By the time we made it to Gallup Park we were hot and a bit tired. There was a bit of a headwind, we went around the back side of one of the islands and I tried elderberries for the first time. I had been waiting for months to taste them ripe and it was certainly disappointing. They had a bitter after taste, and were pretty unpleasant raw off the bush. Better as wine and jam I think.
I sampled what turned out to be ailanthus seeds, what an odd odd taste. I havenâ€™t yet checked to see if it is poisonous, it would certainly be an odd spice if it isnâ€™t. I canâ€™t even begin to describe it but it had a long unsettling aftertaste.
We rested for a bit at the park, got water and used the facilities. The whole place is geared towards the rentals â€“ we werenâ€™t especially welcome taking up space on the dock but the guys were also friendly about the message.
Off to Geddes, pretty close by. We passed under US 23 and then did the portage. We ate the rest of the fruit salad and enjoyed the roar of the dam from below The energy changes there, maybe because it is much less commonly canoed, maybe because we were finally out of Ann Arbor after a full day of paddling.
We found a place for the night near Fleming Creek. There was a shelter with benches and a floor and lots of graffiti, a board walk, and a forest floor of ginger, ramps, and poison ivy. While it was certainly mud at any other time of the year, the lack of water that made paddling more difficult made this a perfect camp site. Perhaps a funny note to camp near the sewage treatment plant, but it made sense as far as location!
Dinner was corn on the cob, stir fired veggies, and for desert Gary baked an Apple Pie. Wow. There were a few sprinkles, but nothing significant. The few mosquitoes drove us into the tent, the only difficulty was that it was HOT and it took many hours for some relief.
I spent at least an hour awake in the middle of the night. Strange noises (what could produce such a loud POP!! In the woods at night? I donâ€™t know. But it wasnâ€™t an ax murdererâ€¦. And other snaps and wood noises all had me thinking about how we as a culture have gotten so far away from natural living that a pleasant simple night in the woods feels so scary. It just isnâ€™t right, and Iâ€™m sorry I lack the ease to camp without some background fear.
We had a lovely morning waking up to the sight of the creek from the tent, and soon had the tent and gear stowed and breakfast (blueberry pancakes) served and eaten. I quizzed Gary on a few of the finer points of the LNT (leave no trace) camping theories and guidelines. Important when you stealth camp, but an increased awareness of my impact on nature seems like a good mindset always.
Gary harvested some ramp seeds, hoping to find new locations for them.
Using tree roots for stairs, we repacked the canoe, got in, and headed back to the river. We were soon paddling along Superior Pond. It was already a hot and sunny day and I asked Gary for the shady side of the river, not always possible. Plus he showed me some unusual houses and buildings as we went, and told stories of the owners and local lore about secret tunnels, defensive outposts, and more. We saw a few lovely homes â€“ a log cabin with a standing seem roof that was enormous was one â€“ and others that had massively stupid mowed lawns and some with the resulting shore erosion, but we got some friendly waves from inside a house at the end of Superior pond. That was nice.
I should insert here that one of the common pieces of trash we saw at all the portages, and along the banks, was the unmistakable blue plastic cartons for worms. Fisherman seem like slobs from the perspective of a canoe. If there was a deposit asked for each of those containers, it would sure clean up the river. An alternative would be to provide worms in biodegradable cardboard, maybe with a bit of wax. It would really help the mess. Who can I suggest it to?
Superior dam was a bit of a longer portage, a lot of rocks making the put out a bit awkward, but an easy put in. We started running into some more shallow water again, but did OK getting around the larger rocks. A few passages were a little clumsy but seemed good to me. We made it to Peninsula Dam, a lovely relic on the left with a tall tower preserved on the right. There was an ugly ropey light green algae on the water surface, which literally stopped the canoe. We had to paddle hard as it built up in the bow of the canoe â€“ we were pulling masses of this material with us until I started breaking it away from the hull.
We put in for the portage, had a lot more pie, and used most of the last of our water. The take out was a nice new dock, the put in was balancing on a bunch of unsteady rocks â€“ I gave up and waded in.
The carp were plentiful throughout the trip, and some jumping right next to the canoe made me jump as well. We passed one shallow ridge in the water and there had been 4 or 5 large carp hanging out right there â€“ it was a fun surprise when they all suddenly jumped and swam away from us. Two feet long carp were common, Gary saw one three feet in length. The river was a bit junkier at this point, car parts, tires, a Ford hood, and we had to watch the rocks.
We made it through the rocks and low water and soon we were gliding in to Riverside Park in downtown Ypsilanti. As we approached the park I first saw flashing police lights, then cascades of water across the river. Multiple fire houses were spewing water in a variety of patterns, there were sirens, and people seemed to be having fun rather than in the midst of some disaster. As we pulled up we could see it was a fire truck gathering on a major scale â€“ antique and present day trucks, kids using the hoses, it was apparently an event put on by the Fire House museum kitty corner to the park.
We wandered around and enjoyed that this was the end of our short urban canoe adventure. Who would have thought weâ€™d be received with cascades of water and literal bells and whistles!!
But it wasnâ€™t the end. With the option of another portage or being picked up, we opted for walking the canoe to Garyâ€™s rental house, about 12 blocks away through the EMU campus. It was after noon, the temperatures were near 90, the humidity was brutal. We had to take a few breaks, but it was fun to finish with flair rather than a simple car ride. Mostly people just got out of our way â€“ me with paddles, and PFDs strapped to my back pack, but I was hiding in the shade provided by Gary with the canoe balanced on his shoulders, and loaded full frame backpack. The best reaction was from a dog coming towards us. He looked uncertain, then a bit mystified, and then cautiously eyed us as he gave us a wide berth. That was funny.
We made it to the van, loaded up and drove back to my house. Just less than 30 hours, a wild wonderful interesting and thoroughly enjoyable vacation from Ann Arbor to Ypsi by way of the sewage plant. Unusual, and highly recommended.