Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Allegheny River - Emlenton to Parker's Landing - 8/7/2010

The week leading up to the 7th was a trying one for my cousins, Karen and Susan, and their families. Their father, Dale, got very ill and passed away earlier in the week. We talked after the funeral about all getting together and going for a nice kayak trip as a way to relax and de-stress.I suggested this trip because we wouldn't have to worry about shallow areas, there's a great outfitter at Parker's Landing, and it's a beautiful section of the Allegheny River. There's also a quaint little town named Foxburg along that stretch of river where we could all have dinner when we finished kayaking. Susan's daughter, Kara, made all the arrangements with the outfitter and we all met at Karen's house on the 7th to begin our journey. Once we got to Parker we hit a small snag. The outfitter initially couldn't find Kara's reservation and didn't have enough boats available for our group. After searching around for a while, he found the reservation and realized that the mistake was theirs. They managed to find a canoe and three kayaks. Fortunately, Karen's husband Jim had brought along two inner tubes and a raft, so everyone had a vessel.

We had quite an armada. Robbin and I had our kayaks.

Karen's husband, Jim, and Susan's husband, Joe, paddled the canoe (Jim in front, Joe in rear).

Karen and Susan floated in the inner tubes which were tied to the canoe (Karen on left, Susan on right).

Joe and Susan's daughter Kara paddled a kayak.

Joe and Susan's daughter Olivia paddled the second kayak.

The third kayak was paddled by Jim and Karen's future daughter-in-law, Callie. Callie pulled the raft carrying her dog, Tucker. Unfortunately Jim and Karen's son, Warren, couldn't join us. Warren plays baseball for the Colorado Rockies' AA affiliate, the Tulsa Drillers. He could only get two days off and had to fly back to Oklahoma on Friday the 6th. Hopefully we'll all get together again later in the Fall when Warren can join us.

Tucker is an amazing dog. He is extremely well behaved, knows a lot of tricks, and loves the water. He seemed perfectly content to ride down the river in this raft.

Tucker and Callie playing fetch.

Tucker and Jim explore one of the islands in the river.

Our paddling trip turned out to be more of a slow float. None of us were in a big hurry. It was a beautiful day and we were enjoying each other's company.

Robbin snapped this picture of me practicing her kayaking technique.

Karen takes the "Robbin Technique" one step farther.

Jim and Joe got a good workout paddling this "train" down the river. It wasn't so bad went the current was swift, but when it wasn't it was hard work.

This stretch of the Allegheny is wide and deep enough to land float planes but too shallow in sections for power boats, so there's not a lot of traffic.

Jim saw that I was about to take his picture. He told me to wait until he posed in a "more manly and noble style. We call these the "Washington Crossing the Delaware" poses.

The buildings in the background are in Foxburg. To the far left is (behind the tree) is a pizza shop and gift shop. Beside that is the Foxburg Inn. To the right of the inn is a tent that is set up for weddings and other occasions. To the far right is the Allegheny Grille. We all had a great dinner at the Grille later in the day. They have a nice menu and a great outdoor dining area. That was a perfect way to end a really good day. I hope we can all do it again, maybe when the leaves change color. I would highly recommend this trip to anyone looking for a different way to spend a relaxing day.
For more information about river trips, and Foxburg attractions and activities, check out these websites:

Monday, August 16, 2010

Keystone Lake - 7/31/2010

Keystone Lake was another body of water that I'd been wanting to paddle. Robbin and I had been there last fall to look around and enjoy the autumn colors. We could see that it would be a great lake for kayaking. The first thing I realized when I got there though, was that this lake is big and I didn't get an early enough start to explore it all.

I drove past the entrance to the boat launch area, and as I was looking for a place to turn around, I noticed a creek that fed into the lake. The creek seemed deep enough to paddle so I decided to head that direction when I got on the water. The creek meandered through steep banks covered with tall grass. You couldn't see what was around the next bend. I think I chased the same Blue Heron around every other bend.

The farther I paddled the narrower the creek got. A one point I had to hold my paddle nearly vertical to get it in the water.

Just after I snapped this picture a deer jumped out of the tall weeds to the right. It jumped straight into the air and I thought it was going to land in the kayak. I don't know who was more startled. After composing myself and fetching my paddle off the bank, I decided to turn around so I could explore more of the lake.

I ended up paddling almost 8 miles that day. I could have gone much farther in less time, but there are a lot of coves and other interesting thing to see around the lake.

The things that impressed me the most about Keystone were the depth of the lake, the clarity of the water, and the amount of fish that I saw. There were fish every where I looked. Even in the creek there were schools of minnows in the shallows and a lot of larger fish in the deeper pools and weed beds. I plan to return to Keystone soon to explore the rest of the lake. I'll be getting a much earlier start though, and I'll have a fishing pole with me. Check out my GPS Track Log in the Garmin Connect section located in the left column of the blog.

The shore is wide and rocky around most of the lake.

I thought this was an interesting tree. It looked to me like a prehistoric creature pulling itself out of the water.

The Sycamore tree growing out of the bank at the point and the whiteness of the dead tree laying on the shore made a nice picture.

Blue Herons are just one of the many types of wildlife that you'll see around Keystone Lake.

The boat launch on the Rt. 210 side of the lake is run by the PA Fish Commission.

The Amish pull 2 wheeled trailers carrying a row boat behind their buggies. They unhitch their horses and move them to the woods to keep them out of the sun while they fish.

Friday, August 6, 2010

I'm Still Paddling...I've Just Been Too Busy To Tell You About It. Part 3

Man, it's getting harder and harder to find the time to update "Rambling On", but I'll try to get caught up. Our adventures continue with an off the water scouting trip on July 4th. Robbin and I loaded up our dogs, Jake and Deiter, and headed for West Newton to check out the Youghiogheny River. The Yough is well know for it's white-water at Ohiopyle, but it's also a great river for flat-water paddling. There are plenty of access points to put in and take out between Connellsville and McKeesport. There's also a couple of outfitters that offer some nice trips that range from a couple of hours to 2 days. The Yough is a beautiful river and we plan to explore it soon.

"Deiter the Wiener Dog" enjoying the view of the Youghiogheny River.

This photo was taken at Cedar Creek Park.

Manderino River Front Park in Cedar Creek Park offers river access, a boat launch, picnic areas, and a bicycle rental/food concession area.

Kiski River - Roaring Run to Parks Bend
On July 5th I made my 4th trip down the Kiski River in three weeks. Robbin and I were joined by our friends Rick and Rose, and Kelly and Scott. This is the same group that we made our very first kayak trip with.

They rented tandem kayaks at "The River's Edge" outfitters and met Robbin and I at Roaring Run for a day of fun on the river. Robbin and I have a blast with these guys but for some reason our kayak trips always seem to become "eventful".
The first half of the paddled went very smoothly (or so I thought) We paddled along and had a great time like we always do. What no one realize at the time though, was that Scott was starting to have a lot of pain in his back and Robbin was getting very ill.

This rest stop on the island near Pegtown was the end of the road for Scott. His back pain was too great to continue on our journey. He got out and caught a ride home and Kelly continued on, paddling solo.

The skills Kelly picked up paddling a solo kayak on our previous trip paid off (see Part 2) . She was able to handle that big tandem like a pro.

Poor Robbin really struggled the second half of the trip. I found out later that she wasn't feeling well before we even started. She didn't say anything because she didn't want to spoil any one's good time (that's my wife, she always puts everyone else first). In 20/20 hindsight, I should have realized something was wrong sooner. She hung back and was very quiet, and she's never quiet around Rick and Rose (I mean that in a good way). Later in the day, after we were home, she took a turn for the worse and the day ended with paramedics at the house and a helicopter ride to the hospital. Thanks to the intuition of a very sharp nurse, her problem was diagnosed (it wasn't kayak related) and she was discharged the next day with a clean bill of health and a different prescription (the culprit). We are planning more kayak trips with Rick, Rose, and Kelly and even though they haven't been without incident (see How We Got Hooked - Our First Trip Down The Kiski - June, 2009 published Jan. 2, 2010) , we really have a lot of fun. The good times far out weigh the bad times :-)