Saturday, February 5, 2011

Canoeing The Kazoo - After The Storm

The first full day following Snowpocalypse in Kalamazoo was all sun and beautifully crisp and cold, with temperatures down around 5º or so. A perfect day to canoe the Kalamazoo River. Which is what I did last week.

And the river was absolutely beautiful. She offered up a bevy of exciting sightings, including a couple of firsts for me photographically.

There were eagles everywhere, including many juveniles - testament to the return of the eagle to our area.

I was finally able to photograph pileated woodpeckers, after countless attempts along the shore of the river.

I saw, and photographed, my first red-shouldered hawk. A beautiful bird.

An extraordinary day was capped off with an unexpected end and exit. I put in at Mosel Avenue and canoed up to Plainwell. But just upstream of the Plainwell dam, the river had frozen over completely from the impact of the blizzard. So I had to navigate a somewhat harrowing escape from an ice jam and make my way to the bank where I hauled out my canoe and had to call a friend to come pick me up in his truck.

It was one of those moments when you get glimpses of what it would be like if something were to go really wrong. Fortunately, I was well prepared, including hip high waders that enabled me to wade out through large chunks of floating ice and even use the bow of my canoe to break though the barrier of ice all along the banks.

When my friend arrived, we had to drag my canoe through a horse pasture in the dark. It was truly a bizarre experience.

I suspect the icing was due in part to the slowing of the river by the dam. I had never heard nor expected such a thing. For this and many other reasons, it made me want to remove all dams from all rivers. Let the river flow and run it's course, so I can run mine!

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