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Old 12-30-2018, 09:22 PM   #1
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Default 2018 Paddling Year in Review

Paddling Year in Review

As we have noted on this forum since 2011, the end of the year is a good time to reflect on the paddling season. Personally, 2018 was one of my least paddled years on record and that was disappointing. But it is always fun to read others' adventures on the water. I hope club members will share some of their best and best-be-forgotten experiences during the past year. Below are my high points and low points. Happy New Year and good paddling to all in 2019!


High Points

1. Midwest Canoe Symposium

After 40 years of paddling, mostly on rivers in the same canoe, it was time for an old paddler to add spice to paddling life. I had shown up briefly for the Western Pennsylvania Solo Canoe Rendezvous and the Midwest Canoe Symposium several years ago after some enthusiastic urging from Bruce Kemp, who at one time occasionally paddled with TCT. The impressions of the paddling skills and beautiful boats that I witnessed on those occasions remained with me. I promised to return, more fully committed to learning some of the techniques that allow freestylers to achieve such smooth and graceful command and movement of their canoes.

So from September 7-9, I attended the Midwest Canoe Symposium at Camp Butler in Peninsula, Ohio. The weekend was filled with learning and practicing the building blocks of freestyle maneuvers–axle, post, christie, and wedge as well as draw and pry sideslips–using forward strokes and onside paddle placement. To see and feel how subtle changes in paddle placement and blade angle move the canoe in these maneuvers was stimulating and recharged my paddling batteries.

And there was much more–many other classes; a night paddle with music and floating glow sticks; outstanding freestyle performances, a seminar on canoe design; music with the freestylers open band; and incredible amounts and variety of delicious food. It was a really fun and educational experience.

2. New FreeStyle Paddle

The whitewater paddle that I normally use is hardly the choice of serious freestylers. Two instructors at the symposium took pity and allowed me to try their freestyle blades. Wow! What a joy! What a revelation! The beautiful wooden and lightweight paddles sliced so quietly and smoothly through the water that they made the underwater recovery strokes seem effortless. It was a wonderful new sensation.

I raved about these paddles to my sister. She and her family surprised me this week with a freestyle paddle from Dogpaddle Canoe Works in Honeoye Falls, NY, for my birthday. (The paddle will be made to fit my size, etc.) I was blown away by the thoughtfulness and generosity of such a gift.

3. Mahoning River, Youngstown to Lowellville

For a number of years my nephew and I had been trying to connect for a canoe trip. But because he lived in New Jersey, it was always difficult to schedule. Finally, on July 29, we were able to meet for a trip. Coincidentally, Mike and Jessica had agreed to shepherd a couple other paddlers down the Mahoning from B&O to Lowellville that day. So my nephew and I were able to join them on a perfect summer day at a perfect water level, 1.8 on the West Avenue gage.

4. Little Beaver Creek, Echo Dell Road to Sprucevale

The forecast for April 29, the day of the scheduled club trip on Little Beaver Creek, called for temperatures in the 40s with moderate wind. So it didn't seem to make sense to punish ourselves for 13 miles of these conditions on the usual Sprucevale to Ohio River run. A small group–Mike, Ron, Jessica, Stan and I–opted for a much shorter 3.5 mile run from the bridge on Echo Dell Road in the state park to Sprucevale. It had been so long that I had been on this stretch of river that I had forgotten if I ever paddled it. But here was a case to be thankful for the unfavorable weather because it spurred us to paddle another stretch of river that is a scenic treasure and pleasure!

5. Cuyahoga River, Boston Mills to Brecksville

Using the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad for the shuttle makes this trip fun and unique. Piling our boats on the train and riding it to the put in is just plain neat! So were the many twists and turns of the river on a beautiful summer day.

Low Points

1. Missing so many club trips.

2. The carry from the train to the put in at Boston Mills on the Cuyahoga River trip.

3. The large stands of invasive Japanese knotweed along portions of the Cuyahoga River.

Last edited by JPTolson; 01-03-2019 at 10:08 PM.
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Old 12-31-2018, 06:35 AM   #2
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Happy Birthday JP!
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Old 12-31-2018, 10:54 AM   #3
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Thanks, Bob! Itís hard to imagine reaching this one!
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Old 01-02-2019, 02:45 PM   #4
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Default Ken and Cheryl 2018

Ken and Cheryl - Paddle Review 2018

As has also been my habit, I finished up my log of paddling trips for the year. I almost always run a GPS on paddles... or hikes. I save these tracks and re-name the files with data like date, place, distance, water level. Essentially this becomes my digital diary of outings.

For 2018 one thing was clear... Cheryl and I didn't paddle as many miles as in previous years. We got out a good bit, but just didn't accumulate the miles. I was 60-80 miles lower on mileage than the last few years. For us though, MILES paddled does not equate to TIME on the water. It's not uncommon for us to be out 3-4 hours and only paddle 2-4 miles. We goof off a lot watching birds and critters.

For sure, the long cool spring was a factor that kept us off the water. And if we did get a warmer day it was too windy to paddle. We also noticed that on many summer days, when we might have paddled in mornings when it was cooler, it has been just too breezy to be fun. Groan. I hope this isn't the new "normal".

My statisitcs for 2018: I paddled 30 times this year. 19 of those were different places (or different sections). Total was 164 miles. 39 miles were in a canoe. I did 9 trips with TCT which totaled 64 miles.


_A new overnight trip on the Allegheny, 23 miles from Kinzu Dam.

_Little Beaver Creek from Grimms Bridge, ODNR paddle. We had to use their canoes and watched as they loaded and unloaded boats and steadied canoe for us to get onboard. Not used to a "catered" paddle.

_Kokosing River! Finally! After years of trying to hit a good water level. Another ODNR trip. We got lucky and had a bit of rain a couple of days earlier. Water still low but doable.

_Big Darby (mid August). 10.8 mi with low water. Flexed the keel once too many times on the rocks and got a small crack with leak (my only low point). Nice paddle though.

_Mad River (mid August). 9.7 mi. Amazing clear water running nicely. Mostly spring fed, the water was 58 deg! We could see trout in 2-3 feet of water. The surprise was the low head dam (and the surprise portage) that the livery didn't tell us about. We managed OK.

_A memorable outing on the Cuyahoga River with train ride and the extra long portage. Gives us something to talk about! A good trip. Would do this again...but maybe with our own shuttle.

_Cheryl and I got to try out our Scavenger Paddle on TCT. Found out I needed better tie-breaker questions.

_Mahoning River Nov 4, Newton to Swift with Mike and Stan. A crisp fall day with lots of leaf color. The last paddle of the year for me.

Of special note for Cheryl and I was that the trips on Little Beaver, Kokosing, Big Darby and the Mad Rivers all counted toward our Ohio ODNR Paddle Pins. These rivers gave us our 4 paddle points for the 2018 season. This will make a total of 20 different locations paddled over 5 years. This now ends the ODNR Paddle Pin Program for us. But... there's still places on the list we will try to paddle and some we will re-visit.

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Old 01-02-2019, 06:02 PM   #5
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Default 2018 review

I would like to follow a tradition started by John Paul Tolson.
A Review of the Past Paddling Year. Club high and low points & personal high and lows.

Clubs lows-
1-Not being able to paddle the Ice Breaker paddle on the Mahoning in March due to my busted up knee
2-Having the Grand River Cancelled again due to EXTREME Low Temps in the mid 20's.
3-Shorting of the Beaver Creek Trip due to temps in the Mid 30's for a 12 Mile paddle. We did the 3 mile section from State Park to Sprucevale.
4-Shorting of the Mahoning River Lowellville Section due to unseasonal low temps that weekend.

Club Highs-

1-Cuyahoga River Train Section- I know many didn't like the long hikes with the boats, but the Train Ride and Paddle were super with a big turn out for a fun event. Train employees were amazed at how many boats we loaded at once. Also groups of us going out afterward for dinner.
2-French Creek- Just love being on that creek in the Spring with a bunch of great friends.
3-Upper Mahoning Trip- Good turn out, great day on our home river. (thanks ken for the ride back to my truck for my paddle)
4-Deer Creek Reservoir- Ken put a fun spin on this trip by doing a scavenger hunt for the paddle.
5-River fest B&O- Amazing how everyone comes together to work as a team from the tent, lifejacket station, to the dock workers and paddlers!!

Personal Lows-
1-Missing a several paddling opportunities due to my knee.
2-Not being able to paddle my Wavesport Ethos this past year due to my Knee

Personal Highs-
1-Getting a lot more practice in my Canoe as a Solo Paddler.
2-Being asked by Matthew Smith from ODNR to assist on the Beaver Creek Public Paddle. Thank you to Ron Eells and Jessica Hoffart for helping. Also had a great surprise to see Ken and Cheryl paddling this event
3-Doing whitewater in my canoe. I made several passes through downtown Kent section and practicing what John Paul Tolson & Ron Ells have been teaching me.
4- Accomplishing a goal I set two years ago. Making a solo canoe run down 6 miles of pure Class II whitewater on the Connoquessing Creek. ( also learned I need air bags for the canoe) (Santa & Jessica got me everything I need to outfit the canoe for whitewater)
(my next goal is Ashtabula River)
5- Many side trips with Jessica

Thanks again to so many who make paddling a blast
Mahoning River-Home of the Trumbull Canoe Trails 1975-2018 43 years
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Old 01-20-2019, 11:20 AM   #6
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So the season for Jodi and I started in April when we were invited for a spur-of-the-moment run on Beaver Creek. The weather had cleared and warmed a bit, making for just the right kind of day to paddle. Neither of us had been on Beaver Creek before. This trip also gave Jodi a chance to use her cold-water gear for the first time. Jodi was in disbelief when I got our helmets out of storage, however when everybody else was helmeted, well ... let's just say we looked very fashionable in our helmets. We floated from the bridge at Echo Dell Road down to Fredericktown, and it was an enjoyable trip for sure.

In late May, we took my brother and his family out on the lake at North Park (Allegheny County, PA) for their first time ever in canoes. Upon arrival, my youngest nephew jumped out of my brother's car looking like a frog-man, complete with mask and snorkel. This was to be a practice run for a trip on the Clarion River through Cook Forest in June. The lake was crowded with other folks enjoying the day as well. For their first time out, my brother and his family had a great time.

Next up was Riverfest and the Riverfest paddle event. Honestly, I was glad to finally get to this day and see it all come together. The FOM and TCT put a lot of work into this event, particularly so this year. With the help of all the members of both organizations, the Trumbull Sheriff Office divers, and the Girard Fire Department water rescue team, the paddle played-out as smoothly as any of us could have hoped. The weather held nicely, and there was a good crowd.

In early June, we were off to Cook Forest for some outdoor adventures. We hiked trails in the park, biked the Sandy Creek Trail, fished, and canoed the Clarion. The river was a little low, but we still had a great time on the water. Months later, my nephews were asking about when our next canoe trip was going to be.

Later in June we participated in the club trip to Cuyahoga Valley National Park. I had been looking forward to this trip, as I am also a train buff. Getting a little extra train ride was an added bonus in my book, and the twists and turns of the Cuyahoga made for a fun day on the water.

Disaster struck as we were about to leave the house to head to the club picnic in July. The tail of one of the straps that was holding one of the kayaks to the roof was hanging along side of the car, and when I moved the car, the strap got pulled under the tire. As the tire turned, the strap got pulled more, until it pulled apart the roof rack and dented the roof. As we had the burgers and hot dogs for the picnic, the boats were quickly unloaded, the damaged roof rack quickly removed, and we were on our way. So we didn't paddle this trip, but we enjoyed the picnic, and I even let Jodi ride home with me. Oh, did I mention that she decided to put that strap where it could get sucked into the tire.

After Jodi bought replacement parts for the roof rack, we were back in action in time for the evening paddle on the Shenango in late July. This was a new section of the Shenango for us, and the later start time was good for us, as we weren't rushing around as much as usual.

In August, we paddled the Allegheny for the Foxburg trip. Jodi's dad, Dave, joined us for this trip. He and I paddled my Old Town Tripper, only the second time I had it on the water.

Our next trip was to Deer Creek Reservoir. Ken & Cheryl designed an on-water scavenger hunt that gave an interesting twist to this trip. We hadn't been to Deer Creek before, and enjoyed the calm lake and the thrill of the hunt.

In September, we were off to Buckaloons. The river was high enough that the local livery was not running any trips. While some folks ventured up to Kinzua Bridge, Jodi and I explored locally, stopping at the Allegheny Outfitters store, and then driving up Route 62 to eye ball Conewango Creek. The creek was flat and placid, as it was not being fed by the dam. There is an outfitter on the creek that offers trips of various lengths. We might try them some time in the future. The paddle from Buckaloons down to Tidioute went off without a hitch. The river was still a little high, but the path was wide and we all stayed together for safety.

Rotary to Swift was a nice float on the Mahoning later in September. Somebody forgot their paddle, and had to have Ken drive them to the take-out and back while we all waited on the water. Fortunately, the drive between start and finish was only about ten minutes. We had paddled up river from Swift in this section last year, but only as far as the golf course.

We finished the season with a trip back to Canoe City for the Chili Run. I headed out onto the water with the other nuts, while Jodi stayed back enjoying the warm fire, plentiful food, and the clean and convenient porta-john.

In addition to a great year of paddling, we made a trip to Virginia in April for a 50 mile bicycle ride, and we did a fall hike with the Wampum Chapter of the North Country Trail. It's not easy for me to get weekends off from work, so considering all that we were able to do, I'm saying this was a pretty good year, with lots of great folks, and plenty of firsts this year as well.

Last edited by Ambridger; 01-20-2019 at 03:24 PM.
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Old 01-20-2019, 11:17 PM   #7
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Nice to read of others' paddling year-in-review. Hope a few others will chime in during these cold days of the 'hot stove' paddling season.
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