The Platte River is one of my favorite places up here to kayak. The water is beautiful, and the surroundings are perfectly soothing. We put in at the national park area right off of M-22, near Riverside Canoe Trips. If you take the road directly to the mouth of river, it’s about 2.25 miles, but the Platte winds and bends a fair amount, so I’m sure it’s a bit more. I hadn’t paddled those waters since April, when my sister visited, but for the rest of my companions it had been since last August. Because the water is so clear and calm, it is also a favorite place for tourists, so we leave them to it in the summer and enjoy it virtually on our own during the off-season.
We began our trip yesterday at about 3:30pm. With the day’s high temperature in the low 60’s (~16C), it was a bit chilly in the shade, but for the most part we were able to stay in the sun if we angled our boats right. For the first part of our trip, the five of us were alone with the water plinking from our paddles and the wind riffling the leaves.
Jess and Jackson crossing under a pine
As we rounded the bend into Loon Lake, we joined a couple of folks in small fishing boats. We quietly waved our hullos, no one wanting to break the sacred silence, and paddled on.
If a gull can stand in it, we can’t kayak over it – around and into the lake!
Whereas much of the river before Loon Lake run through forest, wetlands border the river on the far side of the lake. Tall grasses grow right up to the river’s edge, blurring the distinction between land and water. We often see herons plodding along in these grasses, but not yesterday.
A “blind” shot of the river-bottom weeds, which absolutely make my heart sing
What we did see, though, were lots of salmon. Which is just what we expected, because this is the time of year when the salmon race upstream to make babies and die. I sure took the poetry right out of the circle of life there, didn’t I? The drive to mate in that way must be incredibly strong. About halfway down the river (from our put-in) is a fish weir, and the salmon are literally piled on top of one another, fighting – futilely since they are blocked by the weir – to continue against the current.
All those dark spots are salmon – and none small
Not a great shot, I know, but Tony would not swim out there. I kid, I kid. He bravely waded out and took about 20 blind shots, but that water was cold. The salmon were kicking up all kinds of “dust” dropping visibility, but the dark “shadow” to the right is actually just loads of fish
Things calmed back down after wending our way through the gauntlet of fly fishermen who set up shop just downstream from the weir. Following the river’s capricious path, we passed back into forests, out again, and back into wetlands. Nearing the mouth of the river, we spotted a couple deer. A perhaps otherwise uneventful sighting made special from our river-level vantage.
Let sleeping ducks lie?
The Clifton trio headed back to Traverse City, probably stopping for a photo-op or two on their way, but Tony and I lingered for a spell at Lake Michigan. Leaving about half an hour before sunset, we admired the fall colors in the pink September light.
The last bend in the river. Lake Michigan beyond
As we crested the last ridge before winding down into TC, the moon smiled broadly at us, just rising over the west arm of the Grand Traverse Bay – one last beautiful gift before the dark chill of night.
TC in the last rosy rays of the day