Continuing from Charlie's Final Report:
Saturday April 26
The 8th Annual HUGH HEWARD CHALLENGE
A cool morning start. I didn't get on the water until 7:30.....I think I was the last one on the water. Water levels and current were good and making good time. I caught up with some of the paddlers. At the North Lansing Dam or fish ladder I caught up with Rich and Emma Bailey and we paddled along together until I got to Jim Woodruff's place and pulled off for a short visit. Back on the water I was in the rear again. I paddled downstream and waved at Jenny Kruger and her sister as I paddled by. Paddling thru the fast water at Delta Mills and on to Grand Ledge stopping to help a few paddlers take out at the ball field in town I saw what time it was and picked it up a little....the headwinds were tough that day but not as bad as paddling upstream on the Huron or maybe I was just in better shape now. If we had not had the headwinds I think people would have got to Portland in record time this year. It was a tough paddle but that is what makes it a challenge. In Portland Jim Woodruff and family gave me a brick for the Kruger Memorial Walkway for the Ultimate Hugh Heward Challenge..........Thank you Jim and family and all who stayed to be a part of it. It was as Verlen would have said "High Wine" for me.....Thanks again everyone.
Tuesday April 29
Launched at Thompson Field at 10:30 with Dan Smith and Jim Kinney and paddled thru Portland. Dan pointed out the new Veterans Memorial near where the looking Glass River enters the Grand. We paddled to the Portland Dam and portaged on the left. We paddled to Webber Dam and portaged on the left. Dan told me that the Webber Dam is the largest dam on the Grand River and after seeing dams on the Huron and the Grand I believe it is the largest of all the dams on these two rivers. We paddled downstream to the Wagar dam and looked at the chute we would have to run. We decided to portage around it.
My Note: In the summer of 1990 during Grand River Expedition '90 everyone ran the Wagar chute with Verlen Kruger as sort of a traffic cop. He had arranged with the Webber Dam folks for optimum water flow and he stood by the side of the chute and signaled each canoe through, including the big fake voyageur canoe. A digression: When the Gabagouche went through Lansing with every one in costume a reporter remarked in the Lansing State Journal about the women in low-cut blouses. This upset Valerie Kruger no end (she was the ramrod of that expedition) but I don't think it upset the young women in costume too much. Smart males kept their mouths shut.
Paddling to the Lyons Dam there Steve Miller was on the side of the river taking pictures. We had left our camping gear with Steve in Portland and he shuttled it ahead to Lyons for us. We portaged around the Lyons dam, loaded up the camping gear and after a few pictures we paddled on. Thanks for the help Steve.....it was nice to meet you. We paddled along at a steady pace talking and joking about this or that just enjoying the day and saw an eagle and osprey and pulled off the river to camp a mile or so upstream of Ionia. We had a nice camp fire and dinner of baked potatoes and venison brats with all the fixings...Dan and Jim are experienced paddlers and campers and know their way around a campfire kitchen. I like their York pack set ups and will own one myself when I find one.
My Note: Dan says it is a plastic box 14"x20"x12" that slides under the back deck. He keeps his stove, pots and pans and food in it.
Every time I go out with other people canoe camping I learn something new and watching these two guys I learned plenty.