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OC1 – Tom Wilhelm, Bob Wilhelm, Brian Sill, Topher, C2G Dave, Joel Beckwith, Harry Mobley, Mike McCrea
Gunpowder River - Masemore to Blue Mount (2.35 feet on the Fall Rd gauge)
Since the Duckhead New Year begins after the Award Ceremony last Saturday’s trip was recorded as the first of DY2004 and the spirit of Duckhead trips past was clearly present: last minute attendees called wanting to come but needing to borrow boats and gear, planned for attendees failed to show, at least one vehicle arrived late, all the usual chaos and confusion.
The confusion award (new for 2004) goes to David Oldach for arriving late, not needed a canoe that was already racked on my truck and, most especially, for deciding to dress his sockless daughters in flip flops for a late December trip, a decision Dr. Dave undoubtedly based on years of medical school training. Just remember, someone is always last in their graduating class.
Having achieved the customary level of pre-trip confusion the shuttle was soon set and boats were launched, with various Duckheads falling into well known roles as practiced paddlers, practicing paddlers and budding botanists – C2G, the Baryshnikov of the single blade, well-balanced Joel, standing and paddling with long doubleblade, the Oldachs pausing for up close and personal inspection of any bankside sweepers or stainers.
Frequent woody patches added some excitement to the day’s journey. The wisdom of “Never lean upstream” was imparted to Harry as he lodged his canoe beneath a limbo log and nearly dipped an upstream gunwale (thanks to Topher for wading in and pulling him free, and to the chorus of folks who hollered “Don’t lean upstream” in unison). The precariousness of balancing on the front deck plate was again imparted to Bob, as were the cold facts about water temperatures in December (Bob may be a pea brain, but he was smart enough to not swim back across the river to rejoin Tom, despite all inducement).
Most of the woody peril was navigated successfully, with two river-wide strainers easily portaged, and the trip took on the seemingly choreographed and cooperative look of a classic river trip, with the lead boat catching eddies, sweep boats bring up the rear, paddle, pause, proceed - a downriver dance.
Finding this fandango uninspiring Patty and Theresa elected to beguile the beguine, bolero the boogaloo, hokey-pokey the hootchy-kootchy and jig the jota juba, concluding with a unsuccessful longwise limbo that left them standing beside their pinned canoe in the swift flowing waist deep water. Ooops.
The rescue and recovery was surprisingly well coordinated. One canoe attained upriver to give them a bow, their gear bags, which were farsightedly tied in with quick release knots, were collected without loss, a safety boat took position downriver and three throw ropes appeared on the near bank.
Three ropes were just enough, as the first two tosses landed short and it fell to One-Shot Tom, the man with the golden throwbag arm, to make the perfect pass. The Squatters and canoe were soon ashore and dressed in dry clothes and the post-pin forensics begun. Lessons learned:
Having multiple throw-ropes is a good thing. I’m hoping to see more and more of my paddling companions carrying a throw-rope on every trip.
Having a carabineer already attached to a throw-rope would be a good thing too. I had several…none on my throwbag or easily accessible.
A 45’ throw-rope won’t cover a 50’ toss (I’m going back to carrying my 70 footer – I’m pretty sure I can fit another 20 feet of rope in a 16 foot canoe)
Every canoe should have bow and stern painters attached (an old lesson, but I’ll be bringing extra rope and checking boats at the put in from now on).
Having painters that can be easily untied and used elsewhere is good too.
Patty and Theresa, even when standing in freezing water beside a pinned boat, continue to be in good spirits. Nothing fazes the Squatters.
Having recovered the Squatters our Gunpowder gallopade continued. The quarry rapid was a straightforward hey-diddle-diddle, straight down the middle at 2.4 feet, although only Joel chose to run it standing up, and our take out bridge shimmied into sight as the last mile slipped away.
Starting off the New Year with multiple swimmers and a pinned boat. This could be quite a year.
If you don’t carry a throw-rope on every trip allow me to suggest a New Year’s resolution that is easily achieved. Buy one now.
To take out - Go back out Masemore Rd to Mt. Carmel Rd and turn left (east) onto Mt Carmel. Take Mt Carmel to 1st stop light and turn right onto York Rd. Follow York Rd for 100 yards and tun left onto Monkon Rd. Follow Monkton Rd to Blue Mount Rd on the left (just after Big Fall Rd) and turn left. Follow Blue Mount Rd across bridge and to parking on right.