Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Charlie's 2008 Odyssey XIV


Charlie's Final Report:
 
Hi Jim. Now for the rest of the story.
 
On Monday April 21 at 11:00AM Doug McDougall and I started out from Bruin Lake paddling thru Watson, Patterson and Woodburn Lakes. We then started up the Portage Creek. It was marshy very much the same as the Portage or Hell Creek outlet. It was clear sailing except for a few log jams and low bridges to Unadilla.
 
After ice cream and a short break at the Unadilla store we continued upstream. The creek was full with a good current to paddle up and of course the log jams and low bridges and a couple of shallow fast places and an old dam in Williamsville made things interesting. We paddled south on Williamsville Lake and into Ellsworth Lake crossing under Bowdish Road. Then paddling out the northwest corner of Ellsworth Lake we paddled up the creek to some small culverts where we portaged up and over. We continued up the creek to Bowdish Road and because it was getting dark we decided to start our portage on wheels there. 
 
My Note: In 1990 Verlen arrived at this spot and continued up the creek through McIntyre Lake. Then he came back down and informed me that a little beyond the lake on the left bank was what looked to him like a portage head. Who else in the whole world was more qualified than Verlen to identify a portage? His portage on wheels was on top of my 1986 Chevrolet Caprice Brougham. I took him over to Moeckle Road where he put back in and paddled down the Portage River to the Grand, pulling out at the Maple Grove Road DNR site.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Charlie's 2008 Odyssey XIII


The Grand is growing - Part 3
 
May 1 message from Dan Smith's wife Roxanne: 
Hi Jim, just got a call from Dan, the trip is going well and they are about an hour from going through Grand Rapids. Dan admitted it was a little brisk getting up yesterday morning with the frost we had gotten, but other than that the Three Musketeers are enjoying the trip and are starting to pick up the pace.
 
The full-grown Grand is an impressive river where it flows over the the Sixth Street Dam and the remnants of the rapids at Grand Rapids.
 
Another May 1 message:
They are past the Sixth street dam. Portaged on the left bank. They are through the rapids. Sounds like Charlie might have gotten splashed on the way through. Plenty of water. 
 
 The Grand doesn't get much bigger beyond the rapids but it adds the waters from several streams such as Plaster, Rush, Buck, Sand, Ottawa, Deer, Crockery and Black Creeks and Bass River. It slows down and spreads out into bayous before it gets to the Big Lake. It would have a delta except for the damming effect of the sand dunes along the shoreline.
 
May 2 message:
9:00 AM: Call from Charlie from an Ottawa County campground. Of all things, Jim Kinney has a TV in camp! Anyway, they learned from watching the news that there was an oil spill on the Grand downstream of them which may prevent them from reaching the lake. I'll let you all know when I know.
 
Another May 2 message:
1:30 PM: Charlie and his paddling buddies are sitting in a tavern in Spring Lake waiting out the line of thunderstorms that is coming through. No sign of the oil spill.
 
Final message. May 3:
Charlie, Dan and Jim pulled out short of Lake Michigan because of the oil spill. They are back home now.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Charlie's 2008 Odyssey - Time out

Elaine, my lovely wife of 58 years, passed away peacefully last Tuesday. Yesterday we laid her to rest on top of a knoll in Lansing's big, old, beautiful Evergreen Cemetery.
 
Tomorrow we will resume Charlie's odyssey.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Charlie's 2008 Odyssey XII


The Grand is growing-Part 2
 
The Flat River flows into the Grand from the North at Lowell. Its headwaters are in Montcalm and Mecosta Counties, farther north than any other tributary. Hundreds of thousands of pine logs were floated down the Flat during the lumbering era. Two quaint covered bridges still span the river, Fallasburg Bridge and White Bridge. On its way south the river passes through Greenville and Belding.
 
The headwaters of the Thornapple River, which flows into the  Grand at Ada, are in Eaton County just a few miles from Lansing in what used to be an impenetrable wilderness called Old Maid's Swamp, now the location of large sod farms and General Motors' Delta Township Car Assembly Plant. There was an Indian canoe portage across a prairie where Charlotte is now located. It connected a tributary of the Thornapplewith Battle Creek River, a tributary of the Kalamazoo.
 
At approximately 100 miles, the Thornapple is the Grand's longest tributary. It passes through Nashville, Hastings and Middleville on its way to Ada, where there is another covered bridge. The Thornapple is the only major tributary to enter into the Grand through its left bank, in this case from the south. All the others enter from the east or north via its right bank.
 
My message of May 1: The trio camped just upstream of where the Rogue River enters the Grand north of Grand Rapids.They will be heading south into the Big City to face what's left of the rapids. It's a long way from Hell.
 
The Rogue River enters the Grand near Belmont at the top of the great loop that goes north and then south to Grand Rapids. I have never been able to figure out why the river takes that detour. I would have thought that the Glacial Grand meltwater torrent would have been powerful enough to cut right through from Ada to Grandville.
 
The Rogue begins up near the Newago-Kent County line and wanders southward through Rockford, the location of the only dam. Like the Flat, it floated logs during the lumbering era. Th Rogue (pronounced "rog") was originally named Rouge (pronounced "roozh") like  River Rouge in the Detroit area but it became Rogue as the result of a spelling error by a Wisconsin mapmaker. 

Monday, March 23, 2009

Charlie's 2008 Odyssey XI


The Grand is growing:

As the trio paddles downstream on the Grand it grows in volume from the input of its major tributaries. The first is the Looking Glass River which enters the Grand just downstream of where they launched in Portland. Its headwaters are in a marsh just a few yards from the Shiawassee River, a tributary of the Saginaw River whose waters flow to Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron. In its upper reaches the Looking Glass is an important Sandhill Crane breeding ground.

The next is the Maple River, a placid stream occupying the channel of what was once a Niagara-sized meltwater torrent. Its headwaters are also near the Shiawassee River. There was an ancient portage between the Maple and tributaries of the Saginaw.

Some 10,000 years ago a mile thick lobe of the Continental glacier occupied the Lake Huron Basin blocking the drainage to the Atlantic, forcing all the meltwater to flow to Lake Michigan and the Mississippi. The Maple and the Lower Grand are the remnants of that once-mighty glacial drain.

The Upper Grand as we know it today did not even exist in those times. It is a geologically youthful stream which cut its sinuous path across the moraines and drift left when the glacier retreated.

My message of April 30: Charlie, Dan and Jim camped at Ionia last night and are on their way toward Lowell, Ada and Grand Rapids.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Charlie's 2008 Odyssey X

From UHHC Charlie Parmelee
After the Hugh Heward Challenge, Charlie is ready to go the rest of the way to Lake Michigan. Here is his message of April 28:
 
Hi Jim.....Dan Smith and Jim Kinney will be paddling along with us for the last days of the Ultimate Hugh Heward Challenge.....Launch time set for around 9:30-10:00 Tuesday April 29....It will be sad to see the end but we can say that it can still be done....and that it was.....218 years later....and with the world's best expedition canoe.....It was done....I have to tell you I was more than impressed with the Kruger Sea Wind and I am proud to be the owner of one.
 
I learned a lot about upstream paddling.....and with a fast current to paddle against you have a lot of time to think about it....your learn what back eddies are and where slower current might be.....places to rest before you charge up thru the next fast water.....ferrying back and forth several times to find the slower current or just to gain a few feet at a time.....to paddle up thru an area where there are no back eddies or slow current.....the closer I got to Portage Lake the faster and harder it got....and without a rudder to steer with it would have been a lot harder....
 
Having my paddling pal Doug McDougall along made the Portage Creek from Bruin Lake to Bowdish Road and portaging with wheels the 4 miles to the north end of Portage Lake Swamp at 9:00 at night much easier....pulling over....pushing thru....dragging over and wading was much easier having someone on the other side of the log jam to help pull the boats thru....let me put it this way....you really had to want to get up that river.....and with Doug along we even had a few laughs as well.....having him there to help make the decision on the Portage Lake Swamp was a relief and we were both equally disappointed to tell Jim that it was not the safe thing to do.
 
After we began our portage on wheels around the Portage Lake Swamp we were told by a local dairy farmer that it was a wise choice we made....more about that later....I want to get all the story pieces in order....
 
I will finish the trip report for you when I get home.  There are a lot of things that happened along the way.....some funny....some disappointing moments but if you put them all together a very wonderful and satisfying experience.....It has been an Honor for me to do this for you and with you Jim and I am glad to have had the chance to get to know you better. So what do you have in mind to do next?......
 
My Note: That challenge started the ball rolling for this year's bigger challenge, all the way from Detroit to Chicago.......

Friday, March 20, 2009

Charlie's 2008 Odyssey IX - Hugh Heward Challenge




Saturday April 26:
 
Charlie paddled in the 2008 Hugh Heward Challenge today. Put in at Dimondale and pulled out at Thompson Field at Portland at the canoe launch where Verlen's statue will be. We had about 80 canoeists and kayakers participating.
 

As part of the hoopla at Thompson Field I presented Charlie with a large Verlen Kruger Memorial brick that was inscribed : ULTIMATE HUGH HEWARD CHALLENGE   1790-2008  CHARLIE PARMELEE.
 



Son Jim and Granddaughter Jessica did a "Quarter Hugh" that day (Charlotte Road bridge to Portland). They are planning on doing a "Half Hugh" this year.
 
In 1990 as part of Grand River Expedition '90 my late paddling buddy George Voorhis and I did a "Half Hugh," but that was more than a decade before the Hugh Heward Challenge so we didn't know to call it that. We put in at Grand Ledge below the dam with the same 17' Grumman Eagle that Jim and Jessica used and camped that night in the Portland State Game Area maybe a mile or so beyond where Hugh's party camped.
 
The next day we passed through Portland. George and I were not the most skilled canoe team on the Expedition. The "sweep" canoe spent a fair amount of time shooing us along.
 
In the various backwaters we did a lot of zigging and zagging resulting from George's random switching of sides with his paddle and my not-so-alert responses to his switches. We did a little bank-to-bank wandering in the regular river stretches too. We got better as we went along.
 
The river was low and George was broad. I was always in the stern. Our deal was that when we were about to hit a boulder or ground on shallows George would point to the obstacle so that I could steer us around it. The trouble was that George was so broad that often I couldn't see where he was pointing and we would ground despite his semi-frantic directions. We aluminum-plated a lot of rocks on that trip. Sometimes we would completely hang up and have to get out of the canoe into the river to break it loose (aluminum canoes are very "sticky").  Royalex or Kevlar canoes would slide right over what would hang us up.
 
I had a neat University of Michigan "M" decal on the side of the canoe by my seat in honor of my childrens' attendance at that august institution. When rabid MSU Alumni George saw that he went out to East Lansing and bought a vulgarly large "S" decal and stuck to the side of the canoe by the bow seat (both decals are still in place).

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Charlie's 2008 Odyssey VIII

My message of April 22nd:
 
9:15 AM Tuesday. Charlie is finished with the upstream part of his cross-Peninsula paddle!  He and Doug have pulled out of Portage Creek and mounted their canoes on wheels in preparation for crossing the portage. They have 3 or 4 miles of walking to do before they have to start wading in the marsh.  Once they get to the marsh (Portage Lake Swamp, part of the Waterloo State Recreation Area) they are in the Grand River Watershed.  The marsh is the headwater of the Portage River which joins the Grand not far north of Jackson Prison.
 
Second message, same day:
 
Noon Tuesday. A call from Charlie. They walked across the portage and attempted to wade the marsh but it has proved too dangerous.  They are pulling out and will go around by road until they find floatable water. He was quite disappointed but I told him I would give him full credit for the marsh since he walked across it on the ice last winter.
 
My message of April 23rd:
 
9:30 AM Wednesday. Charlie and Doug just put their canoes in the Portage River at Moeckel Road. They expect to make the Grand today.
 
Another message on Wednesday::
 
4:15 PM Wednesday.  Charlie called. They were at the confluence of the Portage and the Grand turning north to head down the Grand. They will probably pull out at US127. Charlie needs a bath. You will remember that Charlie started upstream on the Huron in the snow on March 28, the same day Hugh did in 1790. He entered the Grand one day later than Hugh. The weather is better.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Charlie's 2008 Odyssey VII


My message of April 27th:

Here is a great article by John Schneider in the Lansing State Journal April 25:
 
Jim Woodruff isn't working the paddle, but he's the guy who, as he puts it; "dreamed the whole thing up." And where would we be without dreamers? Up the creek without a paddle. Woodruff, 86, lives on the Grand River in Delta township. He's a retired engineer who describes his hobby as "canoe-related Michigan history." He once read about a British trader named Hugh Heward who traveled by canoe across Michigan's Lower Peninsula. That was in April 1790. Woodruff began wondering if such a trip was still feasible. He spent years researching the question--in the library and out in the field. He put hundreds of miles on his car checking out the route, and concluded the journey might be possible. At this very moment Charlie Parmelee, a General Motors retiree and long distance canoeist from Leslie, is putting Woodruff's theory--and himself--to the test.

BOUND FOR HELL. On March 28 in the snow, Parmelee put his canoe into the Huron River near Flat Rock and began paddling upstream. He passed through Belleville, Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor and Dexter. He then continued up Portage Creek, a Huron tributary, all the way to Hell. Southeast of Stockbridge, Parmelee crossed the divide between the Lake Michigan and Lake Erie watersheds. Following a major portage, which included dragging his canoe on training wheels two miles down a highway, he put in at the headwaters of the Portage River, a tributary of the Grand. On Saturday other canoeists and kayakers will join Parmelee for the annual 50-mile dash to Portland known as the "Hugh Heward Challenge". Parmelee is expected to arrive in Grand haven in the middle of next week.  The point of Parmelee's month long odyssey? "To reenact history", Woodruff said. "And to prove that a guy like Charlie can still do it." 
 
The headline was: RETIREE'S JOURNEY TAKING HIM ACROSS MICHIGAN BY CANOE.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Charlie's 2008 Odyssey VI


Does Portage Creek deserve to be called a River? (On some old maps it is called Portage River which is confusing since that makes for two Portage Rivers, one in each watershed).
 
Hugh's Journal April 12 1790 (my "translation"): "We passed the last lake ( Portage Lake) to the west-northwest which, after a traverse of about a league, brought us into a small serpentine river...About 2 leagues up the river we encamped late."
 
William Atherton was a soldier in the Kentucky Militia who survived the River Raisin Massacre in January of 1813 and was adopted by a band of Indians and taken to their wintering place somewhere in the Grand River valley.  In the spring they constructed canoes (probably of elm bark) to return to Detroit. When they reached the south end of the 
portage which Heward and his crew had crossed 23 years earlier Atherton said "...we took up our canoes and carried them three or four miles...the ridge over which we carried our canoes divides the waters between Lake Michigan and Lake Erie. After entering this stream we advanced finely, finding fish in great abundance...This was one of the most beautiful little rivers I ever beheld---"
 
Charlie's report of April 17 said "I would call it more of a small river than a creek".
 
My suggestion: Rename the channelized Portage River in Jackson County Portage Ditch and let Portage Creek become Portage River or at least Little Portage River.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Charlie's 2008 Odyssey V - Day in Hell (Michigan)



Charlie's Email of April 17th:
 
I made it to Hell about 7:30 PM yesterday.  A lot of trees and man-made obstacles with low foot and road bridges (Portage Creek). I had to line around, wade, drag, push, pull, shove, pole, paddle and portage around 40-50 different places counting the ones I just crashed through.  I stopped counting at 40 and there were more after that. If the water had not been so high as it was there would have been more. It got better the further upstream I went.

There was a covered bridge across the creek a mile or so downstream of Hell. 
The creek (I would call it more of a small river than creek) is clear with a sand and gravel bottom with a fast current getting faster the closer you get to Hell. The valley the creek flows thru has few houses with marshy areas and high banks and hills. Its a beautiful little stream and very scenic in places. There were places that said "Camp here!" I believe this creek has changed the least of any part of the trip so far since Hugh Heward passed through 218 years ago.

I saw a few goose nests with eggs; deer, turkey, and one possum that was crossing over the road the same place I was portaging around a double tile (more like a chute) that was plugged with wood on one side and the other with the current so fast I didn't try lining through it.
 
My message of April 19th:

Met Charlie today at the Dam Site Inn in Hell. Joined by sundry canoeists, family, creekside land owners and the News Editor of the Stockbridge Town Crier. Charlie is going to get some ink. As promised, I popped for pizza and libations. We toasted Verlen and Charlie. Verlen passed through here 18 years ago. Charlie and Doug McDougall head for the portage Monday morning.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Charlie's 2008 Odyssey IV


video
Charlie's message of April 14:
 
The Huron from Argo Pond to Dexter is another story. Paddling up to my first camp site was mostly backwater except where you get up closer to Barton Dam. Barton Dam was an easy portage. A lot of people out and about now along the river walking with dogs. I saw 8 yellow labs, 1 brown, 1 black, 1 labrodoodle, and 2 beagles while portaging around the dam. You know I have a yellow lab named Bailey who I think is the greatest dog you could ever have.

I camped on a point of land upstream from Barton Dam another mile or so that is cut off by the railroad tracks. The property is owned by a friend of Ron Sell's. Ron to the rescue. I camped next night right next to a deer trail and one came walking by just after I went to bed. It was another cold night but slept warm with my new zero degree bag. I have found most sleeping bags are over rated on temperature. Always go colder than you need.

The next day I started upstream and paddled out of the pond and into the current. From 8:00 AM to around 6:00 PM I paddled hard and steady all day, portaging, lining through rapids and wading and pulling the canoe upstream in places where I could not paddle up and made it to Delhi Mills Metropark just below Dexter. It took me 10 hours of hard paddling to make about 6 miles. The hardest day so far. Ron picked me up and I spent the night at Kay and Ron's place. They have a beautiful home on the Huron a mile north of Dexter. I slept out on their new screened porch. It was the Marriot for me after sleeping in the canoe and with such kind hospitality, a hot shower and breakfast. I did not want to leave.
The next morning after breakfast Ron shuttled me upstream. After looking at the current in a few places and only having a mile of good paddling I decided just to put in at Portage Lake. I would have had to portage or put the canoe on wheels to make it up most of the rest of the Huron anyway. I plan to go back and paddle the places I missed when the water goes down. The river still is higher than it has been in years.

So I have told you about the trip so far. The Huron was a tough paddle and a lot of work but a beautiful river all the same. I would like to paddle it again sometime but I think I will go downstream next time.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Privia Trivia Redux

Today's earlier blog entry reminded me of the popularity of my earlier series on family privy trivia.  For your entertainment and edification, daughter (and blog collaborator) Karen has placed a convenient link to my Privy Trivia stories in the blog topic list at right.

You may also enjoy reading the classic privy tale, The Specialist by Charles (Chic) Sale, which I excerpted in a couple of my privy trivia posts.

Quiet Water Symposium - Memory Jogger

Pardon this digression. I will get back to Charlie's Odyssey tomorrow.
 
At the recent Quiet Water Symposium the Girl Scouts had a booth selling cookies and there was a cute little Girl Scout walking around holding up a sign that said "It's Girl Scout Cookie Time". That and being visited at my display by Pat Harrington, who is helping with arrangements for the upcoming Hugh Heward Challenge, brought back some memories I want to share.
 
Pat's late father Ed, was a good friend and fellow bureaucrat when I was with the State. 
 
Some 50 years ago, when my daughter Karen (the Guru of my blog) was a Girl Scout, I became Chairman of the Sites and Facilities Committee of the Capitol Area Girl Scout Council. That meant I was sort of in charge of all the Council's camps including Camp Deer Trails up by Harrison. Ed served on my committee and acted as my adviser on Council politics (Ed's wife, Pat's mother Mary, had some staff position, I don't remember what).
 
When I took over I inspected all the camps (maybe partially on State time while I was running around Central Michigan gas fields?)  Any way, I found Camp Deer Trails to be in pretty sad shape (I was an officer in the Army Engineers in World War II thus had pretty high standards). The latrines (privies) were decrepit, the water supply was a few old hand pumps in the camping area and what in the Army we called the Mess Hall was a mess.
 
Back at Council Headquarters I learned that they had about $80,000 of cookie profits setting in the bank.
 
To make a long story short, when I left the Girl Scouts (my daughter was growing up) Camp Deer trails had spanking new privies, a piped water distribution system in the camping area and a completely remodeled kitchen and dining hall......but no money left in the cookie bank account (President Obama is trying to do the same thing for the Country).
 
Here is how I did it:
 
1. I hired a Lansing architect to design and supervise the construction of a completely modernized kitchen and dining building.
 
2. I designed and had installed an ingenious (if I may say so myself) ditchless water distribution system. It was made up of flexible black plastic water pipe snaking around through the woods on top of the ground, only buried under paths etc, that could be drained for winter.
 
3. I designed a replacement for the privies, but instead of having them stick-built on site, I contracted with a lumber yard up north on M66 to mass-produce them. As the privies were finished they lined them up along the road. They became quite a tourist attraction. Gawkers would stop to look them over, thinking those two-holers were ice-fishing shanties.
 
Well the privies were finished and hauled to Deer Trails and installed over new pits. My job was done. So I stood in the woods and stared at my privies as the sun was setting over the lake....and I was mighty proud.....
 
All this time Ed was covering my rear in Lansing holding off the locally-prominent Mother-Superiors on the Council Board who were appalled at the rate I was going through their precious cookie money.
 
Can anyone tell me whether any of my privies are still functional? 
 

Note: Not surprisingly, I was unable to find any photos of Deer Trails privies on Google Image search. The one pictured above is actually on the Appalachian trail. Note the cribbage board between the holes. Photo "borrowed" from the blog whereswalden.com

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Charlie's Odyssey III

Email from Charlie April 3, 2008
 
Hey its good to be back home again. warm bed, wonderful wife, kids and family and friends. Well at least the dog missed me...It's funny......when I close my eyes....I can still see the water rushing by.  You know you need a break when you start talking to the ducks and geese and they start talking back...I want to take time to thank everyone who has helped and/or offered...My friend and paddling pal Doug McDougall for taking me to Pte. Moullie...and then had to drive home in a snow storm...Ron Sell was invaluable and it would have been a lot harder trip thus far if he had not been there to help...he always seemed to show up when I needed help...thank you Ron and Kathy...the two young men who helped me lift my canoe and gear over the sea wall at French Landing...saving me a very long portage...The college girl student who helped me push my canoe on wheels up a steep hill when I portaged around some fast water of the river....the people of the town of Ann Arbor who helped me with directions to Les Voyagers cabin...I want to thank Mike Kelly for his help when I flipped my boat and he offered his home so I could change clothes and dry out some things in the dryer...for his prayers and encouragement telling me to keep going.  There are angels among us.....and Mike is one of them....The fellows at Les Voyagers cabin on Argo Pond and good luck to the one who was having surgery losing four toes to frost bite from an ice climbing trip to Quebec. For letting me camp at their place...and especially to you Jim for making all this happen...are we having fun yet?
 
Your paddling pal, charlie p
 
My April 3 email:
 
Although Charlie is a dedicated solo canoeist in the Verlen Kruger tradition I'll bet as he approached and portaged all those dams he envied Hugh Heward those extra three paddlers and carriers per canoe.
 
Also I think he could be forgiven if as he battled the Huron current and that headwind that he visualized how to mount an Evinrude on his Sea Wind.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Charlie's 2008 Odyssey II


Email from Ron Sell March 31st:
 
Okay, here are the details. I realized that today was my best chance for catching up with Charlie and that I could probably find him at the portage at Ford Lake Dam or on Ford Lake. So I loaded a boat on  the car and headed for Ypsilanti about 10 AM. There's a township park with a boat launch ramp on the south side about half way down, I stopped there first to see if i could see him in the water. Shocked to see most of the lake was still covered with ice! Took out the binoculars and sure enough, to the south edge of the ice was a lone paddler in a Sea Wind, surrounded by mergansers, geese, and a migrating loon or two. We communicated to meet back at the dam, where Charlie spent the previous night at Hydro Park on the downstream side, dry and cozy under a the picnic pavilion. We loaded his gear his gear into my car while we pondered options and headed for the Sidetrack Saloon in the Depotown side of Ypsilanti. While stomachs were filled with burgers, batteries were charged, rain gear dried out and paddling stories swapped we decided that since the boat was already loaded, might as well "portage" on up to the Peninsular Dam at LeForge Road and save hours of fighting against swollen currents and obstacles through downtown Ypsilanti. Back in the water, he continued upstream on Peninsular Pond....
 
My Email April 1st:
 
Got a call from Charlie at 10:30 AM. He just passed under US23 on his way to Ann Arbor. Has had to portage two dams. Tough head wind. He sounded pretty chipper, identified himself as "Hugh Heward, Jr." I forgot to ask him where he camped last night.
 
In a message to Ron Sell on March 18 Charlie said:: "Hey, this is an adventure and I don't want to know everything...It is said that "The  true adventurer goes forth aimless and uncalculating to meet and greet unknown fate..."
 
I think you all will agree that Charlie is getting his wish.  He has to go through Hell, make a multi-mile portage and wade through the Portage Lake Swamp before he can start to ride downhill to Lake Michigan.
 
My Email April 2nd:
 
11:15. Charlie called. he's on his way home to refit and revise his outfit. His wife Deb picked him up. What we didn't hear from Ron was that Charlie dunked yesterday by the footbridge across the river. Wiped out by an overhanging branch. He intends to restart at Argo Pond in Ann Arbor in a couple of days.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Charlie's 2008 Odyssey


As a sort of warm up for the 2009 Ultimate Hugh Heward Challenge I am going to serialize extracts from Charlie Parmelee's reports covering his 2008 cross-Peninsula trip by paddle and portage with his Kruger Sea Wind. He started in the snow at the mouth of the Huron River at Lake Erie on March 28th and ended May 3rd just short of Lake Michigan at Grand Haven, stopped by an oil spill.
 
From a March 17 Email to Ron Sell:
 
Hi Ron
Anything anyone wants to do is fine with me....paddle for the day, whole trip, bring water or take pictures, tag along bridge to bridge...I went out yesterday and cached some water in a few places where water might be hard to get. I have no set places to camp......just wherever there is a place I can get off the water, permission when I can get it and just being quiet when I can't.....I carry my own toilet and fire pan so i don't do any damage other than a few footprints....
I have a tent made for the Sea Wind so I sleep in the canoe and can basically sleep anywhere....even on the water if needed. I will be paddling from sun up to sun down and taking a rest break whenever needed.  That's basically it......paddle and eat....paddle and sleep,,,,with a couple of mid day naps in there somewhere. The Portage Lake Swamp is going to require waders, wheels and a lot of horsepower and time. I will only be portaging that part south of Topith Road because of private land ownership
I will lay over a day in Hell.....meeting Jim Woodruff there for free beer and pizza....
 
My Email of March 28:
 
Charlie is on his way! He had to set up his tent last night in the blizzard. Bright and sunny. He can see ships on Lake Erie and power plants to the south. He has launched his Sea Wind and is heading up the Huron..
 
My Email of March 29:
 
Got a call from Deb Parmelee. She had a call from Charlie (very poor connection). He was at Oakwood Metro Park...(upstream of Flat Rock). Had a lot of trouble getting around the dam at Flat Rock.
 
March 30 phone call from Deb Parmelee:
 
Charlie just called (9 PM) to say he was about one third of the way up Ford Lake. He is going to keep paddling tonight as there are houses everywhere and no place to camp in sight...he said it was raining...Couple places he said the current was very strong and he had to get out and portage. The wheels for the canoe have come in very handy already. Said one dam he came to today he may not have made it on his own it was such a high take-out area but two young guys helped him...He said he has been very cold at night-his sleeping bag is not a warm enough one for this weather.
 
My Email of March 31:
 
Got a call from Charlie about noon today from the Sidetrack Bar & Grill in Depot Town in Ypsilanti. Ron Sell was with him. He ran into ice on Ford lake. Ron helped him out. I don't know the details. He camped night before last at a park at the French Landing Dam.
 
Next: The rescue details

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Quiet Water Symposium

My thanks to all my relatives, (real, in-law, outlaw, honorary, shirt-tail & step) who visited me and my display. Special thanks to grandson Adam who flew in from Manhattan and niece Patty & her husband who drove up from Watervliet. Also to Jim, Jessica & Jason for help in setting up & tearing down.
 
I was honored to join all the other recipients of the Verlen Kruger Award for a group photo.
 
Also thanks to all of you Quiet Water types who looked over my stuff and visited. As I suppose is typical of an old man, I recognized a lot more faces than remembered names. The QWS is sort of like a class reunion every year. I measure my life not by birthdays but rather by whether I make the next Quiet Water Symposium. Hope to see you next March.
 
Next up: March 24 6:30 p.m. Lansing's Impression 5 Museum. Organizational meeting for Grand River Expedition 2010.
April 17 Ultimate Hugh Heward Challengers launch their canoes at Detroit's Belle Isle.
April 25 Annual Hugh Heward Challenge 50 miler starts at Dimondale at 7 a.m.

Quiet Water Symposium is over...


The Quiet Water Symposium was a big success so far as I could see but the Pavilion was uncomfortably cold. A number of people signed up to get these emails when the Ultimate Hugh Heward Challenge starts up April 17. Photo is of me with grandson Adam Tury, who flew in from New York City to attend.