Big Walnut Creek
June 20, 21, 22, 2008




Paul dropped by Tony's house around noon on Friday and together they made the drive to Columbus Ohio and the June OHCRA outing. Saturday's launch site was in the Big Walnut Park on Livingston Avenue and the two stopped to check the conditions. The canoes would have to be carried 50 yards or so but everything else looked in order. While walking the pathway a man approaches and asks Paul and Tony if they wanted a sandwich. When both answered no the man said "I sure do. Would you have any money to give?" Was not sure if the park was the best place to leave vehicles at that point but everything did work out OK.

They then drove to Sunday's take out spot and saw lots of weeds and another canoe carry of 40 or so yards. However, the plans were finalized and off they went to have lunch. After the OHCRA signs were in place to help guide other members, they pulled into the Hamilton Township, J. M. Bell Memorial Park off Lockbourne Road. Our camping area for the weekend was at the far west end of the park, on a football field complete with goal posts. More specifically the 50-yard line.

Since it was just an open field, trip sponsor Tony set up a tarp for shade, a plywood picnic table, whose plans were in the 2007 trip reports, and a half barrel fire pit. Not long after in pulls Larry and Sophia who were spending their 51st wedding anniversary canoeing with us. However, they opted to stay in a local motel because as Larry put it, "these old bones can't handle sleeping on the ground anymore."

There are NINE baseball diamonds, 2 soccer fields and the football field in this park but there were only two other vehicles in the whole park, that was until 6:00pm. Then it all let loose. In a matter of minutes, there were hundreds of kids, adults, umpires and the games began, lasting until almost dark. It was and is a very well used park. Ted and Connie arrived and setup their tent, as did Wil. We had a friendly visit with a deputy sheriff who wasn't informed of us camping for the weekend but he was OK with the information we gave him. On his way out, he stopped and talked to John who was pulling in around 10:30. We sat around a little fire and listened to the horse races at Scioto Downs, which was just west of us. The starting bugle sounded weird to hear on a camping trip. As we were thinking bedtime, a loud screaming sound came from a wooded area. It sounded like a headless child screaming but we think it may have been some type of bird.


Saturday dawned clear and sunny and after Larry and Sophia showed back up, we headed to the Walnut Park and launched our canoes. There were not any kkkayaks on this trip. (That's for you Judy). The water levels were better than Tony thought it would be for June thanks to a wet spring but, the tandem paddlers had to exit their canoes at lots of the rapid areas. Connie said she counted 14 times of getting out and pulling over gravel.

For being in the Columbus metro area, the stream was really secluded with very little construction along its shores. We assumed the flood plain keeps civilization at bay. What the flood plain didn't keep away was trash. There were plastic bottles at every log lying in the water. And balls...we found all kinds of balls, basketballs, kick balls, soccer balls, whiffle balls, etc. and shopping carts. Tony counted 18 shopping carts lying along the 13-mile stretch of water we paddled. Where the Walnut, Alum and Blacklick Creeks merge is a nice metro park called Three Rivers Park. From there back to camp, the creek was slower and wider and we had to paddle harder in the upper 80-degree sun. Sophia, our local bird expert, saw or heard 30 different birds. One sound we could not escape was the sound of traffic. Interstate 70 and the Columbus bypass of 270 kept the rumbling of vehicles in our ears.


We arrived at the take out, which was a quarter of a mile from camp at around 4:30. We could not take out at the camping area due to high, muddy banks. The park has a partially developed put in / take out at the east end of Bell Memorial Park. It looked well used with evidence of boat scrapings in the dirt. We got our shuttle vehicles back to camp, changed shoes, and got ready to cook supper. As we did, the wind started to pick up very strongly. Dust from the ball diamonds was swirling like mini tornados and the ball games ended very quickly. The tarp was taken down before being ripped to shreds and suddenly it started thundering and lightning and buckets of water fell from the sky. Everyone ran to their vehicles to stay dry, except Tony. He had his rain suit on and was braving the elements. The charcoal was lit for his dutch ovens and he was standing there holding some aluminum tongs up to the rain gods when a very bright flash of lightening streaked across the sky. Those tongs were flung on the ground so fast!

After a while, the rain quit and the cooking begin. Again there was enough food to feed an army which was good because in drives Jock and Debbie. They drove up to visit with us but were also heading home instead of camping out. We all sat around the fire barrel, told jokes, laughed, and sang Happy Anniversary to Larry and Sophia. The following is an excerpt from an email Larry sent on Monday.. "We will long remember our 51st anniversary, celebrated on the 50 yard line of a football field with rain jackets on. What could be better?" Jock and Deb headed home, the newlyweds headed back to their hotel and the rest entered their tents to a warm early summer night.

Sunday not a cloud was in the sky and the sun was already warm before breakfast. Wil was up brewing coffee and Paul was eating oatmeal as Tony emerged from his tent and started cooking a mountain man breakfast, or as Larry calls it, trash potatoes. Either way there were lots of carbohydrates and left over food, and everyone was full. Ted helped us shuttle vehicles downstream before he and Connie left for home, and the rest of us were on the creek by 10. We only had 8 miles to paddle but we took it slow and peaceful. Many birds were talking and the creek was deep enough to prevent wet feet. We left the highway noise and really felt like we were in the wilderness. That was until the takeout which is next to State Route 23. And talk about a muddy exit spot. We sunk in stinky muck and fought mosquitoes while walking through stinging nettles, but in the end, we prevailed and loaded the canoes on our "canoe transport vehicles". We headed back to camp, packed up and said our farewells and ended another OHCRA outing.

Mountain Man Breakfast

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