I finished my second Hugh Heward 50 mile paddle yesterday. I’ve done the half (25 miles) several times but last year was the first time I completed the full 50 miles from Dimondale to Portland on Michigan’s Grand River. Last year I did the run solo in the MR Independence. This year was different as the Hugh coincided with my daughter’s graduation for college. Her idea of celebrating the event had nothing to do with walking the stage to pick up a piece of paper. No, it was to paddle the full 50 miles of the Hugh Heward. She brought her boyfriend along so we took our aged and somewhat abused Sawyer Cruiser (the boat she grew up in) and my Arctic Tern. Andrew and I paddled the Cruiser the first half while Emma paddled the Tern. We switched at the half way point at the Grand Ledge Dam(n) and I finished the last 25 miles in the kayak. Late April is a beautiful time of the year to be out on the river in lower Michigan with good water levels, spring flowers, flowering trees, and the leaves just starting to unfurl. The weather was overcast, but all in all a fine day for paddling. I could have skipped the force 4 headwinds when the front blew in and I was about 3 - 4 miles out of Portland. Fortunately, they didn’t last too long as I wasn’t too happy about cranking through those for very long.
The Hugh Heward recreates “a good day on the river” noted in Hugh Heward’s journal about a trip he made in 1790 from Detroit to Chicago. Jim Woodruff’s monograph on Hugh Heward’s trip is here. It is a good read, especially if you have an interest in early American history and travel.