Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sawtooth Challenge day 6 and in the end

In this montage, Carl captures the essence of the trip; the stillness with a light fog on the river; the shuttle to and fro; big open spans as the river opens up moving our way south; the camaraderie and team work of would be adventurers.  This was a great trip, with awesome people on and off the river, truly blessed to have participated in this adventure.

Paul random elderly gent down by the river takes the last photo, his dog sneaks in for a photo op.

The Players left to right top row:

Bob - loves ice dancing long walks and musicals; Janet - this girl can sing, out with the hymns, and in with the Red Hot Chilli Peppers with her new hit single "Chiilly Chili"; Carl - International jewel thief retired, now fancies chess, board games of risk and 4 o'clock tea; Royd - just finished up a 9 week recovery program for meat abuse had a relapse and is sentenced to 20 more years of paddle camping till he gets it right; Gary - cashed it all in starting his own think tank, cornered the jelly bean market in the 1980's, likes the feel of nylon; Toby - off the water, enjoys ballet tap and line dancing, likes to snuggle; Paula - last scene with a stolen jacket headed for Flint International airport, destination unknown possibly Casablanca ; Mike - enjoys flea markets, fashion shows and a good rub of his venison.

Lower row left to right: 

Bud - the original Marlboro man (known to spice things up a bit behind closed doors), now runs security for Beyonce and 50 cent; Craig - magician, grifter confidence man, can say hello in 26 different languages, but doesn't; Sandy - invented the hula hoop and slinky, the brainchild behind Gumby and Pokey the children's toy; Brian - well he's special, had is own bus while going to grade school, voted most likely to be on a wanted poster in high school, College was a bust, the most mis-understood writer of our time - lives by the motto "write drunk, edit sober".

Not shown:

Jack - likes waxing candles, has one of the largest American Girl doll collections in the U.S.A., co- founder of Boys are special too of Michigan; Mark - a real momma's boy, wears short pants and suspenders, enjoys macro may and knitting; Buffalo Al - still waiting for the Abba reunion tour, wants to open for them with his comedy shtick (ABBA was a Swedish pop/rock/disco group formed in Stockholm in 1972); Chuck - CEO of the Chucky Cheese Pizza Franchise, only person to ride the Matterhorn at Disney 232 consecutive times, lost his cheesy fries every time...

Pups:  Tyler and Koa refused to take my interview.

And in the end, isn't it really the beginning as the completion one adventure is just the start of another; plans are already being made for next year's fall trip; destination the Wisconsin River!!

Thanks everybody for playing along.

The Capt'n

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sawtooth Challenge day 6 - the big push

Hello, My name is Royd, and I abuse meat.

Doing inventory the night before the big push, it is revealed that Royd has been holding out on the clan; in his possession are the makings of a Feast O Rama - steaks and plenty of them; unfortunately they have well, " turned "; meaning a bit more then aged, bordering on green.

This how-ever does not take away the fact that they are steaks, now basting on the fringe of a Smith Fire filling the air with the smell of a  back home county barbeque; we spend a fair bit of time discussing the what if's how bout's of throwing caution to the wind and digging in; as men are easily distracted, we turn to Sandy and Janet who are elbows deep into a "Smores - a borg"  So our thoughts drift from dead beef to rich sugary goodness.  " yes please ".

So the clan turns in and we wake  early for a 8:00am start; which means on the water at 7:45am if you are looking at Bob's watch.  Bud, Taylor, Sandy, Koa and I give way to the queens wave, finishing our breakfast and coffee as the majority of the Sawtooth Clan push on.

The day is filled with rock bars, riffs and an occasional," What the F was that? " as we skirt monster boulders that jump out of nowhere.  Discussion goes to the section called big rapids; oh Bud tells tale that we have been preparing for it the last couple of days with what would be riffs and boulders; hmm, well  guess we'll see what happens. So we reel in some of the group which has spread out over a 4 mile widening section of the Muskegon; nods waves and leap frogging our way down river.

We are entering Big Rapids the city; so Big Rapids the rapids should be close; yep there's the bridge, did Bud say stay left or stay right?... what's with all these damn gauwkers?  We make it through with out incident but almost roll it in the eddy, safe on shore we scurry to the bridge, it's the front group of the clan watching the rest of us paddle through.

Word trickles down stream that Paula and Janet have wrapped the Jensen up river on what is now being called P-J's Boulder; Bob is close by peeling them off; all is well, some cracks, but no leaks.  we push on...
" 6 - the big push" And the day Janet and I have a boulder named after us. Did a lot of praying on that day and apparently they were heard because despite floating backwards, hitting boulders going sideways in a big, well-loaded boat we made it without flipping. Way over my comfort zone but learned a lot. - Paula M
More photos - click here

to be continued...

Friday, October 12, 2012

Sawtooth Challenge Kruger Extra!!

The man, the myth shares his photos of the Sawtooth Challenge - click here

Sawtooth Challenge day 5

Bob made a great call on our early pre-dawn departure; nobody embraces the packing up in the dark wet gear, but the pay off being on the water early gave way to a  new perspective of the color on the river; greys turning to brilliant shades of reds oranges and yellows; the color wheel never saw so many hues.

Miles to be made but our pace slowed, it really was a time where we could just move through-out the group, chat a bit.

It worked out perfectly; we arrived mid-afternoon; a steady breeze through the trees and intermittent sun offered great opportunity to dry out;  the woods in which we camped looked like a bit of a yard sale gone bad with everything scattered about, but it was nice to be in camp with more then an hour of daylight left.

to be continued...

Sawtooth Challenge day 4

The arrival of Mike Smith held great promise and good fortune; Mike had made up some of his venison barbeque that was extremely well received on last year's fall trip; we waited in anticipation.  Mike being a celebrity of sorts we had Toby provide security, notice the keen eye and 1000 yard stare Toby has going on. Even Tyler bottom right is wearing a vest in-case things get out of hand.

Unfortunately being star struck we neglected to secure the safety of the barbeque; Jack eyeballing our bounty gets the evil glare from Carl; international incident thwarted by passing of 20lbs of smoked salmon.

Back tracking a bit, we arrived to our campsite just before it started to rain, everyone took to their routines and got camp set quite quickly; the foragers and gathers were busy gathering wood for what would be another epic Smith fire; fires that legends are made, fires that must be experienced.

Everyone now in the sacred circle of trust, life on the river becomes common place; big pushes during the day to make miles are just a prelude to a great gathering in the evening; life is good and we are all thankful.

Our group tends to turn in early reeling to the comforts of synthetic sleeping bags, comfy sleep mats and highly functional tents. Our homes away from home are all too inviting.  Before turning in Jack and Mark share a bit of sad news that they will be pushing off early around 3:30am; they have decided to push to the big pond, Lake Michigan; this of-course prompts Bob to organize a pre-dawn start to get in some miles in hopes of getting off the water around 3 or 4 to enjoy camp life dry out gear and socialize.

to be continued...

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sawtooth Challenge day 3.4 - 5, clueless

Finding Nemo is one thing, finding Mike Smith is another, consider him found

I don't know what day it is, everything has become a blur; been on river time since cresting the Mackinaw Bridge; to coin a phrase from Mr. Jim Woodruff, "It's like herding cats watching these Kruger events unfold." 

So Mark and Jack arrive, Al and Charlie depart, Mike Smith is running a strong offense trying to determine where to meet us and Michael Doty goes AWAL and will be severely beaten at our next gathering; it's a mess; no it's perfect, no you have just been Krugerized.

Krugerized is a lot like being punked; Example, Toby offers the clan peanuts, (with a snicker) the sampling is inviting but they are Cajun peanuts hot enough to peel paint.  Retaliation ensues with a soggy banana on his boat seat; let the Krugerized hijinks begin!! Its the little things out on the river, meaningless in real time, but river time, its everything.

So with crystal clear water partly cloudy skies and color bursts in the trees that would rival any Disney fireworks display, we make our way down river, taking it all in.  We are pushing 30 + miles a day now, everyone keenly aware we have some distance to make up after days and days of bushwhacking.

to be continued...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sawtooth Challenge day 3

"Pick me pick me" Toby cries out as we choose sides for the ambush on Mark and Jack; we anticipate their arrival today as we have cleared a silvery liquid highway.  The river is beginning to open up a bit and spirits are high; we might even get to paddle a bit.

Brian last picked for the ambush attempts to plea his case to Bob; "Brian, basically you suck, you are last picked, deal with it", bellowed Bob.

It actually is quite a feat in itself; coming off the Iron Mushroom Challenge, sorting out gear resupplying and catching us on day 3 of our adventure.  Mark and Jack have taken have taken efficiency to the next level and catch up to us just before a well deserved lunch break.

Today's lunch break was the only one of the trip; with days of drag overs, cuts and scootching boats under fallen trees, we ate basically on the go. So we sat back let the warm sun sooth achy backs and ate like royalty; wine cheese sausage fruit, a real social affair.  Tyler and Koa(dogs) frolicked in the river chasing anything that moved, quite a site when Tyler came face to face with a bright green frog.

The rest of the day went without incident, it was really the first time during the trip you could paddle along side someone and have a conversation; it was nice cause everyone has their story, and grand stories they are.

to be continued...

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sawtooth Challenge day 2

Photo by: Sandy Krueger

Yesterday was a long day, lots of sawing drag overs and such; it was interesting to me that I woke up with the dawn to hear a "heave ho, heave ho, pull, pull"; holy crap I thought, the clan is leaving with out me pushing the next section of downed trees! I scurried out of my tent only to find that it was Toby, Bud, Al attempting to hoist Gary from his camp chair; you see in every group there is always one rabble-rouser, the one that wants to stay up late and cause a ruckus. Most of the clan had dispersed by 8:00pm; if I recall Gary stayed up well past 8:15!

O.K. so maybe I embellished a bit, but that's the way I remember it. So a quick breakfast and more cutting and sawing, more dragging and head scratching; by the end of the day we had not made much head way, only 7 miles.

 Photo by: Sandy Krueger

The day blurs, but one thing that really stood out was the team work; it takes a lot of team work to move all this gear up down and over.

Stand out moment was when we came to a jam that was multiple log high and in deep water ( makes it hard to navigate around it to cut); I was sure we would be unloading the cruiser and doing a 6 haul carry; but the clan had other plans, I believe it was Gary Bob Toby and Cole, could have been others cause it went so quick. The literally picked up a fully loaded Kruger Cruiser (probably 300lbs) and scootched it over the jam. I'm sorry, but at that point I needed to hand out hero awards, cause that my fellow adventures was amazing.

 to be continued...

Monday, October 8, 2012

Sawtooth Challenge day 1

 photo by Brian Weber

Like most gatherings on the leisure, the group was slow to wake. breakfast good conversation and a lot of milling around.  At some point someone started moving paddling gear and supplies down to the river's edge, like lemmings we followed suit.

The sun crest the trees and the warmth that it brought soothed. Now busy as bees at a fall harvest, boats began to be loaded and gear sorted.  All sorts of watercraft, a home built kayak, Jensen Canoe, Cruiser, Monarchs, Sea Winds, DreamCatchers, and a Superior were represented.  More milling around and discussion ensued, drivers sorted out as the rest would stay back with boats and gear while we did the shuttle.

We were in luck as Elizabeth showed up and was able to provide us with a shuttle allowing all vehicles the ability to be at the take out. (nobody likes the double shuttle retrieving the vehicle at the put in); so, clearing out space in a crusty ole van we loaded up and were on our way; the shuttle for the most part was uneventful, except for the fact that Elizabeth's short cut took us close to an hour out of our way; her fiancee Josh was along for the ride and was getting some glares as he was trying to assist in navigation; tipping her handsomely for her effort,  Tip of the day - "Stay to the main road!!"

Quick to depart the comforts of White Birch campground we were on our way; we figured on getting in 15 miles today as there was plenty of the day left for lolly gagging down  river.

Well, the Muskegon had other plans for us; just out of ear shot of the campground things began to get dicey, down trees and log jams began to build; I mean one after another each more menacing then the last.  We were deep deep into the scat of the river, making only 4 miles.

O.K. so we drastically underestimated the top section of the Muskegon; with that said we cut pulled dragged a crap load of luxury items over a vastly untraveled section of this majestic river. Forget about the gear we really did need like the chainsaw left in Royd's truck; forget that our local shuttle person Elizabeth gave us a raised eyebrow at the put-in as she suggested a different starting point. Note to self, never discount local knowledge even if it's from a girl that got us lost on the way back to the campground.

Jack M. was the topic of many conversations; our original organizer was a couple days behind us on the Iron Mushroom, hoping to catch the main group by Tuesday or Wednesday.  We came up with all sots of schemes for payback, fueling our resolve to keep moving forward.

We found a nice stretch of river's best and set up camp. Spread out a bit small pods of the group gathered and shared food and drink.  Everyone was in extremely good spirits as teamwork prevailed today. Clan of the Sawtooth 1 vs. Muskegon 0.

to be continued...

Sawtooth Challenge day 0

 Photo Credit: Carl Cole

Peeps started arriving around 3:00pm at the White Birch Campground; a dip of the Tilley for Toby doing some leg work and finding a camp ground that would accommodate us so late in the season.  The camp office and store were closed, the running water was shut off the flush toilets non-existent. There was an artisan well that provided cool crisp drinking water and we were thankful for that.

Handshakes hugs and fist bumps ensued as old friends and new acquaintances greeted each other. People went by all sorts of names and handles; one that comes to mind is "Buffalo Al" a character right out of the salty Kruger Canoe Handbook.  Al showed up with less then nothing, in the dark, no cup no bowl no pants.  We watched him struggle with a pop up self inflating tent (go figure); we now had our evening entertainment.

A grindy ole suburban tattered and worn pulled up, a young woman Elizabeth jumped out barefoot, tattered jeans, pure Michigan country and introduced herself; she offered to go fetch us a couple loads of wood for a campfire;  we were all over that as the evening brought forth cool temps.  Conversations around the shuttle tomorrow brought forth an idea that maybe Elizabeth could shuttle us all back to the campground allowing us to get all the vehicles to the take out at Rogers dam. Things were coming together for the best lead trip with no leader.

Janet had made up a tasty batch of chili that fed everybody and then some; there was even some left over for Texas toast and chili for breakfast.

to be continued...

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sawtooth Challenge / Iron Mushroom

Jack (organizer) being strangled by Bob and Janet - I did find a hangman's noose in my canoe that Toby made, Jack my friend you got off easy. Photo by - Chuck Amboy

Over the next week or so I will try to put into words what was experienced on the 6 days (117.4 miles) Muskegon River. Not sure if words will do the event justice, it had to be experienced, but I will take a stab at it. - hopefully I will get some pictures from the clan to post.

 Photo by: Carl Cole

It became apparent that our arduous 4 miles the first day and measly 7 miles on the second, that we were in for a real adventure; with a labyrinth log jams and downed trees to tackle, the Muskegon "Mosey" was out, it was now the Sawtooth Challenge.

O.K. so we drastically underestimated the top section of the Muskegon; with that said we cut pulled dragged a crap load of luxury items over a vastly untraveled section of this majestic river. Forget about the gear we really did need like the chainsaw left in Royd's truck; forget that our local shuttle person Elizabeth gave us a raised eyebrow at the put-in as she suggested a different starting point. Note to self, never discount local knowledge even if it's from a girl that got us lost on the way back to the campground.

So with 15 liters of bag wine, a 30 pack of cold beer, Maker's Mark at the ready, and a bottle of rum for swagger we pushed on. With  multiple coolers jammed with steaks, chicken, Italian sausages, smoked salmon, barbeque venison, caramel apples, cheese crackers, chairs, tables, canopies, tarps and dogs you got yourself the makings of a grand ole Michigan picnic, but we weren't on a lilly dipp'n day paddle. we were on the Muskegon river. I half heartily waited for someone to break out the lawn darts and croquet set and why not we had everything else.

To be continued.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The boys are back!

Jack and Mark completed the Iron Mushroom Challenge Sunday afternoon with an overall time of 51 hours and 21 minutes. Jack said it was one of the hardest events he has yet completed and is looking forward to a few days of rest and relaxation on the Muskegon River this week. The boys are heading out to catch the big group that started yesterday and hope to see them sometime tomorrow.

Join us all on the Muskegon if you can, the colors are really starting to burst out here in northern Michigan!