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.