Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Lake Charlevoix Kayaking Loop

Kayaking from Young State Park on a southern loop to Boyne City and back.
Distance: 7.02 mi. (my Forerunner 230)
Start Time: 3:28pm
End Time: 6:28pm

Trip Report:
I was up in the Boyne City area during my annual Pastor's Conference and had brought my inflatable kayak along this year to get in some paddling. The weather, in terms of temperature, was going to cooperate wonderfully. Temps were in the 60's today and quite comfortable for outdoor activity. I had originally looked at something very simple like Deer Lake which is right next to Boyne Mountain Resort. It would be roughly a 3.5 mile loop around the lake and pretty straightforward. As it came to it I felt like I wanted more. I figured Lake Charlevoix would offer that. And its a big lake, Michigan's 3rd largest, not counting the Great Lakes. The question would be where to find a public access point to put in my boat. I've come to realize that Michigan's wonderful State Park system is very friendly to personal watercraft and provides great access to water systems. So I charted a plan to head into Young State Park, down to the public beach, and I could put in there.

This worked like a charm. There was good parking near the beach and bathrooms. I had perhaps a 100 yard walk with my inflatable kayak to get down to the beach. Then it was just a matter of getting it into the water and me into the boat. I took with me a nalgene bottle, my shoes, and a pair of snacks. I was not set in any particular path but my original plan was to paddle south towards the edge of Boyne City and then see what weather and strength would allow. I could either backtrack along the coast or I could make more of a loop around the entire south end of the Lake. The loop would involve a mile long crossing of the lake in more open water with my small inflatable. I'd never yet been that far from shore in such waters.

My initial work heading south from the State Park met some bumpy waters. They weren't enough to tip me but enough to make the work harder. There were light winds at the time. I wasn't supposed to get any rain but there was a storm to the southeast that I was keeping an eye on. I was moving along well heading to the south keeping a good heading along the shore. I was making good time and thinking I could do the whole loop I had envisioned. I continued southward and then made a beeline towards a park in downtown Boyne City. The bigger waves had subsided mostly through here making for some smoother paddling.

As I moved more southward along the City the waves were heavier again near the docks. I continued a consistent path offshore now turning along the bay and heading to the west. I was surprised to see some darker clouds heading my way. Sure enough, it started raining and did so for about 5 minutes. It appeared I was on the very edge of something and as sure as it had begun it stopped. It wouldn't be the end of my weather concerns however. Now to the west clouds were filling in quickly and it appeared almost a fog was settling over the western end of Lake Charlevoix. This was my cue to be done.

I had been planning to follow the southern end of the lake further north but I bailed on that and began a straight beeline to the State Park coastline. This was a workout. I was paddling my hardest and meeting up with bigger waves. I had quite a bad cramp building in my lower back and my arms were going to be toast by the end. I was pushing my hardest til I made the shoreline and amazingly the wind and waves calmed a bit. The clouds didn't let up but I felt as though I was in the clear near the shoreline. I took a bit more easy back to the beach and was able to relax here at the end. My watch said 7 miles for the day, my longest paddling to date. All in all a very successful adventure. I would love to try it again in a hard body kayak as opposed to the inflatable as those paddle easier and move faster. Definitely much more lake to explore here at Charlevoix.


I have a track and waypoints from the hike all contained in a KML file that you are welcome to download and use (at your own risk).  

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