The 2nd Annual BiSBotPeMRO will be held Saturday, March 29 through Sunday, March 30, 2008. We plan on meeting at 9:00 a.m. Saturday morning at Custer Bridge on the mainstream of the Pere Marquette River. We will run shuttle from there upstream to launch at 16 Mile Road and Dickinson Avenue.
We intend on camping on public land downstream with no established facilities. You will need to bring everything you need to be self-sufficient for the weekend. However, unlike the February Au Sable trip, we will not be required to float our own firewood down. The snowpack should be gone by then so we can forage for our own firewood.
There are numerous access points along the route, so if someone wished to only paddle for Saturday we could accomodate them by leaving their vehicle at the last bridge before we camp. Anyone wishing to only paddle on Sunday will have to either launch early from the upstream bridge or wait for us at the next downstream bridge. Those locations will be arranged when we run shuttle.
Suffice it to say that wilderness trippers jealously guard the locations of their favorite campsites, and this is no exception. We have a spectacular place to camp with high ground, ample deadfall, plenty of space, great views, easy access to water, and no road access.
Sunday we will float out to join the mainstream and takeout at Custer Bridge. It is prudent to mention that there are numerous logjams on the stream that require portaging. There are more portages on Sunday then Saturday, but the ones on Saturday are more adventurous. Last year I got trapped upstream above a logjam and had to scramble out onto the pile while my boat got vertically stuck in the river. I had to stare at the surreal sight of my canoe vertically bobbing in the current before I could collect myself and recover it.
Although the weather should be nicer then the February Au Sable trip, this is not a beginner trip. Everyone is expected to bring their own equipment and know how to use it Hypothermia is still a very real danger, and people who over-rate their abilities not only put themselves in danger, but put everyone else they are paddling with in danger. There are plenty of opportunities in the summer to learn how to wilderness trip in a canoe or kayak safely.
We had another excellent weekend on the Au Sable River, with twelve boats and seventeen paddlers participating. Many paddlers were veterans of previous trips, but there still were a few people who were new to this trip, although not new to paddling.
The weather was marvellously cooperative with clear skies and temperatures rising from -10 degrees Friday night to a high of 24 degrees on Saturday. Light winds contributed to the pleasant feeling and it felt very Spring-like.
REFLECTIONS ON THE TSANGPO RIVER:
or the “what am I doing?” and “how did I get here?” experience
by Jay Hanks
Part 1: The Tsangpo River and Me
Part 2: The Big South Fork Gorge of the Cumberland River at 4000 cfs
Part 3: Graveyard Rapids on the Spanish River during the flood of 1996
Part 4: The Wreck of the S.S. Minnow: Gilligan’s Island on the Missinaibi
Part 5: Bad Dog: High water in the Dog River Canyon – May 2001
Part 6: Day 10 on the Yellowknife River, NWT – July 2005
Part 7: Reflections at the End of the Day
Many of you may know what and where the Tsangpo River is, and many of you may not. I will tell you a little bit about it. It is in Tibet, and is considered to be the most challenging river in the world. It is called the “Mt. Everest of rivers” because of its proximity to the tallest peak in the world, and also because of its dangerous nature. Mt. Everest has been summitted many times since Sir Edmund Hillary accomplished the feat in 1953 but it still remains the pinnacle of mountaineering challenges.
The Tsangpo is similar. Explored by Europeans in the late 19th century, the Tsangpo River has remained shrouded in mystery until late in the 20th century when repeated efforts to chart its course were undertaken. Because of its extremely remote location all explorations are on foot even to this day. It is not surprising that paddlers would sometimes talk about running the river after they would find out about it.
Like me, many paddlers constantly think about new rivers to run. We all have our favorites but the thrill of the unknown is contagious and intoxicating. Since whitewater paddling has taken off as a sport in its own right, paddlers everywhere have been quick to make sure every river on the planet has been run. With technological advances and new techniques, the adventurous paddler has successfully descended even the wildest, most difficult rivers.
The Tsangpo River in Tibet began to epitomize the last, great river on earth that remained unexplored. A few paddlers from the D.C. area began seriously discussing an expedition to the river in the mid 90’s. There are two books in print on their 1998 trip towards that end: “Courting the Diamond Sow” by Wick Walker, one of the trip members, and “The Last River” by Todd Balf, an outdoor adventure writer who did not personally undertake the trip.
(to be continued…)