Saturday, April 25, 2015

It's a banner day..

to be out on the water; brisk cool breeze, horizontal rain that stings like bees; what are you waiting for?
So if you are reading this, you are probably not paddling; but you could make a run on down to the Kruger Memorial and hang with some really cool people and get your paddling lore on. So back away from remote, take caution around the couch and slowly make your way down to the park in Portland.   There is still time to make the shorter routes too!!
The Story

The Hugh Heward Challenge is an annual paddling event that retraces a part of the historical route of English explorer and fur trader Hugh Heward and his party of 7 Frenchman. On April 24th of 1790 Hugh and his team paddled down a 50 mile section of the Grand River in central lower Michigan while being hurried by a small group of feisty natives. This story was brought to the attention of Verlen by his good friend and river neighbor Jim Woodruff who is a Michigan Historian and Topologist. Jim has dug up a multitude of information on the old canoe routes that criss cross the state of Michigan and also the people that traveled them. This particular 50 mile run is but a small section of Hugh's original ...trip which took him from the village at Detroit, through Michigan's lower peninsula and over to the village of Chicago and beyond. Jim found it interesting that while traveling past his and Verlen's own backyards Hugh and his party supposedly paddled 50 miles in a single day. After studying the charts and extensively discussing Hugh's accomplishments with Verlen, Jim proposed that Verlen go out and prove it could be done. Verlen gathered his own group and set out the very next spring to show it could be done and since then hundreds and hundreds of modern day voyageurs have retraced the route.

The full 50 mile Challenge is a big day for even those that have expert water traveling skills. A few shorter routes have been set up for those wishing to have an easier day. The Half Hugh is about 25 miles and starts in the town of Grand Ledge, MI and the Quarter Hugh is about 13 miles and starts at Charlotte Hwy near the town of Portland, MI.

The Routes

The Full Hugh Heward Challenge will start at 7am, April 25th at Lions Park, 300 W. Jefferson St. Dimondale MI. The Grand River is wide and gently flowing, current is suitable for beginner paddlers. There are three easy portages, 2 going through the city of Lansing, MI and 1 at Grand Ledge, MI. Just outside of the city of Lansing, Challengers will pass by Verlen's final resting spot just upriver of his old home and canoe workshop. Jim Woodruff's home is just upriver of Verlen's on the opposite bank, stop in if you have time and enjoy a Silver Bullet with the old historian that made this adventure possible!

The Half Hugh will start at 10am, April 25th at Fitzgerald Park (Dam), Grand Ledge, MI.

The Quarter Hugh will start at Noon, April 25th at Charlotte Hwy Bridge (over Grand River) just outside the town of Portland, MI.

All Routes finish at the site of the Verlen Kruger Memorial at Thomson Field in Portland, MI.

The Details

A donation of $10 can be made to the Verlen Kruger Memorial for participation in this event. All proceeds will go directly to fund projects and paddle events put on by the Verlen Kruger Memorial.

Certificates of completion will be awarded to all finishers who make it to Thompson Field, along with a delicious chili dinner.

The City of Dimondale, MI is again offering primitive camping at the starting line for Friday night. The Lions Park is located at 300 W. Jefferson St. Dimondale MI. The park offers a sheltered picnic area and running water bathrooms. Downtown Dimondale is only a few blocks away.


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