Cross Day: Kayaking


this past Memorial Day weekend my husband and i drove north to kayak the Pine River, a remote river that flows through the Huron-Manistee National Forest. our favorite river to date.

i prefer remote rivers. the more remote the better. our longest trip so far has been 6 hours.  we have big plans to stretch that out even longer this year.



i began kayaking a few years ago.  my husband and i, along with my cousin and her husband, rented a house for a week in Traverse City, Michigan.  we ate a lot, drank a lot and my cousin convinced me to try kayaking.  same cousin who convinced me to run that 5k.  told ya she is very convincing.

she had kayaked a nearby river, the Platte River, the previous year.  so sure, why not.  she kayaked it.  no problem.

we drove to the livery. we booked our trip.  we listened to a spiel on what to do, not to do, kayak left or right when you come to a certain fork, blah, blah…  i did not listen to a word. all i kept thinking was i have no clue what i am doing.

we rented single kayaks. my husband brought a backpack filled with granola bars, Gatorade, water and other snacks. we were set.

or we thought we were.

i remember standing near the river looking down thinking, “is that water moving pretty fast or am i nuts?” the driver helped us get in our kayaks, and we set off individually.   i sat down in my kayak, took a hold of the paddle and within five minutes i was heading toward some fallen trees.  i panicked, grabbed onto a branch and what felt like slow motion, flipped right over.

tip one:  don’t grab onto a fallen tree branch or anything for that matter to avoid tipping over.  you end up tipping over.

so i am in the water, thinking i have to get my kayak flipped back over.  we rented sit in kayaks. now those of you who have kayaked before know there is some work ahead of me to accomplish this. or should i say work for my husband. sit in kayaks, when flipped over, fill up with water.  you have to empty the kayak out.  not as easy as it sounds. you need muscles.

tip two: if the livery asks sit in or sit on top, sit on top is way easier to flip back over, since you do not have to empty the kayak of water.

the more i paddled, the better i became.  kind of like being thrown into a pool, “OK now swim!” but i would still flip.  my husband flipped, my cousin flipped and her husband flipped.  we flipped a lot, so i learned fast.

by the end of the trip my bruises had bruises. we lost a favorite tank top, a t-shirt to the river. i almost drowned.  not really. but i panicked because i couldn’t touch the riverbed floor at one point, after i flipped.  kind of like that quicksand feeling, when i tried to touch the bottom with my feet.  after, i was embarrassed by my reaction. kind of funny now… sort of.

tip three:  don’t panic if you flip. listen to the spiel by the livery regarding the depth of the river. 

the backpack ended up being soaked and therefore heavy.  everything in it was soaked. my husband’s key fab was toast. we thought his suv was possessed back at the rental house.  the suv would lock, unlock (click, click, click) at random.  kind of freaky.

tip four:  bring a waterproof bag for important stuff like a phone and car keys.  it is worth the investment.  

so here are my tips on kayaking for 6 hours or less.

what to bring in the kayak:

  1. a waterproof bag for your phone, keys, camera
  2. bug spray and spf spray
  3. snacks in ziplock plastic bags
  4. a plastic bag for garbage (don’t leave anything behind of course)
  5. a wash cloth
  6. water and Gatorade to keep hydrated, important


what to wear:

  1. watershoes (no flip-flops, trust me).  i have these. super comfy, washable and waterproof.
  2. dress in layers
  3. don’t wear cotton
  4. sunglasses


oh, and the snacks.  some suggestions:


dried fruit




tip five:  avoid chocolate, since it melts.  you will end up with chocolate all over you. 

tip six:  i would recommend keeping a set of beach towels in your vehicle. when you are finished kayaking you can dry off and lay them on your car seat.  even if you do not tip, you end up getting a little wet.

those are my thoughts on kayaking in a nut shell.

coming soon:  kayaking and camping!  eek.



for more info on kayaking the Pine River or Platte River check out these links: Pine River Paddlesports and Riverside Canoe Trips.  they will guide you on what portion of the river to kayak based on your experience and the time you want to spend on the river.


oh and p.s. my cousin told me after, the previous year they kayaked the lower Platte, not the upper.  her and her husband realized it, when they saw how fast the current was moving, but didn’t want to scare me.  the upper has a 50% tip over rate.  so ya, my first kayak experience was for “more experienced boaters.”


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