Thursday, April 30, 2009

UHHC Progress Report - April 30 8:55 p.m.

Jon's tracker shows him camped on the  beach at Grand Mere State Park southeast of Stevensville.
 
Toby's tracker shows the Intrepid 3 (they now call themselves The Mouseketeers) about 4 1/'2 miles down-lake from the South Haven pier. See Mark's blog for his report of being driven off the lake early by "thunderous surf" and high winds. Looks like they are windbound like Hugh and his crew was. Mark says they will peek out of the tents in the morning to see what's what and then decide.
 
Coach hopes to join them in the morning.
 
No call from Dan. I'll report on his report in the morning.

(This photo is not one taken by our boys, but grabbed off Google images to give a sense of the power of Lake Michigan. This is the Grand Haven pier; photo was in the Grand Rapids Press October 27, 2008.)

Heward's Journal - Paddle days 21, 22, 23

Paddle Day 21

Wednesday Apl 28th 1790. Got from Mr Langlade Gum for 20/ & gave him an Order on G. Meldrum (?) Exchanged with him 2 bushels of unhull'd for hulled Corn & set off the wind North & by West under sail but before Mid Day the wind forced so as to oblige us to put into the River Barbu (Pigeon Lake) & with some Difficulty got in & got some Sprays of the Swells we there camped & unloaded to Gum the Cannots......The Wind increasing continued 'till Night.

Thursday Apl 29th 1790. The Wind blew all Night & continuing in the Morning we still remained camped. continued to blow all Day

Paddle Day 22

Friday Apl 30th 1790. after a very frosty night the Wind at South by East set off about 11 oClock a small Creek but not Water to enter into (outlet of Macatawa River and Lake Macatawa?) at 12 oClock came to river Mazame or Kualamazeau (Kalamzoo) which is on Nore West Side before coming to the Extremity of the point a fine river runn'g from the South East & a Trading House at the Entrance round this Point is stone and gravel & the Bay following it still continues high banks with Stone & Gravell to a small river stop'd up where we camped (Pier Cove Creek near Ganges?)

Paddle Day 23

Saturday May 1st 1790. Wind at South gum'd the Cannots & set off arrived about 10 oClock at River Noir (Black River) running from east but small at the Entrance (South Haven) from the Kekalemazeau or River Mazane (to) here high Banks & Gravell & Rocks dangerous in stormy weather Met 3 Cannots of Mr Burnitts* about half Way here for Michi (Michilimackinac) a light Breeze of Wind rose from the North which continued about 2 hours very light but we carried Sail 'till it died away Arrived at the River St Josephs late a fine River run'g from East South East a Strong current & nearly as large as the Grand River the Course from the River Noir about South West very high banks Camped. (I imagine they camped on the beach).

* William Burnette, a trader with a post up the St, Joseph.

My Note: The explorer LaSalle arrived at the mouth of the St. Joseph by canoe from Green Bay in the fall of 1679. He called it The River of the Miamis. He built a fort on top of the bluff in present day St Joe then went up the river to the site of present day South Bend, portaged into the headwaters of the Kankakee River and went down that river to where it joins thedes Plaines River to form the Illinois River. Then he went south to Peoria and built another fort. The next spring he returned north up the Illinois but had to abandon his canoes about at Joliet because of ice. Sloshed cross-country to the Lake and then walked ing up the beach to St Joe. When he found out from the men left at the fort that his ship Griffon was lost, he had a raft built to cross the river to where Benton Harbor is now. Then he (with four Frenchmen and an Indian) took off on foot up the Paw Paw River valley heading for Lake Erie.

Sunday May 2d 1790 a Strong head Wind from the West which obliged us to remained camped

Monday May 3d 1790 A Wet night & Strong head Wind from the West still detain'd us.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

UHHC Progress Report - April 29, 8:45 p.m.

8:45 PM: Call from Dan. They are camping on the beach couple-three miles south of the Lake Macatawa Outlet. They didn't get much help from the wind. It started coming from the east so they took the sails down and have been paddling. They are envying Hugh because he would have been paddling down the lake without all those damn houses in view.
 
Jon's spotter shows he stopped a couple hours ago about half way between South Haven and the Palisades Nuclear Plant.
 
No entries on the Coach's blog since last Friday. We know he did the Hugh Heward 50 miler on Saturday and ran into some kind of trouble on Lake Michigan after he resumed paddling and that he is back in Superior Wisconsin now. I'm waiting for the rest of the story.
 
Charlie is home. Looks like my cat herding days are over.

Jon Holmes' Progress, via email 4-28 from Wayne Norlin


Wayne & Jim find Jon at Knapp Street Bridge landing, east of Grand Rapids , 7:00 pm, Sunday 4/26/09


Received this in an email from some folks that are following Jon Holmes' journey:

From: Norlin, Wayne <wnorlin@towerpinkster.com>
Subject: Jon Holmes on the Grand
To: thetopologist@sbcglobal.net

Date: Tuesday, April 28, 2009, 3:00 PM

Jim Woodruff,

Thank you from four fellow enthusiasts (Wayne Norlin, Anthony Norlin, Jim Winter-Troutwine, Kelsey Winter-Troutwine) for your ongoing coverage of the Hugh Heward Challenge and Verlen Kruger Memorial events. Jon Holmes is the man who got us started in this sport, giving lessons, renting/selling boats, outfitting and mentoring, over the last several years. We’ve been following his progress from the start of the adventure, via the GPS tracking maps. It’s been a real thrill, and also an education on these great Michigan waterways. Jim and I finally caught up with Jon, at the end of his paddle on Sunday evening, April 26th, at the Knapp Street Bridge landing east of Grand Rapids . Then on Monday, Jim paddled with Jon from Knapp Street to Riverside Park , in a flooded river, treacherous wind and choppy waters. I was there to capture a few pictures. (see attached).

Jim & Jon at Riverside Park landing, Grand Rapids , 1:30 pm, Monday, 4/27/09

 Jon departing from Riverside Park ,  2:00 pm, Monday, 4/27/09


Jon paddling into the wild waters of the Grand, heading toward Canal Street Park (4thStreet Dam) portage, 2:00 pm Monday, 4/27/09

UHHC Progress Report - April 29, 1:30 p.m.

1:30 PM call from Dan. THEY ARE UNDER SAIL! The Intrepid 3 are out in Lake Michigan and sailing south. Dan and Mark are catamaraned and Toby has outriggers. They all have sails. The winds are good as are the lake conditions. They have gone over 340 miles so far.
Dan says "It doesn't get any better than this!"
 
Jon's tracker shows that he is about at that big point south of Saugutuck and Douglas. I don't know whether or not he has sails. If he doesn't the Intrepid 3 could reel him in if these conditions hold. I have to figure out how to keep up with Lake Michigan wind and wave reports. Can anyone help me?
 
Dan will call tonight.

Heward's Journal - Paddle Day 20

Continuing with Heward's Journal:

Paddle Day 20: THE HEWARD PARTY ARRIVES AT LAKE MICHIGAN

Tuesday Apl 27th 1790.  Embarked after getting some Sturgeon & passed a plain to the East (he must mean West) in about an Hour where it appears to be a wintering place (Grandville?)    The River still larger & a good smooth Current but a North Wind strong against us (but their direction is west?)   the Course West & the River larger & larger to the mouth & surrounded with Pine on all Sides with Meadows & small Lakes & very wide at the Entrance of the Lake  (Lake Michigan) where we arrived about Sun Set & found Mr Langlade who appeared to be very friendly & promised to get me some Gum.   Encamped on the other (north) Side there being many Indians with him. 

My Note: Thus after 20 paddle days and 30 cross-peninsula days and 34 total days the Heward expedition had reached Lake Michigan.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Heward's Journal - Paddle Day 19

Continuing with Heward's journal pages:

Paddle Day 19 - ON THEIR WAY TO THE RAPIDS OF THE GRAND

Monday Apl 26th 1790   Set off & arrived  abo't 10 oClock at a Wintering place (Lyons) a little above a River from North East (Maple River) that goes to Sagana    the Frenchman we were told by Squas was gone & indeed his Wintering place seemed very miserable & desolate    continued our Course to the west but there was a Brisk Wind ahead which annoyed us much 

My Note: They have made the turn from the twisting and turning Upper Grand into the ancient glacial drainage channel that they will follow to Lake Michigan. What I call the "exploration" part of their journey is done. I believe they were the first Europeans to go up the Huron much beyond Ypsilanti or to cross the Lake Erie-Lake Michigan drainage divide or to paddle on the Upper Grand. Now they were on the relatively well known waterway across the Peninsula involving Saginaw Bay, the Saginaw River, Shiawassee River and Bad River (South Branch) and an easy portage to the Big Bend of the Maple near Bannister.

 Continuing with Heward's words:    here the River wider but not more Current    at Mid Day about 1 oClock passed a village at the Forks where a trader had been but he was gone (one of Langlade's men?)   took the Nore West Fork but did not stop ("Forks" would be the confluence of the Thornapple with the Grand at Ada)   presently a Cannot with five Indians followed us    they said to beg Charity of a little Tobacco & to ask the News   we gave them a little & they went away contented (I wonder how the British trader Heward and the French-Canadian  paddlers and the various Indians communicated? Sign language? Pidgin English? What?) Near Sun Set we arrived at a strong rapid & village (Grand Rapids) where we found a Barrel from Sagana for McKenzie      he had made about 10 packs and some sugar    camped to get some Sturgeon & Sugar   the Course from Mid day nearly West South West.

My Note: They made remarkably good time this day considering that he complained about head winds. From upstream of Lyons to Grand Rapids passing present day Ionia, Saranac and Lowell and making the big loop to the North and back south. He did not mention passing the mouths of either the Flat or Rogue Rivers.

Monday, April 27, 2009

UHHC Progress Report

The Intrepid 4 shrinks down to 3 today. Charlie, my hero, doesn't want to miss his daughter's graduation from Hope College so he won't be going all the way to Chicago. Mark, Dan and Toby are on the way downstream from Portland.
 
Charlie, his paddling buddy Doug McDougall, and maybe John Young will head downstream tomorrow but will turn around once they dip their paddles in Lake Michigan. You will remember that during his 2008 Odyssey Charlie was stopped short of the Big Lake by an oil spill in Grand Haven.
 
Jon Holmes was home with his family in Lowell last night. As of 10:00 a.m. his Spotter shows he is at the north end of the"loop" and turning south for Grand Rapids.
 
Coach is somewhere along the Lake Michigan coast going south. He has a "land team" following in the form of his friend Jim whose last name I don't know.
 
Still herding cats.

Heward's Journal - Paddle Day 18

Continuing with Heward's journal to match the journey of the Intrepid Four, departing from Portland today:

Paddle Day 18
Sunday Apl 25th 1790.  After a rainey Night set off    from hence a number of small Islands    following to a River from the East (Looking Glass) where was a Cabin of Ottawas     the Course here nearly North with High banks & some pine trees to the East    from thence to a Village    the River very full of High banks & some pine Trees & at this Village a large Turning & Point  (David Highway?)  the Course  Nore West   arrived here at Mid Day.    from thence low Bottoms with high Banks at a Distance    very full of heavy Wood with the finest places possible for making Sugar    the River running level & deep & not a very strong Current with many Turnings    the Course nearly West    Daurrier lost a Quart Jack some Time ago (??)    put on Shore early to rig our Oars hull Corn &C.

Campsite:  Wagar Dam site?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

UHHC Progress Report - Thurs. April 23 to Sun. April 26

How best to share the events of the past two or three days? Perhaps to relate my involvement and that of my family's.

Thursday the Intrepid 4 made the passage down the Portage Ditch and into the Grand which is flooded even higher than last year when Charlie and Doug McDougall went thru on the 2008 Odyssey. This made paddling thru the woods to avoid log jams and deadfalls easier than last year. They pulled out of the Grand at the Gale Road launch site near Kinneville, Charlie headed home for a good night's sleep (he thought) and the rest camped.

Friday at noon was Chuck Amboy's second annual luncheon-for-paddlers at the English Inn, a high-toned establishment with beautifully landscaped grounds on the Grand between Eaton Rapids and Dimondale.


The Intrepid 4 had paddled down from Gale Road, Coach Hoff was driven in from Holland by one of his former football players who has a restaurant in Saugutuck, various relatives and friends were there and daughter Karen drove me to the affair. It was a fun luncheon even though the canoeists were roughly costumed as compared with the Inn's usual clientele. As usual, we toasted Verlen.

Meanwhile Jon Holmes is downstream, having gone thru Eaton Rapids, Dimondale and Lansing, and pulled out at my back yard landing late in the afternoon.


He palavered with Karen and myself, showed us his high-tech gear at my request, discussed kayaks with Karen (who needs a kayak stable enough to handle her large-sized sons when they visit her cottage on Black Lake - Jon is the store manager at Bill and Paul's Sporthaus in Grand Rapids) and declined my offer to camp here. He also relayed the disturbing news that the City of Lansing had blocked off the Brenke Fish Ladder launch site.

After he went on his way again Karen and I headed for Old Town to check out the situation. What we found caused me to PANIC!


The City had erected a high wooden barricade to blockade the launch site and I've got dozens of canoes coming down the river in the morning. I had visions of some sort of log jam of canoes stacked above the dam with no place to get back on the river. Well, my first instinct was to confront the Police Department and do a Ronald Reagan-in-Berlin type speech where he said "Mr. Gorbachev, tear  down this wall!" Daughter Karen (who used to work for the City Council) pointed out that it probably was the Parks Department, not the Police, who put up the barricade and that they were worried about liability with the collapsed landing and the river roaring thru as it was.


So I went stumping up the Riverwalk with my cane looking for an alternate launch site. After Karen had corralled me up by the Turner-Dodge mansion and got me back in the car, my children took over. First they banned me from email and cell phone and then banished me to the lower level of the River House where I do all my research and communicating. Then they started telephoning. I'm not sure what all calls were made (Karen's call to Charlie woke him up) but the Dimondale campout was alerted and calls came back from Charlie, Dan Smith, and Pat Harrington for me to "cool it."

Saturday morning Robin Barfoot and Pat Harrington set up a lemonade, strawberry and Coors Light stand at my landing to refresh passing canoeists. I learned from some of the early stoppers (racers never stop or even look up) that when confronted with the barricade the canoeists swarmed over it like it was just another deadfall in Portage Creek. Oh me of little faith!


To those that stopped at Woodruff's Landing I pointed out the big evergreen tree across the river in Hillside Cemetery over Verlen's gravesite which is visible from my landing and deck when the leaves are off. I also told them to wave to Jenny Kruger as they went by the Kruger Canoe Base about 450 yards downstream on the right bank.

All of the Intrepid 4 plus Coach Hoff stopped. Mark P. escorted Marissa Weber and Hannah Grow, two young girls from Wisconsin and Illinois respectively, on a pilgrimage to Verlen's grave.

When the last of the HHC paddlers had gone by Robin and Pat closed up shop and took off to register paddlers at Charlotte Hwy, leaving son Jim an ugly once-stolen-and-then-recovered Winona(??) canoe to try out. (Daughter Karen said it was the height of "Shabby Chic" fashion.)
 

Jim and his daughter Jessica paddled it to Grand Ledge with no problems.

Karen drove me to Thompson Field in Portland in the rain where I huddled with canoeists, family and friends under the park shelter as the paddlers came in by ones and twos. If you have never been there, there are watchers down by the river and whenever a canoe or kayak comes into sight they blow a boat horn for each to alert the crowd. Then the paddlers come racing in on the current trying to do a neat left turn into the bank - not always successfully - with people waiting on the shore to help them pull the canoe or kayak out of the river. 


You never saw such a conglomeration of paddling costumes and rigs as those that land on that bank, and when they have been rained on on the way down river, even stranger. As each of the Intrepid 4 came ashore Karen or I showed them the Kruger Memorial brick that has been inscribed in honor of the Ultimate Hugh Heward Challenge 2009, Detroit to Chicago, with their names.

I also purchased a brick in honor of the historic journey of Brian Prodin and Neil Miller, who on April 17 took on the portage across the Lake Erie/Lake Michigan divide and the wade through the Portage Lake Swamp, duplicating what Hugh Heward and his crew did in 1790. You can read all the details on my blog - search on "big news" and that entry will pop up. Neil and Brian presented me with a marvelous notebook they made, with handcrafted maps of their journey step by step. I will spend many happy hours pouring over it.


Mark P., escorting Brian Weber from Wisconsin with daughter Marissa, age 12; and Tom Grow from Illinois with daughter Hannah, age 13, were the last paddlers to come in. There have been younger riders, on the HHC, but Hannah and Marissa are the youngest ever to paddle the 50 miler as far as anyone can recall.


The Intrepid 4 surprised me with a final ceremony once Mark P and his crew settled in. They had been collecting water from each of the waterways along the Hugh Heward trail (as Charlie calls it), and asked me to use it to christen the rock that will form the base for the Verlen Kruger statue when it is installed.


Karen posted a video of the impromptu ceremony on my blog.

Coach completed the 50-miler, then returned to Holland to finish the last leg of the UHHC. His pal Jim from Wisconsin is following along on land, catching some minor league baseball games on the way. Coach plans to phone in with updates daily and he posts to his own blog when he can find public Internet access.

Jon Holmes passed through Portland between 2 and 3 p.m. Saturday and continued on his way. It looks like he camped southeast of Lyons near the terminus of Pekins/Webber Road last night. From his SPOT tracker, it looks like he is just past Ionia State Park.

A successful 9th Annual Hugh Heward Challenge. The Intrepid Four will take off again Monday.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Hugh Heward Challenge - Christening the rock


Karen posting: Jim is writing up his adventures from the last couple days. In the meantime, witness the christening of the rock that will support the statue of Verlen Kruger in Portland at Thompson Field. The Intrepid Four collected water from each of the waterways they passed through on the Ultimate Hugh Heward Challenge thus far. 

Note the dog that wanders in to pose for the picture, then leaves. My guess is he assumed from the action that the rock was being used by a bigger dog and yielded the ground to him.

video

Coach completed the 50-miler, then returned to Holland to finish the last leg of the UHHC. His pal Jim from Wisconsin is following along on land, catching some minor league baseball games on the way. Coach plans to phone in with updates daily and he posts to his own blog when he can find public Internet access.

Jon Holmes passed through Portland between 2 and 3 p.m. Saturday and continued on his way. It looks like he camped southeast of Lyons near the terminus of Pekins/Webber Road last night. At this moment he is passing by Ionia. Follow Jon's progress on his SPOT tracker.

The Intrepid Four (I-4) have a day off and will resume their journey Monday. I caught up with Toby Nipper in the parking lot at Thompson Field yesterday and asked him if he was looking forward to a day off of paddling. "No," he said simply. "I love this stuff."

Follow the I-4 with Toby's SPOT tracker

Hugh Heward Challenge Day at Woodruff's Landing

Karen posting: Pat Harrington and Robin Barfoot organized a refreshment stand at the Woodruff Landing. Very popular with the non-racing canoeists. Paddle-cakes, strawberries, horseradish cheese and crackers, lemonade, and Coors beer. Check out all the photos on my Flickr page. Samples below:

UHHC challenger Mark Przedwojewski, Hannah (Morton IL) and Marissa (Lake Mills WI) arriving at the Woodruff Landing for refreshments


Charlie Parmelee, Jim's "Ulitimate" son, and Jessica, Jim's Granddaughter

Jessica totals up the visitors to the landing: 38!!!

Thunderstorm moved in after this...but it's clearing now. About 2 p.m.; the Topologist is napping in his recliner between his big morning and his big afternoon. 

Here's who stopped by (please report typos and errors):

Mark Shultz

Neil S

Tadd Boman Auburn IN

Larry Hoff “Coach” Superior WI – UHHC CHALLENGER

Dan Smith, Portland – UHHC CHALLENGER

Todd Cesar, Alma

Toby Nipper, Ft. Myers, FL – UHHC CHALLENGER

Roger Shaffer, Grand Ledge

Jon Young, Adrian

Regina Mingus, Adrian

Nancy Hamlin-Anderson, Dimondale

Charlie Parmelee, Leslie – UHHC CHALLENGER 2008 AND 2009

Jordan Ferrier, Allendale

Dennis Steward, Holland

Doug McDougal, Vermontville

Jim DeNike, Okemos

Bill DeNike, Dimondale

Karl Schmitz, Jenison

Chad Mitchem, Holland

Jason Fozel, Spring Lake

Cory Clausing, Grand Haven

James Urvis, Kalamazoo

Scott Dyk, Grand Haven

Matt Bennett, Jenison

Josh Lambert, Lowell

Tim Walcott, Grandvill

Mark Van Beek, Grand Haven

Tom Grow, Morton IL

Brian Weber, Lake Mills WI

Bill Westen, Lansing

Mark Przedwojewski, Irons – UHHC CHALLENGER

Marissa Weber (age 12), Lake Mills, WI

Hannah Grow (age 13), Morton, IL

Mike Sternberg, Grand Haven

Joe Puplis, Grand Rapids

David DeNike, Charlotte

Larry Helmes, Charlotte

Tony Kuhlman, Grand Ledge


Photos of UHHC


Mark, Jon, Charlie, Jim, Toby, and Dan
(Coach was already on his way back to Lake Michigan with his former student, who owns the restaurant "Spectators" in Saugatuck. We'll see him today in Portland!)

Karen posting: So much to tell about yesterday's lunch at the English Inn and Jon Holmes' visit to the Riverhouse river landing but today is the 50 mile challenge so I'm just posting this link to UHHC photos I've taken and posted on Flickr. A couple of samples below. Enjoy, see you in Portland!

In foreground: Jon (in plaid shirt) and Coach (blue baseball cap)
Sharing war stories


Brian Taylor (day one kayaker), Jim, Chuck Amboy
This picture must have been snapped BEFORE Chuck got the tab for lunch.


Friday, April 24, 2009

Heward's Journal - Paddle Days 15, 16, 17

Continuing with Heward's journal, to match the Intrepid Four:

PADDLE DAY 15 - THEY REACH THE GRAND
Thursday Apl 22d 1790.  A cold night & a Morning threaten'g Snow    we did not start early.   Doubled the point & opposite to the nore West found a Run came into that we were following which turned South & by Winding continued South & South West to mid Day with a Grassy Lake at each side   at which Time we entr'd more into the Woods   the Course West by Nore   a Strong Current & large Body of Water  (Grand River)   continued the same Rout nearly West by Nore and West    the Wood very thick & many trees cut across to traverse upon  (this is the only time Heward commented on downed trees or floodwood)  about 5 oClock came to two Cabins of Ottawas (maybe at US 27?)  who confirmed that we were on the Grand River   & at night met two Cannots mount'g to go to Detroit   the lands on this River seem Low & very thick Wood(s)   plum Trees Hickory  & Bois blanc (Tuliptree or Sycamore?) and on the higher lands Oak   a very steady but not rapid Current   Camped & at
Night (Berryville?) the Indians came & told us we would meet many Cannots coming for Detroit.

My Note: The "Cannots" that the Indians were using or building most probably were elm- bark canoes. There was no good supply of paper birch this far south.

PADDLE DAY 16 - AN ILL LOOKING BAND
Friday Apl 23d 1790. Wrote Mr Robertson by Indian going to Detroit in two Cannots   continued our Rout till about 10 oClock the course nearly West & then it turned all at once to North by East or nearly North   a fine Day & good Current   Met about 11 oClock with Indians spearing Sturgeon   an ill looking Band of about 12 who seem to be refugees from the Ottways & peutwatomas   strong fat Vagabonds   bought Sturgeon for tobacco & set off when a reinforcement was coming (I'm guessing this was about at Onondaga)   the River from here became large & fine with a strong Current and Stony Bottom   the Course West Nore West & continued 'till about 3 oClock when it increased in Water & run in large Turnings with Points & Marrey (?) & not so strong a Current   the course Nore West 'till about 6 oClock & then came to an opener Course nearly the same direction   passed a strong Rapid (Eaton Rapids) & Camped. Fine land & heavy Wood on both Sides.

Campsite: Could have been as soon as Petrieville but probably about at Burchfield County Park.

PADDLE DAY 17 - THE DAY THAT INSPIRED THE HUGH HEWARD CHALLENGE
Saturday Apl 24th 1790.  Refited our Cannots with Gum & set off   passed a rapid in about an hour (Dimondale)   after which high broken Land & some pine Trees   the Banks of Red Land   (remember, no dams so banks would have appeared higher wherever there  are backwaters today)  from thence came to a River from the East (Red Cedar)   & a little lower two Cabins of Indians from Sagana (North Lansing?)   they were providing Cannots for their Departure   the Course to this Time nearly Nore West by Nore   from thence high broken land & some pine & Cedar   about 11 oClock came to an Island in the Middle of the River & a long Rapid & afterwards another Island about Mid Day. (Delta Mills)   Dined.   the Course West Nore West & came to another Island    afterwards three Small Islands & some pine Trees on both sides of the River & high Rocks on the North (Grand Ledge)   & a Small Run of Water from the South (Sandstone Creek)   after which another small Island & a
long & pleasant Drift of an equal & strong Current   the Banks high but the Beach level & Gravelly Bottom    to another long but not very strong Rapid    & to another small Island   the Course West by North to again high Banks to the North    to another Island  (Deer hunter's island?)  from thence to another Island    from thence to four others altogether   following from here a High Sandy Bank with some pine Trees on the South Side    after which a Large Island and two small ones following    afterwards three Small Islands & two small Meadows to North   this last Course nearly West    heavy Wood on all Sides   Encamped opposite an Island.

Campsite: At the dead end of Erdman Road in Danby Township of Ionia County upstream of the mouth of Sebewa Creek.

This is the day's journey that inspired the Annual Hugh Heward Challenge.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Heward's Journal - Paddle Days 13 & 14

Continuing with the Heward Journal to match our Intrepid Four:

Paddle Day 13 - HEWARD SPENDS A WEEK GETTING READY TO START DOWNSTREAM
Wednesday Apl 14th 1790. A rainey Night & wet Morning made it late before we started   in about a mile & half farther up the Run came to the portage which points nearly South or South by West.

My Note: After inspecting the portage Heward decides to return to the Ypsilanti settlement to get more corn. He pays "the Savage" with a gun, a white shirt and a little powder and shot and they head off down an Indian trail which crosses the portage. The Engagee's are left to make the carry of their canoes and goods across the portage. Heward and the Indian guide follow what is now North Territorial Road and Island Lake Road to "the Forks"  where they "camped a Wet Night".

Thursday Apl 15th 1790. Rose early at Day break & set off.

My Note: They waded across Mill Creek "...the Water Mid Waist deep." and followed the trail along the river's right bank back to the Ypsilanti settlement and Indian village. There Heward engaged an Indian with two horses to go back with him the next day. He also thought he had arranged to buy corn, "grease" and sugar.from the settlers. The "grease" would be bear fat.

Friday Apl 16th 1790. Rose at Daybreak & with Mr Godfroy went to find the Indian that he might not drink, found that he had been drinking in the Night & seemed uncertain but still said he would go & sent to hunt his Horses.

My Note: Meanwhile Heward went to the settlers to get his corn and found them loading all their corn in a batteau to send it to Detroit. While arguing with the settlers the Indian showed up half drunk and announced that he loved his horses and that Heward's load would be too heavy for them. Thereupon Heward gave up for the day and the Indians went off to drink all night.

Saturday Apl 17th 1790. The Indians all drunk except the one I had engaged to go & he sleeping.

My Note: It started to rain hard. Heward considered giving up and heading back to Detroit if he couldn't get help. Finally the Indian agreed to go (without his horses and for higher pay) so about an hour before sunset they started up the trail carrying the corn, grease, sugar and a turkey on their backs.

Sunday Apl 18th 1790. A very cold night & I had no Blanket, the Corn being in it.   Traveled very hard this day & camped at Sun Set   another very cold night.  (Charlie will empathize).

Monday---Apl 19th 1790. Arrived at the portage about Mid day   paid the Indian 3 Callo Shirts & some Powder & Ball in full.   Went with Joe to measure the Portage beginning at eh South End with a line of 100 feet English.

My Note: The portage measured 14,100 feet ( 2.67 miles). They blazed several trees to mark the portage.

Heward goes on: I had ordered the Cannots to load & go as far as they were obliged to Walk & hawl them (across Portage Lake Swamp) & wait for us    instead of which they had gone past a point direct South & from thence the Course Westward to the Entrance of another small Lake    was very angry for their obliging me to walk (wade) so far in following.....Camped.

Campsite: Probably on high ground on Waterloo-Munith Road just south of bridge across Portage River.

Tuesday Apl 20th 1790. Snowed the whole Day & remained camped hulling Corn &C.  Unloaded the Cannots   at Night very stormy & a great fall of Snow.

Paddle Day 14 - HEADING FOR THE GRAND RIVER
Wednesday Apl 21 1790.   Snowed & rained all Night & to abo't Eleven oClock   & we loaded & set off.  Discovered that they had given on the Portage in my Absence about 4 lb powder & 2lb Tobacco. (to whom?)   Went down the channel a current serpentine bordered by a small Lake on each side (Little Portage Lake?)   Course to West & passed a Small Lake to South (Big Portage Lake?)   'til about 1 oClock & came to a bluf point at the entrance of Another lake   on the North point at this place there entered another Run from the North out of a Bay surrounded with Pine   & I went around to see its Course which came from the due North a passable current about 30 feet wide (Orchard Creek) & both entered into this next Lake   passed the lake with a Current near the Middle a Course West & entered another & steered a Course still West leaving large Bays to the South    at the west end of this lake found two Currents   one the Smallest running North West into a pine
 Bay   the other West by South & passing a high Ground of Oak to the South   passed in this last nearly West to the Entrance of another Lake   & it appearing to be a Stormy Night camped on a Small point to the South.

My Note: Heward here is describing the start of the downstream portion of their journey.  They are leaving the headwaters of the Portage River in the Portage Lake Swamp and going down the upper river, then through the two lakes that make up Little Portage Lake, then Big Portage Lake (now bypassed), then the loop to the north where Orchard Creek comes in, then all the lakes, channels and spreads lost to the channelization of the Portage.

I am quite confident that their campsite that night was a point of land which is now a knoll just southeast of where Hawkings Road crosses the Portage "ditch" on a bridge at the south edge of Section 5 of Leoni Township of Jackson County.

UHHC Progress Report - April 23, 12:37 p.m.

Charlie called about 8 AM The Intrepid 4 are on the Portage River. It is all downhill from now on. They will go winding thru Little Portage Lake and then bypass Big Portage Lake in a flooding, take a loop to the north where Orchard Creek joins the Portage, then into the channelized part of the Portage River which I call the Portage Ditch, without question the ugliest stretch in the entire Grand River system. It consists of mostly barren, straight channels in a sort of zigzag pattern all the way to the Grand just north of Jackson Prison. If you want to see the original channel the Township line between Henrietta and Leoni Townships of Jackson County follows it.
 
Back in the late teens and early 1920's flood control projects consisted mostly of channelization where a floating dredge would straighten the river out for many miles. The net result would be to send the flood waters faster down to the lower parts of the river which would of course make their floods worse.
 
The north trending reach of the Grand River from north of Jackson almost to where the Grand makes its big turn to the west was channelized in 1919. The remains of the original channel are obvious in oxbows on either side of the present river's straight line course.
 
The next problem the Challengers will face will be numerous log jams and deadfalls blocking the Grand. If the water is high enough they will be able to get around by paddling through the woods. That worked quite well for Charlie and Doug McDougall last year.
 
Jody Bennet raised the question as to what I mean when I say they "took to their wheels". They have folding bicycle-wheel rigs that they put under their canoes. When on the water the wheels are lashed to the top of the canoe behind the paddler. When they pull out they unfold the wheel rig and strap it to the underside of the canoe. Then they just grab a rope or handle at the bow and pull the canoe down the road like they were walking their dogs. They have lights and reflectors for safety during after-dark travel like last night.
 
The seven mile portage is on county roads. They pulled out at the Bowdish Road bridge over Portage Creek and zigzagged over to where Moeckle Road crosses the upper end of the Portage River.. It took until about 10:30 last night.
 
Larry "Coach" Hoff from Superior Wisconsin uses a trailer-like rig and a folding bicycle that all comes apart and is stored inside the hull behind the seat. I told him he looks like a traveling junkyard. He was in Grand Rapids last night and hopes to make Lake Michigan today. He plans to do the 50 miler Saturday.
 
Jon Holmes' Spotter makes it look like he is about at Eaton Rapids.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Heward's Journal - Paddle Days 11 & 12

Continuing with Heward's journals to match our Intrepid Four:

Paddle Day 11 - UP THE HURON AND HELL CREEK
Monday Apl 12 1790.  Went with the Indian from our Encampment down again to the Fork leading Nore West & arrived about Mid Day.   proceeded up the Branch which turns more North East about four leagues   the Current very strong & nearly as wide & deep as the other part of the River from Sanscraits Village (in other words, back on the mainstream)
& on a Gravelly Bottom to a Cabbin where it divides into two Lakes   the River at this place about 20 yds Wide & between 4 & 5 foot Water here    one of those Lakes points NoreEast (Base Line Lake) & the other nore West (Portage Lake)   the last we  passed to West nore West which after a Traverse of about a league brought us again into a small Serpentine River (Portage Creek) run'g from the same Direction about 6 Yds wide & about 3 1/2 foot Water to the banks but being overflowed we had 4 or 5 feet Water.
the lake unpassed is about a league each way & seemingly deep where we could see the Bottom it was fine Gravel & Sand (I don't understand that sentence)   as also the River to about 2 leagues up where we encamped late

Campsite:  From personal reconnaissance I believe their campsite was on a knoll on the left bank of Portage Creek where it is crossed by Tiplady Road about a mile and a quarter southeast of Hell. It's about the right distance up the creek and it just looks like a good campsite. Or as Charlie Parmelee would say,"...it says Camp Here..".

Paddle Day 12 - ALMOST TO THE PORTAGE
Tuesday Apl 13th 1790.   Set off then on our Rout West nore West & in about 1/2 a mile it turned nearly North & in a Stream Serpentine the Banks in about every mile varying West Nore west and to North for about 4 leagues (I believe he mixes leagues and miles rather loosely)   the stream here about 4 Yds wide & about 3 feet Water when in the banks   we arrived at another Lake about 1/'2 a mile long & 1/4 mile wide point'g Nore West & South East (No-name lake under Hyland Lake??)    pass'd by the Nore West point from this into Another Small Lake (Halfmoon Lake?) having a Small lake to the Left hand or West Side, (Blind Lake?)   the Lake of our Rout run'g North & South & our Course due North (Watson Lake?)   this Lake but Small abo't 250 Yds Wide   & our course then run'g in the Manner of a Small Lake Nore Nore West,   leaving a Round Lake of about 2 miles round to the North or Right hand (Patterson Lake?)   after the point of this Lake passed on the north
 side of another spreading Lake full of long Grass & Mush Rat houses at the Nore West end of which (Woodburn Lake?) the Serpentine Run took nearly South & doubled around a point with Trees & passed still in the Manner of a Small Lake to the South   from our first Lake today to here about  6 miles    from here about 3/4 of a Mile & the Course turns West Nore West   Continued nearly this Course with many Turnings but where the Stream would not be miss'd about 6 Miles to where the Run enter'd  into another Lake at West. (Williamsville Lake)  this lake runs South East & Nore West about 200 Yds Wide of our Course taking the Turn to the south east.   The Indian here informed me that the carrying place was direct pointing from the Mouth of this Run which is West by South.*   We continued this Course 'till within abo't a 1/4 Mile of a Bay at East (Ellsworth Lake) & then took a turn up the Run which pointed nore West   being late & likely for a bad Night we
 encamped.

*On a topographic map the direction from the outlet of Williamsville Lake to the head of the portage is exactly southwest.

My Note:The size and shape of lakes and waterways have changed since Heward's time. Water tables have been significantly lowered by deforestation and agricultural drainage.

Campsite: There is a point of high and dry land rising from the marshes through which Portage Creek flows about a quarter of a mile upstream from Ellsworth Lake. My guess is that is where they camped that night. It is about the center of Section 5 of Lyndon Township of Washtenaw County.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

UHHC Progress Report - A Night in Hell

Tuesday night:  Just got back from Hell. Just as I was walking up to the Damsite Inn Charlie and Toby came up out of the creek. What timing!
 
They are staying tonight in a chapel....that's right, a chapel in Hell.
 
Jon Holmes went thru a couple hours ahead of them but did not stop. Missed a good time. He got a break on Portage Creek because someone has been cutting out the snags. Check out this slide show of his passage through Hell: http://tinyurl.com/ccpq8g
 
A lot of paddlers and family joined the Intrepid 4 for good times and good stories and good beer and pizza. I popped as promised. We toasted Verlen and Hugh. Neil Miller was there to show how he and Brian Prodin crossed the portage and swamp last Friday. Bob Coller and Ron Sell and Patty Pape and Chuck Amboy and I don't remember who all. Apologies to those I didn't name. The old man is kinda worn out tonight. The press was represented by the owner/reporter from the Stockbridge Town Crier.
 
Larry Hoff - Coach - went back on the river beyond the Portland dam. He'll be back for the Hugh Heward 50 miler Saturday. I wasn't able to get out of him how much he paddled and how much he bicycled. He may not know since he was using a highway map for guidance. Karen heard from Coach this morning - he was near Ionia at about 9 a.m. today and headed for Grand Rapids. A former student who lives in the Holland area is driving him back to mid-Michigan for the Saturday 50 miler.
 
I tried to send this out last night but Yahoo/AT&T said I had exceed the maximum daily allowance of messages. I'm trying to figure out how to stick this in their corporate ear but Karen had warned me this might happen.
 
Some of you have heard me tell the story about when Verlen was bushwhacking up Hell Creek in June of 1990 that Grandson Adam, then 8, was throwing stones in the creek when Verlen exited from under the bridge and one of his stones landed in the canoe right between his legs. I told Adam, now a hot-shot engineer in Manhattan, that I had shared that story with some yesterday. His reaction: "Really? Pretty much the only thing I remember from that trip was when I asked you 'What's a bastard?' after you greeted Verlen." We  WW II vets were a pretty profane bunch.

UHHC Progress Report, April 20, 9:30 a.m.

Call from Charlie. He says the Intrepid 4 intends to make it to Hell today. I think they are being way too optimistic considering what they face in Hell Creek and the weather etc. I will keep you informed as I hear from Charlie and will be watching Toby's Spotter.
 
By the way, I owe an apology to the technical Gods for badmouthing the GPS gadgets. It's pretty slick to be able to follow the paddlers in real time.

We made a date for 5 PM at the Damsite Inn in Hell.

Heward's Journal - Paddle Days 8, 9 and 10

Continuing with Heward's journal, matching progress to our Intrepid Four:

Paddle Day 8
Friday Apl 2d 1790.  Could not get an Indian to pass the Portage but engaged one to meet us at the Fork of the River to conduct us   this Post seems to furnish good small peltrie. Sanscraint seems to have about 12 packs.  Wrote to Mr.Robertson & left with Sanscraint to be sent tomorrow.   Set off about 10 oClock   our Course up the River nearly West Nore West   the Current for about 2 Leagues exceeding Strong    the banks high but the land dry & barren abounding with Black Oak & Fern   our distance about 12 miles.

Campsite: Gallup Park at Ann Arbor?

Paddle Day 9
Saturday Apl 3rd 1790.  parted   the Weather fine  Current not so strong as Yesterday   the River much Streighter & the Course West Nore West   the banks still high but the Land still of a barren kind being a Stony thin Soil with principally Red Oak   to here there seems yet a Great Body of Water & a firm Gravelly Bottom too high yet for setting to advantage   thus far to mid Day the course West & by North   The River streighter & wider but from hence in the Summer there cannot be much Water   there is now a fine gravelly bottom   the Width of the River about 45 yds   a strong Current but able to traverse with poles any where,   our Distance about 25 miles & not yet come to the Forks.  Encamped

Campsite: West end of Barton Pond?

Sunday April 4th 1790. Obliged to remain all Day    a continual Rain. Went to look above but could not yet see the Forks  (that means he walked up the Indian trail that follows the river)    the Course at this place nearly West.

Paddle Day 10 - HUNTING FOR THE PORTAGE
Monday Apl 5th 1790.   Continued our Rout   the course nearly West & arrived at a Villiage age at Mid day ( Delhi Mills?)    The Water still strong & on a flat Gravelly Bottom   the Country nearly as before.   about 5 oClock arrived at the Forks which from the River on a West course divides one branch South West & the other North West   that of the South West being our Course (bad mistake!)  we proceeded about four miles up & encamped near where we were to make a Mark for our Indian. I went up as far as where the Squas from the River Huron had passed where the Mark was to be made but saw no Indian   (I have never been able to figure out this entry in his journal...what Squas? He never mentioned squaws before...neither had he said anything about a mark).   this Branch is a strong deep Current but narrow   the Course nearly South by West & the country barren as before.

Campsite: "About four miles up" Mill Creek would be about where Mill Creek crosses under I 94.

Morning Report from "The Cat Herder"

The Intrepid 4 spent last night cozy and warm at Ron Sell's place on the river north of Dexter.
 
Larry Hoff spent the night cozy and warm at the Best Western in Portland.

Jon Holmes' spotter showed him starting up Hell Creek from Little Portage Lake.. He doesn't report to me directly.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A great evening with Coach, part II

This is worth its own blog post. (Karen posting again.)

video

If you don't have speakers on your computer, or can't make out the words, Jim says, "It's April in Michigan, for chrissakes put your boots on!" (Coach wears only sandals.) Coach replies, "I'm from Superior, Wisconsin - it's mid-summer!"

The two got on like old friends, and all remarked on the similarity between Coach's build and Verlen Kruger's.

A great evening with Coach (Larry Hoff)

This is Jim's daughter Karen, posting an update at his request.

Last night I used the "contact us" email on Larry Hoff's website to try and determine his whereabouts. I got an email back saying that Larry was hoping to make Dimondale by Monday night and would be looking for a ride to Portland. (Read his account of his first three days voyage at http://lhoff.blogspot.com)

Well, my brother works near Dimondale, and I was only too happy to volunteer him to do the honors. And of course, I would bring The Topologist along so he could have the chance to meet "Coach," as Larry is known on the trail/river. As things worked out, Nancy Hamlin-Anderson was visiting Dad and joined us.


What a great evening we all had. We met Coach just past the Bridge St. bridge in Dimondale, and offered him a warm car to wait in while my brother drove from work to the firehouse parking lot next to the river. Once Jim was there, with Coach setting the pace, we had the Sea Wind loaded in no time flat and were on the road to Portland.

We made one brief stop at "the River House," Jim's house on the Grand River, to tighten the lashings. Jim showed Coach the spot across the river from his yard where Verlen Kruger is buried.

From the River House we took the back roads to Portland, got Coach checked into the local Best Western, and had dinner at Jerry's, a local watering hole. Dinner was a treasure-trove of stories from one end to the other - and we introduced Coach to a famous Michigan summer beer called Oberon.

It was one of those rare evenings - surprising and spontaneous and yet so completely meant-to-be.

L to R: Karen Stock (Jim's daughter), Coach, Jim Woodruff (The Topologist), Nancy Hamlin-Anderson, and Jim Woodruff (the son).

The Intrepid Four are spending a warm dry night as well, at the home of Ron Sell, owner of Unadilla Boatworks in Gregory Michigan. We haven't heard from Jon Holmes today, but his GPS tracker shows him west of Portage Lake.

Another damp cold day tomorrow - hope the paddlers get a weather-break soon!

(Karen Stock for)
Jim Woodruff
thetopologist
On the Grand River
in Delta Township

Contact with Larry Hoff

Daughter Karen made contact with Larry Hoff, the adventurer from Superior Wisconsin, via his website "contact us" function. He called her in response this morning from the river near Onondaga, on his way to Dimondale.

Our plan is to meet him at Dimondale and drive him and his canoe to Portland. He will backtrack to do the Dimondale - Portland portion of the trip along with the Hugh Heward 50 mile challengers on Saturday.

Larry's website is www.lhoff.com Larry has updated his blog with an account of his first three days on the Hugh Heward: http://www.lhoff.blogspot.com

UHHC Progress Report - April 20, 10:02 a.m.

Call from Charlie. The Intrepid 4 are at Gallup Park in Ann Arbor. They will probably have to switch to wheels until they get above Argo dam. I offered to recruit some coeds to help them pull the canoes. They declined with a laugh. Talked to Toby Nipper for the first time. He's also hard of hearing so we were both sort of shouting.

At 9:00 a.m. Monday:

Jon Holmes' GPS tracker shows him about halfway between Ann  Arbor and Dexter http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=0fzdvVnz24uoyelpa2IZQLuaipuVgi06q

Toby Nipper's tracker shows the Intrepid Four just east of U.S. 23 http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=0FnBzjtkgOZZ9NETfErU5UVRVrQN6xhRq

Mark's report 7:12am from the Kruger Canoe blog http://krugercanoes.blogspot.com
Pouring rain and fast moving water seems to be the theme of the UHH challenge thus far. The Intrepid 4 are planning on making Dexter, 17 river miles away.

Lots of downed trees, snags. log jams and other nastys; They saw another canoe wrapped all bent and tattered in a log jam yesterday.

They are a head of schedule despite the conditions. I personally call that good planning.

It appears that the section around Ann Arbor 
 ("Treetown" as us locals like to call it) is running extremely fast. This supports Larry's decision to portage this section by bike.

Dan Smith made some calls and it looks like they have found a guide that knows this area and is willing to share his knowledge and get them through this section safely. Now when Dan and Mark, Toby and Charlie get a guide, you know this is tough going.

They are on the move and back in the water.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

BIG NEWS - but first, how it all began

In the summer of 1986, after I had retired from the state of Michigan, my family and I were visiting Lansing's "Riverfest." I was attracted to an exhibit by an organization called "Project Lakewell," a group of Voyageur re-enactors complete with costumes and a 36' imitation birchbark canoe made of fiberglass. Having a long-time interest in canoes and Michigan history, it looked like a perfect fit, so I gave them my $15 and became an instant member.

Sometime later I received an invitation to a meeting at the home of the man who portrayed Father Marquette to consider Project Lakewell's involvement in the planning of Grand River Expedition '90. GRE 90 was to be a canoe expedition going down the length of the Grand River to bring attention to the recreational potential of the river and its environmental attractions and problems. The leaders were the famous long-distance canoeists Verlen and Valerie Kruger. Valerie was the planning chairman and ramrod and Verlen was to be the Rivermaster. 

It turned out that as a result of my topographic engineering experience with the Army and the state and my extensive collection of topographic maps that I knew more about the Upper Grand River and its headwaters than any one else in the organization. Thus I became the guru of everything pertaining to the Grand River upstream of Lansing

At Liberty Mills, in Jackson County, the site of the first dam on the river, I discovered the Liberty Mills General Store, whose proprietors owned the dam and generating plant and knew everybody in Liberty Township and the headwater environs.

I got to know Verlen and Valerie quite well and they entrusted me with the job of getting historical markers for the Grand and to M.C. the opening ceremonies when the time came for the expedition to start down the river. So with the help of the people at the general store, a large boulder was moved from Bunday Hill - the highest place in the Grand River watershed - to a location adjacent to the dam. Thanks to a lady from Mt. Hope Monument Company who participated in GRE 90, we got the boulder engraved with a message-in-stone about the headwaters.

Also with financial assistance from the Lansing City Council, I arranged for the erection of a State of Michigan historical marker on the Riverwalk in Lansing. The marker told the history of the Grand on one side and the Hugh Heward story on the other.

During the planning for GRE 90 I ran across an article in the Lansing State Journal by Birt Darling about Hugh Heward and his encounter with Indians on the Grand. I went to the library and got the book Birt referenced and became fascinated with Heward's story of his trip from Detroit to the Mississippi by crossing Lower Michigan by canoe. I spent a lot of time working out the route that Heward would have taken. To prove my theories, in June of 1990, Verlen Kruger and Brian Ewert from Ann Arbor put their canoes in the Huron River and worked their way up Portage Creek to Hell. Verlen carried his canoe by the Hell store so I could get a picture of him by the sign - my grandson Adam was with me.

The next week Verlen continued bushwhacking up the creek alone. I remember him coming back down the creek at one bridge where I was waiting, and telling me that he found what looked like a portage head - right where I thought it ought to be. Now if there is anyone who would have known what a portage head looked like, it was Verlen.

We put his canoe on top of my Chevrolet and crossed the height-of-land and the big Portage Lake Swamp and put in in the headwaters of the Portage River.  From there, he paddled down the Portage and into the Grand. I met him at the Maple Grove canoe launch and he reported that it was very difficult to tell when he entered the Grand River, because at that point it is one big swamp. (Heward reported the same thing in 1790 - he didn't know he was in the Grand until he ran into some Indians.)

So for 19 years I've wanted somebody to fill the gap Verlen left between Portage Creek (in the Lake Erie watershed) and the tributary of the Grand. Saturday morning, April 18, 2009, I heard from Neil Miller and Brian Prodin that the waiting is over.

On Friday, April 17, Neil and Brian took on the portage across the Lake Erie/Lake Michigan divide and the wade through the Portage Lake Swamp, duplicating what Hugh Heward and his crew did in 1790. They did this even as the Ultimate Hugh Heward Challengers were launching from Detroit as Hugh did.

This is a very big deal, folks. Historic you might say. The preparations for this effort have been going on below the radar, so to speak. I am so pleased that it has been safely completed. These guys risked their butts in this effort, as did Charlie Parmelee and Doug McDougall last year.

Here is the report I received from Neil that morning, followed by my response:

"Hi Jim,  We completed the Heward Portage in 11 hours from a point 200 meters upstream of McIntyre Lake on Portage Creek to the Munith Road Bridge.  We came ashore about a hundred meters below our intended landing spot on the "island" marked 940 (the north marsh, north of Tophith Road) and had to do 2 hours of serious, arduous bushwhacking.  We had to scout a route through using a Gerber Brush Thinner and surveyor tape and then come back and carry the gear.  We hadn't anticipated such difficulty on that island and even though we had GPS waypoints to go to we had to bushwhack through very gnarly growth.  We used that Gerber tool two more times cutting a path through the Tag Alders to get into clear swamp.

We had planned on two days (and maybe even a third) to make the crossing but we had to force it because we ran out of water. We carried two 50 ounce Nalgene water bottles and we stashed another 80 ounces south of Tophith Road but by 2:00 p.m. we were out.  We just didn't want to pump water out of the marsh so I didn't bring my PUR Hiker.

I will send you a trip summary later today or tomorrow and a complete highly detailed report in the near future, as promised.

We put in at Munith Road then paddled down to Moeckel Road for our pick-up.

Oh, and we managed to get across most private land without incident except on the Schumacher Road Peninsula where the landowner chased us off his property."

Neil Miller


"Neil and Brian,

Congratulations! I'm really proud of you guys and proud of myself for instigating such an effort. Verlen would be proud too. I'll beam a message across the river to him that his 1990 gap has been bridged. You know I can see his grave site from my landing?

Looking forward to the reports and I invite you guys to join in the Hugh Heward Challenge 50 miler from Dimondale to Portland on April 25 or just come to Thompson Field in Portland that Saturday afternoon to be recognized. I am going to buy you an engraved brick for the Verlen Kruger Memorial plaza.

The Ultimate Hugh Heward Challengers left Belle Isle at 9 AM yesterday morning and made it into the Huron River and camped near Rockwood last night. They are on their way upstream this morning.

My cup runneth over and a curse on the Schumacher Road landowner."

Jim Woodruff

thetopologist

On the Grand River

in Delta Township