Homie's Ultimate Hugh Heward Adventure

Posted by Bill & Paul's | 04.17.2020


Homie's Ultimate Hugh Heward Adventure

Jon Holmes has been a B&P's employee since 1993. Jon is currently our Director of Marketing/E-commerce, as well as a buyer for our paddlesports, camping, and snowboard equipment. In 2009 Bill & Paul's and his fellow team members supported his decision to take a few weeks off to attempt a crossing of Michigan via an inland route. This is his story...


In 2009 Jon (AKA Homie) joined a group of expedition paddlers in an attempt to paddle from Detroit, MI to Chicago, IL. Rather than paddling around the Lower Penninsula, they chose to attempt a re-creation of an historical crossing of the state by trapper/adventurer Hugh Heward.

In 1790 Heward was searching for a more direct trade route between Fort Detroit and Chigaco. While successful in his crossing, the route proved to be more challenging than other options and was never used again.

In 2008, Jon, who had been steadily honing his sea kayak skills for 7 years, felt a call to put those skills to use on a larger scale. Initially his plan was to paddle the archipelago of islands between Sleeping Bear and Mackinaw Island in the spring of 2009. After hearing of his idea, a friend presented Jon with information on an expedition race being planned for spring 2009 called the Ultimate Hugh Heward Challenge. A group of Kruger Canoe enthusiasts, along with local historian/topologist Jim Woodruff, developed the race based on that 1790's journey.  In 2008, one of the Kruger paddlers, Charlie Parmalee, paddled much of the route doing mostly day trips. This scouting paddle would prove instrumental in the success of those willing to attempt the 2009 challenge.

"Because it was logistically right out my back door and had the additional elements of upriver paddling, portaging dams, paddling multiple watersheds, downriver paddling PLUS the open water adventure I began to seriously consider this as an option. Plus there was an appeal of the historical sense of the journey,"

After some test paddles and many discussions with family, friends, and his employers, Jon decided to join the event. We hope you enjoy reading about this journey and all it entailed.