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Home>News and Resources>Paw Paw River Odyssey>16-October

16-October-2010, Leg 8

City of Hartford 64th Street Bridge to Ma-n-Pa's on M-140

Wow! A total of 23 paddlers joined me on this segment. Some were members of Two Rivers Coalition already but others had simply heard about my journey to raise awareness of the natural beauty of the river and wanted to come along.  A big thanks to Kenneth Nesbitt of Lawton for helping to organize this group paddle. In addition, he and some of his kayaking buddies have been working on clearing a paddle route from Lawrence downstream which has certainly made my paddling easier the last two weeks.

We had a beautiful fall day and the colors along the river bank were gorgeous. The Paw Paw trees were changing from green to yellow, the spicebush was red, the buttonbush was yellow and the canopy above ranged from brown to orange to scarlet. For the first mile or so the riverbottom remained gravel just like the several miles above Hartford. Some of the paddlers saw trout and salmon on the gravel bars. The river then slowed and widened and went back to a sand bottom with deep holes below high banks at every bend of the river. On some of the south banks [facing north and therefore getting less sun] there were stands of hemlock, an evergreen that has a very limited range this far south. We paddled back into an oxbow [an old channel of river that has been bypassed by the main current] and saw the remains of a Great Blue heron rookery high in some Sycamore trees. When I paddled this route in the spring, the noise from the nests full of chicks was deafening. We paddled by the confluence of Pine Creek which is a coldwater tributary of the Paw Paw. Pine Creek rises in the glacial morraine hills of Keeler [south of Hartford] and is a DNR designated trout stream. Sadly both Pine Creek and Mill Creek have had high levels of e. Coli when tested by the DEQ in recent years. Possible sources include large concentrated animal feeding operations which can generate 3,000 head of fecal material per day. At this point the DEQ does not have any plans to do further testing to narrow down the source.

All in all it was a very enjoyable paddle and very easy compared to the log jam wilderness sections I had paddled between Paw Paw and Lawrence.  Mike from Paw Paw River Campground and Canoe Livery has done a good job of keeping the river open for paddlers from Hartford to M-140. We still had to weave around and duck under some obstacles. One unfortunate kayaker was attempting to squeeze under a large downed Sycamore when he had a dispute with his kayak as to which way to go. They compromised and each went their own separate way and the paddler was dumped into the cold water!

I have now travelled approximately 2/3's of the way to my final destination: the confluence of the Paw Paw with the St. Joseph in Benton Harbor.

 

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Pine Creek (Coldwater tributary of the Paw Paw River)
Floating down Pine Creek through buttonbush toward confluence with Paw Paw River
Two Rivers Coalition Paddle Event on Paw Paw River
TRC members floating down Paw Paw River
Floating past grove of hemlock trees on bank of Paw Paw River
Train trestle [Click here to view full size picture]
Train trestle
Kelly Russell squeezing under a Sycamore [Click here to view full size picture]
Kelly Russell squeezing under a Sycamore
Tim Russell [Click here to view full size picture]
Tim Russell
Kenneth Nesbitt doing some pruning with his ever ready hand saw [Click here to view full size picture]
Kenneth Nesbitt doing some pruning with his ever ready hand saw
Scouting a path around a downed tree [Click here to view full size picture]
Scouting a path around a downed tree
Bucolic river scene [Click here to view full size picture]
Bucolic river scene
Duckweed on oxbow [Click here to view full size picture]
Duckweed on oxbow
Abandoned nests of Great Blue Heron rookery [Click here to view full size picture]
Abandoned nests of Great Blue Heron rookery
Flotilla of Two Rivers Coalition paddlers and friends [Click here to view full size picture]
Flotilla of Two Rivers Coalition paddlers and friends
City of Hartford sanitation facility (We smelled it before we saw it!) [Click here to view full size picture]
City of Hartford sanitation facility (We smelled it before we saw it!)
Van Buren Trail bridge for pedestrian and bike traffic [Click here to view full size picture]
Van Buren Trail bridge for pedestrian and bike traffic
Ruins of old 67 1/2 St bridge [Click here to view full size picture]
Ruins of old 67 1/2 St bridge
Speaks for itself [Click here to view full size picture]
Speaks for itself
Pine Creek [Click here to view full size picture]
Pine Creek
Looking down Pine Creek to confluence with main stem [Click here to view full size picture]
Looking down Pine Creek to confluence with main stem
Grove of Hemlock trees (relic of colder and wetter period several thousand years ago) [Click here to view full size picture]
Grove of Hemlock trees (relic of colder and wetter period several thousand years ago)
Kenneth Nesbitt - retired?  Not exactly...  This tire, rim and all, was rescued from the river and floated out. [Click here to view full size picture]
Kenneth Nesbitt - retired? Not exactly... This tire, rim and all, was rescued from the river and floated out.
I looked into this hollow Sycamore a few years ago and found a nest of baby Turkey Vultures [truly bizarre looking chicks] [Click here to view full size picture]
I looked into this hollow Sycamore a few years ago and found a nest of baby Turkey Vultures [truly bizarre looking chicks]
Van Buren County portion of journey is over, entering Berrien County after County Line Rd bridge [Click here to view full size picture]
Van Buren County portion of journey is over, entering Berrien County after County Line Rd bridge
Worst erosion I have ever seen on the river! [Click here to view full size picture]
Worst erosion I have ever seen on the river!
Look of disgust on my face as I gaze at an outhouse in the river.  Why? [Click here to view full size picture]
Look of disgust on my face as I gaze at an outhouse in the river. Why?
Finally, documentary evidence that Kevin really is paddling down the Paw Paw [and not just doing it from his armchair [Click here to view full size picture]
Finally, documentary evidence that Kevin really is paddling down the Paw Paw [and not just doing it from his armchair
Kevin and his trusty kayak [Click here to view full size picture]
Kevin and his trusty kayak