Pigeon River, Michigan
June 4,5,6,7 2005
Michigan Canoe Trip
6-4-05 Day 1
We met at Paul Kís House in Clyde. Jock and Debbie came up the night before and stayed with Paul K. and Tony showed up around 7:30 a.m. We ate breakfast at a restaurant across the street while waiting for Paul W. to arrive. Left for Michigan at 9:00a.m. and traveled to Cabelas. You know, that mega sporting goods store. Shopped for an hour then continued on up North. At Gaylord, Michigan we went to Jayís Sporting Goods. Itís a smaller Cabelas but with friendlier staff. We bought our nonresident fishing license while dreaming about catching lunker trout. From there it was a short drive to the village of Vanderbilt and the Pigeon River Bridge Campground.
It only has 10 sites but when we pulled in only one site was occupied. A nice primitive camp with pit toilets and a hand water pump with good old well water. Paul, Paul, and Tony scouted the next days take out. Took forever to get to Macintosh Landing where we intended to camp the second night. Lots of stone and dirt roads that look more like trails then roads. Macintosh Landing was not a developed campground. Three camps of fisherman from Indiana were set up, but without a latrine, there was toilet paper all over. We decided to base camp at Pigeon River Bridge Campground and just shuttle every day. Besides our packs were so heavy we didnít want to struggle with them. Since Paul W. was not canoeing, he became our shuttle savior. Thanks Paul!! We saw a hen turkey and a couple deer while scouting around. Later back at camp we met Bob and Kristine our only neighbors in the campground. Real nice helpful folks. Bob had a chain saw and helped us acquire some firewood. The weather was great and we had very few bugs.
Pigeon River Part 1
In 4 hr. 45 min. moving time
Max Speed 6.6mph Ė Ave speed 2.2mph - Total Time 6hr. 50min
Up early, had breakfast and was assembling our gear when it started raining. Both Paulís had just finished erecting a rain tarp when it started. A nice gentle rain that only lasted 45 minutes. That folks was the only rain of the trip. On the water at 9:00a.m. Starting from the campground. The pigeon reminds us of the Mad River in Ohio, swift, shallow current. The rivers flow was estimated between 3 and 4 mph. The banks are overgrown and if you take your eyes off the river, you run into the brush or turn sideways. We tried fishing but all three of us got discouraged (Deb didnít fish). We would snag or while reeling in, the canoe would go everywhere. Usually backwards and into the bank. The easy thing to do; let the canoe glide and just steer it. Tony did manage to catch three little brook trout. The black flies were out but they were not biting. They just buzzed around our heads trying to drive us insane.
On the shuttle back to camp we stopped in Vanderbilt for ice and to call Ted (no cell phone reception at camp) and rub it in since he was the person who researched the whole trip for us. We ARE doing his trip!! But since he choose to go to Hawaii instead of canoeing with usÖ Thanks TED!! After supper we relaxed around a nice campfire. We are on vacation!! We also need to retrain Jock- donít hold a lite match while talking. It keeps burning you know.
Pigeon River Part 2
In 5hr. 50min. moving time - Total Time 7hr. 10min.
Elevation 805í down to 553í
Shuttled by Paul W. back to Macintosh Landing for a 9:15a.m. launch. The Pigeon is narrow, running around 2.5 to 3 mph and lined with alder thickets. Lots of curves and twists. Tried fishing but same problem as yesterday. The River flows thru the Pigeon River Sanctuary so there isnít any development along this stretch. Traveled 8 miles to the Afton Road Bridge where Paul W. met us for lunch. Talked to a guy from Ohio whose license plates read GOBLUE64. Silly Ohioanís. We decided to canoe on to the Eddy Road Access Point where Paul would pick us up. Right under the Afton Bridge was a fast rapid. Everyone watched Tony run it to see what would happen, no problem. Off we went. Little did we know that the next three miles were fast rapids with lots of quick turns. At the end of three miles there were some aching muscles. This part of the river was so different than upstream of the Afton Bridge. We now saw big fancy homes along the river. Had a couple small portages around small jams but nothing serious. At the 13-mile mark we started looking for Paul. At the 15-mile mark we pretty much knew we missed him. Then the fun started. The river started breaking into channels and we took one dead end then had to drag the canoes over land back to the main channel. Lots and lots of logs to maneuver around and over. Some we could pullover, others you had to go around. We were getting tired after a long day on the water, but then we saw the bridge. At that point we knew we were at the entrance to Mullette Lake. After a couple more turns the river opened up to a shallow marshy area. The wind was just terrible. After some very hard paddling we made it to the bridge.
Of course Paul wasnít there. He was at least four miles back up stream. Jock said, "Paul will find us." Three and a half-hours later Paul still hadnít found us. Tony hitched a ride with a guy from Grand Rapids who has a summer trailer on the lake and tried to find the Eddy Road Access and Paul, but there are so many dirt roads in the area. Never saw him. Went back to the lake and half-hour later Paul K. went with this same guy (we never got his name) back to our camp to see if Paul W. went back. While he was gone Tony started fishing and caught a nice bass and pike. At 9:00 p.m. a cop stopped and said, "Iíve been looking for you" in his Dirty Harry accent. Paul W. went to the police department for help in finding us and it worked. Jock rode with the cop to the station and drove Paul W. to us. We loaded gear and started back. Paul K. was on his way back, saw us and flagged us over for a ride. Because it was dark by this time we stopped at a Burger King in Wolverine for food on the way back to camp. Got to camp at 11:30 p.m. and everyone went straight to bed. For the day we saw five or six big muskrats, otter, heron, lots of beaver development and at the entrance to Mullette Lake we saw 2 trumpeter swans with little ones. The mother rode them on her back. Way cool. It was a fun and interesting but, very LONG DAY!!
Going to be a nice day. We packed up camp and left the Pigeon River State Forest. Went North to Mackinac City on the northern tip of lower Michigan. Visited Colonial Michilimackinac the French built fort that sits on the straight between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. It was an important trade center for the early fur trade with the Indians. Paul K. is into reenactments for the 84th Regt. of Foot, Royal Highland Emigrant. Both Paulís served as our tour guides, with the knowledge they have of this part of history.
We left there and headed southwest for the Pine River. Stopped at Patties Restaurant in Wolverine for lunch. Made it to the Pine River, Silver Creek Campground at the edge of the Manistee National Forest where Jeff and Linda Arthur were spending part of their vacation with their 26ícamper. Set up camp and visited until way after dark. The Arthurís hospitably was out standing. Tony had a hot shower in the camper, there was cold beer and breakfast was cooked for all of us in the morning, plus they had already scouted the river.
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