When snow and ice hit your area this winter and your first reaction is to head inside to avoid the weather it may be a better idea to get out on the water. Whether it is as a family outing or a short trip with a few friends, many people are beginning to take winter canoe and kayak trips during the winter months.
As cold air and precipitation fall down on river valleys around Michigan they create a wonderland of ice and snow. Nowhere is this a better scene than from the seat of a kayak below crystalline branches and among snow cushioned logs.
It is not always so easy to schedule a trip with an outfitter in the off-season, but if a trip to northern Michigan is part of your plan Jordan Valley Outfitters in East Jordan offers winter rafting trips on the Jordan River. Other rentals and liveries may offer similar options. Call ahead to local rentals near the river you wish to paddle to find out what their policy is. If they do not offer trips in the winter you may still be able to rent a kayak without a pick-up option.
Near Grand Rapids, paddlers will find themselves surrounded by accessible rivers including the Grand River, the Thornapple River, and the Muskegon River. Liveries in the area include Wisner Canoes and River Rat Canoe Rental. Trip times and landing locations can be found on their websites and are useful tools when making your own trip plans.
If you have access to your own equipment remember to choose a shorter trip than you might take on a warm summer day, dress for cold (wet suit material may be a good idea if you plan on rough waters), and remember that sitting in a kayak puts you on or beneath the water line and will be colder than the air above.
A day on the winter waters of Michigan can be a fun and exciting experience for all involved. However, it is not advisable to take inexperienced paddlers along, as the consequences of an accident in winter are much higher than in summer. In case of a rollover, paddlers should be prepared with a towel and extra clothes in a dry-bag as well as heat packs to fight hypothermia.