Day 30 – Algonac to Port Huron

Look at this "squeeze":  When you see how the land narrows at the bridge you can understand why the current is so bad. As you paddle up the river you are actually gaining 9 feet in elevation.
Look at this “squeeze”: When you see how the land narrows at the bridge you can understand why the current is so bad. As you paddle up the river you are actually gaining 9 feet in elevation.

The St. Clair River proved to be a serious workout going from Harsens Island to the light house beach of Port Huron. Yesterday Lindsy and I took a day due to that bruising paddle and the fact that winds were gusting out of the north on Lake Huron. It just seemed kinda silly to head out into that, especially after the pounding I took for 30 some odd miles upstream followed by that workout of all workouts, the bridge!

I’ve never paddled against such a strong current on one of these journeys yet. That was for sure the absolute toughest one. I shared the space beneath the bridge with a tanker, and because of that I did not hug the Canadian side as much as I should since I didn’t want the wake to drive me into the bridge. So I was a bit in the channel, hoping to catch a little wake. I made the mistake of letting up a teensy bit on pace and pressure and started to fly backwards. Getting serious about digging in I caught a wake from the tanker and was able to get past a tough spot where the water gets really crunched and the current even stronger. Some guy seemed to be videotaping me the whole time-wish I could see it and yea, totally kicking myself because once again, my GoPro was off!!!!! Aagghh!! Ah well.

Tony Garczynski of Great Lakes PaddleSports hosted us in the very cush Doubletree Inn and even treated us to dinner where one again we stuffed ourselves silly. We had the perfect seat to watch the freighters going back and forth. Holy mackerel, I’ve never seen so many ships underway as I have on the St. Clair river.

Between the tanker traffic, the refineries on the Canadian side, what bits of industry are left, and the huge green lawns with zero a buffer up to the river, there is a LOT of work that can be done to improve water quality. As one sees further downstream, clarity of water doesn’t always translate into cleanliness. I wish I had been able to stop paddling to take a water sample, especially in the area known as ” chemical valley,” but any stopping at all that day meant going backwards pretty fast. It was a complete and total grind. Glad to have had the day off yesterday, plus, Port Huron is a pretty cool town. Lindsy and I hung out at the Raven Cafe and caught up (sorta) on emails. The best coffee and hummus wraps can be found here!

We ambled over to the Great Lakes Maritime Museum, which is definitely worth the visit. We missed ” freighter Frank” but a guy named Bob gave us a great little tour. Definitely worth a visit.  There’s so much history in the area, plus, it’s fun to watch the tankers flying downstream with the current or motoring upstream, clearly not as fast. Bob showed me the website, “” great site, you can even pull up charts, which we did. Looking at Saginaw Bay one sees that it is incredibly incredibly shallow. Having heard a story about a guy who ditched his boat to swim to shore and almost gave up until he put his feet down, and looking at the charts, I’m kinda concluding that Saginaw Bay should be something I do with the family on inflatable SUPs or kayaks and not in a carbon fiber, 20 foot long boat with a huge rudder. So I’m thinking of shooting across the mouth of the bay-picking the narrowest part of it, of course. Well, I have a little time to think on that, yet.

Last night we crashed a  family fish fry. We had no idea that our hosts, Randy and Theresa Orchard, who offered to let us sleep in their guest trailer, were having their every other year family gathering that same night! So another awesome stuffing commenced and I’m really hoping I won’t sink my boat. Between the fried  local Walleye ( yum!), fried zukes, pumpkin spice crumble stuff (for the recipe!), and cheesy potatoes, I’m super stoked I’ve got a paddle ahead of me today to work it all off. Yay for regional cuisine and home cooking and gracious guests!

A final thought is that yesterday morning I also caught an article about the horrible, hateful act on my Twitter feed. It makes the heart hurt to read about such hate, racism, and fear. Especially in this country which was founded on the acceptance of all.  We have no chance to achieve greatness in this country as long as we are bound by hate and fear. What happened in Charleston has got end. We as a nation are better than this. Hatred and fear prevent us from moving forward and doing what needs to be done to surmount the hurdles ahead. Racism, which is rooted in hatred and fear, does not belong in this country. Racism is the lead weight that keeps us rooted in fear and the past, with no hope to move forward.

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