It’s April 4th.  The ground is completely covered in snow.  That can only mean one thing.

The Klondike is this weekend.

The Klondike challenge is the kickoff event held every year commemorating the new Michigan Canoe Racing Association season.  It’s a non-points “friendly” event that takes place on VanEtten creek.  VanEtten is a tight, twisty, technical body of water, full of surprises.  The “creek”, as the locals call it, is unforgiving and merciless.

Racers put in at Chemical Bank, warming up while paddling downstream to the start line, located immediately before the creek dumps in to the mainstream of the AuSable.  The start is absolutely critical for a good race.  Paddlers that find themselves stuck behind slower boats on the upstream portion of the race are tortured mercilessly with a lack of clean passing areas.  To further up the shenanigans level, C2’s start before the C1’s, increasing the difficulty for the C1’s whom must then ask the question of “push past” or wait to pass clean.

My decision has always been to wait and pass clean.  Cold temperatures and a non-points event are simply not the correct mixture for a little bumping and banging.  Not everyone shares that view.  Historically (based on my grand total of two years racing this thing) if you’re patient enough, the C2’s will give you the opportunity to pass clean.  Sometimes in memorable fashion.

Just take a look at this team courteously clearing the way for me at “Chaos Corner” last year.

I’m pretty certain I just jinxed myself.  Karma will smite me on Saturday.  That’s okay.  The Klondike, for me, isn’t so much about place or time.  It’s about kicking off the canoe racing in Michigan, seeing old friends, and hopefully staying dry.

If you’re looking for something to do this weekend in Northern Michigan, you can find more information on the Michigan Canoe Racing Association homepage.

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