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Potomac River at mouth of Monocacy River - Kayak Trip / Canoe Trip

Report Type: Day Trip Report
Trip Dates: June 2004
Nearest City: Brunswick, MD
Difficulty: Easy
Submitted by: Mike_McCrea

Description:

Aye carumba, a 50-person float

OC1: Mike McCrea. Diane Hollingsworth, Cooper McCrea, Martin Elliot, Dave Hone, Tiff Hone, Steffi Muller, Anne Sill.

OC2: Dan Gillespie, Sara Gillespie, Dave Pauza, Maria Salvato, Theresa Alexander, Patty Hale, Him Hepner, Chris Hepner, Frank Weichold, Anna Weichold, Lena Weichold, Mary Geary, Laura Geary, Jim Obert, Wrigley Obert, Brian Sill, Connie Sill, Eddie Sill, Dave Cooke, Bill Walsek.

K1: Susan Morse, Rita Zeidner, Joe Steiner, Pam Gunter, Kara Brown, Debra Blye, Stu Foote, Vitas Eidakevicius, Sally Paul, Esimball, Jan Koppelman, Vic Chenowith, Bob Cinufloue, Sandro Giaromangeli, Barbara Hoover, Susan Cooke, Mary Greer.

K2: Joe Knapik, Judy Eagle, Christine Salvato, Victoria Pauza.

SOT: Tyler McCrea.

Yup, 50 paddlers. Five O. Thirty six boats. And surprisingly, unbelievably, very little chaos or confusion.

Thanks to some of the paddlers from the Blue Skies group who pre-set shuttle and a bit of crossloading of boats at the take out we had more than enough empty vehicles at the take out to haul back the drivers at the end of the day. Shuttling a 50-person trip could be the stuff of nightmares, but the cooperative nature and additional rack space of the experienced paddlers on this trip made it a piece of cake.

Thanks to everyone arriving (surprisingly, unbelievably) on time we were at the put in in short order. We would have been there in shorter order, but for a very long and slow moving train that halted our progress within sight of the launch.

Even the wetting of 36 boats was minimally chaotic. A few last minute sign-ins on my participants list, a few more river maps to hand out (glad I made 50 copies!) and we were ready to start shoving off boats in manageable groups of ten or twelve at a time, with instructions to the leader of each pod of paddlers to meet at the mouth of Catoctin Creek four miles downriver for a reassembly and lunch break.

One confusing and comical note. As I was chivvying folks along to get a dozen or so boats afloat and ready to go in the next pod I came upon a group of four paddlers with their kayaks staged on the boat ramp. Not wanting to block up the ramp for trailered boats I told them “OK, lets go…grab the front of those two” and began helping carry their kayaks down to the water, where I filled in the details “You’ll go out with this group. The guy in the red canoe is leading and we’ll all meet up at the mouth of Catoctin Creek”.

That information would perhaps have been more useful if they had been with our group.

The mouth of Catocin Creek resembled a ragtag demo day, with all manner of canoes and kayaks beached along the bank. A break, a bite to eat and some swim time for the kids and we were back afloat in re-mixed pods, folks having gravitated to their natural positions towards the front or back as they chose. This was the last time I saw the Squatters before the take out, as they quickly (slowly?) assumed their position as lilydippers and official sweep boats.

The lead pod had been instructed to keep to river left and select the downstream end of one of the larger islands as the next stop, sip and swim spot, but the relatively high water – we had a lovely current, and a tailwind to help us along all day, making for a very easy 12 mile float – made this plan impractical. Fortunately Bill Walsek knew of a large cobble beach on river right, just opposite Nolands Ferry, and I sprinted to the front to redirect traffic.

A short break on the cobble beach and, as dark clouds began to gather upriver and a spattering of rain commenced we pushed off again. The brief shower was barely enough to damped our clothes, and didn’t come close to dampening our spirits, and the sun reappeared as we neared our take out at the mouth of the Monocacy.

Here again there was surprisingly, unbelievably, very little chaos or confusion. Everyone moved their boats off the ramp immediately upon landing and carried them clear. The backshuttle was organized in much the same fashion as the launch at the put in – groups of 10 or so into a van, off ya go. Next group. Next.

Someone asked how I would know when all of the boats were off the water and I explained about the Squatters permanent assignment as sweep boaters – “Once the Squatters get here we’ll know that’s the last of the boats”.

Thanks to everyone who floated a boat, and a special thanks to the pod leaders, who showed up for a trip and suddenly became trip leaders, to the Blue Skies paddlers for generously providing shuttle service, to Bill Walsek for the cobble bar recommendation and to the Squatters for not being as fast as they look.

Fifty people on a paddling trip? – eh, piece of cake!

Accommodations:

Boat ramps and parking areas at both the put in and take out. Downstream from Brunswick there are also alternative take outs at Point of Rocks (Rte 15, 6.3 miles down on river right) and Nolands Ferry (Nolands Ferry Rd, 10.1 miles down on river right)

Directions:

(From east/Baltimore...those of you coming from the south or west can figure it out on your own):

To the Take Out: Take I-70 west to Rte 355/85 south in Frederick. Take Rte 355/85 south to the fork and bear right onto Rte 85 south. Take Rte 85 (Buckeystown Pike) south over the Monocacy River (the road changes to Rte 28/Dickerson Rd just before the river, just keep bearing left as you go around the curve instead of making the hard right onto Rte 85). Continue along Rte 28 to Mouth of Monocacy Rd (it sneaks up just over the crest of a hill) and turn right. Take Mouth of Monocacy Rd to the parking lot/boat ramp at the end.

To the Put In: Head back out to Rte 28 and turn left. Follow Rte 28 back across the Monocacy and turn left onto Rte 28 (Rte 85 continues around the curve to the right). Take Rte 28 to Rte 15 and turn right. Take Rte 15 north to Rte 464 (Point of Rocks Rd) and turn left. Take Rte 464 to Rte 17 (Petersville Rd) and turn left. Take Rte 17 south into Brunswick.

At the confusing intersection at the bottom of the hill is a roundabout, your cue is a sign that says "to A Street." It ends up being a left, but you bear right off the circle, then bear right onto Maple. Take Maple Ave across the railroad tracks, across the old canal and park at the first riverside area on the right just after crossing the canal.

Resources:

Maryland and Delaware Canoe Trails (Ed Gertler)


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