This one may be a long one, since I’ve got three trips to catch up on from last weekend! So bare with me here, I’ll give you the shortest version I know how. (Hey you! Stop rolling your eyes at my long windedness!)
Trip 1: June 5th – Highway 72 to Little Cove Road
One of my regular canoe buds met me at Little Cove Road straight after work. Jim and I had done most southernly sections of the Flint River together in the past, and had done this particular section before. Other than the rather tough take out at Little Cove Road, I didn’t expect this trip to be difficult at all. And starting around 5pm, I didn’t expect it to last very long either.
I was half right. It wasn’t very long.
We did this section in under 2 hours. That’s better than the last time I did it with my other canoe regular Bill. Although that time was in early January and we had a log flip us. We spent a good deal of time drying off and warming up on the bank on that trip.
Jim and I handled this section with relative easy, keeping an eye out for trash on the river since the next day was a major clean up effort spearheaded by the Flint River Conservation Association. We saw some interesting things along the Flint that day, including two Raccoons living on the bank at a group of riverside homes. They were fat and happy, no doubt raiding the homeowners trash for some easy food. We also saw a Coot living in the same area. We found plenty of deer sign and raccoons sign, but never saw a deer.
As for trash, the only thing of note was the remains of a wooden dingy we found and photographed from various angles. Not sure why it impressed me so, but I rather liked it.
As for our troubles, we had a bit within sight of the take out, or at least the bridge over the Flint at Little Cove Road. We got caught up in a snarl that didn’t look bad, but turned out to be. The problem was our inability to swing the canoe around the log, and instead getting astride it. Normally that isn’t a big issue, but this time the current was too strong and we were quickly swamped. Now my canoe floats fine full of water, but not with two men in it. So we bailed out, and Jim stood up in less than a foot of water.
I wasn’t so lucky. I was in a deep hole and went quickly downstream. Both Jim and I had the foresight to grab the bow and stern ropes respectively, so I didn’t go far. As soon as I reached the end of the rope, I managed to get to shallower water and stand up. Unfortunately it was also fast moving water. Jim and I stood there a minute trying to decide our next move and WHAP! a log clipped me and I went with the current again.
No damage to me from the log, except an unexpected dunking. Again. We got the canoe emptied and made it the 100 yards or so to the take out with no more difficulty. From there it was a simple matter of pulling the canoe up the steep bank and getting it out of the water. We quickly put it on Jim’s car and headed under the bridge to change clothes. Of course, that’s when a family of fisherpeople decided to show up. Oh well. Hope our flashing didn’t scare them too much.
One other odd thing. When we arrived back at 72 to pick up my car, there were a bunch of surgical gloves blown up and tied off lying on the ground behind it. Don’t know if that means anything. Maybe it was part of some voodoo ritual that left me cursed for floating the flint or something. Weird, but I left them there since the clean up was the next day.
Trip 2: June 6 – Highway 72 to Little Cove Road
For the Flint River Cleanup, I did the same section of the Flint as the day before. Only this time I did it solo. Other than tooling around a bit in very sheltered coves I’ve never attempted a solo trip before. I was a bit nervous.
I hadn’t planned on canoeing at all that day. The intention was to go take the family to one of the sites for the clean up and help on land. We got to Little Cove Road and while there were tons of cars, no one was there. So we cleaned up the landing the best we could, and while doing so a scoutmaster showed up. He was waiting for his troop which had started at Highway 72. We got to talking and it turned out his troop had left about 30 minutes earlier. A quick calculation in my head, knowing the first portion of the Flint there was pretty simple, and I figured I could catch them easily and hang out with them through the tough stuff.
We scooted over to 72 to put me in the water, and I jumped to it, unloading the canoe (which hadn’t been unloaded the night before) and getting it ready to go. In no time I was prepared to leave when suddenly from upriver there came a canoe. It was going a bit fast and nearly missed the take out, so I pitched in and pulled them ashore. Next thing I know the landing was covered with little kayaks. Seems the canoe was leading a bunch of folks from an upstream put in that I didn’t know about, and had been on the water for a little over an hour. All in all I’d guess there was 20 boats in that group and they weren’t there for the clean up, just a group that did things together including hiking, kayaking and riding their Harley’s. I guess they were a biker gang of sorts, but cool in that “I’m retired now, I’m gonna have fun” kind of way.
So as they pulled out to eat lunch, I learned they were going to do the next leg of the Flint too. I figured if I couldn’t catch the scouts, then surely if I had trouble these folks would help. So I set off solo with the intention of catching the scouts or waiting for these folks before attempting the scary part that Jim and I had trouble with.
Surprisingly I found the Scouts really quickly. They were goofing around and taking there time, and collecting a goodly bit of trash. But they left a good 45 minutes prior to me, and I caught up to them in 15 minutes, just around the first bend. I hung out with them for a while, but damn they was slow. So I soon took off on my own, heading down the river and getting cocky that I was having so little trouble solo.
At about the half way point, I saw two canoes at the campsite area Jim and I had noted the day before. We liked it because it was up a high bank and it was near a cliff. Well protected in the event of a storm. I thought maybe they were cleaning the area since if Jim and I thought it made a good campsite, surely others did as well.
Turned out they were looking at a cave that you couldn’t see from the river. But Jim and I nailed it about the campsite. There was a prepared camp there. Someone had built a fire ring and had ground cloth stowed away. I don’t know who owned the land, but it was accessible only by the river, so I doubt the owner had the camp set up. More likely some hunters since it looked long disused. But I took the time to explore the cave, at least a little since it was rocky and I wasn’t really prepared for a spelunking trip.
As I got ready to leave, I saw kayaks headed my way. Surely the scouts had finally caught up to me! Nope, it was the kayakers from 72, lunch finished and they had passed the scouts themselves. Well, great! I’d just float the rest of the river with them.
It was a peaceful float, and I chatted with various folk. They had passed me by the time I got down the bank and back into the canoe, but my 14 foot canoe had no trouble catching the 9 foot kayaks. (longer is faster) As a passed through the group chatting, I had a good time. By the time I got to the front, we were approaching the snarl. I noticed a cross cut that Jim and I hadn’t seen, one that would take us around rather than through the snarl. So I took that, making sure the lead kayaker saw it. As he waited to pass the word, I floated on down to the takeout with no worries. The only bad part was the fact that by avoiding the snarl, you arrived on the far side of the river and had to cross a swift current to get to the takeout. But arrive I did, and the scoutmaster was still waiting. With his help I quickly had my canoe in place out of the river.
I waited around and helped the kayaking biker gang out of the water. It was a hoot.
Trip 3: June 7 – Ryland Pike to Highway 72
As I mentioned, the biker gang put in farther upstream at a put in I was unaware of. Ryland Pike crosses the Flint about 2 Miles north of 72. I called up my other canoe buddy Bill and we headed up to do that short section on Sunday.
There’s not much to say about this section. I moves quick and there isn’t much to see. You do go between the remains of an old bridge, which was kinda cool. And under a railroad bridge, which is loud if you arrive as a train crosses. You’re in the flight path of planes leaving Moontown Airport, which was neat. But all in all, a very quick fairly peaceful float. No close calls to talk about, no limboing under anything. Clean, nice easy and fun. Bill and I had a good time looking at the various things along the way, but nothing really stands out as cool. Hardly worth loading up the canoe just to do that section of the river, but its yet another new section for me to knock off my list. (and again, the canoe hadn’t been unloaded from the day before, so it wasn’t like I loaded it up JUST for that trip!)
A very busy canoe weekend with what totalled out to just under 20 miles of river tripping in just over 7 hours total time on the river. I had a good time, saw a new section and managed to take both my canoe buddies AND a solo trip. A good weekend all around.
The only complaint is I rubbed a mole on my back to the point of bleeding and hurting. For the next week, that damn mole hurt and every time I moved it seemed to get tugged on. It was right over my spine, and hurt like you wouldn’t believe. But on Saturday, June 13th I finally saw a doctor and they removed it. So no more worries there.