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By late morning I’d already hit Upper Sharon Bridge—the river speeds up just before, which is great fun—and as the river widens, bigger and bigger islands appear in the river's center. I found myself wishing I had camped on one of them, but placated my yearnings with the next best thing: lunch. I pulled up on a giant island oasis that comes just before a sharp river bend to the right. Here, the low island had a sandy shore and shallows that suddenly dropped to nearly four feet deep. It was perfect for picnicking, wading, swimming and fishing, which explains how I spent nearly three hours here, very happily.
After lunch, I hit Lower Sharon Bridge, coasted a lot, fished some and, because last night's last-minute campsite had me nervous, recalculated my planned stopping point about 3 billion times.
Mostly, I planned to take out just beyond the M-66 bridge where a former state forest campground waits, but I made it there well before dark so decided I could paddle on a wee bit farther. It was a fabulous decision: The river sped up, miles of grassy banks dotted with trees were around every bend, and by 6 p.m. I had found a beautiful spot with a slightly high bank but a sweet swimming/fishing hole. I set up camp; no houses or cabins were in sight.
I remember this stretch as pretty darn quiet, ever slowing and serene. The banks grow steeper and higher, and it feels much of the time like you’re in the valley of a canyon. Along the way, just before the Coster Road Bridge, some homes and cottages appear, then a public access site, and then all goes quiet and peaceful again. Somewhere along here I set up camp on a peninsula-like bank that jutted out into a severe bend in the river, thinking I would be able to watch the river come and go on both sides from my hammock view.
It was a great idea, until the sky opened up, and I had to toss a tarp over the line strung above my hammock. Of course, then I started worrying about being struck by lightning, seeing as I was dangling between two trees on a mostly open bank, so I got out in the rain, untied and retied my hammock farther inland under the shelter of cedars … and then it stopped raining. Surprise.