A belated river trip journal
I love retirement because it gives you the flexibility to do things you’ve never done. A few months ago I took full advantage of that, going from one canoe trip to another in the course of five days.
It all started when John, a guy I knew from my Columbus days, contacted me about setting up a Mohican River trip for him and his friends from BackpackOhio.com. (Since my “Other Mohican” series ran in the Ashland Times-Gazette and Loudonville Times last summer, people have been asking me to help set up overnight trips on the Mohican.)
The river was low and so were the projected temperatures and it looked as though the trip with John and his crew wasn’t going to happen. On the day of the trip I had resigned myself that they weren’t going and decided to wait until the following weekend when the forecast was more favorable. At around 4:30 in the afternoon I got a call from John. He and his friends, Mike and Ron, were at Mohican Wilderness Campground, waiting for me.
I frantically crammed camping gear into my Canoebaru and headed for Mohican Wilderness. The plan called for me to spend two days and two nights on the river with them, then continue on my own if I felt like it. (When it comes to canoeing, “if” is never a factor for me.) When I arrived at Mohican Wilderness, they had their base camp all set up. These guys were seasoned backpackers and it showed. There was enough daylight left — or fleeting sunlight — to get a nice photo of John’s kayak.
Somewhere along the line, they decided that my river guide services should include a guaranteed eagle sighting. As the first day on the river wore on, I began to worry whether we would. I was confident we’d see an eagle on the second day while paddling on a more remote stretch of the river between Cavallo and the confluence with the Kokosing.
However, I dreaded the prospect of not seeing a bald eagle on the first day — mainly because I knew that they would rag on me mercilessly at our campsite that night.
Fortunately, we did see an eagle. It was perched in a tree at what I’ve come to call Trash Island. The eagle sat very still in the tree, turning its head as we passed. I was afraid they’d accuse me of planting an animatronic bird there just to make good on my guarantee.
As I said, they were seasoned campers and it was a joy to be out there with them. The big question mark would be how well they handled the paddling part of the trip. I’m happy to report that they passed with flying colors — making it unscathed over the rubble of the old Brinkhaven Dam.
After we made it over the dam, the guys stopped for a change of underwear. On our second day on the river, we spotted several more eagles. We parted company at the confluence of the Mohican and Kokosing, which marks the beginning of the Walhonding River. They enjoyed the trip, which is journalized on the BackpackOhio.com website. They got some great photos, too. Better than mine, quite frankly.
Mike sent me an interesting message afterward. He told me that he had no trouble finding me online. All he had to do was enter “Irv” and “canoe.” Talk about being typecast!
I loaded up my canoe and gear at the confluence and drove downstream to start a second canoe trip — this one from Coshocton to Dresden. It occurred to me as I was setting up that trip (with a taxicab shuttle) that I could claim to have covered seven rivers in five days. We had already been on the Mohican River and paddled upstream into the tail waters of the Kokosing. On the next leg, I would be on the Walhonding and Muskingum rivers. During that phase, I could also paddle up into the Tuscarawas River, Wills Creek and Wakatomika Creek.
I craved solitude at this point and found it, spending the first night camped near Tyndall.
After another glorious day of exploring the river, I camped near Wills Creek. Typical fall weather finally caught up to me just before dusk. It rained all night long.
The rain let up in the morning and I was able to enjoy a leisurely breakfast and break camp before it started again.
On the last day of the trip I paddled through an off-and-on drizzle. At least it was warm enough that it wasn’t unpleasant.
It was a far cry from the last day of my 60th birthday trip, when I paddled all day in pouring rain with temperatures in the upper 30s and low 40s.
On my next canoe trip, I’ll try not to wait so long before posting it on my blog. But there’s no rush. Being retired allows much more time for procrastination.