Temperatures maintained between the 40s and 60s for a few days right after a large snowfall. Itching for spring, I shoved my kayak into the back of my Jetta and headed to Bellevue.
There was still lots of snow on the riverbanks. About three miles down, I ran into inch-thick ice. I paddled through, and portaged a few times, sometimes finding open water for a quarter mile or so, but eventually I pulled out, dragged my kayak a quarter mile to the road, stashed my kayak, and hitched back to my Jetta
I watched the flow and height of the Battle Creek and Wanandoga Creek on the USGS website. When the graphs peaked two days later, and the local television stations were displaying flood warnings throughout Southwest Michigan, I put on my wetsuit, wool socks, and as much gore-tex as I could find for the cool rain, and drove to the nearest bridge from where I had pulled out two days earlier. This time I brought my buddy Jacob, who was imagining rapids because of the flood warnings, but he got in his boat anyways and was rewarded:
The river was beautifully flooded. Mother Nature gave us the gift of 3 days of spring hidden within 4 months of snowy winter, so we gladly accepted. Despite the massive increase in water volume above normal, I think the river was actually moving slower than normal because of the flooded forests. We were constantly on the lookout for strongly-moving water into the forests in order to take short-cuts. Paddling through the forests was not only fun and original, but faster than normal... although a few times I had to turn around because of lack of depth, most times my curiosity was rewarded with safe and interesting passage back to the main part of the river.
The Wanandoga Creek meets the Battle Creek River just south of Pennfield Middle School, and took only a short 5 minute paddle upstream to get to our pick-up car.
After retrieving the Jetta, Dews Pizza on the corner of Pennfield Road and M-66 was a nice reward for our efforts.
As soon as the ice melts, I'll be out there again! Kayak locally: enjoy what is right around you!
M-78 to Battle Creek River in Bellevue.
Pick-up at Pennfield Middle School, Pennfield Road.
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