Saturday, October 17, 2015

Ultra -Mitt (I give you, ManitouCruiser)

Manitou Cruiser Sporting Everglades Challenge Shark Teeth

I really want to thank everyone for following along on my trip these past few weeks. Thanks for all the prayers, well wishes and positive vibes. I could definitely feel the Love and without it I doubt I would have had the awesome adventure I did.
My original plan was to paddle and sail the entire Lower Peninsula of Michigan starting in Toledo and finishing in Michigan City, a trip of over 700 miles. I had never paddled the entire Lake Huron coast line before so I decided to start on that side and do a counter clockwise trip with The Mackinaw Bridge being roughly the halfway point. I knew that a trip of this size, at this time of year was going to be a challenge, but little did I know how much of a challenge!!!
The total miles I travelled by paddle, sail and portage was around 522, give or take a few. A few times while I was on the road my GPS batteries died and I would not catch it for a while so my numbers are not exact. Out of that 522 I had about 85 road miles which is about 85 more than I was expecting!! I definitely feel ready for the 40 mile portage in the upcoming WaterTribe Ultimate Florida Challenge!! I was only able to catch the wind on a few different days, one being the 30 hour 90 mile run I had jumping both the Saginaw Bay and Thunder Bay. I still had to paddle most of this time as the wind was only moving me at about 1.5 MPH. The other time I had the wind in my favor was heading down Lake Charlevoix to East Jordan. This run had me up around 6 MPH with my fastest recorded time of the trip of 11.4 MPH!! This was a bitter sweet ride though because it was taking me inland away from Lake Michigan and away from my intended route.

At this point in the trip I knew the big weather and waves had won out and with the limited time I had I would have to return in the future to again experience the coast of Lake Michigan. I have paddled the Lake Michigan coastline a few times before so on a positive note this weather was giving me the opportunity to experience a chain of lakes I had never been to!!

Again, I want to Thank everyone that helped me along the way with everything from simple kind words of encouragement to places to sleep to free meals and even offers for "rides to wherever it is your going". In all the road miles I traveled  and all of the thousands and thousands of cars, trucks and sometimes huge farm combines  that passed by me I never once felt threatened or in danger. Most drivers would give me plenty of space and if they couldn't do that because of oncoming traffic they would slow way down for me. This trip has again given me a good feeling about the kindness and love that strangers can and do show to folks like me out on the adventure of a lifetime.

Last but not least I want to "Thank the Team" I had behind me the entire time. Brian Weber for keeping my information(and mis-information) rolling on the blog and the constant encouragement. Mark and Lauren for technical advise and information at any time of day or night on my constant route modifications and the ever worsening weather. A huge "Thank You" to Amanda, Laila and the rest of my family for understanding my passion for paddling and my need for the peace that the wilderness brings me.  
Thank You- Thank You -Thank You!!!!     


Friday, October 16, 2015

Ultra - Mitt ( when the fog lifts...)

When the fog lifts and dust settles, I hope Manitou can put into his own words what this trip up over and through Michigan was all about; till then I leave you with this:

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
― Ernest Hemingway

Stay salty,

The Capt'n

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Ultra - Mitt - It's the Ernest Hemming "way"

There is a sense of euphoria as you paddle the morning silk; a time when everything is right with the world; a brand new day and anything is possible; especially when you day doesn't include rik-shawing your way across the state; rik-shaw be damned!

 As Manitou was coming into Bellaire, Jason Kruger (Verlen's grandson) was waiting at the boat ramp; he welcomed Manitou and got him set up for the night, which included a visit to their family owned and operated Papa K's Pizzeria.  Nothing tastes so good as a slice of Americana (pizza) and Short's Brewery Ale before a long sleep.  * - you heard it here first; best Gluten free pizza he has ever had!

Ernest Hemingway paddles out

Ernest Hemingway spent a bunch of time up in Northern Michigan when he was a boy, and the passion never left him. It has been said he found his muse in Northern Michigan.  A short 15 minute movie can be found here. click here .  A lot can be discovered from the seat of a canoe, the beauty of Northern Michigan lakes system needs to be on everyone's bucket list. In Mark's words "it's a local treasure"

New digs for Manitou, taking a break from stealth camping; ah a long sleep is in order.
Manitou pulls in for an oil change and lube; adventures like this are hard on the body and you need to pay attention to what the body is telling you - here is a look at the arsenal of essential oils that are making the trip. Personally I go with a little different approach, Oreos and Rum, but to each there own. Seriously one has to consider the possibilities of the effects of Rum these oils.

Stay Salty Lubed

The Capt'n

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Ultra - Mitt - Big Rock / Elk Rapids

 They grow'em Big at Big Rock Point
A little history to wet your safety whistle
Manitou in the morning debrief states he is pretty committed to the chain of lakes with the end of this intrepid journey Elk Rapids. Time is a barrier, so sitting around and waiting for the weather to freshen up is not an option.
This is what we know:  560 miles thus far with 88 of them by foot [long hauling gear and craft]; there is margin for error - I am poor at math and Manitou may have left his GPS off for a bit.
Big shout out to Amanda, Mark and Lauren, Linda, Dan and Steve and all the River Angels out there that are making this trip a success, every leg of the trip has shown what Michigan is made of.
Settle in and watch it unfold - also on channel 2 we got the BBC going on with WaterTribe; they're up against Mother nature as well as the winds blow long and hard.
Stay Salty,
The Capt'n

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Ultra Mitt - inland waterway

Double reefed and flying a handkerchief, ridiculously fast run to East Jordan; white knuckle ride, with a whole lot of mast bend.

East Jordan puts out the welcome mat; closing in fast my friends.
East Jordan is a beautiful Northern Michigan town, located on Lake Charlevoix, previously known as Pine Lake. East Jordan was founded in the 1870’s, and it was originally part of a town named, South Arm. It is a small town with about 2,500 residents.
In its recent years, East Jordan has become a popular place to visit in the summer months. One popular attraction is the Jordan River, which is among the cleanest rivers in Michigan, spans 33 miles, and was the first river to be designated as a National Wild and Scenic River. East Jordan also hosts the Freedom Festival every summer, which brings a lot of people from East Jordan and outside of East Jordan downtown to enjoy carnival rides, games and concerts. The lakes, small town atmosphere, parks, and warm summer days make the city a popular place for tourists – or “Fudgies,” as locals would call them.

Stay Salty!!

Ultra - Mitt blow hard

It's still blowing stink out there, but Manitou likes what he sees; small waves and a Northwesterly coming soon

Ok lets find a place to drop in without getting soaked in the process; wet beach starts are great when it's on a hot summer's day, but in October when it's onshore and blowing [see flag in pic] best ease into it like silk pajamas.

 6.6 mph right now as the wind swings around; double reef in... "Thanks Verlen Kruger and Mark Balough" - Manitou
You know you're moving when your kicking up a wake you can boogie board on; drop in a ski rope and I see opportunity.

Ultra - Mitt wheeled warrior

Jezz you got to keep you eye on the SPOT or you'll miss the game!! Made some great time on that silky smooth wheel-way.

Ultra - Mitt - more on the Crooked River

OK, I don't know what happened; I must have fallen asleep in the wheel house and forgot to post these pics from the Crooked River section.  Quoting good friend Dan Smith on many adventure; "it don't get no better than this."

Pesky locks and dams pop up out of nowhere; the lock was closed so it was a pull around to the other side.

Ultra - MItt - don't quote me but...

Here's a quote I had to share; "No, I'm not a Sea Wind stalker - just a great admirer of the WaterTribe. Met Manitou on the wheelway this evening. What a delight. He's doing well and cheerful.  I have a hunch he's always cheerful." LD

In the business we call 'em River Angels - Linda just dropped off fresh apples and bananas; she's been following the WaterTribe and us for awhile and was totally inspired!  Guess who's getting a boat and getting into paddling!!

 Bike path to Charlevoix - GOLDEN! - in more ways than one; that is one scenic trail and wheel-way worthy!! 
A Beautiful field of Sumac doing it's fiery red autumn dance

So as the wind and weather Gods play havoc with the big pond, Manitou heads to Lake Charlevoix to east Jordan; from there it is a 5 mile hike over to Ellsworth where he can jump into the chain of Lakes that will eventually get him down to Elk Rapids -- we need a nodded to the wind and weather Gods for 10 - 15 out of the East!  Or...

Being 8.7 miles out of Charlevoix, the weather starts to look promising for a launch on Lake Michigan possibly Wednesday.  So it's camp now, get some huge sleep the next couple of days and be ready for a big push on the big pond. Let's hope for some 2' waves and a moderate breeze out of the Northwest.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Ultra Mitt (the crooked river)

Manitou reports great color on the Crooked River; Maples shown bright in the early light.  Time allotted for this adventure is coming into its last week; questions of what to do where to go from here are plentiful.  Conditions on the big pond have not improved so there is some cyphering going on - when to put in and where?  You're always within 10 miles of some water way in Michigan, but is it navigable and headed in the right direction - questions to be answered soon.

If you're looking for more small boat adventure turn to WaterTribe as the have another windswept event going on - Black Beard Challenge. Knockdowns, broke gear and adventure, what more could you ask for - click here

Stay Salty,

The Capt'n

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Ultra Mitt the slog

After a day of slogging it out in the straits with conditions building Manitou looks towards the Indian River as a viable option.  This way he can keep moving by waterway vs. another long haul by road and pebbled path; he already has portaged nearly 60 miles during this venture, sat out on the shore and watched it howl.  As you can se by the picture sustained winds over 25 mph. with the flag whipping.

 Lots of shelter as the wave and wind careen over the top of the river; everything improves, including safety as a northwest wind blows in hard.
So it's a hard left rudder, drop the sail rig and stow; a paddle up through Mullet Lake down the Indian River.  The Lakes in the region are big, but the availability to pick a shoreline increases 100%.  Not exactly sure what it is going to look like on the far end of this section; I'm sure it will include more portaging and walking.
Stay Salty, and stay tuned!
The Capt'n

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Ultra - Mitt coastal walk turns to paddle out

Back on the water pushing to Mackinaw; possible gale force winds coming Sunday night through Monday, so making forward progress now is imperative.  Side story - beans did the trick, we're all good! We say good bye to the hospitality of the Hammond Bay Marina and flush toilets!!

Ultra - Mitt bean power

 No time for lollygagging; Manitou pushes on past the warm of cabins and running water; it's off the grid for the next couple of days.
 When the flag stands tall you know it blown stink out there - 20mph steady on the nose makes for a good day to walk.

Time to ditch the Coppers and head to the trail system; they'll never stop me now!! [enter evil sinister laugh track]
Paved trail makes for easy rolling; tree lined path makes for music in the trees as the wind is howling!
 Could be anywhere, but its Michigan; beautiful picture of windswept beaches and inland surf.

24 miles by foot must be rewarded; this can has had a 350 mile free ride and its time to purge it from the pack!  Dinner is served!  Only 34 miles to the mighty Mac Bridge!  Manitou plans to spot check conditions through the night; if it lays down out there he is going to push -off early

Friday, October 9, 2015

Utra - Mitt Justice

Justice in the tiny hamlet of St. Clair!!  All charges dropped!! Community fly's the Krugerhead Colors proudly!!

Ultra-Mitt - the hangman

Every picture tells a story, and this one is a tell all.
Of course we are still waiting for the tox-screen to come in; it appears Manitou has been pulled over for being under the influence; it appears the fresh air is intoxicating, makes a person go for long walks along cobbled road with craft in tow. (it's howling on the water)
There will be no jury trial, we move right to sentencing... community service for you my weary traveler.  Spread the word!!  Krugerhead Rally at the Capitol!!

Ultra - MItt "Roger" Roger

Rogers City is located on Lake Huron and is home to two salmon fishing tournaments; the world's largest open pit limestone quarry and now the current location of Manitou who is drying out, warming up and getting some shut eye.

The Port of Calcite, is located within the city limits and is one of the largest shipping ports on the Great Lakes. It's heads up paddle sailing as freighters sports fisherman and the occasional dumbass careen the waterways. (stories to be told)

Deals to be made and places to rest to be had; Manitou got this little gem for pennies on the season rates at the marina; no, look farther back in the picture, the shed my man the shed.
So the weather started to build and a brisk breeze was starting to kick up 5' waves, so Manitou pulled into Roger's Marina.  So it's dry out some gear gets some rest and wait it out.
Stay Salty,
The Capt'n

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Ultra Mitt - a bridge too far

Manitou makes a hard left turn as he comes up upon the tip of the mitt; visions of zbars dipped in peanut butter are no more, it's all about the Mackinaw Bridge.  It's quite a sight to behold as you make your way through the strait. 

The bridge was designed by the great engineer David B. Steinman and opened on November 1, 1957. The structure took 48 months to complete with over 3, 500 workers and $99,800,000 dollars. Also know as the "Big Mac" or the "Mighty Mac", the bridge stretches 8,614 feet making it the fourth longest suspension bridge in the world. With a total span of approximately 5 miles, the Mackinac Bridge connects the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan uniting the communities of Mackinaw City and St. Ignace, Michigan. The main bridge cables are made from 42,000 miles of wire and the towers stand 554 feet above the water and 210 feet below to the bedrock. The engineering of the Mackinac Bridge was designed to accommodate the high winds, temperature changes and constant changes of weight. In severe conditions the deck at center span could move up to 35 feet. Under more subtle conditions, the deck could move slowly in one direction based on the force and direction of the winds. 

Factoid: * 1951 Chevrolet Styleine Deluxe owned by Albert Carter was the first car to cross the Mackinac Bridge.

Like the war movie "A Bridge Too Far" epic in scope of production and star power, we turn our sights on marquee of Hollywood and contract negotiations with  Michigan Out of Doors Television; as we speak Gabe Van Wormer is making his way to meet up with Manitou and get some footage for an up-coming show. 

Till then, stay salty my friends!!

The Capt'n

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Ultra - Mitt (disregard for authority)

Disregard previous post of the elusive Charity Island in Lake Huron and the opportunity to count migrant birds; Manitou with complete disregard for his filed sail plan lost control of his compass and headed north; way north above Thunder Bay.  Huge crossings today... epic in all regards.

So in all seriousness I spoke with Manitou late afternoon on Tuesday; he shared that the conditions were favorable and looked good for a long haul steam up the coast; if weather reports stay true the wind will clock around to southeast which will push him though the Mackinaw Straights.

To be honest I am not sure he has stopped as of this posting; my thought is his SPOT gave out after 24 hours and he did not reset it. Though his last location did look like he closing in on some shoreline.

This is a move right out of the Kruger Canoe Handbook.

Stay Salty my friends,

The Capt'n

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Ultra-Mitt (giving me the thumb)

 Manitou made good time heading into 10 to 15 knot of headwinds; Mostly 1' - 2' waves with the occasional (what the "F") 5' taking you by surprise -34 miles, not too shabby my man. 

The plan is to push off early and make it to the jumping off point to Charity Island and make it across Saginaw Bay. With the wind out of the west the pond should be cooperative and the wind waves manageable.  We'll have to see how it unfolds.

Native Americans named the Charity Islands. They believed these islands were placed there by their Gitchi Manitou to provide safe shelter for all, Indians and French voyageurs alike. However, the islands weren't known as the Charity Islands until after 1845. Maps before 1800 show the islands unnamed. "According to a 1839 map, Big Charity Island was referred to as Shawangunk, while Little Charity Island was known as Ile de Traverse."

All tattered and worn an old sign weathered tells the tale of how harsh conditions can get on the great lakes.
Tell me this little nook isn't inviting after a long day of paddling; a place you want to be if the weather starts to turn sour.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Ultra-Mitt ~ the launch

Interesting situation; I lost the ability to access the account for a second there; luckily I used my superior techno skills and logged into the correct account; stay calm in these harrowing situations.  

Manitou was planning a big push, but cool north winds had a different plan for tonight's activities; at about 930pm Manitou stated he would eat sleep and head out early; here's a little launch video from yesterday's act 2 scene 7

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Ultra-Mitt - back to the big pond we go

 The game is a foot! Our hero of this story is back on the water after encountering all sorts of mis-adventures only told around a raging Smith campfire. (what happens on shore leave stays on shore leave)  Things are looking better as the water makes calm.

 Poised for big adventure, our intrepid warrior of wind and water poses for one last parting shot before departing north along the Michigan shoreline.  Information is sketchy, but I would imagine another big push 20 - 36 hours.

Softened by time, the inland sea of Huron looks peaceful, almost inviting; forget not, this is the Midwest in October and anything can happen, especially on big bodies of water.

Stay salty my friends, and give nod to the weather Gods for a smooth safe journey.

The Capt'n

Ultra Mitt - light ship of the Huron

The poor Coasties that got this duty - worse than French Frigate Shoals
Lightships were like floating lighthouses anchored in areas where it was too deep, expensive or impractical to construct a lighthouse. Lightships displayed a light at the top of a mast and in areas of fog also sounded a fog signal and radio beacon. The fog signals used over the years consisted of bells, whistles, trumpets, sirens and horns. Fog horns were powered by steam in the early days and later by air compressors. The HURON Lightship sounded her fog signal in a 3 second blast every 30 seconds and was known locally as "Old B.O." because of the familiar sound her horn made. (that would drive a sane man mad being stationed on there)

She was stationed at various shoals on Lake Michigan until 1935 when she was transferred to Corsica Shoals in Lake Huron, approximately 6 miles north of the Blue Water Bridge and 3 miles east of the Michigan shoreline. For the next 36 years she guided mariners into the narrow dredged channel of lower Lake Huron leading to the St. Clair River. In the past, large lighted horn buoys and offshore towers (Texas Towers) replaced some lightships. When retired from active service in 1970, she was the last lightship on the Great Lakes. Acquired by the City of Port Huron by mandate of area residents, the ship was enshrined at Pine Grove Park in 1972 as a tribute to her vigilance and in fond memory of a by-gone era. In 1989 the HURON Lightship was designated a National Historic Landmark. She is the only lightship on the Great Lakes to be so honored.LIGHTSHIP 103 (WAL 526) built in 1920 at a contract price of $147,428 by the Consolidated Shipbuilding Corp., Morris Heights, NY (No Hull Number assigned). Keel laid June 5, 1918 and launched May 1, 1920 as a) LIGHTSHIP 103 for the U.S. Lighthouse Service. Commissioned December 22, 1920. 86'6"loa, 69'5"lbp x 24'x 11'9"; 340 tons displacement in fresh water. Powered by an 185 ihp compound steam engine and two coal-fired Scotch boilers. Her hull originally was painted red with the lettering "RELIEF" on her sides. Her equipment included a 10 inch steam whistle for a fog horn and one acetylene lantern with a 300mm lens for a signal light. Lightships are officially designated by their number, however they bear the name of their current station, or duty, on their sides. LIGHTSHIP 103 completed her sea trials December 4, 1920 and was delivered to the 12th District Headquarters at Milwaukee, WI on June 9, 1921 to begin her Great Lakes career. She was assigned RELIEF from 1921 to 1923 primarily on Lake Michigan and to Michigan's GRAYS REEF from 1924 to 1926. Her signal light was electrified in 1927. In 1927 and 1928 she was RELIEF again and in 1929 at GRAYS REEF. Later in 1929 she was RELIEF until 1933. In 1933 her fog signal was changed to a 17" Leslie typhon steam diaphragm horn. Next she was assigned to the NORTH MANITOU Shoal station in 1934-35 and for the remainder of 1935 as RELIEF. Lightship 103 replaced the previous Corsica Shoal stationed lightship at the Lake Huron cut beginning in 1936, a station that had been established since 1897. Her hull was painted black with the white lettering "HURON" on both sides of her hull since she was assigned the black buoy side of the entrance to the Lake Huron Cut. The Lighthouse Service merged with the U.S. Coast Guard in 1939. From 1945 onward she was the only lightship in service with a black hull. Typically LIGHTSHIP 103 remained on station from early April to late December. She usually wintered at the Coast Guard Station at the foot of Mt. Elliot in Detroit. In 1949 LIGHTSHIP 103 was extensively rebuilt at a cost of $168,000 and converted to diesel power with two six cylinder GM 6-71 engines at the DeFoe Shipbuilding Co., West Bay City, MI. A short funnel was installed during her engine conversion. Rated speed: 9 knots (10.4 mph). Her updated equipment included a radio-beacon, radar, a two-tone diaphone fog horn, plus a standby horn, which sounded a three second blast every 30 seconds synchronized with the radio-beacon for distance finding. Her crew consisted normally of six to seven men, of a total of eleven, with tours of duty 18 days on and six days off. In November, 1952 the lightship at Gros Cap Reef in Whitefish Bay was withdrawn from service leaving LIGHTSHIP 103 as the last lightship on the Great Lakes. LIGHTSHIP 103 was withdrawn from service on August 20, 1970 as the oldest lightship in the Coast Guard. Five days later she was decommissioned and laid up in the Black River at Port Huron, MI. On June 5, 1971 the lightship was acquired by the City of Port Huron. On August 29, 1972 the lightship was placed in an earth embankment at the city's Pine Grove Park along the St. Clair River and was opened to visitors on July 13, 1974. Over the years the vessel was vandalized and neglected until a group of volunteers from the Lake Huron Lore Marine Society began restoration work. On August 2, 1990 the lightship was dedicated as a National Historic Landmark. LIGHTSHIP 103 had been almost completely restored and was opened to the public for tours and remains so at this time.