My buddy Dean and I headed for the Pine River the day after Labor Day, thinking that the summer/holiday rush would be over, and we would have the river to ourselves; we were right.
We used Jim Horina, a local livery owner, for our car spot at Skookum. Jim explained that the Edgett's river entry was a difficult goat path to use. It was a bright, clear, hot day, and the river was cool and beautiful. Jim told us that the Pine is mostly spring fed, so the river was crystal clear, and had plenty of fast moving water. We discovered that kayaking the Pine doesn't leave much time for observing wildlife. Navigating the hazards takes your full attention. Summer floods had piled up huge stacks of fallen logs on the numerous bends, and choosing the right path was critical.
A couple of bends had a 90 degree left turns with only a narrow 4 foot gap through the log jam. We had a quiet lunch on a sand bank, and headed for the Dobson bridge area for a primitive nights camp. Our first day was 6 1/2 hours long and we were glad to be out of the boats.
Day 2 started cloudy and misty, but the rain stayed away long enough for us to enjoy the thrilling paddle from Dobson's bridge to our take out at Low bridge landing. The Pine here is fast and enjoyable, if you can negotiate class II water. Numerous long sections of very fast rocky sections, narrow chutes and tight turns kept our heart rates up and conversation to a minimum.
The river finally slows and widens a bit for the last 1/2 hour before our exit, which was a great chance to relax,and compare experiences. Jim Horina had my truck ready and waiting for us at Low bridge, and after 5 hours of hard paddling, we were tired, yet sad to see the trip end.
The Pine is a stunningly beautiful river. It flows through a glorious sand dune forest with few cottages to spoil the views. We commented that we could have been in any wilderness area in the U.S., and not have had a better experience. Our total paddling time was 10 1/2 hours. I would recommend this trip for everyone who has the necessary skills to do it.
Easky 13 and Liquidlogic 14 Kayaks
River permits were needed for both days, as was a parking permit for the car spot. Permits are available at the U.S. forest station in Baldwin
Horin's canoe is on M-37 between Baldwin and M-55
Paddling Michigan by Hillstrom