|One of the few times you'll see an image of me on this page. And yes, I am wearing a bandana with skulls and crossbones|
on it. Thanks, 2007 CMU Homecoming. (Photo by Jim Kenning)
|The colors along the river looked just like this: mostly green|
with a splash of bright red and orange. (Photo by Jim Kenning)
The youth group I help lead does a fall trip each year, opting to canoe every-other year or so. We did the Rifle River back in 2015, as well as the South Branch of the Au Sable in 2012, and decided again to hit the waters this fall this year. With younger, more inexperienced canoers joining us this year, we decided doing the Au Sable would make for a great first trip for member of the young men.
That was certainly the case. We had at least one young man who had never gone canoeing before and had recently moved to the U.S. from Liberia. He seemed to enjoy the calm waters of the Au Sable, which were higher than I'm used to. There's at least a few sections of the river that typically have dried up in areas this time of year, but that wasn't the case last weekend.
As for my excursion, I finally succumbed to something I haven't done a river before: managed to take a spill and flip my boat. After stopping for others to catch up, our boat turned around. While trying to right the ship, we began floating sideways, having both the bow and stern get lodged on some downed trees in the river. That left us vulnerable to another canoe making its way down: once another boat tapped us, there was no for us to go but over, our canoe becoming a swivel. Into the drink we went, with our canoe floating down the river and the contents, too. For being mid-September, the water was unusually pleasant, though walking the 100 feet in the river's murky bed left my boots stinking to high heaven, a distinction they still hold a week later.
|The South Branch of the Au Sable River as seen from the|
Canoe Harbor State Forest Campground site.
After spending five hours on the river, we head back to the Canoe Harbor State Forest Campground, a wonderful place to stay if ever in the area. Since it was after Labor Day, we were some of only a handful of individuals staying there. The campground has a trail leading down to the river, which provided excellent visuals early Sunday morning when I went down the next day.
I've always found fall canoeing to be vastly superior to summer canoeing. The water is calmer, there's fewer people and the fall color highlight the already-gorgeous river. It's an experience everyone should have at least once. You might not head back to the river when it's warm.