The 3rd Annual Big South Branch of the Pere Marquette River Overnight had its best attendance in the last three years, with eight paddlers meeting at the rendezvous point. Despite snow flying all morning on the drive to the river, me and Dan Sullivan, Rich and Emma Bailey, Rodney Wilbur and his friend Bill, Mary Powell, and Brenda Battin were ready for the weekend.
Temperatures had been around 27 degrees when it started snowing but it kept warming up little by little. We all launched into the river and began to immediatley encounter the typical logjams and obstacles in the water. We called it “adventure paddling” and took it in stride.
By the time we stopped for lunch the clouds were breaking up and before long we had beautiful clear blue skies and an ever warming sun. The river through Ruby Creek was fast and wide open making for a fun ride. The massive log jam from the last two years was also gone and we floated into camp without as much legwork as we had anticipated from previous years.
Temperatures were now in the 50’s and the bluff site we camped on had full sun all the way to sundown. Bill had left us at Carr Road so there were seven of us in camp and there was still plenty of room for even more if necessary. The small fire we sat around had shown no sign of being used in the past year so we felt we had the site all to ourselves.
Sunday morning temperatures were around 38 degrees but there had been no rain (or snow) and although it was overcast it was not uncomfortable. Rich, Emma and Rodney got out at Walhalla Road so that left four of us now to continue. There were a lot more portages on Sunday and by the time we stopped for lunch at one of them I was wondering if all of the free passes on Saturday were being paid on Sunday.
We were rewarded for our efforts as the sky again cleared of clouds and clear blue was overhead with the welcome sunshine. Mary and I ended our trip at Wilson Bridge while Dan and Brenda continued on all the way to the planned take out on the mainstream of the Pere Marquette. We all had truely enjoyed the river despite the work and felt it was definitely a “SPRING TRIP”.
The following link contains pictures from the trip, as well as from the East Branch of the Black River we paddled two days before the Big South Branch. The Big South Branch pictures start after the photo of the “West Virginia boat loading” shot.