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

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