Another Run On The Water – Raisin Upstream Of Norvell

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Posted on : 3/16/2010 10:43:00 PM | By : Dann | In : , , ,

It was on the 60's today.  The sun was shining.  The birds were singing.

And my kayak was begging to get wet.  What is a guy to do?

I packed up my kayak and gear after work and headed out.  Donald and I had been scoping out river locations on the way back from Cabela's last weekend.  We went through Norvell and saw that the Raisin River was flowing nicely.

As luck would have it, all of my usual partners in river mischief were otherwise occupied, so I really needed a spot where I could go out and back rather than running a river and needing to be picked up or dropped off.  Norvell is only about 10 miles from home as the crow flies.   So off I went.

As a side note, I passed by Little Wolf Lake.  It still is about 70% covered with ice.  There is a nice park there that will make a great starting point, or perhaps a start/end point.

Calling the entries to the Raisin on Austin Road "landings" is really being complimentary.  Both the north and south side have shallow, sandy areas that stay open only because people use them enough that the grass won't grow there.  Parking is fine on the north side of the road.  The traffic moves pretty quickly, so be careful when humping your 'yak to the south landing.

Being alone, I figured that it would be easier if I were to go upstream first.  In theory, that would make the return trip a bit easier than the outbound run.  So I dropped in on the south side of the road and began paddling.  Even with all of the snow melt currently running off, the current really wasn't all that bad. 

I knew that one half of the marsh went nowhere.  The other half leads upstream.  Care to guess which way I went first?  Good guess.

The water in most of the marsh is barely 2 to 3 deep.  In most of the places to the east, it was only 18 inches deep.  There are many reeds, cattails, and other flora in the middle to keep you guessing.  The reeds are home to Canadian geese, several species of ducks, red-winged blackbirds, muskrats, and who knows what else.  The geese and the ducks got mad at me and left pretty quickly.  I think I may have interrupted a couple of geese that were 'getting busy', if you know what I mean.  They were honking at me for half an hour after I passed their nesting area.  100+ yards from their nesting area.  You would have thought that I had pulled up right next to them.

The muskrats were a lot of fun to watch.  One got caught in the middle of a wide open area when I came along.  As luck would have it, he started to head back the other way as I went around him to catch up on the other side of the open water.  He dove and stayed down for a long time.  Eventually, I saw that he had popped up 15 yards away and much closer to the cover of the reeds.

Having explored the east half of the marsh, I decided to see if I could find where the river really was.  A swan came out of the reeds on the way back out.  He paddled off well ahead of me.  I had no idea that we had so many swans in the area.

Big tip here.....when in the marsh, pay attention to where the water is moving and which direction it is flowing.  Ripples started appearing in the water as I left the east portion of the marsh.  I shot through an opening and sure enough the river was moving here.

From here on out I had only two thoughts in mind.  First, paddle.  Don't stop.  Don't rest.  Paddle slower if there is no other choice, but paddle.  And second, watch for moving water.

There are a few locations where you might lose your way, but if you keep an eye on the ripples, then there shouldn't be any problems.  The stream wanders back and forth quite a bit.  After a while, the sun started to drop and my arms were asking for a break.

The run back down stream was quite a bit easier.  I was paddling most of the way, but I was doing a lot less work.

You can follow my meanderings on the map the follows.  If Google is to be believed, then my trip was about 3.5 miles long.  I was about 1.5 hours on the water.  That works out to 2.33 miles per hour.  Not a bad run!

A brief word on equipment.  Special thanks to Donald and Josh for my early birthday present, a floatation vest from Cabela's.  There is no padding on the sides, so paddling is pretty easy.

Also, I'm still very impressed with the stability of the Future Beach kayak hull.  Getting in, paddling around, and getting out were a breeze.

A brief word on safety.  The water at this point of the Raisin is currently pretty high.  Usually you would be able to float under the roadway and get squirted out the other side without any problems.  There is barely enough for an empty kayak to make it under that bridge.  Give that area a lot of clearance.

Happy paddling!


View Raisen from Austin in a larger map

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