July 4, 2015
Weeks of rain have finally given way to blue skies and sunshine Michigan. We took that as an opportunity to introduce my son’s dog to the wonders if canoeing. That would probably seem like a challenge with any normal sized dog, as the potential for a tip-over due to a nervous dog tilting back and forth would be great. Well, Kenai is not a normal sized dog, he is a 120 pound Newfoundland! When the first tip-over happened in the first minute, we knew we’d be for a long day.
We were fortunate as that ended up being the only spill of the day, though we had many close calls. I probably should mention that this was our first time in a canoe in many years, as we all own kayaks. So combine a relatively low skill level with a huge dog that would not sit still, and it made for a very slow trip. I am not sure that Kenai exactly enjoyed the trip, but he surely enjoyed stopping to swim. I think for the first try, it was probably a success. Stressful, but a success.
Our river of choice today was of course the Huron River, an amazing river here in the Ann Arbor area. We headed north and paddled the stretch between the Kent Lake dam and Riverbend picnic area in Island Lake State Recreation Area. This is part of my favorite section of the river as it is peaceful and civilization free. We thought about sticking closer to home, maybe Hudson Mills to Dehli, another beautiful stretch of water, but it has a bit more current and a lot more people. We were trying to limit the variables on this first trip out with Kenai.
Island Lake was packed with full parking lot and full beaches. Yet, we only saw 3 other boats on the river. It is amazing how many people flood to the river in Ann Arbor and so few use it at Island Lake. Maybe it is location, maybe the lack of current, or maybe it is just that there are so many more people in the Ann Arbor area. Whatever the answer, we had the river pretty much too ourselves. My only disappointment for the day was seeing a big group of people with music blaring at my favorite spot on the Huron, the normally vacant fishing spot in the park. Oh, well, the park was full and it is a great spot!
We did cut our trip short, as we had planned on making it down to Placeway, but our balancing skills were being taxed and we decided we’d be happy with a shorter first trip for Kenai. I think our big lesson learned is that we should so a hike before paddling next time, as a tired dog would probably be a calmer dog.
All in all, a day with family and a day on the river – it does not get much better!