By John Sittler
It's summer, the time to be outside, doing something active, taking on an adventure.Br>
Location: Waveland in Western Indiana, near Shades and Turkey Run state parks.
Activities: Canoeing, kayaking, tubing
Price: Starting at $25/canoe or kayak, $15/ tube
Tips: Wear clothes and shoes that can get wet. Bring a jacket if it's cool. Bring sunscreen and bug spray. Bring lunch and water.
Skill level: Easy. You can paddle as much or as little as you want.
Adventure rating: Mild. It's not a huge adrenaline rush but it's relaxing with beautiful scenery.
But what is there to do in Indiana, a place with no waves to surf or mountains to climb? TheStatehouseFile.com set to find out.
Videographer Jesse Wilson and I are traveling around the state for a series of stories we're calling simply, "GO."
First up: A canoe trip down Sugar Creek - in the rain.
We picked the folks at Clements Canoes, a local fixture in Waveland since 1960, to serve as our hosts for the trip. The Western Indiana business offers canoe, kayak, and tube rentals for a variety of different trips.
Jesse and I opted for the 5-mile "Mini Trip," an easier float that is recommended for those who want to take their time and not attempt an all-day paddle.
We picked up our equipment and life jackets - which children under 13 are required to wear - at the company's Deer Mill Livery and hopped in a van for a short shuttle upstream to Jim Davis Bridge where we put in.
Our canoe was an Old Town Discovery, one of the most popular on the market and an easy craft to navigate for paddlers of all levels. I was steering from the stern, while Jesse sat in the bow to provide the power.
The day was overcast - perhaps a sign of things to come - but the temperature pleasant and the scenery beautiful.
The river was slightly low, but the paddling was easy as we glided silently through dense forest and passed cliffs of Mansfield sandstone. The fishing is reported to be excellent in this section of river, so I tested my luck, wetting my line in the cool clear waters of Sugar Creek.
My efforts had only yielded a few bites when a telltale roll of thunder announced the impending storm. Sure enough, a slight rain soon began to fall. We laughed it off as a minor inconvenience and continued our paddle through some of the most beautiful country in the state.
But as legendary climber and outdoorsman Yvon Chouinard said, "It's not an adventure until something goes wrong."
That "something" was a deluge of rain that darkened the sky, which was all too frequently being illuminated by brilliant streaks of lightning. At this point we decided to beach our canoes and wait out the storm under the cover of the forest canopy.
After 15 minutes of waiting, it became clear the forest does not, in fact, offer any protection from the raw power of a Midwest thunderstorm. We were soaked. Fortunately, the rain soon began to lighten and we hopped back in our canoe to finish our trip through what was now a slight drizzle.
The second half of the trip proved just as picturesque as the first, with Sugar Creek dissecting old-growth forests interrupted with striking sandstone bluffs.
We ended by floating under a classic Indiana covered bridge before reaching our take-out point back at the Clements Canoes Deer Mill Livery. Our trip took less than two hours but it would be easy to make it a half-day outing with more frequent stops and less paddling.
Despite the weather, we had a great time exploring this part of our state. The section of Sugar Creek we traveled was almost completely flat, making this a go-to adventure for families with children of all ages. Clements also offers a 15-mile "whitewater trip" for those seeking an all day adventure to get their adrenaline fix.
With prices starting at $35 per canoe - which can hold two adults and one child - Clements has options to fit every budget. A rental is for a full day, so you can paddle as much as you want or simply let the river carry you along. Therefore we rated this adventure as easy - almost everyone would have little to no trouble.
As for fun and adventure, floating Sugar Creek is definitely more on the mild side, but you can't beat the scenery. We would highly recommend Clements Canoes for anyone looking for an easy way to get outside and explore some of the Hoosier state.
See you out there.
John Sittler is a reporter for by TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students and faculty.