Sunday, August 28, 2011

#15 Report: Spring Brook, April 8th,2011

Saturday April 8th: It rained hard last night.Left home at 5:00AM. Got breakfast at Tamaqua Diner. Going north out of town I noticed M-H water in the degree III section of Little Schuylkill River. Saw one fisherman by the river. Reach Moosic, PA. and continue east on Rt.502 to view it on the way up to Nesbitt Reservoir. Stopped and checked it from three road bridges. Water is running at a passable M level. No fishermen. Must not be a fishing stream. Heavy rain last night might have something to do with their absence. At Nesbitt Reservoir there is a serious "no trespassing" sign which tells readers to report any suspicious activity to the police. Their phone number is on the sign. Wow! I never saw a sign like this before. Men were working near the dam so I did not drive into the dam breast. Could not see if water was running over the breast works. Sometimes all water is held back to fill the impoundment pool. Experienced this on Springton Reservoir on Crumb Creek and the reservoir on Evitts Creek. On both of those places after heavy rain, there was none to float on below the dam. This happens after a long dry spell.
Do a U-turn and continue downstream. Stop at the Intake Reservoir. There is another of those specially made signs there. Took pictures of both signs. Water is running over the breast works here, so the lower reservoir is full. Made several stops below here. Everything has special posted signs on it. At the first stop I had driven in on what turned out to be a private driveway which looked at first like a road. Not a good place to enter. Backed out after checking the creek.
Next stop was by a private bridge which again was heavily posted. Both banks through here are laid stone and appear to have been straightened. I had seen a "federal improvement" sign along this road when I first came here. From here down it looks like a channeled creek. Continue down and stop at a piece of grass between the road and the creek. No house on this side at this point. Walked in to look at it. Again a special "no trespassing" sign. I dwelled here a long time to see if anyone would come out and question me on my being here. There are residents on the other side of the road. It would be tough getting down these laid stone banks which are about a 45 degree slope.
Continue downstream and stop a the fifth bridge from the Lacawanna River. It looks like one could enter the creek here, but I noticed that the water is spread very thin over a wide cobble bed. It has dropped some since I got here an hour ago. This bridge is 2.7 miles from the mouth of the creek. Three miles is normally considered a minumum length for a run. Anything less than that had better be very nice to make the logistics of shuttle, preparation, and entry worth the effort.It would take longer to set up than it would to do the run. This looks like degree II-III whitewater here.
Further down, at the fourth bridge from the mouth,looking upstream about a quarter mile, I can see a rapids of greater difficulty by a railroad bridge. The water here is just passable. Entry at the third bridge from the mouth is a bit more private and some fencing through here restricts entry. This is where the large federal sign states that this is an improvement creek project. Brown painted sign with white lettering.
The view upstream from the second bridge from the river, shows a floodwall which starts as far up as I can see- about a quarter mile. The bed is flat cement and the walls are sloped at a 45 degree angle up to 25 or 30 feet in height. The entire section is fenced in on both sides at the top of the walls. The fence is four feet high chain link type. The view downstream shows that the walls become vertical to the same height. When you see something like this you have to know what you will encounter all the way though as there is no way out except forward.
At the first bridge before the river there is construction going on and it is closed to traffic. I believe this is called Eight Street. The view up and down the creek is vertical walls. The end of the cement works is visible about 200 yards downstream. At that point laid stone banks resume just before entering the Lacawanna River. Two local people were inspecting the bridge work. After getting my pictures, I went over to talk to them. I asked if they ever see canoes or kayaks go through here? Both said boats don't come through here. They said the water was at normal flow right now because of the rain.One said that if the water was a foot higher right now there might not be enough clearance to boat under the construction being done on the underside. I cannot get up or down stream to check on this because everything is very fenced in. I told them I was checking Spring Brook because it was listed as canoeable. Both said the Lacawanna was a better place to go.
Finally I pulled into a parking lot to analyze my findings and look at the topo map. Nearest point one could attempt to run the creek is at the 2.7 mile mark. Cities with floodwalls are putting in ordinances to prevent boating or tubing the floodways. I don't know if Moosic has such a law yet, but they will at some point. They seem to be fencing in big time as a preventive measure. The water has dropped in the one and a half hours that I have been here. This may be optical illusion as the bed has been made wider causing the water to be spread thin. I am sure if both reservoirs were full there would be sufficient flow 24 hours after rain. How does one determine that without trespassing. It would be a hit or miss to assume a wet season would provide good water. There is too much channeling and cement floodwalls. All distances considered, there is two miles of half natural water travel here. It is easier to write this place off than to look over your shoulder at the possibility of trespassing problems.
This ends my last pursuit of possible little creeks that others placed claims on. Since only 17 more claims of "canoeable waters" have been filed in the last eleven years-since 2000,when I last reported creeks to guide books, I am reasonably sure that there are no others out there unclaimed. I sold the H2Pro when I got home and I am now retiring my paddle. I hope those of you in canoesport gained something from all of the scribbling in my log book. I will let this blog run for six more months before terminating it. After all, history is history! Clean waters and clear skies to all of you. - William V. McNaull

Monday, August 22, 2011

#14 Monday April 4th,2011, Smeltport

Monday April 4th: Up at 5:00AM. Catch the news and weather. Temperature is expected to go to the fifties today and thunderstorms expected at some point. Must get a move on early as possible on Marvin Creek. Breakfast at 6:00AM. The diner starts to fill up with workers. Mostly gas company people. Gas industry is good for the economy out here.
On the way back to motel I traced the route I would be taking with the MC. This takes me by the dam I will have to portage. It is still dark but it is clear enough to see details. Got into wetsuit and check out of motel. Drop the MC at the Rt.6 bridge over Potato Creek. Marvin Creek enters this creek just upstream of here.Downstream side-creek left, I chained the MC to a sign post by bridge guard rail. Again, I trace the route I will take back to avoid town center. Got a better view of the lake that I will enter before reaching the dam. A beautiful park setting.
It is over cast gray sky, no wind, and no rain yet. Very warm. Drive west on Rt.6. The creek looks good from places where I can see it. Turn right on Kasson Road. The claim says to "pick the best of two road bridges" Both branches come together half mile below here. First bridge is too small of a creek. Second bridge looks very good.Cross bridge and make a U-turn. Consider where to launch. Too steep on creek-left. The best put-in would be on a farmers field on creek right. Cross bridge and drive 400 feet to farmers house. Ask permission to enter creek. He says "that is alright" I say it looks like he is cutting wood there. Should I park further up from there? He says he is not going to cut today. To show concern for the land owners plans is important in order to keep the good will going for future paddlers. Think about that if you are a paddler.
     This place is 7.0 miles by road using the shortest route, so it has to be more than the stated 5.0 miles by creek. It is 42 degrees. Warmest it has been in my travels this year. Sweating in my wetsuit. Used caution going through the farmers fence. This is an easy put-in. Water level is M-H into the average grass line. Wow! this creek is nice. Bend after bend after bend unobstructed. It is a brushy bank creek. No big trees or very few near the water. Had launched at 7:45AM. Only four or five fallen trees to portage in the entire run. It is constant right and left bends all the way. Saw deer and a turkey at the creek bank. A canoe moves silently and I try to not touch the gunnel with the paddle.
Arrive at a more open area just upstream of Rt.6 bridge. Enter the park-like setting around the lake. Strike a straight line to reach the dam. It starts to pour rain in buckets! A police car goes by. Probably wondering what that nut is doing out there. Pull out on a nice grass bank on the right side of the dam. Found a place with safe footing to lower the canoe down with the 12 foot stern painter. Climb down and lower it the remainder of the way again using the painter. The water is swift flowing leading away from the dam so I got a good start launching under the road bridge. Marvin Creek is channeled from here to its junction with Potato Creek, a distance of three quarters of a mile.
Go ashore at the take-out on creek left. It is 10:30AM. Two hours and fourty five minutes. I was really moving down this creek. It is definitely longer than five miles. Must calculate on the topo to get a better figure. It stopped raining. Chain canoe to guard rail and get moving on the MC to get my truck. It was a very cold ride to Kasson Road even at 42 degrees without that helmet. I will be lucky if I don't wind up with a bad head cold after all of this. It did not rain while riding back for the truck. Load MC and return for the canoe.
It starts to rain very hard with thunder and lightning. I parked on the side of Rt.6 and sat out the worst of it. Lightning is popping all around me. In about half an hour it lets up a bit. I got out and quickly loaded everything. Turn the truck around and head east on Rt.6, then south on Rt.46. Found a wide pull-off area to get out of this wetsuit. Competed this on the passenger side seat. This Dodge has good leg room at the seats. It is raining hard again. Head for home. South of Emporium on Rt.120, I remembered an area where the speed limit is down graded to 45 mph.I got a speeding ticket here years ago. Sure enough, a cop is sitting in this zone today. It is the only place in a very long wilderness distance where the speed limit is lowered for no obvious reason.
At home doing review work on the topo, I calculate the bends on Marvin Creek make it 12 miles long, with seven miles of road distance. This is the end of my western Pennsylvania water search. One more creek in the northeast near Moosic,PA. has to be checked on a future week. Next weekend fish season starts, so it won't be that weekend. I can follow the weather radar map easier in the eastern part of the state, so I can  pick a good time to run Spring Brook. I am sure I can get this one even as late as May, if it takes that long. I put the Mohawk Challenger up for sale in my front yard as I had told Izzie I would when I completed my goal. It sold in two days. Spring Brook is a degree IV whitewater run, so I will use the Old Town H2Pro model for that.
Got to thinking about Spring Brook. I usually scout degree IV as much as possible before running. I have been studying the "Avoca" topo map. There are numerous houses along Rt.502 by the creek. Getting access could be a problem. This creek is listed in the AWA list as 7.2 miles canoeable. That claim must have been filed before the incident of 911, because reserviors are now off limits for boating. Nesbitt and Spring Brook Intake reserviors are upstream of the 4.3 mile point, so half of the claim is now void. At home I am itchy to get moving, so why not run up there and find out where the fishermen access the creek. No canoeing, just scouting. If the fishermen can get in a canoe should be able to. -Bill

Monday, August 15, 2011

#13 Report: Sunday, April 3rd, Sheffield,PA.

From Sheffield, I headed east on Rt.6 and turned left at Ludlow to reach the take-out point of the South Branch of Kinzua Creek. Turned left onto Rt.321 and drove over the Kinzua Lake bridge to check on a best place to exit the creek. North side of the bridge is too high up and a steep climb, so the road into the south side must be the best place. Turn right and go down to a turn around spot. Stop and walk in a ways to view the area. This is it. I'll need the plywood to exit onto the mud here. The lake has been drained down from its winter high. Chained the MC to a sign post which is the only thing around to hook it to. Left a "return" note on it and proceed out of here.
This time I have my odometer set to locate the five mile point the claimant says it is canoeable from. I found a larger parking area and a gated road access. This must be it. The water level looks good from up here, so I did not waste any time unloading and dragging the Mohawk down the grass to the creek.It is mid afternoon and I figure that I still have one and a half hours to complete this before three o'clock. Water is M-H level. Launch on creek left- downstream side of bridge.
Some large tree piles to portage, but am making good time on the water. Snow on the banks make it slippery, but the canoe slides easily. Numerous fallen trees of all kinds, but mostly Hemlocks. At one point I was going to skim by on the left by a fallen maple. The branch was one inch in diameter and I figured that it would break off, or I'll grab it if it comes over the bow. I stuck it and it held! This is called loading the sling shot! It stopped my forward movement and at the same moment the swift current wipped the stern around, dumping me into two feet of cold water. I quickly reacted to prevent the boat from being sucked under the branch. The stern went under it, but fortunately for me the water was shallow enough for me to stand and stop its movement. Damn it! A bad decision on my part. I checked my plastic wrapped hearing aid and keys in my dry top. All are OK. Must be more careful on approach to these trees. Cuss my bad decision. Luckily, I did not lose my spare paddle which was not tied in.
At one area the creek splits in three directions. I stopped and tried to get a better look from a higher point to find the lowest side in the distance. The view is hampered by Hemlocks, so this is a tough decision. Proceed in on the middle section hoping the way will become known to me. Usually all water eventually feeds to the lower side. I remembered seeing this braided section on the topo map. This is the larger of two that I will have to find my way through. Wow! to get through, I have to shove the canoe up and over a tree five feet above the water. The under side of it is completely blocked. It is a good thing I got a surprise bath back there. It makes me more cautious. This is a dangerous under current situation. I pondered another way around but there is no option, so get on with it.I am glad this water is not any deeper. This maneuver would be imposible to make. I would have to back out and try another route. Got the canoe up onto the first tree, then climbed up myself. Slid the canoe forward onto a second lower tree then got over to it and from that point I am safe to enter the water again. After a quarter mile of this, I can see the creek becoming mainstream again.
Two miles down, the second braided section was a lot easier. As I am coming out the mouth onto a widening body of the lake, I see an suv wagon up on the cliff road on the far side of the lake just sitting there. I figure it could be a fish warden looking for poachers. Probably checking me out. When the south branch meets the main branch of the same creek, I noticed that the suv has turned around and now the drivers side is facing me. It is too far away to see the driver. Figure that I'll meet this guy at the take-out.
Paddle under Rt.321 bridge and into a small narrowing bay on the left. Soft mud! Go figure; I left the plywood behind in my rush to get started. I drove the canoe in hard and fast. Mud here is thicker and deeper than Coon Creek. My spare paddle is a whitewater type with a "T grip" handle. I walk forward in the center of the canoe then place the single blade paddle down on the mud with the bade end so that I can step out onto it. When I stepped out  it sank two inches. the T grip kept it from sliding back as I walked forward on the shaft. Then I leaped to firmer mud and dragged the canoe in. Pryed the paddle out of the mud with the double blade paddle.
The suv is still sitting up there. He must have good binoculars. Snap the canoe day bag to my PFD waist band and tuck the two paddles into the boat. Shoulder the canoe for the quarter mile portage to the MC at the turn-around area. It has been getting a lot colder these last two hours. Riding back for the truck I near froze my head off. Had a knit hat on too. Tried to drive slow, but that does not help either. Damn that helmet thief! Got a cold eyeball for the second time. Needed the face shield. Loaded the MC on the truck and head back for canoe. Got some relief by placing my palm over my eye as I drove. Truck heater feels good. Reach the take-out area and get out of wetsuit with the truck heater going full blast.Outside temperature is 36 degrees.Load up and head out of here.
My plan was to find a motel in Kane, but on second thought I can make it to Smeltport in order to be closer to Marvin Creek tomorrow. Good planning. Check into Smeltport Motel which is the only one in town. I was here 15 years ago. Nothing has changed except the manager. Ask about a public phone? There are none left. Ask about Walmart of Kmart? None of those either.Explain that I have a need to report home that I am off the creek without any problems. Manager says to use her cell phone.She punches in the number. I report home that I am ok. I gave the manager $5 for her help. She refuses , but I insist. Then I get the same story about buying a cell phone at Walmart for $40. I explain that I have trouble hearing on them. She recomends the Court House Restaurant in the center of town as a good place to eat dinner. It was very good. They do not open for breakfast, so a diner at the east end of town is recomended. Went back to the motel. The place is filled up! They are doing a booming business with gas company workers. I was lucky to get here early enough. I would not want to sleep in my truck. Reviewed the topo map of Marvin Creek. Studied the dam portage and the put-in location. I am ready for tomorrow. -Bill

Monday, August 8, 2011

#12 Report: Coon Creek on Sunday

After a good breakfast at Jet Sky Restaurant, I decided to back the truck over by a grove of pine trees to have some privacy changing into my wetsuit.This is as good a place as any. Head east on Rt.36 and turn left on S.R.2006. There is an inch and a half of snow on this road. I see one down grade ahead of me, so I stopped the truck and walked down to check out the hill. I reached the point where I could see to the bottom of the slope. It is OK. One truck has been through here before me this morning and left a wide tire track. I have never forgotten that uncontrolled slide down an icy hill entering Sandy Creek years ago. Back to the truck and drove slowly in first gear incase things get out of hand. Made it to the bottom and a ways further I turned left around the barricade to descend to Nebraska Bridge. I hope this snow melts before I have to ride the MC on it.
Chain the MC to the sign post and continue back up out of there to turn left on Golinza Road. Arrive at the previously mentioned put-in at Golinza Bridge. Park the truck facing up-slope on the state game lands road. Unload the Mohawk and slide it through a gap in the guard rails and line it down a steep bank through briars to the waters edge. This is the upstream-creek left side of the bridge, which seemed to be the best launch point. Take a moment to reflect in the beauty of nature and to compose myself. Shove off and the creek carries the boat forward. This is remote wilderness. No trees to climb over this morning. Water level is M-H, into average grass line. Again, I did not see any wildlife. That is strange in a place like this. No difficulties to mention. Paddle out of the forest onto an open lake. Round a bend to the left and take out on a mud bank 100 yards before the bridge. This was 6.0 miles of good canoe water. Drag the canoe up to the brush area, then shoulder it another 200 yards to chain it to a guard rail along a rill which drains water to the lake. From here I walk up another 150 yards to the MC. I have a knit hat to wear and gloves. It looks like the snow has melted off of the road.
It was a cold ride back for the truck. I miss that helmet. Got back OK and loaded the MC on the rack. Head back for the canoe. Compete that, then head back over Golinza Road. Cross over the bridge where I started this morning and continue to check out the claimed headwater point of Coon Creek. Claimant says to launch from S.R.2007 bridge, which is Muzette Road, and launch onto a private pond . Paddle down the pond, portage the dam, launch again onto Elsworth Run which leads to Coon Creek. Obviously this is too far into the headwaters, with a trespassing risk as well.The public cannot be directed to cross private property in any reports to be published about canoeing.
Watching each bend on the atlas as I am driving, I near Muzette Road. Pass a road that should be it, but it is called Wards Ranch Road. Continue on and notice elevation changes among other things which are differernt from the atlas. Stop, turn around and head back. Wards Ranch Road must be it. Turn left and topagraphy looks OK. After a ways I see Elsworth Run down the slope on my right through the forest. Arrive at S.R.2007 bridge. The pond had been drained probably three or four years ago. Brush is growing in the bed of it. The rill flowing under this bridge is 5 or 6 feet wide and lacks sufficent water to attempt a float out of here. I can see the land owners beautiful house on a bluff over looking this area from about a quarter of a mile away. It is pure speculation as to why the pond had been drained. Maybe the state said the dam was old, or maybe the owner had no further use for it. This is no place to launch a canoe, so I get my pictures to back up my accessment. Drive back out of here. This is a two lane wide clay road. Gas company work for sure. Could see areas where possible development was in process. Clay roads are very smooth and can be very slick if you attempt to stop in a hurry. Turn right on Oak Woods Road and continue east to Marienville on Rt.66.
Drive out to Shefield to East Branch of Tionesta Creek. Turn off of Rt.666 onto Rt.948 and drive about one mile to Donaldson where East Branch joins the larger South Branch of Tionesta Creek. The East Branch is small, but passable at its mouth. It is 25 feet wide here. The road I was hoping to use along it is private and heavily posted. Someone has attempted to destroy the main posted sign and other signs have been added around it. This is not good. I checked the topo map of this area. There are 21 oil wells showing on this piece of road which loops around through the forest. There must be more of them on the "Ludlow" topo map which I do not have. I had hoped to drive up to the three mile point and paddle down. The next public road access is nine miles by creek from here on Forest Hwy#133. Nine miles further up this branch would be too small. Hemlocks are a fifty fifty mix among the hardwoods here. I don't like that either. Took pictures of the damaged signs. I'm out of here.
Head north on Rt.948 to Shefield. Two Mile Creek enters South Branch of Tionesta Creek on the south side of town. Stopped to look at the mouth. It is small and splits into two channels five feet wide at this bridge. Continued checking it at a few places east of town. It flows in a corrected channel through town.Basically straight forward to accomodate industry. Brushy, but not meeting in the middle of its fifteen foot width.Checked it a few more times before I got to the three mile minimum length point. It has numerous fallen trees down. From the three mile vantage point, I can see three fallen trees and debris piles that would have to be portaged in the 200 feet of stream visible. The channeled area extends up one mile from the mouth at which point the creek becomes a natural flowing brook. If I can't justify three miles, I certainly would not attempt it from a long ways further up. Got more pictures of all areas and I am on the road for Kinzua Lake. These two creeks have been run from a point too close to the source. If you would ask those paddlers if they would do it again, the answer would be "no". I am sure that three miles could be done on East Branch of Tionesta Creek if one could obtain permission to use that private road. It would take half a day to locate that person, so it is best not to trespass against that many signs. -Bill

Monday, August 1, 2011

#11 Report: Afternoon researdh for tomorrow

Drive back out from Hemlock Creek headwaters and turn right to go to Coon Creek. Take the shortest route to Golinza Bridge, which is through state game lands on a gravel road.Coon Creek is running a good M level.It is about 40 feet wide here and looks good upstream of here also. This is the last public access for seven miles up into the valley. It will turn out to be too small and too private at Muzzette Road. When you do enough of these little places you get a feel for what you see, so I am not concerned about checking that today. The stream map shows two rills and one run coming together to form the claimed headwater point.
Drove down to Nebraska Bridge to check the take-out point on the lake. Tionesta Lake level has been lowered of all water held back for flood control purposes. A mud layer is all that remains to show the high water mark over the winter. I did not venture too far onto the mud on the paved road leading to the bridge. I do want to get out of here. Walk down 200 yards to look at the banks where I plan to take-out tomorrow. Notice that the mud has stones sticking out of it. Thats good! No quick sand- like exit. The bridge has cement barricades blocking passage of it. Piecse of tree and debris have collected in its structure over the winter. No ice on the lake or the shoreline either. I won't need that sheet of plywood to exit on the mud. I'll plan on leaving the MC chained to the entry sign post about a quarter mile up from here.
Left the area and went to the town of Tionesta for a motel. Eagle Rock Motel, who was my area contact, is still closed for the season. I drove out of there and enroute to another one I stopped at two places to phone home. No public phones! Got bannas at a convenience store. Need potassium. Again, no public phones. I ask at the hardware store. There are none in this town. Wow! times have changed. Figure I will use the motel phone. Check in at the Mid Town Motel. No phone in the room. Went back to the manager and told her about a serious need to report home that I am off of the creks and OK. Ask her to use my calling card and pin number to make the call. She puts the numbers through and the operator says that they do not recognize the unkown card vendor. Jesus! Manager lends me her phone to try again. Same damn message! Where is this town? Lower Slobodia? Got an idea. Drove to convience store and ask young girl clerk if she would put a call through on her cell phone for $10.00? She processed the call, and I report all is OK out here. It is 6:00PM. Two hours beyond earliest report time. I tell wife to avoid the panic button. I will attempt to get calls through earlier.
Now to get a shower and clean up of mud. Found Jet Sky Diner on top of the mountain. Had a good dinner. Waitress says they open at 8:00AM on Sundays.That is late for me. No other restaurants in town are open for season yet. Tommorow will be a late start. Sunday I am at the Jet Sky at 7:45AM. Got another inch of snow last night. Roads wet, but clear. While waiting, I see one lone deer feding its way across the field next to the restaurant. The only wildlife that I have seen so far out here.

Monday, July 25, 2011

#10 Report: Continuing north of I-80

Saturday April 2nd, 2011. Up at 5:00AM, breakfast at King's Restaurant 6:00AM,back to motel, get into wetsuit, check out, and drive to Tidioute. Allegheny River is backed up into the mouth of the Tidioute Creek at the PFC access area.Chain MC to sign post near entrance to here. Very few places to secure a MC. Hope I don't get a ticket. Leave a note on bike to settle any concerns.
On drive to headwater point, I noticed that the water is at a nice level, MH, at Youngsville Road. At area named Hemlock, I make a left turn onto a gravel-clay road which has been graded recently. Go a quarter mile to the creek bridge. Make a u-turn at a wider area and return to park the truck. Was afraid to get too far off of the elevated road because the truck could sink in. Parked on the road surface. This is a rural place and very little traffic can be expected here, so this should not be a problem.
Launch the Mohawk Challenger on creek right-downstream side of bridge. This spot is down a brush bank. Across the creek, there is a fence with a horse in the pasture. The ride downstream through the valley was a nice one. Had to portage a few fallen trees. Ran over one small lowhead type dam, about one and a half feet high. This is vertical on upstream side and a 60 degree slope on the down side. Saw a small wall of some kind completely under water below here. Not a hazzard. This 4.0 miles of degree II water went by fast and I am on the backwaters of the river before I knew it. The river is backed up about 300 feet into creek.
Pull the canoe out and decided to chain it to big tree on the lower elevation by the water so that it would be out of sight from the basketball court which the kids may be playing on shortly. Hide my PFD knife under the float bag. I never ride the MC with it hanging on my chest. The PFD should offer me some protection if I have an accident, so I wear it on the ride back for the truck.
Complete the shuttle and load canoe by 11:00AM. Head south to West Hickory on Rt.62. Cross the river bridge and turn left to find the mouth of West Hickory Creek. Come to a guard rail along the road and park at the end of it. Walk back to check for water. It is at M level. A small creek. About 20 feet wide here. Chain the MC to the end of the guard rail on Dawson Road. This is at intersection of Williams Plan Road on the atlas. Put a tag note on the bike, secure helmet on MC lock pin, then head north to turn left on Preacher Hill Road which leads to Butchers Knife Hill Road. Wonder where they came up with that name?
The bridge on that road is said to be the put-in point. Water here is still at M level. On the downstream side of bridge there is an ice fence on the creek left suspended from a tree branch. To start here one would have to portage around that as there is no surf room to the right side of it. The creek here is 10 feet wide. There is no telling how many more of these things will be on such a narrow creek. Ponder my next move. See a lot of "no trespassing" signs on poles and trees. One seems to be directed at snow mobilers. It is five miles from here to the river. Hmm...Hemlocks, now that I am looking I see mixed Hemlocks with hardwoods. There could be a lot more walking here now that I see the whole picture. Go back to the truck and consult the atlas.
If I go down and turn right on McArthur Run Road, I can get two miles of the creek from its junction with the run of that same name. ( I can't believe they spelled the generals name wrong. It is Mac Arthur.) Went down to the point where the road turns up McArthur Run. Make a u-turn and drive the passenger side wheels up on the high road side bank to avoid blocking the through way. Narrow gravel roads, but this one shows signs of more use. Drag the canoe over a low land marsh area and launch. Water is M but scrachy going in places. Numerous fallen hemlock trees force portage. I am glad I did not attempt it from the five mile point. That is simply too far up the mountain. Finally see the Dawson Road bridge.
Drag the canoe over the flats and then shoulder it over better ground to the MC. I went to un-hook the MC. My helmet is gone! Damn it! I always suspected it would be easy to steal these things. One only needs a sharp knife to cut the chin web straps near the buckles which are on the lock pin, and they have a helmet.This was an especially good one. My son used it for racing cars at Maple Grove. He has another one that he likes better. I un-lock the seat and flip it up. No metal buckles on the lock pin! How did they do that? Discover that if one twist the seat on its hinge and uses a knife or screw driver under the buckles they would lift off of the pin securing them. Damn it! At least they did not trash the MC. Rode back and retrieved the truck. Had to pull it onto road surface to load the MC. Nobody came by in the time it took to do that.
Returned and was in the process of loading the canoe and gear when a white late model Chevy Suburban drove by slowly. I looked up but did not give the customary nod or small wave which people in the out back usually do. I am still mad. Funny, the three of them did not nod or wave either. Must be city people. Somebody with that much money does not steal helmets. I am almost done loading the truck when I hear a vehicle coming. I looked up and it is that same Chevy. Again-no acknowledgment when strange parties meet in rural areas. The Chevy turns right at the intersection onto Williams Plan Road. I remember being told by detectives at my shop that the crook sometimes returns to the scene of the crime. I think it was strange that they drove a half mile down and made a u-turn to come back to then go up that side road. Have nothing to write down the license plate number with, but I did see an "owl" on the plate. If you live in West Hickory and see a white late model Suburban with an owl on the plate, make sure your goods are secured.
It is still early, but too late to start another creek as the next two are long ones. Decide to scout Hemlock Creek and Coon Creek for tomorrow. Drove south on Rt.62 to President. Hemlock Creek looks very good at the Rt.62 bridge. About 35 to 40 feet wide with M level water. This is where it enters the Allegheny River. Drove up Red Brush Road to first intersection. No signs here. Must assume that this is Taylor Refuge Road. The elevation seems right according to the atlas. A long flat basically one lane ride though the wilderness. There is one and a half inches of snow on it. There is one lone tire track on it, so I rode on it as the sides are soft mud-snow mix. I did not see two right side trails indicated on the atlas, or a rill crossing the road. At a point I see an approaching truck about a half mile away. I pull onto a pull-off spot and wait. I flag him down and ask if this is Taylor Refuge Road? He says this is President Road. I ask about Red Brush Road or Allio Road on the left? He says "two more miles". We part and I consult the atlas. The road name changes to President Road further down the map. I am on the right path. It seems like I have been on this road a long time. Have had to drive slow because of conditions. Pass the two left side roads and turn right onto Hemlock Creek Road. It looks like two miles from this intersection to the creek.
In a wooded section the road is snow covered. I see a down hill part ahead of me. Stop the truck, put on the flashers and walk about 500 feet to see if icy gravel is going to be a problem. I can see straight through to the bottom of the hill. There is one tire track on the road. Drove down the hill in first gear and am prepared to rapidly shift to neutral if the braked wheels continue to spin. Got down OK.
When I crossed over the North Branch, I knew I had found it. Stopped at three places in the one and a half mile section mentioned on the claimants report. All bad news. First, I see a large sand bank on the far side of the creek. I have only seen one other like this in Pennsylvania. That one was on the West Branch of Susquehanna. Thoughts of Myrtle Beach South Carolina come to mind. (my favorite place) I descend about thirty feet in elevation to the creek bank. Hemlock Trees dominate the area. From the first spot I can see three fallen tree portages down from here, and two upstream. Water level is "L". It is too far up the mountain at 7.6 miles to the river. Notice that the soil has a high percentage of sand in it. Notice that each bend shows sign of undercutting or caving in. Thats how those Hemlocks get into the creek. At one place checked I was about to walk further downstream when I observed a parallel fisure in the bank. To step on that part would mean an instant wet bath. Noticed that on the straight parts which are few, that undercutting was occuring also. Checked it from the bridge which is the end point of potential launch according to the filed report. The writer fairly stated that there were numerous fallen trees to deal with. Even if the water was at "M" or "M-H" up here, there would still be a fallen tree problem to boating it. Consulted the atlas, and there is no other place to get to this creek between here and the river. It is the kind of place one may do once but they will never go there twice. This is too close to where the water comes out of the earth. Took pictures be back up my assessment. I'm out of here. -Bill

Monday, July 18, 2011

# 9 Report; March 23rd, Planning Ahead

Made three phone calls to Tionesta area for information. Got none to speak of. On the fourth call to Eagle Rock Motel, I got better info than usual. The lady said that they were releasing water from the lake and all water levels were generally high.Ice has gone out from the waterways, but shorelines are still iced in. A low of 16 degrees is expected through the weekend with a high of 29 degrees. They had rain Tuesday and Wednesday. Wow! How come she is so well informed especially about the shoreline ice? I inquired about that. It turns out that they have a canoe rental business here also. Great news! A good contact. A very good contact. Remember Eagle Rock Motel if you are in the area. Cancel this weekends run as not much is melting at those temperatures. Too far to go for only one days paddling at the cost of gas.
The first creek I plan to check on this next venture is Big Run. Found this on the AWA listing. On the topo map it appears to be three miles long and is two lines wide, making it wider than 20 feet, more like 30. The reports seem to say boaters run one big drop. This is the remains of an old dam by an amusement park. Another reported that they run the drop, then quickly exit the area before being caught by the property owner. This is not good. There is no mention of running the whole three miles to the Shenango River. This "Run"(not called a creek) is north of Sharon, near Greenville by the Ohio state line. Checked the AWA list again and found a "disclaimer" on it. Looks like a problem place.
This is the only creek out there that I plan to do that is two lines wide. Wondered how I missed that the first time around? Got to thinking about that detail, and suddenly remembered that two areas in Pennsylvania are flat in topography and elevation interval lines are graded at ten feet, not twenty. Check the maps again. Sure enough-the elevatons are at ten foot intervals!So, the creek appears to be much narower.( I had posted contour line width determinations in an earlier blog) This might mean that it is too narrow to run degree IV water. I know first hand that a lot of the creeks out there have steep near vertical banks of mud, so portage may be non existant if surf space is not available around fallen trees. All of this is factored into whether a place is a valid canoeable claim or a one time shot at a tight creek where the person who claimed it will not go again.
Wednesday, March 30th. All conditions sound favorable for this weekend. The plan is to leave home Friday afternoon and drive to West Middlesex for a Super Eight Motel. Saturday morning, first place to go will be Big Run. I suspect that this will be another listing like Little Scrubgrass Creek. After checking road mileage to Greenville and determining that we have day light until 7:20PM, I changed the plan. I should be able to scout Big Run late Friday afternoon-evening. If it is runnable, I will be ready for Saturday morning. If not passable, I can continue east towards Franklin for a motel to be closer to Saturdays activities. This would be best use of time as it would move up the whole agenda.
I read in the paper that fish season starts this weekend. Oh damn it! I thought this opened in mid April, but apparently it has been moved up. Phoned Marsh Creek State Park to find out if this was state-wide, or only the south east part of the state. Park official says it does not open in the north until mid April. Great news! Now I have a time frame to complete these last places before the descending hords of rod wavers.
Water conditions should be good as rain has been falling all across the western part of the state. Snow is predicted mainly in the eastern half of the state for Friday. April can be unpredictable. I am up at 5:30AM Friday morning and it is snowing like hell in Morgantown. Good God! Take the lose tarp off of the MC and drive to work. Wow! Gas went up ten cents a gallon last night. Arrive at work to see parking lot covered. Am hoping that it will change to rain. I usually wrap the MC in a tarp for wet travel. It is exposed to rain being sucked up into its parts which may make it hard to start. The sides of my two previous MCs were very open to the elements, but this one has pannels enclosing its parts. I am hoping for the best.
Put a long handle steel shovel and a snow shovel in bed of truck. Took out the cord wood which I might need for washed out roads. I'll take that chance. Most roads may have been graded by now if used at all. This was a last minute decision. I have tire chains, a come-a-long, and two cables if needed.
Since Tionesta Lake has been lowered, that might mean mud or ice piles when exiting on the shoreline. Could experience this same condition on Kinzua Lake. Decide to take a sheet of plywood 14 inches wide by 36 inches long with two 16 penny nails through it. Will carry this in the canoe incase of thick soft mud. I expect to drive the canoe in fast onto the mud, walk forward in the center of the boat, lay the plywood out on the mud,and then step out onto it. The nails should keep it from sliding while I pull the canoe forward. If neccessary I can get back in and repeat the process until reaching firm banks. If the lake has re-iced, I must look for a shoreline path where that has happened.
Had topped the gas off in the chain saw. May need that if a fallen tree blocks a forest road. I am sitting at work posting this in my log book, while watching heavy snow falling. My final run on a PA creek was in 4 inches of snow on April 1st, 2000. (read it in my book). I am hoping for the best. The "closed" sign in my shop window says that I will re-open Thursday next week. I want plenty of time to get these creeks in before fish season. A total of nine creeks will be checked on this venture. Only one remains after that. It is in Moosic, PA., the northeast part of the state.
I am out of here at 12:00 noon, Friday,April 1st. Leave home; arrive at Greenville at 6:30PM. Drive west on Rt.358 to Maysville to check the first bridge. Just as I suspected. There is not enough watershed above this point to keep the creek watered.It is a flash stream- up briefly, but not passable 24 hours after rain. Took pictures to back up my assessment. From here I drove south to Rt.846 bridge. More of the same condition. Took pictures. Continued downstream to the third bridge which is Coal Hill Road- S.R.4002. From this point it is a little under three miles by creek to the river. It is not good here either, so I take more pictures. I'm out of here. Head east to Greenville. Got some pictures of railroad equipment in town. Bessemer and Lake Erie R.R. ran through here. Continued east to Franklin and checked into a Super Eight Motel. Found a public phone at K-mart. Very few of these phones around anymore. People keep telling me to buy a $40.00 cell phone a Walmart. I have trouble hearing on cell phones so I use an amplifier on a reciever. Study my maps for tomorrow. -Bill

Monday, July 11, 2011

#8 Report: Canoe Creek Continued

Doing map study at the motel Friday night, I went back over todays maps again and claimants info provided for canoe guide book.Beaver Creek is too small at 1.7 mile mark up from Clarion River. This is the first bridge downstream of Blairs Mills. I never went to the 5.6 mile point. Too small is too small. On Canoe Creek, the next accessible bridge is 6.2 miles up from the mouth, not 5.2 as claimed. It could never be any bigger than 12 feet wide 3.4 miles closer to headwaters. The writings state that there are "undercuts" below I-80 on both creeks. A map count of eleven slight bends in 1.7 miles could give some idea of what to expect to traverse Beaver Creek.
Saturday March 19th, Up at 5:00AM. Catch the news, breakfast at 6:00AM at Eatin Park Restaurant. Do the routine and get on the road for Canoe Creek at 6:45AM. Arrive early. Check maps again. Drop MC at area named Canoe Ripple just up from the bridge over Clarion River. There is a barricade blocking an abandoned road here. The bridge over Canoe Creek went out years ago.It is about 150 yard walk down this road to the creek. The topo map shows a closer way into the creek on the other side, but without checking it out, it appears to go right by someones house, and it is too early in the morning to attempt a road nobody uses anymore. It could possibly be barricaded beyond that persons driveway. A little walk up out of this creek won't hurt me.
Went to the first bridge across the creek, which is 1.3 mile point. Water is at M level today which is probably too low for a degree III run. At the last minute I decided to walk the creek to get a feel for it. I had in mind that I may return in the future and run it from 2.8 mile point under I-80. More than one claim was made on this piece which gives it some credibility. I sometimes walked steeper sections of degree IV first to learn the course before running it. I have never done this on degree III, but the narrow width makes me think this is a wise decision. Started at 7:20AM. It is 34 degrees this morning, no wind. I had to cross the creek three times by picking a shallower section in order to avoid near vertical banks on outside of bends. Water is knee-deep. One must be careful of leg entrapment doing this. I am using my single blade w.w. paddle as a hiking stick. Came to a 2.5 inch thick telephone cable suspended across the creek. There is enough clearance to get under it if the water was H-H. Nice to know. Saw two white disk that had washed down here. Don't know what they are. Both at different locations. Minor boat scratchers, but not serious to travels. Only saw two undercuts, but there could have been another as growth on banks was dense in a few places preventing under bank checking. Some pieces of tree in places easily visible. Came upon a major tree jam creek-wide in the last rapids. Two trees about 24 inches in diameter completely block the creek. The water has found its way through near both banks, creating an island just upstream of the abandoned bridge pilings mentioned earlier. All manner of debris is collected here. No passage for canoe or kayak here. While walking on creek right, noticed a farm tractor wheel on the bank. A sign of civilizaton. From here, a house is visible high up on the mountain across the Clarion River. Finished the hike at 7:55AM. Run the MC back for the truck.I wanted to take everything back so that I would not have to return to this point. Chain and lock went into MC compartment and I stuck the blade of the paddle down into the back of my PFD. I'm glad nobody went by to see this. Upon returning I had to do a 180 degree turn to approach and load the MC on the rack.While making the turn the front tire skidded on the gravel road even though I was going slow.
My concerns about these smooth street tires proved to be real.I quickly got a foot out and prevented a fall. It is a good thing this MC is small. Load up and head for Maple Creek near Cook Forest.
This creek is near Clarington on the Clarion River. Bridge over creek mouth is guard railed in on both sides making it tricky to exit the water.Found a gap in the railings with a path leading down to the Clarion River. This point is just downstream of the mouth of the creek. Chained the MC to railing here and put a return note on it. I hook this onto the handle bar incase it is anybodys business.
Property owner has creek left side fenced in with six foot high chainlink fence toped with 30 degree angle brackets with barbed wire. This is too close to water to think about exiting there. Water is running a good M level. This expensive fence runs along the road for about 500 feet before turning and going up through the forest beyond where one could see the end of it. I wondered what justifies that kind of security a way out here. A sign on one gate says that it is an electric type. There is a German Shepherd running around in there barking its head off. Looks like new structural steel pieces of various sizes inside of fence. MEC is the name on the "no trespassing" signs.
Head north on Rt.899 to Redclydie and turn left onto Bear Run Road. this is in bad condition. Could really use repaving. Round a bend and see a beautiful multi millon dollar cement bridge across the Maple Creek. Wide shoulders and guard rails both sides. Big PennDOT "no parking" signs on both sides for a good ways from the creek. These are the symbol signs with the big letter "P" with a slash-line through it. I wondered if my tax dollars paid for this extravagance? Noticed that property owner has "posted and patrolled" signs on both sides of the road for a long distance. The shoulders are very good and wide for a long distance. This must be a hunting,fishing,dirt biker problem. Stopped on the bridge and checked the water. It is at M level, and passable. I could chance this but someone would see an empty MC rack on my truck. They might not observe that a second canoe is missing from the roof rack. This issue is easy for anyone patrolling. They don't even have to find me. They can report the violation of a state issue parking sign and I get a ticket. This creek could be run if a paddler was dropped and the shuttle vehicle driven away. The creeping Pocono disease has arrived here. Took pictures and continued around on the west side on the creek to check out a dotted line road showing on the atlas.
Make a left turn on a road posted "no winter maintenance". I know what that means. A little ways further a second sign warns "heavy truck traffic".Have never seen that one before. Road got progressively worst. I was lucky to make it to the top of the elevation in this muddy quackmire. I stopped at the top and could see that the downhill side towards the creek was real bad. On my right, a cable across the side road is down and I can see that major work is going on up there. A sight is being cleared, most likely for gas drilling. Turned round on this side road and left the area. Continued south-downstream. Pulled over near mouth of the creek to check the map. Looked at the water on my left and saw another sign on a tree. "Private, no parking. Vehicles will be towed at owners expense" Noticed the name on the sign is MEC. Friendly people. They control both sides of the creek. All of this is in rural area west of Cook State Forest. So, both ends of this small creek are too private and there is no way into the middle of it. Write it off. Someone must have run this years ago before gas exploration came in. Load MC and drive to wide pull-off area on Rt.899 to get out of wetsuit. End of this venture. Head home for brother-in-laws party tomorrow. -Bill

Monday, July 4, 2011

#7 Report: Sugar Creek, East Brady

Heading north on Rt.268, make a right turn at Frogtown and go down the hill to Kaylor. This is above the claimed put-in point on Sugar Creek, so I turn right and head downstream,looking as I go. it is too small at the 3.9 mile point,so continue further downstream. Pass a road on the right which I believe is Hart Run Road.Brush still meets in the mid-stream, but it is less frequent. It is 2.7 miles from here to the Allegheny River.This is probably the best start point.
Continue to the river and pull into a PFC access area. Chain the MC to a tree and leave a note on it that I will return by PM today. It is now 11:30AM. Noticed that the river is backed up about a half mile into the creek. No low bridge problems here. Sugar Creek is small, narrow, and of M level. I'll run it anyway even with the brush problem. Put-in on creek-left, just upstream of Rt.68 bridge.
Came to one degree II drop in the creek.It was minimum passable. Rock is mostly slab-like, probably Mudstone or Siltstone.I did not look close enough to see the fisure marks on it. Some angular rock mixed in at places.Again, I was not paying attention to it.It took 45 minutes to run the 2.7 miles. Had a nice MC ride, retrieved the truck, and returned and loaded the canoe. Nobody is using this PFC point today. It had been mostly covered by mud until recently.The river had been much higher.
Ponder the remains of this day. There is enough time left to possibly get some more miles on the headwaters of Bear Creek, which is not too far from here. Drove north by way of Petrolia. Got another look at the South Branch of Bear Creek. My first thoughts on it are right. It is too small and water level is L today. Continue to Bruin and turn left in town to go up the main branch of Bear Creek. Water is at M level by bridge where I started last year. Continue upstream and turn left on Snake Road.Went up past the area of "no tresspassing". Turn around and found a place where the creek is next to the road. Put in here. It is 2.0 miles from here to my take-out point. It was an easy degree I run. A lot of trees fall into the creek up here from these soft high mud banks, but today I did not have to portage any. A good afternoon! Retrieved the truck, returned for canoe, got out of wetsuit,and prepare to head to Kittanning. Had finished this last creek by 2:45PM.
Found a Comfort Motel in Kittanning, check in, shower, organize,and wash wetsuit.Anything in contact with your skin should be washed because creek water is not clean. Think about it. Between the wetsuit and your skin is a dark,damp, warm ideal place for germs. Kittanning is a convienent location for me to run to Pine Run tomorrow. Go to grocery store and buy bananas. My legs got a workout today. Fear cramps tonight.Phone home from a public phone in Walmart and report that I am off of the water and all is OK.I use a calling card since I do not use a cell phone. No GPS either. If you can't read a topo map, stay out of the woods. Got dinner at Kings Restaurant and head back to motel to study tomorrows routes of travel.
Friday, March 18th. Up at 5:00AM,catch the news on tv, prepare for the day,and go to breakfast at Kings at 6:00AM. Outside of left thigh hurts, hip hurts- not injuries, just old man's pains.Felt better after moving around and returning to the into creek clothing and drove to Rt.839 bridge on Pine Run. The railroad track is gone now. I remember this place. The day that I ran it from here to Mahoning Creek, it was snowing hard and the road was covered.I don't mind riding the MC on snow but this looked like a serious storm. This creek looked pretty small above here so I figured this was the put-in. A new claim was posted with the Pittsburgh Youth Hostel Canoe Guide which shows the headwater point at Dora which is four miles further up.I am here to complete that if it is valid.
Drop the MC and continue upstream checking each bridge. At the third bridge which is in the town of Timblin, the brush meets in mid-stream. This is one bridge too far. To launch here I would have to walk in on someones cut grass side yard, which is trespassing.The creek is ten feet wide. Saw an old bank building in Timblin with the date 1920 on it. Imagine a bank a way out here in a rural area. Decide to drop down one more bridge. It is private here too, but wider so no brush and potential ice fences to deal with.Decide to ask permission. I met Mr.Snyder who used to farm this land. He said that was OK.He had never seen anyone canoe or kayak through here. He is retired and I noticed that he has a fairly good view of the creek from his house. It is funny he would not have seen someone come through here. I'll give the claimant the benefit of the doubt. We boaters are fast. Mr Snyder told me about his family who started the farm many generations ago. I gave him an add for my book and explained what I am doing here. Backed the truck off of the road and launched by 9:00AM. Portage some strainers here and there. The creek is at M-H level. Finished the two miles by 9:45AM. Retrieve truck and canoe and head for Leatherwood Creek.
Pass through New Bethlehem on Rt.861. Check it from this bridge. It is M level. Turn right on Rt.854, go to T472 and turn right to reach the headwater point. It is a very small creek here,too narrow for a degree III run. Water level is M here also. Noticed that the grass bank had been washed over recently. Water would have to be one foot higher to do that. At that level one would be running through low hanging tree branches and brush. No elbow room to manuver around nature. I get out the camera for the second time today and take pictures to back up my accessment of the creek. From here, I drove down to the mouth of the creek at St.Charles.
There are remains of a long-closed brick factory here on the bank of RedBank Creek.It is a 150 yard walk upthe Red Bank to the mouth of Leatherwood Creek at a barricaded railroad bridge. The creek is 25 feet wide here.All of these creeks show one blue line wide on the topo maps. One line wide means 20 feet. Two lines wide would be in excess of 30 feet. As I have said before, degree III needs elbow room to surf around obsticles or else it means portages. I see a blue light burning inside the delapidated building. Someone is welding down there.
Continue to Cherry Run from here. Stop by Cherry Run Methodist Church and take some pictures of a very small brushy creek.Who is claiming these creeks? Proceed downstream checking bridges. There are five bridges from the church to the take-out on Licking Creek. Drop the MC here and decide to try it from the fourth bridge back, Toby area on the map.Water level is M and it could use a little more. One mile down at S.R.3003 farmers bridge, the creek flattens out and water is OK. It opens onto farm meadows. This means no more trees. There were two or three bigger drops in the last mile. One was a four foot ledge-falling onto slab. This is under cut deep enough for a person to sit under it as high water pours over the top. I know falls can wash out underneath like this but this is the deepest one I ever remember seeing. This is a degree III drop but there is not enough water to run it today. Finish and retrieve truck. Haul canoe up a steep bank with a 100 foot rope tied to the truck bumper. Rope can be a great work saver.
Get out of wetsuit. It is 1:25PM. Decide to turn the remainder of the day into a scouting trip. Checked Canoe Creek, Beaver Creek, and Little Scrubgrass Creek, all of which I now know fall into the same catagory as Leatherwood Creek. Sure enough, all were not good. Got pictures. Undercuts are mentioned on Canoe and Beaver Creek reports. That means portages because of lack of surf room. Too much portage means no floating, so go figure, do you want to hike or are you here to run it. Will try for last one and a quarter miles of Canoe Creek tomorrow. Drove in to look at 2.8 mile point under I-80 twin bridges. It looks like they throw road kill deer off of the bridge. That is a long ways up in the air. I hope they look first before throwing them over. Creek here on upstream side of road bridge is 12 feet wide. I don't know how anyone can claim to have done this from the five mile point.Downstream of I-80 it is 20 feet wide and may be posible with the cautions at those undercuts. I drove east to Clarion for a Super Eight Motel. Got a shower, organize truck, and go to dinner at Eatin Park Restaurant. Phoned home from Walmart public phone. Again, this was the only public phone in this area that anyone could think of.

Monday, June 27, 2011

#6 Report; Temperatures going up, rain coming down.

This weekend might be it. Feb. 15th, start up the motorcycle. Should have done this earlier. Just because it was completely tuned up last October, doesn't mean it will run.It runs great. There is still some snow on my driveway. Feb. 19th, 20th; Conditions not good. Very cold temperatures and some moisture predicted. I cannot do it next weekend because of other obligations.
March 3rd,Heavy rain coming up the Ohio valley. Pittsburgh will get it Saturday, Not a good report. Will bide my time. March 6th; North of Pittsburgh snow fell all across the northwest. March 8th,Tuesday, it looks like more rain from the southwest Thursday and Friday.
March 9th, Wednesday; Load the canoes again.Noticed the float bags were low in air probably from the cold temperatures. Reinflate them. One was stuck shut and broke apart while I was opening it. Thats the problem with old equipment. Other two bags inflated OK. I should have checked this closer much earlier. I would hate to be out there with only one good float bag in my whitewater canoe. I have two other bags in my reserve equipment. Got both out and inflated them. Both are good. Put a good one in place of the bad one. Will take the other along incase one gets a puncture. Notice that the gas is low in the motorcycle.I left it that way all winter. It could be going stale. Wondered if I put 89 octane in on top of the old 87 octane would that reinvigorate the old possibly stale gas? I normally use a stabilizer in fuel which is to sit for a while.
March 10th, It is raining very hard here and the weather pattern looks the same out by Pittsburgh. Phone around to motels. Yes, what I am seeing is what is happening. I am getting anxious to get moving.Morning temperatures are 32 degrees or higher now and afternoon going into 50s. No ice on well used roads in the morning. Good bike riding. 40 degree water and 60 degree air is the breakover point regarding hypothermia. Conditions are getting better and safer at this time. A traveling customer of mine tells me snow is expected north of Pittsburgh tonight. Thursdays paper shows 50s out there and 40s north of the city. Will check river gauges tonight.
Thurs. March 10th. I am in denial over my condition. When I picked the canoes up off of the picnic table the other day to reload, I felt the muscle in my back stress out. Now I am experiencing lower back pains. Hope for some signs of improvement. Friday 11th, Weather don't look favorable and no relief on my back problems. I could do this thing but it means slippery roads up near I-80, East Brady. Decide to forget it. Now I see another problem. Next weekend is brother-in-laws 70th birthday party and I am expected to be there. May decide to go out for one day and return by Sunday for the party. Who doesn't like a party?
Half an inch of rain in Pittsburgh Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday Fri, and Sat. will be unusally warm in the 60s.Decide to go for it! I had hoped not to take time off at work because I have three day weekends. Sometimes events will not fit into a weekend, so I had better go for it. These creeks are mostly under five miles long, so with a bit of luck I might get six of them in on a three day trip, but not this coming weekend. Two days, Friday and Saturday.It rained and got warm.
Had tested both CB radios. Both are junk, but I installed the better one to keep me company on the long early morning ride to Pittsburgh. Notice that one float bag has a slow leak. It takes a whole day to lose it, so I'll continue to reinflate it as I go until I can replace it on my next run.Completed final details of loading Thursday. Recharge the MC battery. Also, charge up the jumper assist box incase needed. Plan to start up MC when I drop it so that it should be OK. I have three chains and locks. One to carry in the canoe incase I have to leave it half way into a trip.Two more; one for the kick stand to keep it from being put up. If kids play with it, they will never be able to get the stand down again and will lay the MC on its side which is not good. The second chain is to secure the bike to a railing or tree. It is too easy to steal, so fasten it down.
Some last thoughts. "By yourself?" We go out to dinner with different friends and someone will say, You are going out there by yourself? I explain that it is imposible to find a person who can function on someone elses schedule, which may be a very short notice to go. Years ago, I heard Ed Gertler the writer of a canoe manual, express this same thing when asked by someone in the audience. I fully understand it. The important thing is not to lose your head. Systematically check everything. The canoe must be ship-shape before you put one foot into it.All blind descend needs to be walked down and checked before floating, and the next eddy downstream that you plan to pull into must be located. Nothing can be done in a hurry, or pressed into the 3:00PM waning hour of the winter day. Do it another day.Motorcycle riding has its own set of things to watch out for. We can die anywhere. Weds.March 15th Reading Eagle had a story of a man found dead by his car in a restaurant parking lot. It was not foul play. Probably a heart attack. We all take our chances in this world, and when its your time, thats it. This is the last posting in the log book. I carry a pocket size log book to record details which will eventually be posted in this larger book when I return home.
Friday, March 18th, Up at 3:00AM, on the road at 3:30AM headed for Pittsburgh. 41 degrees, three/quarter bright moon. Animals will be crossing roads.Watch for deer.Notice water seeping down vertical rock along the turnpike. Notice sides of shoulder of road are still wet.All good signs. Get breakfast 7:40AM at Kings Restaurant on Rt.28. My CB radio did not work well. Miss having trucker reports on the road.
I missed the turn to enter Rt.28 expressway and ended up going the old business route through the small towns to Breckenridge. This place looks like a crowded city on the atlas.That is where I have to locate a drop spot for the motorcycle where Bull Creek enters the Allegheny River. Think it best to do a partial ride up Bull Creek Road first to determine the water level and check details of the degree III rapid "under Rt.28 bridge".Found the creek. Circled around town to check out bridges and found the P.F.C. area under the bridge over the river. The river is up so it backs up into the creek about a half mile. One bridge has very low clearance at this level. Wow! This is something boaters should check before running it.Got into wetsuit at the PFC area which is vacant this morning. Traffic through town is scarey at rush hour. Coming in all directions.
Found the first road on the west side of Rt.28, Grim Road. Today this will be an ideal take-out point.The degree III rapid is about 400 feet upstream of Grim Road bridge.Water level looks Medium (M). I asked at a welding supply store if I could leave my MC by the pole across the road by the creek? Owner says to bring it over here by the trailer. Nobody will bother it there. I did that and continued towards Millerstown. Cross an intersection and found a Methodist Church and a ball field. This is a good put-in location. Water is running 12 inches down on cement base works which supports the poured concrete verticals of the bridge. This is M level here-into the average mud line on proved to be a good level, but at the degree III drop, it was just not enough. This drop is thirty feet long over large base rock creek-wide,with best flow on two sides of center. Going over the entry part is OK, but there appears to be a pool pocket and then another partial ridge of rock splits the water at this level making it difficult to complete the course. A portage up a steep bank was neccessary because the shoreline was very dense old growth briars. A lady raking her yard here wanted to help me make the portage, so I gave her the double blade paddle. She said that if I could not get through the briars, she would shuttle the canoe around to the bridge. As I have said in my book, the Pittsburgh people are great! I got cut up with briars so I back off and decided to carry up to the guard rail at Grim Road bridge and chain the canoe to it. It is a short walk from here to the MC.
Riding out Grim Road I noticed the PFC guy inspecting my canoe. I tooted the horn, waved and kept going. He waved back.It took one hour and fifteen minutes to complete the 4.5 miles. Three portages of strainers. Went over one low head cement dam about one and a half feet high. One cement bar, 12 inches thick and creek-wide was passable. I don't know what purpose this structure served. Returned for canoe and headed for Sugar Run at East Brady.I think the PFC guy was looking to see if I was fishing illegally.

Monday, June 20, 2011

#5 Report; Find a Shuttle Vehicle

The search for a motorcycle begins. I had owned two others over the time that I needed them. They had been sold when I thought I was done canoeing. Used small street bikes are hard to find. When the original owner gives up on them, others take the lights off and use them for dirt bikes. I looked at one of those. It was cleaned up and all of the lights were in a box. A close look at the machine revealed that it had gone through hell and back. There has to be a better bike out there.  The cycle has to be light enough that one end at a time can be lifted up into a bumper rack. There are a lot of big bikes for sale, but that would require a trailer for transport. The only old bikes still in dependable service are motorscooters which are hauled around on motorhomes. I looked at a few of those.
One 1987 Honda Elite 80cc looked very good. Only 1500 miles on it. Seller did not have the title. It had been owned by a relative who came from Virginia. Seller kept it at his place of business in Philadelphia. He tried to get the title and was told that they do not keep dormant paper around more than five years. His granddaughter rode it around his property, so it had little use. Price was cheap at $150.00. Seller said I could take sales receipt to notary and they would get a title. I wasn't sure of that procedure, so I told him I would get back to him. Notary said, owner must get the title, then he can sell it. I gave up on the sweet deal.
Found another Honda Elite 1989 model.It had 9000miles on it. Seller hauled it on a motorhome.I paid $300.00 for it. It may have been better for something this old to have been run more frequently. I thought that I might buy the first one for parts, so I called the owner and it was sold. I hope the buyer knew what he was doing.
This Honda has smooth street tires, like the kind that you see on crouch rockets. One lineal groove around the circumference with single grooves radiating out from center to the edge of  the tread. The remainder of the tread is very smooth. I don't want to be on wet or snowy roads with those, so I ordered a knobby for the back. I saw the tire patern in the CycleMax dealers catalog. I told the parts man that that design would work good on snow for me. He promptly said I cannot ride this on snowy roads! I did not engage him in debate on it. A lot of back country roads are posted "no winter maintenance", so chains go on the truck to get in there. On return with the cycle I keep both hardsole boots on the slippery surface and go slow, with a quick disengage on the hand clutch if the wheel starts to let lose. Again, that is another reason the bike must be small.
My son gave me a full face helmet with a lot of features on it. He had used it to race Mustangs at Maple Grove, but now has a better one. My only concern about this bike is that it doesn't have a manual clutch, but a centrifugal one with automatic transmission. I am hoping that rapid down-turn of the throttle will disengage quick enough to spare me a spill. Will take it slower than usual, if it comes to icy conditions, to learn its ways.
On the internet, details of the 17 creeks are noted. Degree of difficulty, Put-in, take-out, hazzards, gauge points. It is clear that I will use both of my solo canoes. A Mohawk Challenger model, 14 feet long,30 inches wide, and an Old Town H2Pro model whitewater model 13'8" long by 29inches wide. Both are ready to go since they had been taken out earlier. I can forget about boats until January.
November 2010, I got on the scale.Good God! I weigh 210 lbs. Decide to make it a goal to lose ten lbs. Immediately switched to half piece of toast, cereal, one egg for breakfast. Gave up sweet iced tea altogether, and replaced it with water. Lunch was three plain rice cakes dipped in water. Damn things taste like wet newspaper. The surprising thing is that I did not miss the iced tea which I drink must of the time. The hardest thing is avoiding sweets which around holidays seem to come in abundance. I lost five pounds after the first two weeks, then it was very slow going on the numbers. Finally the scale responded with lower numbers. It took two and a half months to see 198 lbs on the scale the end of January. Now to keep it there. I don't know if this is physiological, but I feel that I can move quicker, or am less sluggish, maybe even more physical, although I am not doing strenthening activities, just cross country skiing and walking our Golden Retriever on a three mile round trip to the store. All I can say about dieting is that it does not take expensive programs, just old fashioned will power. January 2011 turned into an artic type winter with snow every week, so I kept on skiing. This is good for my legs which I know I'll be wet hiking and protaging definitely on some of these creeks.
While having lunch with a group of ski, bike, canoe friends, a fellow I have paddled and skied with many times mentioned that he might like to do that type of creek search. Out of  the corner of my eye, I caught the expression on his wife's face, which was not good, although she did not say anything. He has Friday afternoons off at work,  so I told him I would keep him informed as the plan evolves. Later, I was thinking about having a second person preparing for a last minute phone call Thursday night or Friday morning. I wondered if anyone could act on short notice, almost like a fire drill to go for a long weekend, let alone for a week. That person may be thinking of this as an adventure or leisure travel, but for me it is more like a business trip. I just want to claim these creeks.
I thought it would be wise to enter an itinerary on Mitch's E-mail, so he would have some idea what to expect. Following is what was posted:  Hi Mitch; You expressed an interest in my hectic canoe schedule, so I thought I would lay it out roughly for you, incase you still want to try this venture.I expect to start at Pittsburgh heading north, or Smeltport heading west. I think Pittsburgh north may have best early weather chances. Two or three Feb.-March weekend runs will be followed by a week-long run in March or as late as early April. I would leave home Fri. afternoon, motel north of Pittsburgh, up at 5:30AM,breakfast local diner, back to motel, into wetsuits, drive to Bull Creek. Check it out, drop MC, go to headwater, paddle down, cycle back, get canoe.( I don't know if you simply want to scout to see how it is done or paddle, but I don't want you on this creek- a degree III rapid) Next, drive to East Brady, check out Sugar Creek, set up and run it in the afternoon. You can run this degree I, if you have that in mind. Then drive south to Kittanning, get a motel. We have to plan to be off the water by 3:00PM in the winter months. Thats why the early starts. Nap, shower, wash wetsuits, organize for Sundays venture, dinner locally, study tommorows maps. Sunday, up at 5:30AM, breakfast, back to motel, wetsuits on, drive to Pine Creek near Dora, check it out, run it. This is degree I water, You can make your decision on this one.Sunday noon, head for home. If Saturday, Bull Creek has iced in shoreline, I turn around and head for home, no scouting, or paddling. Will try another weekend. Things to check on the internet: Google -Canoeing Guide to Western Pennsylvania and Northern West Virginia. Sign in on "agree" line and pull up Bull Creek, Sugar Creek, Pine Creek. Careful- there are many Sugar and Pine Creeks. Look for Rt.839-Pine Crk. Need any details, e-mail questions. -Bill
All of my equipment is showing signs of wear, but I am not going into expense just to do 17 creeks of short length. All three wetsuits fit. One drysuit is OK. I don't use this where frequent portages are expected because one poke from a sharp stick can render it useless and me vulnerable to hypothermia. It may be used on two wider creeks, Coon and South Branch Kinzua, both of which end on lakes which may still be partly frozen. Dry suit offers best protection- if it is air tight.  Two double blade paddles are put together with screws. My ice blade is still tight. This is a heavy, thick of shaft and blade area with tile paste spreader trowels screwed onto both sides of it with the teeth extending down a quarter inch below bottom of the blade. I use this as a spare on places like Coon or S.Br., incase  the canoe has to be driven up onto the ice. It is neccessary to move far enough onto the good ice before getting out of the boat. My primary use paddle is the double blade. 1/11 Got out motel guides to determine which towns have them. Will use their numbers for on location info.
2/17/11 Have been skiing almost every weekend.Pittsburgh expecting 65degree weather Thurs, and Fri. Rapid snow melt should occur this weekend. Calling around I found out that they did not get as much snow out there as we had here. Another problem; on Sunday their weather is to take a turn for the worst. It is not worth it to run out there for one day of paddling.To continue further north would be heading into a snow zone. I think I'll bide my time and pass on this weekend.
Have been watching the weather channel for a break in winter, but it is not happening. It is either very cold continuously meaning iced in shoreline, or snowing, or flooding conditions. Eight four foot lengths of cord wood have been loaded in my truck, a long handled steel shovel, a snow shovel, chain saw, two cables one ten foot, and one fifty foot, a come-a-long, and 100 feet of half inch rope. All of this is for those back roads. I also have chains to go on over my snow tires. I learned all this in past history. I never got an answer from Mitch. I know the E-mail went through. I think his E-mail got censored. Anyway the plan rolls along. I don't think it will be much longer before the time is right. -Bill

Monday, June 13, 2011

#4 Report: Sceond day-First venture

Sunday, May 9th, 2010: Up at 5:00AM, catch the news, get ready. 6:00AM breakfast at the restaurant down the hill from the motel. Back to motel, get into wetsuit, pack and check out. Head west on Rt.208 to check out Scrubgrass Creek. Turn right in Clintondale onto Rt.308. After one mile, come to the bridge over the creek. Wow! this thing is running M-H. It has been three days since rain. How did I miss this creek the first time around?
From this point I have the shortest route marked on the topo map. This is best for a bicycle or motorcycle unless a truck cannot handle it, or it is declared a private road, or the road is abandoned which can happen. The area shows as an oil field on the map.Well heads everywhere. Drove south on Rt.308 a quarter mile and turned left on small road. Then turned left onto Phillips Road which is gravel and goes down hill in a steep section. No fear of the steep grade as it appears maintained by the industries. This joins S.R.3006 and a left turn goes across the creek. There is nice degree II rapids here.I turned right to reach the mouth at the Allegheny River.
I stopped for a minute after circling the area which is a large campground. Riding my bicycle back seven miles for my truck is going to be5 miles of walking and 2 miles of riding. Consult the elevation lines on the map. Approzimately a 400 foot climb over that distance. This will take all day. I wondered if I could hire a shuttle driver? First I need permission to take-out here and leave a bicycle. Then I should explain what I am doing and inquire about hiring a senior citizen to ride up with me and bring my truck back down here.
         I started for the office and was met by a lady who was the manager. It was OK to take out and leave the bike. She said to ask the fellow on the other side of the creek. I drove over to see him and his wife just leaving all dressed up. He said to try the fellow at the last site at the river. I went there and he was already gone. Back at the office I asked if she could think of who else I might ask? She said maybe her son would do it. How much was I willing to pay?  I had thought about that miserable all day hike in a wetsuit and raised my thoughts of what that fee should be. $40.00 I said. She said she would check with him. It is 8:00AM. It will be tough to get a young person out of bed at this hour on Sunday morning. She returned and said he would do it.
A fellow in his late teens came out. I ask if he had a drivers license. Yes he did. I would not have cared if it was my old Chevy, but this is my good Dodge. I am glad I did not quote a cheap number on that fee. I drove up to the put-in. I cautioned him about that steep down hill. He said he knew a better road back. I am excited about this creek. I slid the Mohawk Challenger down the gravel path and then through the grass to the waterline. Took a moment to make ship shape, everyting in its place. Launch and enter a forest of mixed trees, leaving civilization behind.
Degree II rapids frequently at first , then almost continuosly as it starts down hill. It is a nice creek.Had to portage a strainer or two. Came to an area where some excavating was being done near well heads. It is mostly conifers through here. Some older 4 inch diameter pipes are exposed along the banks in places. This has been a producer of oil for many years based on the amount of discarded metal. The creek got narrower and steep in places, but never exceeded degree II in difficulty. The paddler has time to look around without being totally focused on the rocks.
After 3 miles of wilderness, I see a house on the right up on the hillside. I know that the first island is just below here.Took the best flow channel and come out by S.R.3006 bridge. The creek is 15 yards wide here. This is called the pumphouse bridge, but I did not see anything at the waterline. Must have been busy with the water. When a creek spreads out the water level is lower and rocks are closer to the surface which makes it interesting.
Take out above the camp entrance, load up, and head out by way of Humpheys Corner and Cyrus. I am driving slow and looking for a possible new oil company road in towards Little Scrubgrass Creek. This creek is inaccessable at the mouth, so one would have to boat down the river one mile to a possible take-out on private land if allowed. Otherwise one would have to go two more miles down to river left and take out in Blacks on a public road.
There was no new roads so I continued and turned left onto Rt.208.  went a half mile and turned right on a small gravel road and stopped on the creek bridge to check it out. This is a dead end road. Somebody must be kidding. There is not enough water here today. One could walk across it and only get wet ankles. There is a cross-creek strainer just below the bridge.  Upstream about seventy-five yards a four foot high dam can be seen. Little Scrubgrass Creek is three miles long from Rt.208 to the river and the claimant says it is passable from a point one mile up from here. Not possible. It is the kind of creek one might do once, but they will never do it again. At this point I have to decide to try more creeksMonday or pack it in. This bicycle riding is for young people and I know I'll never be lucky enough to find a shuttle driver in a rural area on a weekday.The water levels have dropped since rain four days ago. I sense that further search will not be good. Head for I-80 and home. This mission accomplished and a lot learned. Buy a motorcycle. some of these very small creeks are bad claims. A person went there once, found out what it was like, but should not have put it on a list as canoeable. I had attempted some creeks in past history and had to humble myself and portage out, thus no claims on them for the public. -Bill

Monday, June 6, 2011

#3 Report: Rain Comes

        On second thought, throw in six pieces of cord wood 3 to 4 feet long incase I encounter a washed out road through the forest. Kick around the idea of the chain saw, come-a-long, and cables, but maybe not. It will depend on WHERE it rains.
         Based on what has shown on the weather radar, the area along I-80 near Emlenton might be the best place to try for. Left home 3:30AM Saturday for the drive out there. Someone has claimed that the part of Bear Creek above Bruin and the South Branch are both passable.
         I had previously made two trys for this creek from Bruin to the Allegheny River, which is Degree III water. On first try I had launched below a strainer pile and got to the first bend which had more tree debris blocking it. I took out on creek-right. A portage on creek-left would be murder- up a steep bank. The trees were bare, so climbing over and through the rocks looked better. Checking down stream, the next rapid had a tree in it too. I could  see my truck from where I took out, so the easy portage was away from the creek to boulder free land. Decided to put this place on the back burner. Sometimes trees clear out after heavy flooding. I will be through this area again.
          The second time, it looked much clearer. I paddled into the first constricted zone. It was too tight to pass a canoe. At this portage point it is a much steeper climb up a railroad bank on creek-left. I took out on the right and scouted down stream. There is not enough elbow room to get by some tight spots, so more portage would be neccessary. Funny that I didn't notice that the first time that I was here. This was attempted in the first place because it shows two lines wide on the topo map, and it looked like it had enough running water source above Bruin on the stream map. This time there were some leaves on the sapplings, and I had a heck of a time finding the canoe which was on the ground among the boulders. This never happened to me before. This is conglomerate sandstone boulders along this creek. Not exactly a boulder city in geology terms but similar in smaller size. I portaged out of here, and wrote it off as a place too small for sensible passage.
        Now eleven years later someone claimed to have run it on the AWA listings. I can't believe I am going back there for a third time. Arrived at Parker and stopped to study the topos again. All possible take-outs had been checked out in past history, but I saw a dotted path line down creek right to the river. Drove down and over the last bridge on the creek before the river. It is one mile from this bridge to the river. Continued up the other side to a wider area to park.There is a pickup truck here. I surprised a man and his son in the process of moving bushes. I ask him about the path? He said it was a steep walk to the Allegheny River. I told him that I have moved good bushes myself, and that I didn't see him doing it. He laughed but was now at ease. ( I lied, but I am not looking for trouble here.) Yankee ingenuity has to make money any way they can out here. I walked about a quarter mile down the path and decided that it was no place to portage out of.
      Went back down to the creek bridge and parked on the turn-around spot. Hiked up to check the first good rapids. This is an undercut boulder on creek left, but there is surf room to get by it on the right.This creek runs four miles down from Bruin. This last 1.5 miles to the river is runnable. I then drove over the bridge and parked by the abandoned railroad bed. Took the bike for a ride upstream on the worn motorcycle path in the railbed. I had ask the fellow about the railbed, and he said that I could not get through because kids destroyed the bridge over a side creek. The creek is free of fallen trees for the most part, but passage on the channels is so-so. Bike back and drove up to Bruin. The previously abandoned little used tote road is more open now, so I drove in on it.The land is used for various purposes, one of which is more active oil wells, also some illegal dumping. Come to the part of game land closure, and backed up to turn around. It looks like industry is keeping the creek clear of trees to keep the high water away from their public works and the well heads. The water level is too low to consider it today, but having given this place the third degree, I can say it is too small to be considered good whitewater. It is a place where a team of steep creekers in short kayaks might challenge themselves to a lot of physical portaging before getting enough elbow room half way into the run. I'm out of here.
        Checked the main branch above Bruin and it is minimum passable, so I returned to the town park and chained the bicycle to a tree. Put a note on it, that it was a canoeist shuttle vehicle and I would return shortly. Drove up to Snake Road. This is too far. Went back to the first road bridge over the creek. Prepared the Mohawk Challenger and got into wetsuit. Water is still cold in the mountains this time of year. Launched and had a reasonable run to Bruin. Rock type is different up here. I don't usually look at rock in flat water, but I have been looking at conglomerate all morning. Noticed that this is where all the trees come from in the lower creek. There will always be a chance of strainers among the boulders. Arrive at the take-out point and chain the canoe to a tree. This is a steep road out of the town park so I had to walk the bike up the hill to start riding.Out to the main road and through town to a long low grade up along the creek to my truck.Made it back to the truck without too much exertion. The last time that I used a bicycle for shuttle was before 1985, when I switched to a motorcycle.
        Retrieved the canoe and walked through the woods here to see the mouth of the South Branch entering this branch. Noticed that the South Branch has a sliding board where it drops into this main branch. The brush almost meets in mid-creek here. This is too low to consider today. Left the park and drove south on Rt.268 to Petrolia. The South Branch is ten feet wide and walled in on both sides through the industry here. I wonder how they like canoeist going through their zone? Decided to look for a put-in point below here. A lot of the area is fenced-in industry. Beyond the fenced part one would have to walk a ways across private property to reach the creek. Further north and still upstream of the minimum three mile run point, the creek comes closer to Rt.268, but there is a guard rail and not enough shoulder to park on either side to leave a perfectly good truck, so this is out of the question. If it was my old Chevy I would leave it here, but not my good Dodge.
       It is too late in the day to consider another creek, so I headed to Emlenton to get a motel. This puts me close to where I think I am going tomorrow. Report home, on a public phone in the truck stop restaurant near motel, that I am off the water and OK. Get dinner, review topo maps for tomorrow. It was a good day.
                       Bear Creek: written off as too tight, too small for sensible passage.
                       Bear Creek above Bruin: In the future with MH water this can be had from a good ways
                       up on Snake Road.
                       South Branch Bear Creek: Will look at it when I come back to this area, but am doubtful
                       of it. Too intimate with private property and brush probably meets in the middle at the
                       four mile point below the industry since it almost meets mid-stream at the mouth. This
                       means ice fences in the cold winter months when the water level would be up enough
                       to do it. Ice is heavy and can stop a canoe it its tracks.
     It has been a long day since 3:30AM this morning, so it was easy to hit the sack.

Monday, May 30, 2011

#2 post following introduction

          April 11th, 2010: Returning from a Clearfield two day trip of paddling, I was wondering when the next edition of "Canoeing Guide to Western Pennsylvania and Northern West Virginia" would be coming out. Looked it up and opened the draft of the text, which was supposed to come out in 2008. I expected to see some update material on some places that I had forwarded to the editors, but there were no changes since my last postings with them in 2000.
          Was surprised to find that 15 new creeks had been claimed by others in the sport. I had not done these because they appeared too small on the stream map. Then I checked on the AWA listings for any new places. I know that they list sections as short as 100 yards with one big drop. These are not considered travel sections which should be a minimum of three miles long to be worth the effort. Found two creeks listed that were in excess of the three mile distance. So, a total of 17 creeks are claimed passable by canoe. The urge to get out there and check these places out is working on me. These creeks are mostly three to four miles long with two in the seven mile range. After pouring over the stream map again, I came up with a few more creeks that I should look at while out there. Also, there were a few marginal looking places in the AWA list to look at. This brings the total of places to check up to 22 creeks.      
        I thought I could get my wife to ride along and drop me off at the put-in point, then drive down to the take-out. She likes to read and it would not take too long to do short creeks. It is cold out there in Feb. and March, so she said no to that idea. Now the search for a new shuttle vehicle begins. For short distances I figured that a good road bicycle would be OK. I no longer own the motorcycle that I used for this purpose in past history. After shopping around, a Mongoose "Paver" seven speed with 28 inch wheels was purchased. Tried it out on the rail-trails. A nice bike.
        Go through the topographic map files and pull out 16 maps. A lot of my maps have been sold over a period of time. About 10 more are needed to get complete coverage. Maps cost $8.00 each now so that seems like a waste of money to search places someone else claimed are passable. The difference will be made up by using the PA Atlas. The scale on these is 1:150,000. A magnifing glas will be needed to check fine print road numbers.    
        Stored equipment is pulled out and minor repairs are made. The weather radar map is being monitored for patterns coming up the Ohio valley or from Lake Erie which provide most of the rain for northwestern PA. It is almost too late to be thinking about small creek research now as the levels are dropping and the frequency of rain storms are less. The ground by now is thawed out, so it would take a lot more rain to make creeks passable. A review of waterway gauges shows that most steep creeks have dropped just below minimum needed. Some others are marginal. The plan is to get ready quickly incase a trip can be gotten in before sunmmer begins.
        A review of the claimed places on a Penn State stream map shows very little headwater source above the put-in points. Between 10 and 15 miles of rills and runs have to come together, and from that point down there remains a possibility of a flowing creek with enough elbow room to be canoeable. The closest that I have ever gotten to a ground source was 8 miles on the Allegheny River near Colesburg. I read a book on that river and the writer said the source "rises from the ground suddenly" in a meadow. This seemed to indicate that it could be run from further up from where I had started years ago. While taking slides for programs, I discovered that that was true. I went back a year later and got two more miles of it. It could have been run even further up, but it is too intimate with private property.
       So, the wait for possible water begins.