Winter Canoeing – Iced Out

Canoe Trip Journal

black fork canoe trip circa 1999

Happier times — winter canoe camping on the upper Black Fork

The canoe trip window of opportunity closed today. The Black Fork is frozen over. Yesterday, there were ice shelves on both sides but a channel of open water in the middle. This afternoon, as I drove over the river on State Route 603, there were only a few pools of open water.

Black Fork of the Mohican River is the last part to freeze. I don’t know whether it’s the warmer water coming through the dam from Charles Mill Lake or the many springs in the area. Both, I suspect.

The riffles and runs on the river are still open. The pools are either frozen over or, worse yet, slush. At least with the ice, you can get out of the canoe and push it to open water. When I first started winter canoeing, I learned the hard way that you don’t pull your boat across the ice. Better the boat finds the thin ice than you.

You can usually paddle Black Fork from the dam to the confluence with Clear Fork then four five miles on the mainstream of the Mohican after that.

Now I have to wait for the January thaw. If that doesn’t happen soon, I might just have to lug my tent and sleeping bag into the woods and camp.

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