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Archive for the ‘Huron River Water Trail’ Category

The Big Ballooning Adventure

“Nobody can be uncheered with a balloon.” – Winnie The Pooh

Bit of a nice view, yes? Kent Lake from our balloon, with a companion balloon nicely providing the "money shot."

Bit of a nice view, yes? Kent Lake from our balloon, with a companion balloon nicely providing the “money shot.”

Pooh Bear, he knows. My husband and I were grinning for two hours, from beginning to end of our first hot air balloon ride. And really, we still grinning.

A bucket list item for both of us, this trip also coincided with our 25th wedding anniversary. And although we did not have any inflated expectations (come on, it had to be said!), what few preconceived notions we had were pretty much…burst.

Ha, sorry.

OK, not really.

I thought I would need a jacket. It’s cooler at higher altitudes, right? Didn’t think about the propane burner, and the very small space shared with two large men.

We both thought the ride would be bumpier, but there’s more turbulence on your average domestic airline flight than we experienced on this ride. Heck, my drive into work is rougher.

We also both envisioned a large landing area – you know, BIG, like a field, or open park space. We landed in the cul-de-sac of a subdivision. Much the delight of the residents – and the 6 kids who got a short tethered ride as a result.

Pilot Scott Lorenz filling the balloon

Pilot Scott Lorenz filling the balloon

Our pilot was Scott Lorenz of Westwind Balloon Company, which typically takes off near Kensington Metropark and Island State Recreation Area near Milford, MI. We met him at a park-and-ride lot, along with three other balloon companies. After sending up two trial balloons to test the wind direction – both of which went in opposite directions, leading all the pilots to shrug and say “OK, whatever” – we drove over to Island State Rec, which has thoughtfully provided a possibly-unofficial balloon “docking” area for just this activity.

After helping lay out and inflate the balloon with a huge fan, we climbed in the basket, and with a few shot of the burner – up, up and away we went (yes, in a beautiful balloon, just like the song, you old geezers you).

Kent Lake view

Kent Lake view

Wow. We could see the Detroit skyline, that’s how clear it was…and the view of the Huron River and Kent Lake was amazing. My photos don’t remotely capture the real thing. Picturesque also seems like an inadequate word for the view of our companion balloons, splashes of color against a gorgeous backdrop of Island Lake Rec Area and Kensington Metropark, the Huron glistening below them.

We flew for about 45 minutes in a remote kind of quiet that was interrupted only by the bursts from the propane burner to keep us aloft at about 500-1000 feet, and occasional conversation on what we were seeing.

View from the basket, as the burner sends a shot of hot air into the balloon

View from the basket, as the burner sends a shot of hot air into the balloon

Scott started scanning for a landing spot and decided – much to our surprise – on a cul-de-sac in a small subdivision. His crew captain, Gary, had already spotted us and was waiting for specifics on where we were going to end up.  By the time we touched down, several dads and assorted kids had already gathered, and Scott piled the kids into the basket for a short tethered lift.

After deflating and packing up the balloon, it was time for the post-ballooning champagne – a tradition started with the earliest French ballooning flights. Upon seeing the smoke-belching balloons landing in their fields, residents were inclined to get out the pitchforks and stab the “demons” into submission. The French being…well, French…the problem was solved by offering champagne upon landing.

Watching the balloon gracefully defalte

Watching the balloon gracefully defalte

 

Champagne is almost always a good idea, isn’t it? And a perfect ending to a ballooning adventure.

 

 

 

 

Art along the Huron

Enjoy trail-side masterpieces in Milford, Dexter, Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and Flat Rock.

Art along the Huron River!

Portrait of Postman Roulin, Vincent van Gogh at Gallup Park in Ann Arbor.

August through October, the Water Trail’s five Trail Towns are exhibiting high-quality reproductions of masterpieces from the Detroit Institute of Arts at riverside venues. Brought to you by the Huron River Water Trail and the DIA’s Inside|Out program. Each community will feature the installations at their local events. You can view many of the artworks as you paddle! And most (there are three pieces in each community) are within easy walking or bike-riding distance. MAP/EVENT DETAILS. #huronriver #DIAInsideOut

Canoe Imagine Art LogoIn Ann Arbor, Canoe Imagine Art (CIA) is a public art project that re-purposes canoes retired by the City to celebrate the history and attributes of the Huron River and/or the City’s park system. Four works of art were selected through a juried and public voting process for temporary installations along the Huron River. Check them out at Broadway, Island, Bandamer and Gallup Parks! They are stunning. #huronriver #a2riverart

Art along the Huron!

My Huron River (Huron River delta)

HRWC staff picks of favorite watershed spots, celebrating 50 years of river protection and restoration work.

A favorite spot for me on the Huron River is the delta where the voluminous waters fan out and feed western Lake Erie. There’s something satisfying about witnessing the transition from river to Great Lake, and picturing the individual stories of how – and in what shape – those droplets traveled from their places of origin. I am reminded, then, that all of our collective actions in the watershed are woven into the waters flowing past me and I hope that we’ve done justice to the blue.

Kayaking at the Huron River delta, River Mile 0. credit: L & S Small Craft Coastal Explorations

Kayaking at the Huron River delta, River Mile 0. credit: L & S Small Craft Coastal Explorations

The river delta flies under people’s radars as a destination, especially for those who live outside the Downriver area. Few signs or road markers give away the location of the river’s terminus. The 40-minute drive from my house to this spot means that I don’t visit as often as I would like. But, in the past couple of years have I come to appreciate the last few miles of the river and its confluence with the lake for its natural beauty, as well as its historical significance and new opportunities for trail-based recreation. Besides, where else on the Huron River can you see a massive barge traversing the Great Lakes, or paddle into big water?DSC_0200

The expansive view of water, land, and sky is always changing and always beautiful. The marshlands and forested floodplains of Point Mouillee and nearby islands provide critical habitat for plants and animals as well as stopover locations for migrating birds and waterfowl. The delta sits within the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, a binational refuge covering nearly 6,000 acres of islands, coastal wetlands, marshes, shoals, and waterfront lands along 48 miles of Detroit River and western Lake Erie shorelines.

Hull's Trace, military road built during the War of 1812

Hull’s Trace, military road built during the War of 1812

An old log road built during the War of 1812 remains under West Jefferson Avenue and is now known as Hull’s Trace – the newest addition to River Raisin National Battlefield Park. The National Park Service presence is increasing appreciation for this area through its educational programs both on- and off- the water, and reestablishing connections with the Wyandotte Nation that has deep roots here. The anonymity of the Huron River delta is slowly giving way as the National Park Service develops operations and as the  Huron River National Water Trail gains paddling and fishing fans.

Drop me a line if you visit the delta and share your photos with HRWC on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with the tag #huronriver50.

 

HRWC is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year!

Tell us your favorite watershed spot HERE.

Connect and share river ruminations or captured moments with us on FacebookTwitter and InstagramUse #huronriver50 to mark your posts!

Appreciate the River, Sunday July 12, by joining HRWC for some fun or heading to YOUR favorite spot with friends.

 

Panoramic view east at the Huron River delta

Panoramic view east at the Huron River delta

My Huron River (Kensington MetroPark)

HRWC staff picks of favorite watershed spots, celebrating 50 years of river protection and restoration work.

Growing up in Farmington, Michigan, the Big Beach trip in our family was to take a cooler and some lawn chairs up to Kensington MetroPark, where I had a great time digging in the sand, picnicking, and swimming at Maple Beach.  But the highlight of the trip was always the visit to the Kensington Nature Center.  Here is where I could actually touch Things From Nature!  Like furs, and skulls, and the mystery boxes you put your hand in to guess what was inside.  Here is where I could watch the bees for hours (well, I’m sure now it was really minutes) toiling away in the glass-walled hive.  It was here, I believe, (along with weekly episodes of Mutual of Omaha’s “Wild Kingdom” on Channel 7), where I also discovered the importance of wildlife, natural areas, and water to our quality of life, and thus was planted the seed of my future career as an advocate for the environment.  Little did I know at the time that I was recreating on the Huron River and enjoying its surrounding natural beauty, and that it would be my future workplace.

So, thank you Kensington, MetroPark, for helping to make me who I am!

IslandDriveKensingtonbyEllenm1Kensington MetroPark.  Photo: ellenm1

 

HRWC is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year!

Tell us your favorite watershed spot HERE.

Connect and share river ruminations or captured moments with us on FacebookTwitter and InstagramUse #huronriver50 to mark your posts!

Appreciate the River, Sunday July 12, by joining HRWC for some fun or heading to YOUR favorite spot with friends.

 

My Huron River (Happy Hour on Little Portage Lake)

HRWC staff picks of favorite watershed spots, celebrating 50 years of river protection and restoration work.

A typical view while sipping wine on Little Portage Lake In Pinckney

                                            A typical view while sipping wine on Little Portage Lake in Pinckney

I live in Pinckney and one of my favorite places is Little Portage Lake on the Chain of Lakes. Little Portage is a small lake that is the western end of the Chain and is also fed by Portage Creek, one of the most pristine creeks in the watershed.

This is not your typical Michigan inland lake, crowded with houses and docks. The lake is surrounded on 3 sides by woods and wetlands, and on weekday evenings in particular, there is virtually no boat traffic.

We rent dock space from Klave’s at the mouth of Portage Creek, and my husband and I often head out for happy hour, knowing we will only be sharing the lake with swans, swallows, frogs, turtles, and the occasional muskrat and sandhill crane.

We like to drop anchor in a cove at the west end of the lake. The water is about 15′ deep here, and there are no houses at all. Just woods and wetlands, and the background music is the soft slap of the water against the boat, bird calls, insect songs, and sometimes a swan kerfluffle with wings batting at the water surface and echoing across the lake.

It’s the very definition of peace and tranquility, and goes well with a chilled sauvignon blanc or your favorite microbrew.

HRWC is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year!

Tell us your favorite watershed spot HERE.

Connect and share river ruminations or captured moments with us on FacebookTwitter and InstagramUse #huronriver50 to mark your posts!

Appreciate the River, Sunday July 12, by joining HRWC for some fun or heading to YOUR favorite spot with friends.

 

 

 

HRWC staff take it on the road

HRWC staff frequently presents our work at conferences and convenings both locally and farther afield. We don’t always get around to sharing that information with our followers, but May has been particularly full with such opportunities to share Huron River programs while learning from colleagues and making new connections. Here’s a snapshot of those appearances . . .

RiverUp! @ River Rally

Some river people say that if you can attend only one conference each year, then it should be River Rally. More than 400 members of the river and watershed conservation community gathered in early May at Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico, and I was happy to be among them. My session titled “Transforming Your River into Main Street” showcased our RiverUp! efforts to restore and revitalize the river corridor through diverse partnerships, creative financing, and community engagement. Terrific reactions and conversations ensued with attendees from around the country such as Connecticut, Ohio, and California. Rally is hosted by River Network, a network of more than 2,000 state, regional and local grassroots organizations whose primary mission is protecting water resources.

The Rio Grande near Albuquerque, NM

The Rio Grande near Albuquerque, NM

Lakes Monitoring @ Boyne

Paul Steen reprised his trainer role at the annual Cooperative Lakes Monitoring training hosted by the Michigan Lakes and Streams Association at Boyne Mountain Resort, Michigan. The 50 participants, from all over Michigan, attend to improve their skills in various water quality measurements for lakes. The training attracts registered participants in the Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program (CLMP) and other interested people about how to make water quality measurements and nearshore habitat assessments on their lakes. CLMP is the second oldest lake volunteer monitoring program beginning in 1974 by the state natural resource agency. Check out the inaugural webinar training co-hosted by Paul from earlier this month for details on the CLMP.

Climate Preparedness @ National Adaptation Forum

Rebecca Esselman represented HRWC at the 2nd National Adaptation Forum in St. Louis. While in the Show-Me-State, she participated in a day-long workshop on “Collaborating for Climate Preparedness” where a local non-profit pairs with a local municipality partner to learn about various examples for collaborating. Matt Naud, City of Ann Arbor Environmental Coordinator, joined Rebecca. The National Adaptation Forum, hosted by the Urban Sustainability Directors Network, gathers adaptation practitioners from around the country to foster knowledge exchange, innovation, and mutual support for a better tomorrow in face of climate extremes.

Contact me if you would like to continue reading about HRWC Staff appearances like the ones mentioned in this blog.

Barton Dam portage just got easier

What better way to kick-off the paddling season than by celebrating the newest improvement on the Huron River Water Trail?

the gang

Celebrating another successful RiverUp! project with the Post family, City of Ann Arbor, SmithGroupJJR, and HRWC.

Our small, yet enthusiastic group gathered on the first warm sunny Friday in April to greet the spring weather and toast the innovative boat slide at Barton Dam. Our partners on the Water Trail have long wished for an easier way to navigate this portage, especially after a tiring trip across the flat waters of Barton Pond. We all imagined that there must be an easier way to get boats down the long, steep slope of the dam. However, no examples could be found.

HRWC collaborated with the design team at SmithGroupJJR to develop the first-of-its-kind boat slide, a stainless steel railing that makes portaging a canoe or kayak across the dam as easy as lifting it up on the rail and gliding it up or down the dam. Water Trail signage was added at the downstream access, as well, as part of the larger trail marking effort over 104 river miles.GroovyDesign

The Post family, who supported the project, were on-hand to help demonstrate how easy it is to use the slide to navigate over the dam. Thanks to their generosity, we now have a model that can be used at other portages on the Huron River Water Trail and other rivers across the state. Cheers to supporters of RiverUp! and users of the Water Trail!

Here’s to a safe paddling season.

~ Andrea Kline, Construction Manager

Our First Paddle Trip: Saturday, May 16th

There is no wi-fi on the river but we promise you a better connection!

Saturday, May 16, 8 AM

Paddling Bird Watch, Bruin Lake Chain

Join Dea Armstrong and HRWC staff on the first HRWC Summer Recreation paddle of the year. This birding-focused paddle will be guided by expert paddlers Barry Lonik and Ron Sell.  If you need a canoe or kayak Hell’s Canoe and Kayak Rental is donating boats.  Please let us know if you need a boat.

Experience the quiet waters of the Huron River with expert paddlers Ron Sell, Barry Lonik, and the HRWC staff.  The trip includes discussion regarding the river’s water ecology, history, and unique features.  In addition to watercraft, bring your own gear, food, drinking water, binoculars, and appropriate clothing for the weather. Every paddler must wear a flotation device – bring your own.

Full Moon Paddle 1

To register, please fill out this form.

For a Paddler’s Safety Checklist click HERE.

All paddlers must register in advance.

Paddling the Huron River Water Trail

Take a look at another short film released by the Huron River Watershed Council — one of a series that share stories of the renaissance happening along the Huron!

“Paddling the Huron River Water Trail” showcases this recently designated National Water Trail along its 104 miles of prime paddling for canoes, kayaks, and stand-up boards. The film features stunning aerial and underwater footage and focuses on three adventures: a solo canoe trip in the pristine Proud Lake area to the north; a group paddle trip in the dynamic Hudson Mills section; and a father and son kayak trip near Flat Rock and into Great Lake Erie.

Paddling enthusiasts can plan their own adventures with the newly released Second Edition Paddler’s Companion, a waterproof map flip book of  the entire Huron River Water Trail or use the trail’s online interactive maps to plan a trip or explore.

RiverUp! is a strategy to realize the goal of a vibrant, robust, and restored river as a destination for residents, visitors, and businesses.  7 Cylinders Studio of Ann Arbor worked with HRWC over the fall and winter months producing “Paddling the Huron River Water Trail” to share the vision of RiverUp!, a plan for the Huron River’s future.  Additional films in the RiverUp! Stories feature two of the Water Trail’s five Trail Towns, sharing fly fishing with local expert Schultz Outfitters in Ypsilanti and the transformation of  Dexter’s waterfront.

New Paddler’s Companion Edition Available!

We have some exciting news for you!

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A new and improved Huron River Water Trail Paddler’s Companion is now available.

  • Improved realistic map features to give paddlers a better understanding of the trail, launch sites, and nearby available amenities.
  • Distances and float times for selected popular trips, including access points and the Trail Town traveled through.
  • Our personal favorite: A new Trail Town section detailing the Five Trail Towns; Milford, Dexter, Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Flat Rock. Read for tailored paddling information, special highlights, places to go, popular events, and the history of each town.

PC-2-Cover-Shadow-194x300

Paddle down the river with ease and confidence, while learning about the rich history and culture of each Trail Town you pass. The Huron River Water Trail offers more than a quick paddle: each trip abounds with wildlife, beautiful scenery, and now a deeper connection to the people and history that helped develop our commitment to the river.

The Paddler’s Companion is available for purchase at our online store.

You can also purchase it through our Southeast Michigan Retail Partners.



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