trying to sleep in World War II Army surplus blanket sleeping bags.

The other is related to the fact that in those days you could drink safely from the river. I was on my hands and knees taking a drink of the cold, clear water when I heard this tinkling noise upstream. I could hardly believe it but there was my brother urinating in the Manistee with this big grin on his face. I resolved to get back at him but he never gave me the opportunity.

The Old Town still exists. Restored by Scott Barkdall of Skywoods Canoe, it resides at a fancy "old money" cottage in the Les Cheneaux Islands in the UP.

I might miss some sleep tonight with friends still on the river like like I did when Charlie was suffering solo up the Huron in the spring of 2008.

Ultimate Kruger Challenge - Report #4

The Bradfords' time from Lake Huron to Lake Michigan: 3 days 13 hours 25 minutes. Amazing and congratulations from your awestruck corespondent. Their performance has inspired me to spend time on the Internet looking into racing canoes and canoe builders, the annual AuSable Marathon etc, a phase of canoeing that I haven't paid much attention to heretofore.

The Tres Amigos have been having a tough time. Dan got sick. Mark hoofed it into Mio for medications etc. Wind and rain in their faces and cold. As I said yesterday, the AuSable is proving tougher than the Huron was last spring during the Ultimate Hugh Heward Challenge from Detroit to Chicago. Yesterday's latest report has Dan doing better. Mark's Spotter showed them maybe 10 miles east of Grayling.

The 100 miles-on-the-Manistee goes this morning, starting time about 7:30 AM. Toby Nipper has arrived from Florida to participate. The start is at the M72 campground west of Grayling, the finish at Mesick.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Ultimate Kruger Challenge - Report #3

Cell phone call from Dan Smith this morning...bad water conditions...behind schedule...frost on the tents...but still happy to be out paddling. A true acolyte of Verlen Kruger.

Late evening check of the Kruger Canoes blog shows that the Bradfords have made it all the way down the Manistee. The Tres Amigos have gotten through the Mio Pond mess. Mark P. says this is tougher than going up the Huron last spring.