My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Jordan River weekend

It was a glorious weekend, in fact, almost a perfect weekend! Except for a few rowdies at the campground and a few weather issues, it was a perfect weekend. I started out Saturday morning, and the drive up there was beautiful! The trees were at about their peak for color, and there were a thousand times when I wanted to pull over and try out my new camera. But, I knew if I started doing that, I wouldn’t get to the campground until evening, and I had planned to fish on Saturday. That’s where the weather issues come in. There was a stiff north wind blowing, strong enough to blow the explorer all over the road, and there were clouds and intermittent rain showers, and some sun. It seemed the most beautiful areas were always under the clouds, so any pictures I took would have suffered.

I arrived at Graves Crossing State Forest campground, and set up my tent in a gale again. I am getting pretty good at that, same thing happened last time I camped. I didn’t know if others in the group I was meeting were camping or not, so I locked my kayak to the picnic table so any of them would see it if they showed up. As I was taking care of business, I was debating with myself over whether to fish or not. That strong north wind was roaring up the Jordan River Valley, since it is oriented north to south, there was nothing to slow the wind down. I did something I never thought I would do, I checked the weather on my smart phone, 44 degrees with a 22 MPH north wind gusting to 34 MPH. Since I had already changed from my water sandals to my hiking boots because my feet were getting cold, I decided to forego fishing in favor of trying out the new camera. The 44 degrees didn’t bother me as much as the wind. I’ll fish in colder weather than that, but wind as strong as it was Saturday makes for miserable fly fishing.

I went first to the area known as the “Landslide” then to “Deadman’s Hill” both offer great views of the Jordan River Valley, especially in the fall when the trees are at full color. Here are a few pictures I took.


I also walked a trail in the Cosner Nature Preserve and checked out a couple other places as well. There are a number of nature preserves in the area, they are on the small side, but they make for an interesting side trip when the weather isn’t the greatest for fishing.

It was getting on towards evening by then, and I was meeting Mike and Connie in East Jordan for dinner that night, so I headed to town, knowing that I would get some good waterfowl pics in the estuary where the Jordan River flows into Lake Charlevoix. I wasn’t disappointed there were swans, geese, ducks, and other things to photograph there. I found the headquarters to the Jordan River Watershed group, they do great work and have a nature trail behind the headquarters I have to check out some time.

I have to say a few words about East Jordan, what a great little town! They have a great system of free parks right on the river estuary and the lake itself, and very well maintained. The people there are very friendly and helpful as well. It gets quite crowded up there in the summer, not my kind of place then, but it is a favorite place of mine to visit in the spring and fall when the crowds aren’t so large. If you are ever looking for a place to spend a weekend or a vacation, I can highly recommend the East Jordan area.


After a darn good bar burger at the Lumberjack Bar and Grill in East Jordan, and making plans with Mike and Connie for breakfast the next morning at Darlene’s, I headed back to the campground. That’s the only downside of the weekend. The group next to me had brought a keg for the 3 or 4 of them there, they had offered me a beer earlier, so I had some idea what the night was going to be like. Next to them was a group of older women, one who cackled like an old hen on a regular basis. The worst thing was one of the guys with the keg cackled just like the older woman, it was hard to tell who was cackling the most. There was also some jerk on the other end of the campground yelling as if he wanted the entire world to hear him, but I never did make out anything he was yelling about over the music and cackling coming from the two groups nearest to me. I got the perc coffee pot ready for in the morning, then brought my old Coleman Lantern in the tent with me to take the chill off the night air, it was getting cold already.  To me, you can’t beat a lantern for cold weather camping, not only are they a source of light, but they give off a lot of heat as well. So I laid there on top of my sleeping bag, so my body heat would get the sleeping bag warmed up a little while the lantern heated the air in the tent, listening to two different radio stations, the cackling, and the yelling as I mulled over the day and planned for the one to come. Larri, if you ever read any of my blogs, thank you for one great sleeping bag! It is an oversized Trekker, big enough for some one my size, and it is toasty!

Luckily, I can sleep through anything short of a full-scale nuclear attack, and I may be able to sleep through that, it is just that I have never had to try it yet. I was up before dawn, fired up the stove to brew coffee. It took a while, there was a hard freeze that night, everything was covered in frost, and there was a thin layer of ice in the coffee pot. Early mornings are my favorite time of the day. I stood there drinking my coffee, watching the day world come to life as the night world went to bed for the day. I saw and heard a flock swans fly over, and thought about making a dash for my camera to capture the moment, but they were just to beautiful, flying and honking in formation, highlighted by the glow of the morning sunrise, to take my eyes off from them. I was meeting Mike and Connie for breakfast at 9, so I finished my coffee and left early to check out the estuary again, and again, I wasn’t disappointed. The cold air over the warm lake was generating a heavy mist coming off the water, with a bright, clear, early morning sun to light it all.


 This photo doesn’t do it justice, there was more there than the camera could take in, but it gives you some idea. I met Mike and Connie at Darlene’s. Great breakfasts, but even better are the homemade breads and rolls at Darlene’s. I bought a cinnamon roll to take along kayaking. I was telling Mike over breakfast that I had the feeling it was going to be a great day, and how I almost wished we weren’t going kayaking, as usually when I had that feeling, I had a great day fishing. It turns out that I had a great day kayaking. We then went over to Jordan Valley Outfitters to pick up the kayak Mike was renting, it turned out to be the smaller version of Connie’s Rubber Ducky. They don’t have a lot of merchandise in their store, but it is a good place to stock up on the basics if you run out, and their website is full of useful information about the Jordan River area.

Then it was back up to Grave’s Crossing, where we prepped our boats and waited to see who else was going to show up. I thought I would make use of the time to make a few casts, but before I even got to the river, the rest of the group showed up. I did make a couple flips just to say I did. We spotted vehicles at Roger’s Bridge, and we were off. I had helped every one else get in the water as I have knee-high boots that keep me dry when launching, but they all waited and let me lead. That turned out to be a bad idea in a way.

The Jordan below Grave’s Crossing is fast, twisty, and with lots of obstacles to manuever around. It isn’t particularly hard, but you do have to pay attention. I noticed right off that the new boat I got this summer was working great, and I was reading the currents perfectly. I was really on my game, shooting over and around obstructions as each warranted, using the current to set up for the next obstacle, and just having a great time! It was like a racer hitting all his marks each and every time, or a baseball player going 4 for 4 with three home runs, it was that good! Then I heard a yell that some one had gone over, so I paddled back to where I could see they were OK, and waited for them to get dried off and ready to go again. Connie had come down to where I was waiting and we talked, and after we set out again, I was trying to pass on the tricks of the trade, but she couldn’t keep up, and I didn’t want to slow down. I was having way too much fun! If you have never kayaked, in fast water, the river will bulge up slightly in front of an obstacle from the force of the water hitting it, and that leaves a dip or hole in the water level behind the obstruction. I was slewing sideways down the dips into the holes to set the kayak up for the next one to come. I was having the time of my life, and completely lost track of the rest of the group. I never ran aground, never hit a rock, and the only log I hit besides the ones you had to go over was one I never saw. Even those half-submerged logs that you have to go over I was hitting just right, in the right place with the right speed to slide over them with out slamming into them or getting hung up on them. It was that good of a day! I did fall back to the pack a couple of times to make sure every one was OK, and we took a long break at Webster Bridge, but when the conversation turned to eye liner and lip gloss, I was off to the races again.

If there were any downsides to the kayaking, it could only be that I wished I had been on a tougher river, like the Little Manistee, to take advantage of how well I was paddling, and the fact that we didn’t see a lot of wildlife. I did look, I wasn’t focused only on the paddling, I did see some big trout, and a few salmon, even saw an immature wood duck, and managed to get a picture. I was going to try for more pics than the one I got, but I waited for the rest of the group so they could see it too.

I am hoping that Sunday was an indicator of things to come. I have been trying to lose some weight, and I am not sure if that was the reason for how well I was doing, or the fact that I got a good night’s sleep before a paddle for a change. Since I work 2nd shift, a lot of the times we paddle, I am going on 3 to 4 hours of sleep, and that isn’t enough for me to do well on. I do want to apologize to the rest of the group though, I wasn’t trying to be antisocial or ignore every one, it is just that I haven’t had a day paddling like this in a while, and I was having way too much fun to slow down, and you all seemed to be busy catching up since you hadn’t seen some of the group in a while.


3 responses

  1. Pingback: Am I taking this solo thing too far? « Quietsolopursuits's Blog

  2. hello!This was a really quality website!
    I come from milan, I was fortunate to discover your blog in wordpress
    Also I get a lot in your topic really thank your very much i will come later


    October 6, 2010 at 12:45 am

  3. Georgena

    Sounds like a great trip…..Pics are beautiful!


    October 4, 2010 at 5:11 pm