Welcome back as I’m happy to finally be posting another update to the Big Man, Big Adventure.
After an awesome stay at the Lighthouse County Park (thanks again to the amazing Sue and Brian), it was time to hit the water on day 9. It was hard turning down an offer for 1 more cozy night in the cabin, but the waves of Lake Huron called my name. After Sue and Brian helped me load up, and a few final farewells, I was off. Even before I got passed the lighthouse, Peggy whom I had met the day before from the Bicycle Club called to say she and a couple others were going to try and meet up on the water. They were putting in at Grindstone and would paddle towards me and hopefully we’d all run into each other to paddle back to their put in. Unfortunately that never happened, but it did help me keep a quick pace through some rough winds and waves.
I think I had just missed them, as they called to say they had taken out almost the same time, I got to Grindstone. Peggy had offered though still to have me meet up with them as Lynnea, also from the E-Z Rider club said I could stay in her guest house on the beach after Port Austin and we would go for some burgers! It was then I knew I definitely picked the wrong state to start in. With all this love and kindness I’ve been shown in my 1st few days, I may be too soft when it comes time to have to camp and live like I had planned on this trip, out in the cold, and rain while living off pb&j. Instead these 1st few days have been made up of burgers, the softest beds and greatest people you could ever hope to meet.
Still, not saying I would have turned down the offer just so I could sleep outside. With the idea of a bed for the night, I picked up my paddle game even more. What helped even more was the fact that the winds shifted in the afternoon and gave me a huge East wind. So good in fact, it almost blew me right on past Turnip Rock, right before Port Austin. I was really surprised upon seeing it though. In all the pictures you see online, it looks out in the open all by itself, when in all actuality, it’s tucked away in a little cove like area. I guess it goes to show you always have to see things for yourself.
After another couple hours of paddling and a few amazing stops for pictures at the top of the thumb, I finally reached my stopping destination and ended the day just south of Port Austin. Lynnea’s house was in eye shot distance of Charity Island, and after some convincing by my E-Z Rider crew at dinner, the decision was made to go for the Island and cut across Saginaw Bay.
Night 9 ended with all of us back and Lynnea’s beach house and the sharing of stories with Ruth and Andre. Andre was an super interesting guy to get to talk and listen to. He was a Hungarian refugee and his wife Ruth was quite the story teller herself. It was a great end to an amazing day, and I really wished we could have shared just a few more stories, but it was already past 10:30 and I was planning to set out on the biggest paddle of my life at the crack of dawn.
Lucky for me, Lynnea’s guest bed may have been the softest thing I have ever slept on in my life. If that doesn’t help ya prepare for a long days paddle, I don’t know what would.
Truth is too…I needed that peaceful sleep, because to not lie…the thought of crossing Saginaw Bay on a paddleboard, towing my Kayak Kaboose, all alone, was a bit nerve racking.
I was up at 4:30pm and started getting stuff outside to load up. Lynnea was down shortly after I began caring things to the water, with her camera in hand. It was such a pleasure not only getting to stay at her place, but to share a few last conversations with her in the morning. It really helped to take my mind off of my nerves and just get ready.
About 6:15am, the time had come. Everything was secured on the board, the Kaboose was hitched and it was showtime. It was one last thank you and hug for Lynnea and then it was a wave goodbye as I set off on the biggest open water crossing of my life…alone.
“Don’t be afraid to walk alone. Don’t be afraid to like it.” ~John Muir~
My friend from college Kristin has been sending me daily texts of quotes to inspire my paddles each day. No better quote could have come then this one to symbolize the result of that crossing. The thought of doing it by myself, made me so nervous, yet once I was a few miles off of the Thumb’s shore, it may have been one of the greatest feelings so far of the trip. To put myself in situations to challenge my skill and ability really had been what has pushed me to grow. My reward for this…seeing one of the most beautiful places I have ever paddled past in Charity Island. A private Island, it is still mostly all trees and just natural beauty with its crystal clear waters. It was hard to believe I would turn down an offer from Peggy’s friend Tom for a free meal on the island. He was the boat captain bringing the islands dinner guests and also the one who gave permission for me to camp if I needed to on the islsnd. As much as I would have loved the meal and to camp on this gorgeous island, the weather told me…let’s get this thing done. And that is exactly what I did.
I made camp almost immediately across the bay, only after watching a Bald Eagle fly away from my camp spot after a fight with a few sea gulls. My camera was ready and I got a few awesome shots of him. Nothing says doing America’s Great Loop like seeing America’s great bird.
After huge thunderstorms in the night, and sleeping in, day 11 became a much needed lazy paddle day. I still put in a few miles from before White Stone Point to Alabaster. The highlight of day 11 aside from the beautiful sunny day was getting to meet Tom. He came out in his boat to check if I needed any help, and after assuring him I was alright and telling him my plans, the few minutes of conversation made me long for my fishing poles! I feel the will be joining my trip soon.
I ended the day about 7 miles off of Tawas City and decided that day 12, Sunday would be a day of rest. Partly because after crossing the Bay, I feel I deserved it and also due to small craft warnings from the Marine Radio. The Sunday on my own little private beach was absolutely relaxing and just what I needed to recharge my batteries…and not just the ones from my Goal Zero!
Tomorrow’s always another day and we will see what this week has in store!