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Old 12-31-2021, 01:03 PM   #1
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Default 2021 Paddling Year in Review

It’s that time of year again to reflect on the 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 paddling-related experiences. Happy New Year!

High Points

1. Youghiogheny River

This was not a club event, but my friend Jan Wolf from Greenbelt, Maryland, and I had the good fortune of joining Bruce and Dianne Ambrose who invited us for a run down the middle Yough in late May. For Jan and me, this was a personal first descent. The paddling, scenery, and companions were terrific! It’s a beautiful run and the whitewater keeps you on your toes. We also camped at Ohiopyle State Park and biked on the Great Allegheny Passage Trail the following day.

2. Little Beaver Creek

This was an impromptu pick-up trip in early March from Sprucevale to Ohiopyle on a beautiful late winter day (air temps in the 60s) with Bruce and Dianne Ambrose, Mike and Jessica Danko, and Ron Eells. Little did anyone know that this would be Ron’s last run. He passed away less than a month later on April 1. We could see him struggling to walk and getting in and out of his kayak. But he was as masterful as ever in his boat with no hint of the physical difficulties besetting him. Looking back, we all felt honored and privileged to be with Ron on his final journey down his beloved Beaver Creek.

3. Mahoning River through Youngstown (B&O Station to Struthers)

This club trip in mid-July had a little of everything: carnage in each of the first three rapids, a lost paddle, a bald eagle, seven deer crossing the river, and an up and back excursion through the eerie storm water runoff stone tunnels of Crab Creek, a tributary of the Mahoning. It was a beautiful evening run on a day with very low humidity. It was one of those trips where everyone wants to linger at the take out to enjoy the trip and weather as along as possible.

4. Chili Chilly Run

What a gorgeous day for the final club outing of the year with uncharacteristicly clear skies for mid-December and moderate temperature in the low 40s. The weather and high water from lots of rain the day before made for a beautiful and fast run (just over an hour) for the 3.6 miles from Swift Park to Canoe City.

Low Points

1. Death of Ron Eells. The loss of Ron was a huge blow to the club. He elevated the collective paddling skills of all us with his knowledge and ability. He continues to be greatly missed.

2. Thinking I had lost a set of keys at the Chili Chilly Run and causing everyone to interrupt their enjoyment of the chili feast to hunt for them. I think this is the third lost key episode over the years that I have had to mention in year-end low points!

Last edited by JPTolson; 01-09-2022 at 10:21 PM.
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Old 01-07-2022, 06:20 PM   #2
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My Personal Paddling Low's for me

1-The passing of Ron Eells. This was really hard for me personally. He was one of my mentors that really helped me be a better paddler and whitewater paddler for kayaking and solo canoeing. I really miss just talking to him and his way of teaching me the do's and don't. He always told me he would chuckle as I had many failed attempts on what we were working on but was so proud when I would finally get it and see me actually use the skill in a paddle

2-Ashtabula River-Not being about to paddle my favorite whitewater river in 2021. The river gods and my work schedule never Aline.

3-Bronitis for most of September and October kept me out of my Canoe.

Personal High's for me

1-Little Beaver Creek-Being with Ron on his last paddle. Knowing we were with him on his home creek for the last time. Something we never saw coming. Thanks to JP, Bruce & Diane & Jessica for a great day. Glad I called of work for that paddle

2-Connoquenessing Creek-Getting Mike, Ralph, Garret & Marty down the first assent down the whitewater section

3-Clarion River-Lots of good paddling during our Honeymoon. We can now say we have paddled the whole river from Ridgeway to Mill Creek Launch

4-Connoquenessing Creek-New section of the upper Connie with Bruce & Diane

5-Mahoning River-Marshall St Rapid-Jessica and myself spent an whole afternoon playing in one of my favorite rapids. Lots of good maneuvering stokes, Surfing and many different ways through the rapid due to higher water levels 2.8 ft USGS West Ave

6- Mahoning River-Lovers Lane Cemetery to Packard Park
. Many paddles with Jessica. Great paddle and only 10-15 minutes from the house

Club High's and Low's
Club Low's for me

1-The passing of Ron Eells. This was really hard for me personally. He was one of my mentors that really helped me become a better paddler. Especially a whitewater paddler for kayaking and solo canoeing.

2-Missing several club Paddles due to bronchitis in September & October.

3-Low Water canceled-
But they were moved to our back ups. (Neshannock Creek & Beaver Creek)

4-Having several club paddles canceled Allegheny Camping & Lake Newport

Club High's for me

1-Club Picnic/Planning Meeting. It was so nice to get to see everyone for the first time as a group. Just getting to be around great friends and family made it really special. As well as the Wedding cake for Jessica and Myself paddling over a waterfall. (Thank You)

2-Mahoning River Youngstown- This is my favorite section of the Mahoning River. It has 4 great rapids in a five mile section. It's always an adventure that has spills and thrills and a nice tunnel paddle up Crab Creek.

3-Chilly Chili Paddle. I love getting together in December for this event. The Chilly, the Paddle, The Fire, Friends & Family; what else can I say!!!

Hope to see others High's and Low's
Thank you JP for starting a great tradition
Mahoning River-Home of the Trumbull Canoe Trails 1975-2022 47 years

Last edited by mfdanko99; 01-07-2022 at 06:22 PM.
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Old 01-08-2022, 10:51 PM   #3
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Jodi and I began the year on the Shenango River, after the trip on the Neshannock was moved due to low water. I've only ever seen the Neshannock with either too much water or too little water. I suspect that "just right" window of opportunity is indeed narrow. The Shenango was a nice paddle, and a nice way to begin the year.

In April, when Beaver Creek was moved to the Mahoning, I took the opportunity to get my youngest nephew out on the water in the tandem kayak. It wasn't long after launching that we encountered the first bit of active water. I knew this was going to be a make or break moment. Had we tipped over, that would probably have been the last time I would get him on the water. My nephew, Matthew, had some trepidation as we lined up for that first drop, but much to my relief, we made it through as he laughed and cheered. Matthew and I in the tandem, and Jodi in her single enjoyed the subsequent rapids as well. If anything, I think Matthew would have welcomed even more action on the water.

In early May, I joined Jim Bozdog and Jim Regal on Tionesta Creek for an over-nighter. I had been trying to get onto this trip for the past several years, but the stars just never lined-up. As the time neared, the water level on the Tionesta was too low, and the trip was going to be moved to the Allegheny. Fortunately, in the days leading up to the trip, the skies opened, the rain came down, and the creek came up. I paddled my tandem again, with all of my gear loaded into the front of the boat. We enjoyed perfect weather and water that weekend, and Tionesta Creek lived up to my expectations ... and then some. This was my first kayak camping adventure, and I was honored when Jim Regal complimented my boat handling and my camping skills.

The club picnic in May came as a welcome reprieve from the isolation of COVID. It seemed as though we were rounding the bend in the pandemic fight. As always, everyone pitched-in and we enjoyed a great late spring day.

Later in May, Jodi and I took my other nephew, Alex, along on Dustin's trip down the Clarion. We were looking forward to this, as we had never paddled below Cooksburg. I dusted off the tandem once again, and we all enjoyed the trip through the Clarion valley. We explored the old sawmill at Henry Run, and navigated a small drop just prior to the take-out at Gravel Lick. I was going to have Alex solo in Jodi's boat after the saw mill, but Jodi convinced me otherwise. That was probably for the best, as he and I almost tipped the tandem going over that last little drop. I don't think he would have appreciated that drop 30 minutes into his first solo trip.

Another first came for us in July, with the evening trip out of the B&O launch. We had never paddled this section, but we knew it would be action packed. We donned our helmets for this trip, and the Mahoning provided the excitement. We were both relieved to make it through Marshall Street, but not all were so fortunate that day. There was carnage at Marshall, and I believe Ken swam further down that day, however, as always, the others pitched-in and assisted the unfortunates that day. I can't decide if this section or the section below Lowelville was more fun. We were thankful for the opportunity to try some new water.

In August, Dustin lead us along French Creek, up along Miller Station Road, out of Cambridge Springs. This time, Jodi and I took to the tandem, and Alex solo paddled one of our Aspire 10.5s. At the lunch stop we found a swimming hole that had a bit of a water slide to it. Alex was reluctant at first, but after going through about ten or twelve times, I know we both really enjoyed ourselves. Alex finished his first solo trip, and handled the boat pretty darn well. That stretch of the French was a good section for a first timer.

We made a vacation of the Buckaloons trip this year. We went up a few days ahead of the weekend, and stuck around into Monday. We did some hiking, explored town, and enjoyed everyone's company during the weekend. The main float on Saturday was from camp down to Tidioute. We really had to put in some effort on this one, as we fought a head wind, almost the whole way down the river. Nevertheless, it was another great weekend up north.

Mother nature set us up for an opportune weekend later in September. We had never paddled out of Kent, and while the water looked a little low, I think we only had the occassional scrape on our way down to Water Works Park. JP lead us on this new (for us) stretch of the Cuyahoga, and it was a great late September day.

In October and November we were otherwise distracted by life. We're still watching after my dad, and trying to clean-out our house, having moved in with dad. We did a little hiking this year, and one bicycle trip; and our bodies reminded us that we had not been biking as much as we used to.

So we wound up the year with the chili paddle at Canoe City. By my count that is ten floats between the two of us. We met some new folks, paddled some new rivers, bought some new boats, explored some new trails, and got my nephews away from electronics and out into nature a few times as well. While we celebrate those accomplishments, we would be remiss if we didn't mention our profound sorrow at the passing of Ron Ells. We are also keeping Sue in our thoughts and prayers, and hoping the best for her. And COVID ... What can ya say ... Let's hope 2022 is a better year for everyone. See yinz on the water!
Properly worn life jackets save lives. Wear and fasten your PFD!

Last edited by Ambridger; 01-09-2022 at 06:18 PM.
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Old 01-15-2022, 07:30 PM   #4
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Default Just a bad year, for me

Missed last year because of COVID and them last fall me knee broke. That took all fall and then failed again! Another repair needed. Then more surgery. Then my back finally got so bad I needed to fix that. Just an awful year.
This year, I am recovering really well. I should be back in my boat by early summer.

The absolute worst thing was loosing Ron. He was a great guy and we I was looking forward to a lot more paddling with him.
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Old 01-21-2022, 11:47 AM   #5
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High Points
1. Youghiogheny River – Ohiopyle – Middle Yough - This is a great place to paddle moving water as the Middle Yough is canoeable year round. Dianne and I made three trips down the Middle Yough in 2021. The best was when JP Tolson and Jan Wolf joined us. We camped, biked, canoed, and shared some fine drink and food. Good times with good friends. Looking for more good times at Ohiopyle. Video is uploaded to youTube.

2. The Greenbrier River in West Virginia. Another great place for whitewater, mostly wave trains. We enjoyed it so much that we missed our takeout. LOL! Video uploaded to youTube

3. Connoquenessing Creek -Taking Mike and Jess on a new section of the Connie. Mike has wanted to do other sections of the Connie for years and I’m so glad we were able to make it happen.

4. Beaver Creek – We always love the challenge of Beaver Creek. It was the first trip we took of the season. We paddled with Mike, Jess, JP, and Ron.

Low Points

1. Death of Ron Eells. The loss of Ron was huge to everyone. He helped all of us with our paddling skills. When joined the Club our intention was to enjoy easy flat water. Ron inspired us to go to the next level and into moving water.

2. Missing the take out at the Greenbrier River. I walked about 2 miles while hitchhiking. I was picked up by a preacher (thank God) and he gave me a ride back to the campground to get my trailblazer.

3. Failing to maneuver Eagle Rapid on Beaver Creek. It will be conquered in 2022.

4. Not getting on Raccoon Creek – I’ll have to some work to keep the put in free from weeds and bushes.
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