10-October-2010, Leg 7
59 1/2 Street Bridge to the City of Hartford 64th Street Bridge
On Sunday Oct 10, I put in at 59 1/2 Street Bridge and headed downstream for Hartford. I immediately noticed a change in the river. For the last two months [all the way from the Maple Lake dam], the river bottom has been predominantly sand. Now, I was seeing a large number of cobble beds and gravel bars. I don't know exactly why these gravel/cobble areas are so prevalent in this stretch. It may be the glacial geology. For instance, there also a large number of high clay banks on this part of the river. I have attached a picture of one clay bank with at least a 10 foot thick clay layer. Or it may be that all the sand has settled out of the water by this middle stretch of river. Without doubt, pre-settlement and before intensive agriculture, the river would have had a gravel bottom and not sand. Sandy bottomed rivers in Michigan are the legacy of stripping the watershed of forest cover and then plowing the soil. Obviously, the gravel bars are great for many species of fish, mussels, invertebrates, etc. Many of the coldwater tributaries to the Paw Paw are DNR designated trout streams. In fact, I saw two 30 inch or so Brown trout taken out of the river when I got close to my takeout spot in Hartford. But the big story on Sunday was the Coho salmon. On almost every gravel bar you could see 3-4 foot silver-grey fish. I desperately tried to get a picture or video of these large fish but it was just too difficult with a fast moving current and the need to use both hands on the paddle. I had to settle for a picture of a fish skeleton on the bottom. Do check out my video of the current flowing past the gravel bar. There are Coho spawning on this bar just out of range of the camera [just use your imagination and you might see a world record Coho]... Here is the key to my videos. Not as good as being there but hope you enjoy them never-the-less.
- 090 - Paw Paw River downstream from 59 1/2 Street at the confluence with an unnamed creek
- 091 - Closeup of the small creek flowing into the river.
- 092 - Current flowing past a gravel bar in the Paw Paw River
- 093 - More of the Paw Paw River on Sunday October 15, 2010
In the photos below you will see a couple of shots of an overhead pipeline. I would like to believe it presents no real and present danger to river, but just the same, it makes one think. Recall that it was this summer's environmental disasters in the Gulf of Mexico an on the Kalamazoo River that gave rise to this Odyssey of mine. We can't be too careful with this precious resource; it means life to us.
Hartford is the halfway point on my journey to Lake Michigan. On Saturday Oct 16, I will be paddling from the CR 687 bridge on the north side of Hartford to Paw Paw River Campground/canoe livery [formerly Ma-n-Pa's] on M-140 north of Watervliet. I will be leaving at 11:00 am sharp so feel free to join me on this 4-5 hour trip. This should be the easiest paddling of the entire project because the canoe livery keeps it relatively clear of obstructions.
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