Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Today Dan and Mike Smith, Steve Willard watched the VKM statue being poured. Provided are a few photos of the process. This was a last minute pour as we were just notified of the event yesterday.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
It's a wrap! The 2009 production of the Ultimate Kruger Challenge has come to an end!
In grand celebration, Mark Jack and Brian headed over to the Kruger Canoes World Headquarters in the tiny hamlet of Irons Michigan to relive some of the glory. (The cocktails have been removed from the pixture, family friendly) :-)
Jack took off for home, Brian headed back to the river for camping and fishing, Mark is off to his brother's wedding, and the Captain is signing off.
Thanks for following along, it's been quite a journey, from the fast and the furious to newbies just being introduced to adventure / expedition canoeing.
Check back as I hope the challengers will send me their personal account of the adventure for us all to see.
Paddle Paddle - The Captain Reporting
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
The boys are still at it! Jack and Brian are about 12 miles out paddling into a fierce headwind. Mark is making his way to the finish to do the meet and greet, share some stories and shuttle the weary back to the world.
The sense of accomplishment is hard to put into words...but here goes; OUTSTANDING EFFORT BOYS!!
The Captain Reporting
Going through gear and laying out all the wet stuff, I think I left a 25 L WxTex bag next to a big maple at the take out by Lake Michigan. "Bummer Dude"
Land NAV Challenge
If its there, its probably setting next to that tree that sets at a straight line projection of the docs where we took out and across the black top. There was also a trash can within 30 feet of the tree.
I think it only has left over food stuffs in it but the bag is a nice dry bag with the little line bag for hoisting in a tree.
If Jack and Brian make it today, can they take a quick peak to see if it may still be there and bring it back to Portland? If not, it's only a $20 bag and I'll chalk it up to the cost of voyage.
Thanks! - Andy
The UKC / the Kruger 100 and every variation in between have seen a lot of what Mother Nature can dish up in the Midwest.
We didn't promise anyone good weather, but we did promise an adventure; we delivered. Waiting ever so patiently for an update from Eva, who has been the conduit for information on Jack and Brian.
The Captain Reporting
Its 11:15 pm and they made it through Tippy Dam. Jack and Brian are hunker down in their tents as the winds blow and the rains pour and the temperatures drop.
They are going to finish up tomorrow if they can. The fish have been jumping all day and the rudder they jimmy rigged is holding.
Jack sends a message to Lars and Louie to stay with cheering them on.
Lets see what tomorrow brings.... Night Boys.
I did not register ahead of time but would be happy to after the fact if you do that for Half a UKC participant. The money's for a good cause so just let me know the best way to contribute.
Thanks for the inspiration to push my limits!" - Andy
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Brian and Jack are in Mesick and its not for the Annual Mushroom Festival. But they are on a walkabout to the hardware store as Brian tweaked a rudder cable.
So as they hoof it to the store, they can ponder the high winds rain and cooling temperatures that are swooping in.
Ah yes, the adventure continues...
The Captain Reporting
Good luck to the Hazel Brothers. I figure they are about a day ahead of Jack and Brian.
It is 6:30 am And Jack just reported in from his sleeping bag. Brian is still snoring and Jack is gonna build a fire to get warm.
They paddled till 11:00pm last night still not to Mesick. He reports their plan is to do both dams today.The rain hasn't started yet so they want to get on the river before it does.
Be safe my friends.
Here is some clarification for those wondering who the Hazel Brothers are. There appears to be two more cats out there that need herding.
Kelly Hazel reports:
Andy Hazel met Dan in September when he was canoeing near Portland. Dan told him about this trip. Andy talked to Dan about doing just the Manistee with him. Andy and his brother were not able to confirm they could get time off of work until last Monday. They tried to call Dan, but he of course was on the Ausable by then. Unfortunately Dan became ill and Andy and his brother Steve were not able to meet up in Grayling and paddle together. As for the canoe they are paddling- it is one of our Sawyers, but I am not sure which one. We have a Champ and a Charger. Andy is planning to pay for the race. He did not want to give Dan 50 to carry with him on the canoe trip. I hope this helps give some information.
Monday, October 5, 2009
Got a call from Jack M at 11:30 am Rainy all day yesterday with headwinds. Today is much better. Brian Keel saw a bear yesterday and some deer. They just passed Lucas Road and heading to 131 Want to make Mesick tonight but not sure if they will.
They will check in later.
Jack and Brian just made it passed 131 and it is 1:30 Brian is fishing for supper tonight and Jack is re-organizing his equipment. Jack says HI to all that are following the Kruger Challenge. The support has been fantastic.
They will update later.
Oh what a good night sleep will bring.... MORE RAIN!! I didn't have the heart to tell him I was looking at 60+ degrees and sunshine, just across the small pond we call lake Michigan.
Mark reports feeling really good today; He's so glad he got some sleep to enjoy the last day on the river. Looks like he is paddling this last section alone, unless someone drops in to meet him. Getting to know the Michigan Paddling Community any thing is possible.
Mark figure he will complete the journey by 5:00pm EST today.
Keep you eye on that SPOT for up to minute updates on location!!
The Captain Reporting
Filling in more gaps of coverage.
Here are a few things I know and some that I'm guessing at. I talked with Connie Cannon a few min. ago and she said that out of the pro boats it shakes out like this.
Don Brooks/ Brian Merrsman finished at Harvey bridge at 9:30 PM Sat.
Connie Cannon/Bill Brundage " " " " 9:38 PM "
Bruce Barton/ Rebecca Barton 9:39 PM "
Rick Gillingd/ Kari Waineright 12:45 PM "
Rick said that it started raining hard 5 min. before Harvey bridge.
I see that Toby's SPOT shows that him and Dave got to Harvey bridge a few hours ago and a little later than Mark did.
I tried Toby's phone but it goes to voice mail. I can only guess that they are camped there. I suspect that Mark is way over due for a good nap after the surge he put in.
I talked to Roxanne and Dan is home in bed and not able to hold any thing down yet. He will be going to the doctor on Monday. I guess Amy Keel ( Brian Keel's wife)brought him home yesterday afternoon.
I'm not sure about the Hazel brothers, or Brian Keel. They planned on going the rest of the way to Lake Michigan, but there no match for Mark. I hope they stick with Jack the rest of the way.
Keep up the good work on the web site
Had a good time talking with Mark although it was brief as he was on a mission for sure.
Brian hung around the campfire for awhile and had a good nights rest. He was in good spirits on Sun morning shoving off at 8:45am by himself.
I had a couple cups of coffee with Chuck Ambroy than made my way home. A great time was had by all, nothing better than listening to stories of the river.
Mike and I had half expected Mark and Jack would accept our offer to cartop their canoes to the end of the portage, but they would not hear of it.
Attached are some pictures I took late afternoon Saturday as Mark, Jack & Kirt arrived at Ray's in Grayling, and as Mark and Jack were beginning their portage. The Crawford County Avalanche reporter was there also taking pictures. He was already in town covering the festival.
Since the paddlers were going to get some fast food in Grayling near the start of their portage, Mike and I headed back to camp and did our best at Saturday supper but hardly made a dent in the 15 pounds of barbecue venison he had hot and ready. (No pic.)
After several hours of portage, Mark was ready at 10:05 PM, eager to start his nighttime trip down the Manistee, with twin LED headlights on his bow. Mike, Kirt and Chuck to cheer him on see him off.
As Mark was pushing hard down the river, Mike and Jack enjoy a 'Smithfire', as Mike said Verlen called this style of campfire-from-roaring-inferno. Jack went to stay at a motel & get a shower, then set out down the river Sunday morning after a chat with Mike.
Mark did catch up to Toby and Dave who were on the Kruger 100 cruise; a two day version of the famed Kruger 100 / 24 hour sprint. They paddled most of the day, picking up Jack Cramer who dropped in to paddle down from the 131 bridge for a day paddle. Mark made comment of how nice it was to see new faces on the river, an unexpected gift after many hours alone paddling through darkness.
No word on finish times from the pro boaters or any stories to share. I did miss a phone call from Bob Bradford last night; My bad. Either he had information or was looking for information as phone coverage yesterday was minimal til Mark set camp for the night.
Mark plans on finishing today, he is going to sleep in, fuel up with a good breakfast and take in and enjoy the last day out on the river. He has one more portage then smooth paddling to the finish.
If anyone has any information on the pro boaters and or Jack and Brian and would like to share, send it my way or post in the comments section of this post.
Eva Reports: Jack M and Brian Keel met up together today and are about 15 miles from Hwy 131. Brian cooking brats at the fire as Jack finishes setting up camp. Spirits are good and look for another great day of paddeling tomorrow.
The Captain Reporting
Sunday, October 4, 2009
In challenges like these, sleep in over rated, but critical .... "What"
Hey I sound like a politician!
The Captain Reporting
The hunt is on Toby is on the move and Mark is a little ways back - looks like the makin's of an on river reunion. ( Both Mark and Toby paddled together in the epic Ultimate Hugh Heward earlier this year)
The Captain Reporting.
The Koca's (sp) the Kitchen's (sp) the Crozier's the Smith's the Amboy's have all made their way out there to greet the challengers. Our players in the field, Janet Bradford and Carl Cole have made things interesting for me too, good information and great pics coming our way
It's very grounding for a challenger and the support gives you just the extra umph to get in a couple more miles on the river.
Hats off to the spectators for all their support!!
The Captain Reporting
As Mark pushed from the shore late last night on the Manistee, he had his fingers crossed that he wouldn't be fogged out like the Von Bradford Express who took a coyote break (see previous posts) when the fog got just too thick to paddle safely.
A look at the SPOT, and it shows Mark still on the water. I feel somewhat guilty after a full 8 hours sleep, two slices of strawberry rhubarb pie and my second mocha latte, but then I believe Mark feels for me being stuck in the city behind the key board as well. It's all perspective and I'm the one really missing out.
Mark did say he had his air horn out and he was hoping to come up on a couple sleeping papa bears (Toby and Dave) and scare the crap out of them when he paddles by.
It'll be interesting if Marks gets to them before they push from shore... keep an eye on those SPOTS!!
The Captain Reporting
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Pushing on; but Dan's health is still suspect. Heaving again Dan is calling it; Rox is coming to get him off the river.
Nothing is etched in stone, but this was the word late morning; We'll see what the evening report brings us. The plan is to make it to Grayling.
Bob Bradford saw the pro boaters and Toby and Dave off this morning. They're all on the Kruger 100 route.
The Captain Reporting
Friday, October 2, 2009
Scores are in: Emergen C 1 vs. Gatorade 0
Dan is a new man!! Rebounding after drinking Emergen C - it's the only thing he can keep down.
With 10 miles today under their belt they're pushing forward to Grayling, MI. Stopping less do to the cold, keeping it moving to stay warm and staying away from the shivers; this is pure adventure. Everyone in good spirits...
The Captain Reporting
Truth in paddling... Bob corrects me on the finish time - Actually 3 days 13 hours and 25 min. Their pre-challenge goal reached to be under 4 days!!
Bob and Mike on their 5.5 hour lay over do to fog got little sleep, as the coyotes were going nuts all night felt like they were surrounded...
NOTE: THE 131 BRIDGE IS GONE!! CAT WALK /YELLOW FLASHING LIGHT AND A COUPLE OF CRANES - PASS RIVER LEFT!!
Bob will make the announcement at the M72 campground tonight before the Kruger 100. Bob stated it was pretty scary coming through there at night with that cat walk only a couple feet off the water.
Just finishing breakfast with the on-lookers, Evert Kozier and a hand full of others have been working their way down river with Janet cheering the Von Bradford Express all along!
They're off to the campground to meet up with everybody - shortly.
The Captain Reporting
The big news is Dan has got the flu and has been heaving for the last couple of days. We hadn't said anything as we were not sure what their plan of action was going to be. Mark humped it to Mio a day ago got medication at the pharmacy. Dan is finally keeping food and drink down. They have been monitoring his health closely.
They're using the number system for well being; 1 being top shape -10 being dead. Dan has been at a 5 since Wednesday. Yeah half dead.
Today he is a 4 and the plan is to put in 20 plus miles. Quiting does not seem to be an option at this point, though we have looked at exit strategies if things worsen.
We used the number system with the girls on the MR 340 and the EC. It's a great system to address real health and welfare issues that surface on events like these. Team travel has its challenges. You owe it to the team to be factual.
The Captain Reporting
The Von Bradford Express has done it!! They have have completed the first running of the Ultimate Kruger Challenge in 3 days 13hours 25 mins
We call that "hauling butt" in the Old Country! Nice effort!! I'm sure the stories will be flying tonight at the M72 campground up in Grayling.
Mark left a message stating Tres Amigos plan on pushing hard on Friday. Waiting for the am call to get the whole plan.
Incredible trip across Michigan - Outstanding!! -The Captain Reporting
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Fog so thick, you could cut it with a knife; Or at least pushed off the river for awhile.
After paddling by braille for a couple of hours Bob and Mike finally pulled off. Took a 5 1/2 hour break and got some sleep and played it safe. You don't set any records or live to paddle again if you are not safe.
No barges on the Manistee, but plenty of navigating needed. Fog is much different then paddling in the dark. Your light paves the way in darkness; In fog, your light blinds you with the reflection. Orientation is greatly impaired.
The Captain Reporting
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Yeah I know what your thinking... Way too many Sea Winds for the Tres Amigos!! The welcoming party arrives with fresh stories and fresh muscles. What a great day for the Tres Amigos as Jeff Kolka (notice the butchering of the name in previous posts) and Mr. Kirchen (sp) join in.
I don't know who this handsome man is, but his hair goatee and glasses remind me of someone equally as handsome - I think it is Jack?
Big shout out to Chuck Amboy - KCA media relations director self appointed for all of his hard work writing up releases and getting them to the news outlets!!
You da man, Chuck!!!
Look for it at:
Crawford County Avalanche
WWTV & Wwup TV 9 & 10 News
Gannon Broadcasting Systems
Fingers crossed they pick up on it!! - The Captain Reporting
Bob and Mike made it to Grayling at 3:00am this morning, caught some zzzzz's till 7:30am.
Now on the M72 hump to the Manistee River, enroute they where able to join the Coca's Kitchen's and Crozier's for breakfast at the Westside Diner.
Looks like we have a gallery of onlookers taking advantage of the nice weather. - How cool is that.
Note: Sorry if I hacked the names (sp)
The Captain Reporting
Bob and Mike will paddle till they get to Grayling. (Looks like they made it by SPOT report). Tough day for all as the wind was brutal.
Note: Passer bys -(locals) saw Janet perched down by the bridge, showed some concern and invited her in to wait for Bob and Mike in the warmth and comfort of their home.
That Midwestern hospitality gets me every time - Everyone, participants and onlookers alike are just so darn supportive; events like these bring the best out of people.
OK, I've seen it elsewhere too, hate to admit it: Texas, Illinois, Missouri, Florida, North Carolina... yeah TEXAS!!: Some pretty awesome people huddled under the sage sporting life jackets and paddles down there. Who'd a thought!! :-)
- The Captain Reporting
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
The Tres Amigos had a long hard paddle into swift water (probably the emptying of Mio Pond) and to add a bit more of a challenge, high wind on the nose all day.
Pretty tired, but they are on schedule to be at the campground by Friday for the festivities and the start of the Kruger 100.
Plan is to push from shore around 7:30am EST. and keep it moving.
The Captain Reporting
They have run out of highway. The water ended abruptly.
Bob and Mike were out of the boat at Camp 10 Road and were walking the boat for some time, exact mileage unknown.
Pretty slow going as water levels dropped significantly after the DNR pulled the cork at the Mio Dam a day ago. (Some nonsense about working on the dam; don't they know there is a challenge going on here?)
They're back in navigable water now up by Luzerne and are on the move.
Still no word from the Tres Amigos, - The Captain Reporting
Cool to see the Au Sable from this view.
The Captain Reporting
If you want to join in on the Kruger 100 campfest on Friday night, here are the directions:
The M-72 campground is a Michigan State Forest Campground, named Manistee River Bridge, in Crawford County 8 miles W of Grayling, right on the Manistee River just N of the M-72 bridge. 23 sites, river access, canoeing and fishing. It is in the Au Sable State Forest. 989-826-3211 in the Mio field office.
Also there is Harvest Fest going on in Grayling this weekend.
You wanted entertainment, you got it!!
- The Captain Reporting
Rendezvous point for the Von Bradford Express looks to be at the Mio / Au Sable River Hwy 33 bridge. Janet is making her way there now, then to report in. She is a good 45 minutes away.
If anyone viewing wants to meet up, that's where they will be.
The Captain Reporting
Cell phone coverage where the boys are was almost nonexistent until you got to Alcona pond. Can't chase canoes today, have to go back to work tomorrow....
Janet Bradford after a quick run back home for clothes and foul weather gear will return as our Lady in the field. expecting a phone from her shortly.
The Captain Reporting
Tres Amigos on the move. No message or phone call this morning. Drizzle and 46 degrees F are making for some challenging conditions. Packing up damp gear with a chill in the air is less then favorable conditions.
Tomorrow looks to blue Sky's a high of 54 degrees F.
The river narrows substantially up to Alcona Dam. They'll have their work cut out for them today.
The Captain Reporting
Monday, September 28, 2009
One can only surmise that cell coverage is non-existent as the Capt'n received no evening message on the days events from the tres amigos.
I'm sure the boys are all tucked in to their jammies and enjoying some glacier sipp'n water after a hard days paddle into a brisk wind.
Janet did say that Bob and Mike contrary to their original plan, will camp and sleep tonight. They are paddling hard in big weather and wind.
The Captain Reporting
The wind started picking up just before Sea Winds got to Foote Dam, blowing pretty steady now. Bradfords portaged Foote about 45 minutes behind them. Started raining about 11:30 hard at times.
I've got the photos uploaded now. They're from either the Bradford start or at the bottom of Foote dam. After I get home I'll try to label some.
Great pics of everyone making their way up river, there are some outstanding shots of the Sea Winds picking their line up river using the shadow of the bank to stay in the slack water.
Janet reports that the Von Bradford Express is soaked, cold but in great spirits; cleared the channel 5 dam at 2:05pm EST. It's pouring now.
Mike and Bob are off at exactly 8:00am EST - I'll try to send some pics via my phone I am at the Au Sable bridge waiting for them to come by. - JB
You can track Team Kruger and the Von Bradford Express by heading to the left side of the screen and clicking on their SPOT tracker.
Las Vegas Casinos have odds that the Bushwhackers will have Team Kruger in their sites by 2:00pm. the under pays out 3:1
We got ourselves a challenge!! - The Captain Reporting
Rained hard all night long, nobody really slept with the high winds rain and excitement of the trip starting.
Pushing off from shore in 20 minutes or so; rain has subsided. We're looking at high winds and a couple of portages to keep us company.
The Captain Reporting
Today: Windy with showers and thundershowers likely. High 53F. Winds W at 20 to 30 mph. Chance of rain 70%. Winds could occasionally gust over 40 mph.
Tonight: Rain showers along with windy conditions. Low 46F. Winds NW at 25 to 35 mph. Chance of rain 70%. Winds could occasionally gust over 40 mph.
Tomorrow: Windy with rain showers. High 49F. Winds NW at 20 to 30 mph. Chance of rain 60%. Winds could occasionally gust over 40 mph.
Tomorrow night: Showers early becoming less numerous late. Low 36F. Winds NNW at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 50%.
Wednesday: Showers ending by midday. Highs in the mid 50s and lows in the upper 20s.
Thursday: Partly cloudy. Highs in the upper 50s and lows in the low 30s.
Friday: Occasional showers possible. Highs in the mid 50s and lows in the mid 30s.
"We would love it if we could get a huge turnout for camping at the M-72 campground on Friday night, even if you don't plan on paddling the 100 come on out and enjoy Northern Michigan at it's finest. Somebody bring some firewood!" - Mark
The wind and pelting rain right on the nose - Go get'm boys - The Captain Reporting
Sunday, September 27, 2009
"Wind out of the south, with my good friends Jack and Mark; just don't get better then this!" - Dan
"Couldn't be in better hands; anxious to get these boats wet!" - Jack
"Hey Brian Bob Bradford here; just saw three bums on the river with these smiles on their faces; the plan is to paddle an hour more then camp. I bet they get around the bend and paddle all night!" - Bob
Wave one of the UKC, Jack Dan and Mark are off! The plan is to get up river set camp just before dark ( hoping to find a high and dry place to set) as the weather is going to blow in and blow in hard.
We are getting what they will get in a few short hours on the other side of the large pond we call Lake Michigan, heavy thunder storms, high winds and pelting rain.
The bushwhacker's Bob and Mike to put in tomorrow at 8am...
Here we go! - The Captain reporting
"We have had a few small changes in our start times. Dan Smith, Jack Murgatroid(sp?) and myself are getting a start today, Sunday afternoon around 4 pm at the Au Sable river mouth.
Bob Bradford and his son Mike are starting tomorrow morning, Monday at about 8am. We all will be at the Marathon racers memorial on the south bank at 2pm today for the annual ceremony they do there every year. If you will be in the area this is a great event to witness. "
Paddle paddle, Mark
Scouting reports by Bob and Mike Bradford have proven to be interesting. It would appear that the Michigan DNR at Mio Pond have decided to lower the water level 2' a day for the next few days lowering it by 8' when all is said and done.
This is going to create havoc for the challengers, as Mio Pond would be a mud bath leaving them no other alternative but to portage this section.
Bob estimates that the portage around is 5.4 miles.
Pack your wheels boys, you're taking your canoe for a walk. - The Captain Reporting.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
I got the map feature off and google earth on with its interactive features, but I am not sure how to code in the individual SPOT messengers to show up on Google Earth. So if anyone can pull together a short tutorial for the Capt'n it would be most helpful.
We do have two SPOT messenger links on the left side bar, but I was hoping to embed it in the google earth interface.
Webmasters are laughing from all corners of the world, who sent in this clown? - The Captain Reporting
Friday, September 25, 2009
As a test; Here is a shot of a fresh baked Sea Wind right out of the oven at the Kruger Bakery. You can almost smell the resin from here!!
Hey Toby, this is your friends new ride to adventure!! - The Captain Reporting
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Kruger Canoe Adventures - Cast of Players:
Jack Murgittroyd - paddled the Bushwhacker two times... quite a story. First time around he just showed up, borrowed a boat and off he went! I think he has been bitten by the paddling bug. He will be paddling Roxane Smiths Sea Wind.
Mark Przedwojewski - Needs no introduction, he really hasn't done much paddling or has any appreciation for the outdoors - wup wup gottcha!
Dan Smith - See below
Mike and Bob Bradford - See below
Brian Keel is doing the whole down river stretch of the Manistee, he also did the Bush Whacker two times. (Great name)
Bruce Barton and his daughter, Rebeca and Connie Cannon and Bill Brundage are doing the 24 hour 100 miler. Ya the pro boaters have arrived!!
Rumors abound of Toby Nipper and new a Sea Wind owner coming up from the balmy shores of Fla for the 100 miler. They're doing the route over a couple of days to take in the fall colors and all that is the Manistee River.
A cast of characters for sure, but all players in the running of the Kruger Challenges!!
The Capt'n Reporting
The Kruger Challenge is an "O" Dark 30 paddle. Starts before the dawn and ends in the wee hours of the following morning. The twists and turns sweepers, sieves, boulders and logs make this quite the challenge in the dark. This event has seen freezing rain and ice encrusted paddles.
Now Dan is one of those ole school paddlers. forget about listing accomplishments - cause the blog ain't long enough; but when you think paddle camping, think Dan Smith. (Many many trips with Verlen)
Two years ago when we did a 125 miler on the Manistee, Dan was out on the river as well. Put in a day a head of us taking family and friends on a leisurely three day paddle. We by stroke of the paddle met up one evening and were treated to an on river banquet. A full 5 star meal and adventure stories to boot.
Then a year later we did a winter paddle and stayed at famed Deer Camp Island, where we had a big ass bonfire and venison kabobs to die for. I'm tell'n ya, these Michigan paddlers got it figured out. You guessed it Chef Dan again.
Cell coverage was weak, but I distinctly heard/smelled barbecue ribs over the phone... dang!
Anyway, just to let everyone know, we'll be tracking the little brother; the Kruger Challenge too.
See ya down river, rib bib optional - The Capt'n Reporting
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
The Ultimate Kruger Challenge (September 28th) - 271 miles across northern Michigan -and his little brother the Kruger Challenge (October 3rd) -100 miles in 24 hours -are not to miss events!
For more information on these stellar events, head to the Verlen Kruger Memorial website or contact Mark from Kruger Canoes.
All proceeds support the memorial!!
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Friday, July 10, 2009
The weather will be perfect! ( I put my order in early) For more information on these stellar events, head to the Verlen Kruger Memorial website or contact Mark from Kruger Canoes.
All proceeds support the memorial!!
The Verlen Kruger Memorial is close to being completed, but there is a need for additional monies to see it through. Scott Smith from Superior Canoes has donated one of his Sawyer Cruiser canoes to be sold. All proceeds go towards the completion of the Verlen Kruger Memorial. Way to go Scott!!
Independent reviews on the Sawyer Cruiser can be found at paddling.net
Details at the Superior Canoe website ; or for a real live person contact Dan or Scott at 517-647-5788. They'll make you a deal you can't refuse, and for a great cause too!!
Monday, June 8, 2009
by Mark Przedwojewski
Start at Lumberjack Park on the Pine River in the North West corner of Gratiot County, Michigan. Paddle downstream 74 miles through the towns of Alma and St. Louis and on down to the Chippewa Nature Center at the confluence of the Pine and Chippewa Rivers just before the town of Midland. Turn West and head up-river on the Chippewa 65 miles past the town of Mt. Pleasant to the old Gilmore Road Bridge. Take a 7 ½ mile portage down country roads back to the Pine River. Once back on the Pine River it's a short 14 miles to the finish line back at Lumberjack Park.
Sections of both rivers on this route are very clogged with numerous downfalls and large log jams, this makes for slow going and dangerous conditions especially when traveling at night.
The Bushwhacker Challenge consists of 3 different events all starting at the same time from Lumberjack Park; The Sprint- a 12 mile run down to the town of Sumner. The Cruise- a 25 mile run down to the town of Alma and the 150- the full run all the way around. My account will tell of my experience on the 150.
My plan for this years race was to push a little harder than I did last year and try to cut off eight hours from my time of 80 hours. I spent way more time sleeping last year than I needed to, so I figured if I could stay in my boat and keep it moving I should be able to shave off some time. The water levels were higher this year which would mean faster times going downstream on the Pine, but slower times going up on the Chippewa. The first section of the Challenge going down the Pine passes through a few very clogged sections of river that have numerous deadfalls and log jams that require getting out and pulling the boat around on land. Some jams can be shimmied under or jumped over with a tough enough hull, a good fast run and a few teeter/tottering scooches. With the water as high as it was lots of the logs laying down in the water could be passed right over. If the water was down even a few inches it would make for much slower going.
The start of the Bushwhacker Challenge is really something to remember. A local group of reenactment gurus that call themselves the “Free Trappers” come by and set up their fur trappers era encampment and show off their camping skills and techniques. Their group is a great fit both with the Verlen Kruger Memorial Project and our host group at the Lumberjack & Riverman's Park Association. We all share a common interest in history and nature and are all working at conservation of both. The Free Trappers help start the Challenge with the firing of their black powder guns and man does that get your attention! The burst of smoke and loud noise really fires up both Challengers and spectators and in a mad dash of swinging paddles and flying water the race starts in a grand and spectacular fashion. I was able to jockey myself into a good start with the Bradford tandem team just in front of me and fighting off the start line for second place with the other tandem team of Todd Cesar and Mike Anderson. The skinny river along with the quick current and multiple logjams spread everyone out rather fast but occasionally throughout the morning a group of us would get clogged up and the race would be on, just like the start. A bunch of the 150 Challengers along with a few Sprinters jockeyed for that second place position as the Bradford's got out to a quick lead and after only a few bends were out of sight. I paddled most of the morning leapfrogging other solo paddlers ,Bruce Kurtsle, John Flegg and George Stoktin and the other tandem team of Todd Cesar and Mike Anderson.
Once we were down to the town of Sumner we were past most of the big jams with just a couple small pull overs left for the remainder of the first leg on the Pine River. I was neck and neck with Bruce and John down to CP1 at St. Louis were I put down the hammer and left them as they two carried over the 100yd portage. From St. Louis down to the Chippewa was a quick run with no logjams and very quick water. Todd and Mike caught up to me about a half hour from CP2 and we paddled together in the dark the rest of the way in. I was able to run the 35 miles in just under 7 hours, getting in and out of CP2 at the Chippewa Nature Center before 11:30 pm.
In order for me to shave off those 8 hours,, I knew that now was the time to turn on the after burners and pull an all nighter. I've pulled a few all nighters during WaterTribe Challenges and I knew if I stayed hydrated and well fed I would not have a problem with the sleep deprivation and the fight to stay moving. I call it a fight because it truly is a huge fight to stay in the canoe when I know that in a matter of minutes I could have my tent set up with a nice warm sleeping bag and Thermorest inviting me in for a few hours of sleep. Verlen always told us that real training does not start until you've been paddling for 24 hours straight. I have found this advice to be true, only after you are totally spent do you really push past those boundaries of pain and self doubt and keep an efficient paddle stroke going. I also knew that the first 20 or so hours are fairly easy, it's the hours just before the break of dawn that second morning that are the toughest.
I pressed on from CP2 at the Chippewa Nature Center at about 11:30pm with a dark night and about 65 miles of fast downriver current staring me in the face. I had rigged my lights on the front of my canoe and had a good stock of snacks and water close at hand. In order to take care of any housekeeping and body maintenance going upriver would require me to pull up and stop close to shore. These duties are accomplished going downstream without coming to a full stop because we are able to float out in the middle of the river and easily avoid obstacles by using our rudders and an occasional paddle stroke on one side or the other. Going upriver and having to stop a few times an hour will really put a dent in miles made good which are already slowed down considerably by the fast current. My goal for the next 22 hours was to keep it movin' and get to Island Park in the town of Mt. Pleasant some 40 miles upriver before sundown the next day.
The night turned out to be a very good paddling night with fairly warm temps and no rain. I did have to stop about 2:30 am to brew up some hot coffee and since I was stopped I also cooked up a hot meal to help keep me going. My short break really paid off, once back on the water I was refreshed and full and was able to get in a bunch of miles before the sun started coming up. Once dawn broke I knew It would be easier to stay awake and not give into the few hours of sleep my mind was trying to convince me of. I did however, lay my head back at about 8:30am for about 20 minutes, I can't say it helped me much, but it did give my aching muscles a short break.
The Chippewa River has a fairly fast current and it was very hard work moving up it. This years water levels were faster than last years and I could really feel it. Paddling upriver is a lot like mountain climbing, it is slow going and very technical. In order to move against the current you really need to know how to read it and not waste energy fighting it when you don't have to. In most Michigan rivers there are lots of bends, these bends work to our favor when we stay close to shore and utilize the back eddy's. It's necessary to jump from one side of the river to the other quite often to take advantage of the slower current that might be present on an opposite bank.
I traveled the rest of the morning trying to take as few breaks as I could while still taking care of my body. The sun was out in full force so the day began to grow very warm, I had to apply plenty of sunscreen and drink plenty of water to keep it moving at the pace I was trying to keep. In my rush to get out of CP2 the night before I forgot to fill up my water bags, this along with the coffee I brewed during the night put my water stores very low and at about 4pm I ran out of water. In my altered, sleep deprived state. I started doing the math on how far I had to go to get up to Island Park, my long overdue campsite. I figured if I kept up my present pace and did not stop to filter water I could be there before full dark. It would be about 5 hours with no water but I figured I could pull it off. As the first hour of my self induced dehydration ended I realized I was not getting as hungry as I was before when I was drinking, I began to think that if I did not drink or eat I would be saving lots of time from having to pause to do these chores. Plus I realized that I would not have to stop to take pee breaks either, this plan was getting better by the second! As the afternoon turned into evening I started feeling small effects of dehydration with a very dry mouth, but this was the extent of my symptoms. I expected to start feeling a headache coming on but it never materialized. I figured that my being well hydrated up until that point really helped pull me through those 5 hours. The Chippewa River near the town of Mt. Pleasant gets very fast with numerous downfalls and logjams, it took every ounce of energy out of me getting up into town and finally to my long overdue campsite at Island park.
We have permission from the city to camp at Island Park just for this race. I was able to use the safe haven last year and it turned out great, there is water and toilets available and a nice grassy lawn to camp on. Last year I was at this point in the race with Jeff Kolka and since we were in town we decided to treat ourselves to a few Domino's pizza's to save time before we crashed out for the night. I did the same thing this year and again it saved me some time, I was able to get other camp chores done while the pizza was on it's way, . The first thing was to get myself and my water bags filled. I grubbed almost the entire pizza and was sleeping before 10:30pm. I was up at 4:00am fully refreshed and ready to tackle the last part of the Challenge.
I did the short portage around the quick water right near Island Park and the carry around a big drop about ¼ mile further up which put me back on the water at about 6am. The Chippewa above Mt. Pleasant changes a little from that below it. The current picks up quit a bit, but it is much more opened with only a few jams to get around. I was able to pole through a few sections and did not have to get out of the canoe much, I made quick work of the 12 or so miles and got up to CP3 at 1:00 pm and started my steep climb up to the road.
It took me ½ hour to get my gear and canoe to the top of the hill, I checked in at 1:30pm and after a quick meal of sardines and crackers I rigged my cart, topped off my water bags and was on the road just after 2pm. Last year I used a bike, but this year we had some re-defined rules and unless we carried the bike with us the full length of the Challenge we could not be classified as “Expedition Style”. I chose to walk the portage which ended up being much more efficient for the short 7 1/2 miles. The portage takes us past a bunch of farmland and even past a few Amish farms that are usually much more tidy than most farms. I passed by a few big tractors plowing fields and numerous people mowing their lawns. I would jog for a while and then walk for a while, jog for a while then walk for a while. The road traffic was not too busy and my portage went without incident and I pulled up to the Pine River in just over 2 hours.
Mike Smith was there and kept me company as I broke down my portage rig, cooked up a good meal of mac and cheese with Salmon and brewed up some coffee. I had only about 14 river miles to go to the finish back at Lumberjack Park and I wanted to get it done in the daylight. It was now after 5pm so I had to hustle back to the water to take advantage of what was left of the day. This stretch of the Pine is again very clogged with downfalls and huge logjams, so once again it was in and out, and in and out, and in and out of the canoe. I have been using a pull rope on my canoe for quite a few years now, and it really helps speed things up when pulling a loaded canoe through the woods. The pull rope is a 2 to 3 foot rope tied to the bow or stern of the canoe with a PVC handle for comfort. Since most drag arounds are only 5 to 20 yards long it would be silly to unload the canoe and make more than one trip. The extra tough hull on the Sea Wind takes the abuse and screams for more. I noticed that the Bradford's, who had finished the race earlier that morning had to lift their ultra light canoe up off the ground to move it over the dragovers as all I could see were their footprints and no tracks from their hull.
I was once again racing the daylight and not wanting to have to take the extra time to rig my lights. It does not take all that long, maybe 5 minutes or so, but at this stage of the race I was really wanting to get to the finish and get out of my canoe. In the past 58 hours I had only been out of my canoe and not moving for 6 hours, I was pretty beat and the sun seemed to be dropping fast. My race with the sun was over at about 9:30pm and on one of the last dragovers I paused and hooked up the lights for the last hour of my Challenge.
I pulled into the finish line at 10:12pm on Monday, I had beaten my last years time by over 18 hours and felt satisfied that I had run my best race! There were lots of folks at the finish line to cheer me in and it felt good to be grabbed by a helping hand and pulled up the river bank. A Cherry Wheat Beer was instantly handed to me and I knew for sure I had earned it! I set out to shave off 8 hours and some how I was able to get 18. In thinking back on how I did things differently this year compared to last year I would have to say it was because this year I was able to travel alone. Last year I was leapfrogging with many more solo paddlers the entire race and with all those people to talk to along the route it really slowed me down. I was able to stay out ahead of the pack this year and set my own pace, not allowing the gift of gab to grab me and pull me in. Another time saver was not using a bike for the portage. It sounds funny, but the bike rig for me has actually made for a slower portage the past couple times I have used it. The set up takes a bit longer and the loose gravel on the roads we use makes for tough pulling. I was able to jog most of the portage this year and it turned out being more comfortable and less stress on my legs.
As with most finish lines in these kinds of adventures, this late at night ,it cleared out fast. There were a few hardy souls that did stay up and celebrate with me until after midnight then I crashed out for a dreamless 7 hours of beautiful, blissful sleep.
It takes a bunch of people to put together an event as good as the Bushwhacker Challenge. I would like to send out a huge Thanks to all of the following;
Race Managers, Mike Smith, Kathy Lischkge and Mike Lyrer and the rest of the Verlen Kruger Memorial Board. Our efforts are slowly turning this dream into reality.
Our Host, The Lumberjack and Rivermen's Park Association. Thanks for care taking such a wonderful piece of history and keeping it alive for those yet to come.
Todd and the rest of the Cesar Clan, for dreaming up an event that would tire out even Verlen!
Mike Anderson, owner of Chippewa River Outfitters.( Mike has raised more money for the Memorial than most of us all put together.) Your time and energy is such a great help, we would not be as far along as we are without you.
Our Blog director, Brian Weber. Again your quick wit and sly words helped entertain those looking in.
Last but not least I would like to thank my wonderful wife Michelle and our son Brendan, for allowing me so much time away to pursue my love of the outdoors.
Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!!!
Monday, May 25, 2009
We also want to thank the folks at the Lumberjack Park for hosting the race and for their hospitality! Their facilities are awesome, and the meals they put on were great! We hope to be back next year!
We also want to thank the Chippewa Nature Center (at the junction of the Pine & Chippewa Rivers)in Midland, for allowing us to put a check point in their park...and allowing us to camp there for the night! You can check out their web site...they have a lot going on there! http://www.chippewanaturecenter.com/
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Todd and Jake Cesar pulled in at 2:06 pm, and Jake commented "I would rather paddle up the Chip than climb Heart Attack Hill!"
Brian Keel sends a big shout out to Uncle Dan!! "Anything is possible!!" Finishes the Bushwacker in style on 5/20 -7:50pm
We have the trickle down river effect as more complete the Bushwacker; Jack Murgittroid cranks it up for a 5/20 -8:00pm finish. Gives a tip of the hat and a dip of the paddle to Roxanne Smith for the use of her Sea Wind during the event. Barely off the water, "Looking forward to next year!!"
Don't forget to come to the awards ceremony tonight at 6 pm at Lumberjack Park in Riverdale!
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Jack and Brian checked in at Check Point #3 at 9:15 am. Jacks' comment was natures beautiful! and Brians' comment was it's all downhill now. They'll make it back to Lumberjack park later today!
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Everyone has made it through Mt. Pleasant. Dan made it to Check Point #3 at 7:13 , and Todd & Jake arrived at 7:14 this evening. They plan on camping at the end of the portage tonight and finishing the race tomorrow, they should get back to Lumberjack Park tomorrow early to mid afternoon.
Brian & Jack hopefully will get in sometime tomorrow evening. It would be great if you could get to Lumberjack Park tomorrow to welcome the guys back!
Another note: no one took the proposed portage through Mt. Pleasant...they all toughed it out and paddled it....way to go guys!!
A REMINDER TO ALL: The awards ceremony for the 2009 Bushwhacker will be at Lumberjack Park Thursday May 21 @ 6:00 pm. All are welcome and encouraged to come!
Hat's off to Morning Sun Managing editor Linda Gitteman for covering the BusckWhacker and having a forum for discussion.
Check out this article and go down to responses to feel some of the emotion around the event.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Hat's off and a dip of the paddle, sounds like it was a real bushwhacker!
Mark P. got back on the Pine at 5:20 pm and is expected back at the Lumberjack Park sometime between 10:30 pm and midnight tonight.
Mike Anderson took a trip to the hospital to get his eye checked out, it got poked by a stick. He has a patch on it and the doctor recommends he not continue, but we'll see if it really does stop him. Mike Smith picked up Todd at 6:35 pm and gave him a ride to Lumberjack Park. They'll decide later if they'll continue.
John F. pulled out of the race today because of an arm injury.
We also wanted to add that the race officials decided to allow a 3 mile portage in Mt. Pleasant because of the high water, the current is very strong through there. Mark P. paddled through there and said it was a killer!
Running out of water, dehydrated and beaten down, Mark pays the price for not stopping and filtering water."Man what was I thinking."
"Yesterday was a blurr", Mark reports. Pulls over at Island Park to do a little house keeping and grub some food. Nothing like a gallon of water and a Domino's pizza to make things right in the world.
Back on the water this morning feeling OK. Mark hopes to stay ahead of of last year's time. Should make the portage late tonight and will try to finish by 8:00pm tomorrow.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
The only women team paddling the Bushwhacker Cruise arrived in Alma at 1:50 PM. You go girls!!!
The Bushwhacker Challenge has claimed it's second paddler. George dropped out several miles up the Chippewa River, his back giving him problems.
1:00 pm, Bradfords were west of Mount Pleasant @ Island Park and approuching Check Point #3. They had earlier stopped and got a 2 hour nap.
2:45 pm, Todd & Mike called to report that they were almost to Meridian Rd. They said the current is Very Strong, and that they're hanging in there! They are paddling about an hour and taking a 5 minute break.
We haven't heard from Mark yet today, but his goal was to make it to Check Point #3 and camp tonight.
The Bradfords made Check Point #3 at 6:50 pm. WOW are the making good time! Their goal is to beat last years time and they're well on the way to doing that!
Check out Bushwhacker pictures:
Cruise paddlers Roxane & Lois left Cesars Crossing at 10 am
You can check Marks' Spot Tracker - It shows when he manually transmits
Check Point #2:
Bradfords: 5/16, 7:40 pm - comments: Great!
Mark: 5/16, 11:15 pm - comments: Tons of wildlife- Mid-Michigan Safari!!!
Mike & Todd: 5/16, 11:16 pm - comments: Havin fun now, (left 5/17, 7:25 am)
John: 5/17, 8:35 am - comments: COLD
Bruce: 5/17, 8:36 am - comments: tendons are saying stop! (left the river as this point)
Dan: 5/17, 10:38 am - comments: nice morning paddle
George: 5/17, 10:40 am - Geoge missed the check point - watched him round the corner into the Chippewa River
Jack: 5/17, 11:37 am - comments: Now I Remember!!
Brian: 5/17, 12:31 pm
"Skill is less important than spirit when faced with hardship and challenge, in the end your spirit will make up for any perceived lack in skill you might think you have." - Verlen Kruger
His SPOT appears to be working from his end, but as we know on our end is NOT tracking him on the river.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Black Magic is on the move and clears CP2. Mike Smith estimates Mark will be in shortly. The rumor on the river is they are going to push late into the night.
Temperature dropped significantly as the sunset. Bundle up Chit-lands it's going to be a long cold night.
Time : Saturday, May 16, 2009 8:21:49 AM
Here she lay on the bottom of the Pine River. Night Navigator (Bob) and Son (Mike) lost their SPOT over board in their quest of conquering the Bushwhacker 150.
We now have a geo cache event if anyone wants to plug in the coordinates and go look for it.
Mark Reports a tail wind coasting at 3mph under blue sky's and mild temps. -
Nightsong - (Janet Bradford) - reports "I've crossed the Pine River a couple of times and haven't seen anyone. Where is everybody?"
Jason K.- 3:04pm
Scott S.- 3:58pm
(150 check-in @ St. Louis dam)
Bradfords- 2:44pm-comments: We lost our Spot someplace
Mark P.-4:36pm-comments- Awesome weather, next stop Nature Center
John F.-4:42pm-comments- Sick of seeing Marks' ass
Bruce- 4:43pm-comments- I like tail winds
Todd & Bone- 4:54pm-comments- Paddle on
George- 5:30pm- I'd like to see it (in reference to Johns' comment)
Dan- 5:33pm- paddle, paddle, paddle
Jack- 6:30pm- Great time
Brian- 6:44pm-Great day
Cruise Paddlers: Jason K.- 10:55am, Scott S.- 11:10am, Caszatt & Lopez- 11:55am, Smith & Blakely-1:12pm
Sprint Paddlers: Colthorp & Phillips- 10:55am, Holbereks- 11:23am, Helman & Loomis- 11:34am, Vallen- 11:45am, J.Cesar 11:47am, Lyon- 1148am, Behrend & Clingman- 11:51am, Graham & Gluney- 11:51am, Myrices- 12:10pm, Leyrer- 12:31pm, J. Cesar & R. Roberson- 12:32pm, Terwilliger & Fairchild- 12:50pm, Anderson & Behrend- 1:10pm, T. Cesar & L. Robinson- DNF
Cruise Paddlers: Brian Caszatt & Manny Lopez, Roxanne Smith & Lois Blakely, Scott Smith, Jason Kruger
Sprint Paddlers: Cora Brehrend & Mike Clingman, Adam & John Hoberek, Nate Helman & Zac Loomis, Pete Behrend & Mike Klingman, Aron Anderson & Corey Behrend , Jerry Cesar & Rich Roberson, Tracy Cesar & Laurre Roberson, Joseph Terwilliger & Duane Fairchild, Samual Graham & Travis Gluney, Tara & Frank Myrice, Mike Leyrer, Morgan Vallen, Jacob Cesar, Phillip Lyon