Silver, Michigan, US
|Usual Difficulty||III-V (varies with level)|
|Avg. Gradient||150 fpm|
|Max Gradient||177 fpm|
|SILVER RIVER NEAR L'ANSE, MI|
|usgs-04043150||7.47 - 9.00 ft||IV-V(V+)||00h59m||9.04 ft (too high)|
|Unusually high flows. (Over 700 cfs). Seriously big and pushy. Extreme caution recommended for any who opt to run. Gauge (64.7 Sq.Mi. drainage) is well downstream (at Skanee Road). Gauge flow would considerably exaggerate flow in this reach, so we use stage reading.|
This is one of the definitive South Shore creek runs. First paddled in the seventies, the Silver
has long had an annual pilgrimage of faithfuls, hoping to catch this beauty when the snow melts
and the ice goes out.
The run begins with Hail Mary (a great challenging rapids in three pitches) and ends with the Cabin Section (an even more demanding stretch which most boaters will enjoy from shore, and even well seasoned boaters will likely appreciate having good safety support in a few key locations). At low-to-moderate flows, this section can easily be parsed into three sequential pitches. At higher flows, the drops tend to 'run together', creating many opportunities for epic tales to be told later around the bar or campfire. And, between these two sequences, you'll find a plentiful assortment of good drops to keep you on your toes.
Many boaters will continue downriver to do the 'Lower Silver' run for a good, full day. And, if they've planned well, will add a run on the Falls River (in L'Anse) as either a warm-up or a 'chaser' to end the day.
AW members may click here for Part 1 of an article from the AW Journal, way back in 1981!
AW members may click here for Part 2 of the article.
The article describes the following:
Upper Presque Isle,
Lower Presque Isle,
Upper Silver, (this reach)
Montreal, W.Fk., and
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
|0.0||USGS sampling site||N/A|
|0.5||Hail Mary (three pitches)||IV|
|0.8||(don't recall the name!)||IV|
This is NOT a comprehensive list of the rapids on this reach. We could use some help here. If you know names, have locations (coordinates), or can provide more detailed descriptions for any of the rapids on this reach, we would appreciate your input! Add a comment or report, or email the StreamTeam member for this reach.
USGS lists a sampling site at Arvon Road (take-out for this section) showing drainage area at that point as 34.5 square miles, which is just more than half the drainage at the active gauge at Skanee Road. Thus, flows in this upper section will approach half the flow shown on gauge.
"Hail Mary" is broken down into three pitches. The first pitch starts with a jumbled slide into a nearly 90-degree left turn, followed by a sequence of holes and waves.
A short pool brings you to the second pitch: A rocky protuberance separates the flow (at low-to-moderate levels, anyway). To the right, water flows over a shallow shelf and dumps into a wrapping hole (the current from the left line). To the left, a sweet slide accelerates you into the flow dropping in from the right, then (with little pause) accelerates you toward a pretty good sized hole, with diagonal 'feeder waves' funneling you into the maw. Punch the hole hard, angled left to catch the left eddy, or you will be fed (by the outflow) right into an undercut wall.
A longer let-up precedes the final pitch. The jagged rock of the riverbed 'humps' down the middle of this pitch. To the left, water spills into a nasty, narrow crease. (You DON'T want to be anywhere near this!) With adequate water, the most opted for route is more-or-less down the center, but more often when I've been there (with low-to-moderate flows), the preferred route has been well to the right. A short initial ledge drops you into a short pool. Sliding out of there, you grunge down toward a wall of rock (right shore), to be diverted sharply to your left. You do your best to avoid banging paddle or right elbow on the wall (or worse, being flipped) as you head toward the hole formed where currents converge (from the left-side slot) as they (hopefully) spit you out downstream.
A great combo drop comes as the river swings to the left. The entrance slides and trips across some ledge/waves, runs headlong toward a large boulder (river-left), then pools briefly before sliding down more medium-angle slides, through a few good wave/holes, before calming a bit below. Don't let up too soon! There is another good combo which follows!
(Map location very approximate)
After a pretty fair relatively flat stretch (maybe a half-mile), this single ledge drop is encountered. The approach is generally quite straight-forward, and there is a good pool below, so this may be a simple drop. However, at good flows, the hole at the base can be quite aggressive, so the recommended line is often a boof on river-right.
This is some serious gradient that you will want to take a good look at. As soon as you see the first 'cabin' (house) on the right, get out to scout the whole section. At low-to-moderate flows, you can easily break it down into three or more distinct pitches, each of which is not that difficult. However, taking the whole sequence together (as will be the case at higher flows), it is a huge chunk of gradient to navigate.