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

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