Grand River to Lake Erie Canoe Trip — Part 2
LAKE ERIE BLUFFS CAMPSITE — By morning, the rain let up. The wind didn’t. It wasn’t as intense as the 35-mph winds that forced me to lie in my tent the night before to keep it from blowing off the cliff and into the lake. But it was strong enough to keep my rain tarp snapping violently in the breeze.
If I hadn’t secured the tarp with rubber bungees, the grommets would have popped and it probably would have sailed over to the Perry nuke plant.
Headwinds would be my constant companion for the first half of the 40-mile canoe trip. Low water would also be an issue.
Brian Fowler, who is in charge of educational programs for Lake MetroParks, had advised me that it’s best to run the lower Grand River between 2 and 5 feet on the USGS gauge. It had been a dry month and the depth teetered on the low end of the scale. Monday night’s rain, which measured nearly an inch, was enough to bring the level above 2 feet. By midweek it dropped to around 1.8 feet. A thunderstorm on Friday night brought it back to about 2.3 feet.
I’ve paddled plenty of shallow water and can follow a channel (the deep part) with the best of them. But Brian was right; the lower Grand can be 20 miles of pure torture when it’s shallow. Navigating its boulder-strewn riffles is rough on paddlers and boat hulls.
On the first leg of the trip, upstream of Harpersfield Dam, low water was not an issue. The wind was. I had hoped to make it past the dam, but paddling against a constant headwind wore me down.
I opted to stay at the Kenissee Grand River Campground near Geneva.
I had not been inclined to stop there, not after learning that the only tent sites available were about a quarter-mile hike from the river. Plus, being a hardcore primitive camper, I’m not keen on staying at overly civilized campgrounds. But the lure of a hot shower was enough to compel me to sell my soul.
The folks working there proved to be very welcoming and helpful. Especially Eric, who offered to schlep me and my gear to the campsite in his utility vehicle. He was kind enough to point out that the tent site behind the maintenance shed — though not aesthetically appealing — provided shelter from the wind.
Aesthetics weren’t an issue. I needed a break from the wind. And a hot shower.
Next: Lake MetroParks canoe-in campsites