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A Short Day on the Belle River

For yesterday's paddle down the Belle River, I woke up late. We launched around noon at a cemetery on Belle River Road. This section was especially slow progress. Although there were only a few massive logjams, smaller ones seemed to be more frequent in this stretch than in others. Or possibly we were just feeling less athletic than usual.

Shortly after launching, two dogs spotted us from a riverfront yard. The two chased us quite far; one even swam alongside us growling. It was right next to Ekaterina's boat (an inflatable); I worried it would bite the boat and deflate it. Or worse, bite one of us. Surely any wound in the Belle River would become badly infected! But eventually the dog gave up and went back home, having successfully chased us away.

Strangely, there were several dead animals within the first mile of the river. We hadn't really seen this in earlier trips and the smell was terrible. Thankfully we weren't trying to wade! There were many blue herons yesterday; I narrowly avoided being pooped on by one of these majestic animals. We also saw a lot of green frogs and some toads; a few deer but not too many. I learned that male green frogs have eardrums that are larger than their eye; females' are smaller. So the one in the photo below is a male.

Ekaterina found an old glass bottle from 1890. Lydia Pinkham's Vegetable Compound. Turns out it was an alcoholic 'women's tonic' for 'female complaints.' I could use a bottle for some complaints!

My treasure of the day was an intact clam shell.

It was a pretty section of river, and still very rural. On the second-to-last logjam obstacle of the day we saw what looked like an easy portage on the right riverbank, which was very steep. So optimistically we hauled the boats up without scouting ahead. It turned out this route had extremely thick brush and that the land owner had been using the area as a trash dump. So instead, we lowered the boats back down and squeezed them through the dam, on the side. During this tedious procedure, Ekaterina's inflatable kayak snagged on some piece of metal and ripped.

It did still float afterwards, but paddling it was slow going. I gave her a little speed boost by using my dragging rope to tow hers. Fortunately, we were near a good ending point. The final portage, at a little river access park, was pretty long. We dragged the boats the rest of the way to the parking lot probably a quarter mile or so down the trail.

Yesterday we only traveled about six miles, but we're only 14-15 miles to the St. Clair River, and the last stretch seems to be considered navigable for an average kayaker. I believe we'll be able to do the full distance next time, unless the portages continue to be so frequent.

Some photos have captions.



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