April 22nd 2011, Easter weekend, I some how convinced six other Rollerbladers to follow me into the Manistee National forest determined to skate a virgin kinked rail and camp on an island for 2 nights via Five kayaks and a canoe. The canoe was our mule carrying gear, skates, plywood for the start and landing of the rail, and a cooler full of Colorado beer. The weather predictions were calling for rain, and temps as high as 50 degrees. Little did we know that it would be extremely windy, cold and the rain would turn into snow. Or did we?
The first six of us set sail around 8 pm friday night, arriving at the island near dark. Three of us stayed at the island to set up camp and try to avoid the rain. The other three of us set out in the dark to paddle back up river (against current) two miles for our fashionably late last crew member. He had set sail alone in the dark and completely unfamiliar territory. While paddling thru the rain it was damn near impossible to see anything when having our lights on, except for rain and the river below us, so we did most of the trip in the dark using the horizon for direction. About 45 minutes up river we saw a light around the bend! A few hoots and hollers were exchanged and we had some how found eachother. After a short meeting on shore, we headed back toward the island battling the wind, rain and snow. Upon arriving at the island we were forced to set up the remaining tents at record speeds to avoid the horrible weather, warm up with some of the cheapest whiskey money can buy, Rumpleminze, and try to get some rest.
We awoke Saturday morning with a cold cloudy day and few sprinkles. Trying to make the best of the weather we explored the island, made random paddles across the river to the outhouse, collected firewood and got a nice fire going. Tying up a rope from tree to tree near the fire to dry all of our wet gear from the night before. In the late afternoon the weather was agreeing with us and the ground was drying, including the wood stairs for the rail. After waking people up from naps and drinking a few beers, we headed across the river to the rail. We had it all to ourselves, noone was around for miles. Four cameras, three Bladers. Getting warmed up was the hardest part. This rail was high, we were not sober and it was cold as a witches tit in a brass bra. After about an hour, the three of us skating the rail, super juiced, had all landed a trick or two.. Mission accomplished! We bundled back up and paddled back to the island to drink a few more beers, cheap whiskey, Rumpleminze and just try to stay warm by the campfire without getting smoked out by it..
Sunday morning we woke up to some sunlight finally. We all packed up and left the island so quickly, thinking about hot breakfast 2 hours away from us in the nearest town of Manistee, MI. We made it back up river and to our vehicles after an hour of paddling. Packed up the boats and leadfooted to Manistee and to the House of flavors on the main drag. What many flavors they did have, it was an awesome breakfast! Only to be followed by an awesome session in the sun at the Manistee skate park, which was new to all of us. It was small, but we made the best of it and the rails near by and had a killer sesh.
These are the trips you come back from, slightly changed for the better. There's a certain beauty, a pillar of strength, that comes with walking on the path from problems to happiness in spite of it. Most people never figure that out, and it might be because they did not spend enough time in nature. Thank you guys for making this trip a reality and an unforgettable past time! Live to roll.
Filmed and Edited by Brad Osantoski
Film by Brad Bruce, Derek McClain, Andrew Kouts, & Matt Oz ... Read More...
Check this report of the Snowy Day in the Mitten contest that took place on December 18th, 2010. This contest has been going strong for years and has now even become an WRS event. Have a look at a couple pics and an amazing edit!... Read More...