Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Conestoga River Paddle

Ein and I embarked on our longest paddle yet: five miles on the Conestoga River!   My sister helped me drop my car off and then drove me upriver so that I could paddle back down to my car.  Of course, geocaching was behind this master plan!   There were a series of 15 paddle-only geocaches hidden along the river, accessible only by kayak, and Ein and I found 9 of them.   I set out later in the day than I had originally planned, otherwise I might have made a more intensive search of the 6 that I missed.   No worries, I would happily paddle this beautiful section again!

We had rain and thundershowers the day before, so this shallow river was very muddy in color.  The weather forecast had been calling for storms on the day of the paddle, but everything cleared off for a safe and beautiful day.   Very grateful!

Ein waits for me while I am out of the kayak to sign a geocache log - the container was too high for me to reach from my kayak.   A lot of the containers were such that you did not even need to get out of the kayak to search.   They were bison tubes tied to roots or tree branches hanging over the river - love.   This one was tied in a tree, but too high for the current water level and my short arms!

I had my first experience with: 
Rapids - just keep paddling.   It was intimidated to hear the heavy rushing water up ahead.   One of the sets of rapids I hit had a foot down drop off and I was extremely intimidated!   There was no going back though.   Somebody that I work with is an experienced paddler and I remembered her saying to paddle straight through rapids.   I remembered her words just as I was hitting the no-turning-back point!   And I am glad that she told me this because my instinct was to stop paddling, wait until I got through the rapids, then resume paddling.   Continuing to paddle kept my boat going straight through with minimal turmoil.   Cool!

Portage!   Portage is a term that I just learn and it means: when there is a big dam coming downriver, you need to get your boat out and carry it around the dam.   I got to experience my first portage!   I did not know where to go though.   There were private farm properties on either side of the river near the dam, and I did not remember seeing any public access or roadways upriver.   I took the kayak out of the water, took Ein's life vest off so he could enjoy some down time and we went under an electric stock fence wire and ran downriver a short distance and put back in!   

After the dam we could count it as roughly our halfway point, and there was also a decent current for most of the rest of our paddle.   I initially thought calm no-current waters were preferable and safer for me than a current, but when you are paddling a few miles...a little help is nice!  

One more set of rapids and Ein and I found our final geocache.  This cache was one that I had to get out of the kayak for, but thankfully it was hidden off of a nice gravelly beach along the river (instead of mud.)  I did a lot of rinsing off of the kayak, removing the bark pieces and weeds and leaves and water that had accumulated all over it.   Ein and I rinsed our mud streaked bodies off.   We weren't clean, but we were rinsed.   I look forwards to more river paddling in the future - this kayaking thing sure is a whole lot of fun!

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