Amidst a tumultuous couple of months that had been jam-packed with video shoots around the country, in early July I found myself in Michigan for my good friend Jakob's wedding. While enjoying a draft german beer at the reception, compliments of Jakob's new father-in-law, Jen and I chatted up our buddy Scott and after about 10 minutes, we had all but planned out specifics for a kayaking trip on the Two Hearted River. Four weeks later, we were on the water, but only after having made an unexpected trip to the animal hospital...
The Two Hearted River runs for about 30+ miles in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, about 45 minutes east of Grand Marais. Jen, Scott and myself drove from the Ann Arbor area up to the Reed and Green Bridge campground, where we would call home for a couple of nights. First thing the next morning, we loaded our boats and departed for our put-in point at High Bridge.
Over the course of about six hours, we paddled about 11 miles along the meandering river during our first day.
Log jams and portages we frequent, but we were prepared for it. We packed plenty of snacks and of course a few cans of the river's namesake beer, Bell's Two Hearted Ale.
Taking a step back in the story of this trip, this adventure couldn't have come at a better time for our friend Scott. We often speak about the healing power of nature when talking to family or people we meet, but on this trip we experienced it first hand.
Scott's dog had been dealing with a cancerous cyst for a while now, and in the days before our trip, her condition worsened. Roxy was about 12 years old, which was old for a dog of her breed. Both Jen and I have known Roxy for a very long time, and were saddened to hear on the morning we were supposed to start our trip in the UP, that she was not doing well. Jen and I came by Scott's place and gave him our support as he made the very hard decision to put Roxy to sleep. We joined him at the clinic and shed plenty of tears during that heart-breaking afternoon.
The picture to the right was taken while waiting outside the clinic, where Scott comforted Roxy in the quiet moments before being called inside, and we attempted to console our grieving friend.
It was a somber departure to say the least, but we all knew that it would be best for Scott to not be at home for awhile, and we hoped that the calmness of the river and solitude of the woods would give him some time to find peace with the loss of his dog.
On the second day of our trip, we continued along the river, and paddled the final 12 miles, arriving at the mouth of Lake Superior.
Where the river water met the lake was really interesting to behold; the water mixed like it was iced tea, and the river was actually colder than the lake!
We spent a few days camping at the river's mouth, enjoying atypical calm conditions on Lake Superior, and easily put in another 4-5 miles along the shore to explore nearby pebble beaches. The clear, cold water was a welcome refreshment to the humid temperatures we had been experiencing, and we bathed daily in the frigid waters.
During our trip, Jen had her birthday– and as luck would have it, while picking up trash along the shore of Lake Superior, Scott came across a balloon, that was still inflated, that had "Happy Birthday" printed on it. We of course made Jen paddle with it the rest of the day.
It had been a few years since I had been up to Superior in the summer, and even longer for Jen. After living out west and now in Kentucky, where the rivers and lakes aren't quite as clean or cold, it makes us appreciate the Great Lakes even more than before. We'll be back again.