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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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