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Old 12-31-2022, 08:13 AM   #1
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Default Paddling Year in Review 2022

It’s that time of year again to reflect on the most recent paddling season. Below are my personal high points and low points. I hope that a few other club members will chime in with their most memorable (and regrettable or forgettable) paddling-related experiences. Happy New Year!


High Points

1. New Waters

Paddling a section of river or other body of water for the first time automatically makes my list of a paddling season’s high points. During 2022, I was lucky to paddle six new water bodies/sections of river for the first time:

Spring Creek – Lee County, FL (February 21)
Bessemer Lake – Lawrence County, PA (club’s ice breaker run, March 20)
Conneaut Creek from State Rd to Creek Rd (club trip, April 3)
Mahoning and Beaver rivers from Covert’s Crossing to Bevington Access in Wampum, PA (club trip, May 15)
Cuyahoga River from Cuyahoga St, Akron, Ohio to Bolanz Rd, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio (Friends of the Crooked River trip, July 10)
Pymatuning Lake (club safety training and picnic, July 30)

2. Spring Creek

I paddled two sections of this beautiful mangrove-lined tidal creek in Lee County, FL with a long-time friend who resides in Bonita Springs, FL during the winter. [Do I dare say I paddled it with the k word? LOL!] On both occasions we encountered several manatees, the first times I had ever seen these gentle giants in the wild.

3. Conneaut Creek

What a beautiful and fun run nine paddlers had on this hard-to-catch gem! The creek rewarded everyone with a peppy current, dozens of class I rapids and delightful riverscape filled with shale cliffs, hemlocks and bone-colored sycamores that stood in stark visual contrast to the cloudy skies on a damp, chilly day in early April. This is a must-catch-again run.

4. Safety Training at Pymatuning Lake

This was a very welcome refresher and excellent practice for open water boat over boat rescue and re-entry. It also answered the question of how to get back to shore in a swamped canoe in the middle of a lake with no rescue boats nearby–with legs extended flat along the bottom of the boat and head and arms just above the water in the boat, simply paddle slowly to shore. Thanks again to Dustin Noel for arranging this training.

5. Midwest Canoe Symposium

This annual three-day event held on Lake Litchfield at Camp Butler in Peninsula, Ohio on the weekend after Labor Day attracts some of the nation’s most skilled freestyle paddlers. It’s a great opportunity to learn in a wide selection of freestyle classes. This year was no different. One realizes how much there is still to learn! It a wonderful three-day immersion into “obedience training for canoes” as some like to call it. Highly recommended.

Low Points

1. Conneaut Creek, April 3

While paddling the creek was an absolute delight, the shuttle route left much to be desired. The roads were a class II-III muddied and potholed mess requiring drivers to zig and zag along much of the route like dodging rocks in a river.

2. Mahoning River into the Beaver River, May 15

On what was otherwise a great trip starting at Covert’s Crossing, the take out at Bevington Access on the Beaver River was an oozing, stinking, highly slick muddy mess. It’s amazing that no one took a spill getting their boats from the river to the parking lot.

3. Mahoning River into the Beaver River, May 15

There had been a fair amount of rain the night before this trip, and the Mahoning at Covert’s Crossing was running swift and had some large standing waves in the middle of the river. I had never been on the Mahoning below Covert’s nor on the Beaver River formed by the confluence of the Mahoning and Shenango rivers. Seeing how fast the Mahoning was running at the put in, I assumed that it must be running comparably fast down river.

This led to concern when two newbie paddlers arrived for the trip. I spoke to the trip leader and suggested that we need to make these new paddlers aware of the possibility that they may find themselves in difficulty right off the bat and that it was OK to bow out. But if they did not bow out, we would be there to help them in any way we had to.

The newbies decided they had come all this way and that they were going to paddle! Fortunately, the fast water and wild waves at the put in quickly dissipated very shortly after paddlers hit the river. The new paddlers made their way beautifully through the swift water and the water level was perfect the rest of the trip. I apologized to the newbies several times in the course of the afternoon if I had unnecessarily frightened them. It was a good lesson to me not to assume what one sees at the put in will necessarily found down river, particularly on a stretch of river one has not previously paddled.

Last edited by JPTolson; 12-31-2022 at 09:03 AM.
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Old 12-31-2022, 11:04 AM   #2
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Personal paddling low's and highs

1-Dealing with high winds Greenbrier River in West Virginia on Vacation .
We did several section of this creek and two out of the three days it was very windy and made this great creek a hard paddle. The wind kicked my butt

2-Not paddling as much as I use to, but working on the house is important.

3-Having a hard time with the Whitewater Canoe the club got me. I love paddling it but the problem I am having is I can;t move my knees once I am in the saddle and my knee's just start to hurt in several minutes and I can't move them like I can n my other canoe.
Will have to hire Dustin or one of his girls to redo the gunnels and add a kneeling thwart so it is like my other canoe.

4- Not Paddling Ashtabula River in 2022.
My favorite Whitewater River. It is so hard to catch because of water level and having the time to make it up to Ashtabula for a great 8 mile paddle of none stop Class II rapids.

5- Not Paddling Connie in 2022
This is my second favorite Whitewater Creek. Many great class II's and one Class III rapid that is amazing to paddle.

1-New River Gorge WV
Jess and myself did a section of the Upper New River in WV. This truly was a test of my Solo Canoeing as we took on two Class III Rapids (Grassy Shoal & Quinnamount) We also have several Class II in the 7 Miles we did. This was an ultimate high for me and I have to thank Ron Ells and JP for helping me become a better paddler. I have never seen rapids that big, Ashtabula River and the Connie helped me prepare for this trip.

2-Red Moshannon Race PA
This was my first race I have done since the Mad Hatters on the Grand River. First time doing a race in the solo canoe. First time on this creek. It was a blast and a great creek with several Class II & Class I rapids. I was proud of my finish times specially since I helped two racers who flipped.
It was intimating to be at the starting line with canoers that have racing canoes' and were members of the US National Team at one time. Several of them made commits about my canoe being a hog at 80 lbs compared to there 30lb canoes but I am still proud of my time.

3- Greenbrier River WV
Even with high winds it was amazing to do a new river that offered a little bit of everything. One section would we a great club trip with some class I rapids and great scenery along the way.

The other section we did twice as it has a lot of Class II rapids that is a blast to do. On the second day I had to do a rescue of a flipped kayaker and it made me realize how much I have learned from the club.

4- Beaver Creek- A personal favorite of mine that has a classic creek feel and several Class II rapid and riffles that make this a great trip.

5- Mahoning River-Youngstown to Lowellville

Getting to paddle downtown Ytown is always a great trip for me but getting to go all the way to lowellville with out the struthers dam made the trip really nice and enjoyable.
Mahoning River-Home of the Trumbull Canoe Trails 1975-2024 49 years

Last edited by mfdanko99; 12-31-2022 at 08:57 PM.
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Old 01-09-2023, 09:02 PM   #3
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So, here we go … another year in review … I really do enjoy doing these, as it gives me a chance to look back on the fun we had, and start to look forward to the coming year.

Late in 2021 I saw advertisement for a race on the Red Moshannon Creek. Now I had never heard of the Red Moshannon, and really had no idea where it was or what it was like. I figured some of our more die-hard kayakers or canoers might be up for a challenge, so I shared the advertisement on the internet. By the time the Procrastinators Party rolled around, folks had been researching the event on the internet, and there was a good bit of chatter about it at the party. One night, as I sat on the couch watching YouTube videos of the race, Jodi looked over at the screen to see what I was watching. I explained it was this race out in central Pennsylvania. After watching a few minutes of video, Jodi said, “You’re not doing that?” … I told her I was thinking about it, and she explained she wasn’t asking me a question with that statement. What she meant was, “You’re not doing that.” Well, the more I watched, the more I convinced myself that I could probably handle the “Red Mo”. Well, skip ahead a couple months into late March, and Jodi and I, Mike and Jess, and Jim Keenan were all headed east into the mountains of Pennsylvania. On race day, the temperature hovered near the freezing mark, and racers built fires in the woods, surrounding the starting point. I believe there were over 100 participants gathered enjoying the brisk mountain air. Soon after getting on the water, the action began, and was near continuous for the 7.5 mile length of the race; there were plenty of class ones, and a handful of somewhat technical class 2s … maybe approaching class 3. Any way ya looked at it, I was on water that was pushing the limits of my skill level. And I guess you don’t really know your limits until you push them. During the race, it rained, it sleeted, it snowed a near white-out, and the sun even came out briefly; then it repeated that cycle a few times. I managed to stay upright through the length of the race, and avoided a cold swim. The worst part of it all was the take-out. After an intense 7.5 miles, we had to drag boats up a long, steep hillside to the road above. I will say, I enjoyed the experience, but I don’t need to repeat that one any time too soon.

My positive outcome (not swimming) on the Red Mo buoyed my confidence into my next trip, Pine Creek in the “Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania”. Burt Martin from the Allegheny Canoe Club has been doing this trip for years, and I signed-on at our planning meeting. Admittedly, I was nervous about the challenge of Pine Creek, and its notorious Owassee and Split Rock rapids. Again I turned to YouTube and studied videos and read all I could find about floating Pine Creek. The outfitter up there even provided a crib sheet for negotiating the rapids. The weather for late April was fine enough to not need multiple layers, and there were plenty of folks hitting the water, both in private groups and via the outfitter. Owassee lived up to the hype; as I turned the bend and entered the wash, the kayak bucked up and down. Right at Owassee, there were a set of hay-stack waves that had to be four feet tall when you were in the trough. There was a crowd gathered on the rocks cheering folks on (and surely waiting for carnage) like it was a high school football game. I made it through, with waves crashing over me, but the yak filled with enough water to necessitate a stop to pump out the boat. This was the first time I had ever used a splash deck cover, and I’m certain it was helpful in keeping out water and keeping in warmth. Pine Creek lived up to my expectations and was a fun run, and provided spectacular scenery.

In mid May, Jodi and I took the nephews to the lake at Raccoon Creek State Park to get them some experience soloing in their own kayaks, preparing for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend. They did great, and the weather was nice enough for a dip at the swim beach, even though the swimming area had not yet officially opened for the season.

The weekend of Memorial Day took us to both Tionesta Creek and the Clarion River. Being the holiday weekend, there were plenty of folks out enjoying the streams. The campground at Cook Forest was full, which made camping a little less pleasant, but it was still “the great outdoors”. Both trips were enjoyable, and my nephews did well on moving waters.

Somehow we failed to paddle in June, but we made up for it in July. A trip that we were able to scratch off the bucket list was the XYZ rapids of the Clarion. Despite the low water of mid-summer, the Clarion was great. Another bucket lister was scratched with a stop at the famous Halton Hilton. A week later Jodi and her dad joined Dustin and the gang from the Allegheny Canoe Club on the Allegheny between Tionesta and President. This was a stretch of the river that we had not yet explored. And then a week later, we were back at President for another new-to-us section of the Allegheny, going down to Oil City. The much chronicled rapids at Oil City lived up to their hype. I think the water trail map suggests that less experienced adventurers portage the rapids, and that is probably sound advice, but our experienced crew made it through. The hiccup on this trip was the parade through town that delayed our drive back to President … but who doesn’t love a parade (besides tired kayakers). A stop at Mac’s Snax for food and ice cream was a perfect ending to another great trip. Jodi and I didn’t even get our boats wet at the club picnic, but it was a great way to wrap-up the busy month of July. If we head back to Pymatuning again this year, I hope we can stay and spend more time.

With all the activity of July, the trip that I was to lead in August snuck-up on me. We had four boats and six adventurous souls on the water out of Freeport (PA). We ventured up river and through lock #5 on the Allegheny. Locking-through was a first for all in attendance, but was not complicated, and was a smooth process. Studying videos on YouTube again was helpful. It was a hot day, and once we were far enough above the dam, we pulled into a shaded eddy and spent some time swimming. The skies were threatening as we neared our turn-around, but aside from a little drizzle, the trip was a success.

The Foxburg run is always a crowd pleaser, and this year was no different. This trip gave me the opportunity to introduce my father’s cousin, Don, to kayaking. He, not unlike myself, is a non-swimmer. The calm water between Emlenton and Parker is a great stretch for beginners, and the stop at Foxburg breaks up the trip with a pleasant stop for lunch. While Don enjoyed the adventure, his wife confirmed that she did not have the kayaking bug.

September brought our annual pilgrimage to the Buckaloons, up in the “big woods” of the Allegheny National Forest. We always have a great time up there, and this year was no exception. We were able to get my brother and his gang to come up and join us. This was his first time camping outside his back yard, and his first time kayaking. My nephews and sister-in-law were encouraging my brother, after they had enjoyed the Memorial Day weekend adventures on the Tionesta and Clarion. We had one carnage at the Refinery Rapid, but it wasn’t a rooky, but one of our more experience paddlers. The gang got to use some of the skills they acquired at the Pymatuning safety training to assist the swimmer. We did break camp early again this year, as rain threatened to spoil the trip, however, all considered, it was another great trip up north.

When the Mentor Lagoons trip was cancelled, we did a spur-of-the-moment run on the Youghiogheny from Cedar Creek Park down to Sutersville. This trip is similar to the Foxburg run, in that the Yough is class 1 in this stretch, and that you can pull ashore in West Newton for lunch. My father-in-law, Dave, and his friend joined us, as did Jeff and Judy; who live out in that neck-of-the-woods. I think this could be a nice club trip in the future.

In October, we got to utilize the new launch at Lowellville for the first time. Lowellville put a lot of time and effort into the new launch, and it is a great asset to paddlers and the community. The trip down the mighty Mahoning and through the rapids was a fun fall trip.

We had never paddled in Mill Creek Park, so when the Newport trip came about, we broke-out the cold water gear and headed west. It was a blustery day with low temps and brisk winds, however it was still great to be out on the water. Jim Keenan lead the trip with JP, Jodi, and myself in attendance.

And finally, I opted to man the fire at Canoe City for the Chilly Chili Paddle. Jodi had flown the coup for the week to visit Texas, so I rode solo in the camp chair next to the fire, shooting the bull with the gang, while the other adventure seekers hit the water. A picnic at 30 degrees is still great fun, and a fine way to end the year.

We're looking forward to getting on some more new water this year, hitting some of the old favorites, helping some more new-bees find joy on the water, and hopefully getting out on the bicycles a little more. We’ve been lucky enough to stay “on” the water, and not “in” the water for a good while now (knocking on wood). We have expanded our fleet of boats. And we have enjoyed the friendship that many of you have extended to us during good times and bad. After I proof read this, I realized how long winded I was, but as I pointed out to Jodi, it was a busy year. Sorry for the length, but not for the great adventures that made this a busy year.
Properly worn life jackets save lives. Wear and fasten your PFD!

Last edited by Ambridger; 01-09-2023 at 09:35 PM.
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