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Friday, July 13, 2007

Magnolia River Paddle Report

Five people plus the leader were on the paddle. We had a lot of fun and I plan to lead this paddle again in the near future. It's very easy, there's opportunity for swimming, plus people can do as much or as little as they want. It's easy to go home early when we pass the put in spot. Boats on the Magnolia River are good about observing the no wake zone. We paddled up river and very soon came to the bridge of 49 over the river. Just beyond that is what locals call the "cold hole". It's one of the springs. Lots of power boats stop there, party, swim, etc. There are kids with adults as well as young people. We paddled further upstream and soon got to where no power boats can go. We continued upstream until we had to turn around. Couldn't go any further. On the way back we stopped at a shallow place (most of it is shallow up there), got out and played in the water. It's only about knee deep and chilly compared to Mobile Bay. There must be more than one spring. We paddled down river, past the cold hole. One woman left us at the put in. The rest of us continued down river. The river gets wider and wider. The homes are nice to look at. People are in boats or in their yards or boat docks by the water. There are kids being pulled in tubes, boats, etc. but still no wake. We turned around just before the no wake sign. The boats were picking up speed beyond that point. We returned to our put in. Across the river from it, on the opposite bank, is a sand bar. We got out there and swam. The water at the sand bar is shallow, but you soon can swim into deep water. We swam out only a little ways keeping an eye out for boats. People liked this paddle because it was relaxing, there was opportunities to get in the water or swim, and members could do all of it or leave early, etc. We didn't have a gps but may have done 4-5 miles total.
Two paddlers, Jerry and son Tom Inman put in at 9:00 am at the Public Access on the Susquehanna River in the Montoursville Recreation Area near Williamsport Pennsylvania. The Susquehanna is like many rivers with long flat stretches followed by drop of between 2-6 feet that translates into a rapid. The class of which depends on the water level. The river is low at this time of year so the drops are generally a combination of rocky shoals and islands, with a deep Vee with a few strategically placed large rocks. We headed up stream from the access and encountered the first rapid in about 500 yards. This would have to be classified as a class one, with plenty of rocks and standing waves about 1-2 feet high. Having not negotiated one of these with a kayak ever, I followed Tom̢۪s direction, as he had been up this rapid many times before. He advised that we paddle up on the right side of the main Vee and take advantage of each eddy, moving from one to the other. The left side wasn't an option as that was where most of the water flowed, was deep and had a very swift current. I stayed just off to his left in a little deeper water so as not to break my wood paddle on a rock. This strategy was working until I strayed a little too far to the left and soon found myself in fast water right in the middle of the deep Vee I was paddling hard and thought I was still making progress until I checked the shoreline and realized I was paddling a flowing treadmill. I dug in harder and faster, then even harder, but wasn̢۪t getting anyplace, plus I was tiring, so I knew I had to move over to the right into slower water. I was able to drop back, keep the boat straight with the current, and not hit anything, and finally ferry the boat to the right side of the rapid. Tom was now about 50 yards upstream from me working his way from eddy to eddy. Once out of the main stream I was able apply the same technique and work my way up to the flat water. From this point, the river is about a quarter to half mile wide and with a light current that made for easy paddling. There are a few homes along the South Shoreline while the North Shore is bordered trees as it is part of a recreation area. The river passes between Bald Eagle Mountain on the South and another not named to the North. We traveled up about another mile or so and saw many geese, ducks, and one deer before we turned and headed back. We likely would have spotted and heard many more birds had Bob Andrews been along. With the current now in our favor it was a quick and easy return paddle. As we approached the rapid, a sharp eye was kept for the best opening to take us all the way through. Of our choices we wanted to take the longest and deepest Vee. We hit it right and only paddled to avoid a few Volkswagen size rocks. On exit from the rapid we were only a short distance from the take out point which was reached in short order.