Rochester Hills PCT Bike & Hike Club

July 22, 2007
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Sunday July 22, 2007 the famous River Walk.   

The rear wheel on my bike had a problem that I needed to get fixed before I could ride again.  Over a long period of time the brake pad rubbing on my rear rim during the normal operation of applying the brakes had worn a crease into the side of the rim.  I needed a new rear rim, it had simply worn out.  I never thought about actually wearing out a rim from the brake pad.  But, I guess I have done an awful lot of riding over the past couple years.  Rims on fairly decent bikes are made out of aluminum or some other combination of alloy (light weight steel).  It appears these light weight rims only last so long.  Even though I thought I had a fairly good quality bike, I think I really needed a slightly better one to hold up to all the miles I have been putting on over the past many weeks and months. 

Because my bike was in the shop we decided to do something a little different from normal and definitely out of the ordinary.  Some might even call this next activity we were about to undertake slightly crazy.  It is a River Walk.  Bob had been talking about doing a river walk for a long time.  I never really thought he was serious, but he kept bringing it up and finally without a bike I told him I was in for the river walk.  

I think the idea for the river walk came about because in our area we are constantly riding or hiking next to rivers.  The Clinton River winds all over our area and many of the trails we ride and hike also border on rivers.  On hot days we have joked how we should actually be walking in the water as opposed to riding along side.  One day Bob and I tried traveling by kayaks in the river (Paint Creek) along side Paint Creek Trail (PCT).  We spent as much time walking while carrying our kayaks around fallen branches and shallow areas that we really did more walking than kayaking.  This attempt at kayaking the river might have been the final straw that convinced Bob we could walk the river.   

Just so everyone is clear, a River Walk is when you actually walk down the middle of the river, right in the water.  I can honestly say I have seen a few fishermen in the river with waders on, but I have never seen anyone out in the river just walking along.  I think based the reaction we got from most people that noticed us out in the water that not many people do what we call a river walk.   We did run across one fisherman who was fly fishing out in the river.  As we came around a bend and approached the fisherman he gave us a strange look.  Needless to say we probably ruined the fishing in that area for a while. 

Four of us participated in this even.  Joining me were Bob, Pete and Steve.  Me and Bob dropped off his van at the police station parking lot in downtown Rochester.  This was our ending point goal.  We then hopped into my van and we drove to PCT near Silverbell where we planned to meet Pete and Steve.  We ended up parking in the lot of a Flagstar bank which is right on the trail.  We intended in parking in a lot just north where Pete and Steve parked, but it was full so we ended up at the bank.  Pete and Steve walked the short distance from their lot to the bank where we parked.  This is where the river walk officially started. 

There was quite a debate over how hard this walk was going to be and how far we would actually get.  Bob was very optimistic and Pete was the complete opposite.  Pete thought it was going to be a lot harder and take a lot longer than Bob had planned.  Either way we all agreed if it ended up being too hard and take too long we could always just climb out of the river and walk along the trail to where we parked Bobís van, no big deal. 

We were quite a sight this day.  Pete wore a red life guard shirt, red swimming trunks, large straw hat and he had a small back pack holding a small TV.  On his feet Pete wore an old pair of tennis shoes.  The final round of the British Open golf tournament was happening at the same time as our river walk and Pete didnít want to miss it that is the reason he brought the small TV.  It seemed crazy to me to bring a TV on the river walk, but Iím glad he did as I was able to listen to the golf match part of the time when Pete wasnít using his head phones.  Steve also wore an interesting outfit.  He had a long sleeve white wicking shirt underneath a green short sleeve shirt and black crew socks pulled up as high as they would go.  Steve had a safari hat on his head with a neck strap which really fit the activity.  Steve and I both made the mistake of wearing open sided sandals.  The problem with open sided sandals was small stones and debris was constantly working its way under the bottom of our feet causing us to have and stop many times to clean them out.  It just hurt too much to walk with small stones pressing on the bottom of my feet.  If I ever do another river walk, I will definitely use a different type of foot covering that doesnít allow the entry of small pebbles.  

Pete was right, it was a lot more difficult than some of us thought and it definitely took a lot longer than we had originally planned.  There was no way we were going to make it all the way back to the police station as we hoped.  After about an hour of walking in the river and only getting a little over a half mile further down the trail we quickly came to the realization that we would at some point end this adventure by climbing out of the river and walking the trail to the finish. 

The water temperature was OK, not too cold.  We also didnít encounter too many bugs or snakes, so that was a good thing.  We did have to do a fair amount of climbing over branches and fallen trees.  I got a few minor scratches and bruises, but not near as bad as I had anticipated.  The majority of the river was not deep, we did come across a few areas where the water depth was slightly over our waists, but usually it was about knee depth or less.  Overall the walk was challenging and a decent workout and I have to admit kind of fun.   One of the reasons it took us so long to traverse a half mile down the trail is the river tends to do a lot of winding and crossing under the trail.  I would estimate for the half mile straight distance on the trail we probably walked three times as far due to the winding nature of the river.   

At one point when we were going under the trail there was a man and woman standing on a bridge next to their bikes watching us approach from below.  They were looking down on us trying to figure out what in the world we were doing walking in the river.  Steve always has a clever comment in situations like these.  They yelled down to us and asked what we were doing.  We told them we were doing a river walk and it was taking us a lot longer than we had planned.  We had been joking with each other on how long this was actually taking.  As Steve approached the couple standing on the trail bridge above us they asked how long we had been walking.  Steve replied it had been so long he had lost track of time, then he asked them if Clinton was still President.  This brought a chuckle from the couple as well as the rest of us.  After they laughed at Steve he asked them something about former President Nixon which brought out another series of laughter.  We all started to add our own jokes mostly centered on how long it was taking us to travel such a short distance.  At least we were keeping our sense of humor as we walked along in the river. 

We ended up getting out of the river near Dutton Road, quite a ways from our planned goal.  We walked the rest of the way on the actual trail to downtown Rochester where we left Bobís van.  I went to Gmap Pedometer web site and checked the distance from start to finish.  The straight distance on the trail was 0.80 miles.  From the rough check I did trying to follow the river it appears we walked about 2.1 miles while winding through the river from the same start and finish points.  

After we walked to Bobís van we ended up going to Penn Station for lunch.  The four of us sat around and joked about how crazy we were for what we had just completed as we ate our lunch.  After lunch Bob drove us to pick up my van and drop off Pete and Steve at the lot where they had parked.  If I never do another river walk I can at least say back in the summer of 2007 me and three friends accomplished this feat.  You definitely get a different perspective of the area from in the river as opposed to on the trail.
David Lindquist 

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