Stillwater River
March 20, 21, 22, 2009



Lunch Break

The first day of spring was March 20th, which just happened to coincide with our first canoe outing of the year. The Stillwater Beach Campground was the scene of the crime as Donovan arrived and set up camp. We had the area around a shelter house for camping as the campground wasn't even open for the season. The owners graciously opened a restroom for us to use for the weekend and turned on the electric in our part of the campground, which came in handy as a couple of folks used an electric heater in their tents. Tony pulled in next and didn't set up a tent. He camped in his vehicle. Gloria drove in and visited while waiting for trip leader Wil to get off work and meet us. Lance arrived and later Paul and Judy graced us with their presence.

Gloria wasn't going to camp in the 20 degree weather and was heading for home but not before enjoying a nice campfire and supplying the troops with a wine tasting with locally produced wine from the Versailles Wine Company. A Stillwater White, Buckeye Blush and Autumn Leaves, a red were sipped and rated by the campers. Of course everyone has their own taste so all 3 varieties were winners. We headed to bed around midnight to a crystal clear sky.

We awoke Saturday morning to frost everywhere. The fire was rekindled and we got around to eating a breakfast of sausage gravy, biscuits and hash browns that Lance and Paul cooked for us. Sure could get used to having that every morning. A little before 9:00, in drives Phil Rose, a paddler that saw our website and wanted to join us for the day. Being a local from the area, Phil's knowledge of the river was a bonus for us.

Wine Tasting

After shuttling vehicles downstream to the Covington City Park, we launched our watercraft, from the campground, at 10:00a.m. After a big breakfast and a late start, someone compared us to SOFA. (Inside joke).

As we were entering our boats, someone named Judy, slipped on some mud and landed butt first on the muddy bank. Having a wetsuit on kept her body clean but it just goes to show that anyone at any time can have a fall. Immediately after dipping our paddles we knew there were going to be problems. Phil said the water level was 6 inches lower than the day Wil scouted the river for our trip. There were lots of ripples where it was too shallow to float over. Even though everyone was paddling solo, the rocks just reached up and grabbed the underside of the vessels. There were rock shelves extending from both sides of the river in many places and a couple of downed trees to portage around. After the first tree, Lance didn't have his paddle. Someone thought Paul may have it so Lance hollered downstream to Paul and asked him if he had an extra paddle. Paul responded yes and Lance caught up to Paul. But Paul only had HIS extra paddle not Lances.

Log Jam

From launch to landing, our 9.5 mile trip took six hours to complete. And everyone was dog dead tired after so much in and out and up and down. But the river has great scenery and very little development along its shores. The Stillwater Prairie Reserve, a Miami County Park, runs along the river and there are hiking trails all around. One trail actually crosses the river but you have to wade across. A lady and young girl with two dogs were crossing while we were eating lunch. The young girl lost both of her flip flops to the river. We saw lots of different species of birds in the area but as always, those damn geese were there to honk at us.

At the take out, we had to carry our boats across a ball diamond to the parking lot. When Wil opened his truck, there sitting on the seat was a large container of chili. Gloria had drove by and left supper. Most of us headed back to camp while Lance and Phil went to the tree to retrieve Lances paddle. As they got there, two guys in kayaks had his paddle and were headed downstream. Lance got it back.

When we arrived at camp, there was Harold and Laurie playing scrabble and patiently waiting for us. We changed into dry clothes and footwear, stoked the fire, grabbed a drink and started supper. As always there was enough food to feed an army. Wil's son Rob arrived on his Harley to join us for food and Gloria came back, with more wine to taste. We had a great time eating and socializing and throwing more logs on the warm fire. Everyone drifted off to bed at different times and blocked the chilly spring air with their warm sleeping bags.

Sunday was again frosty as we emerged from our sleeping areas. Tony had to leave early as did Wil and slowly everyone else headed for home after initiating another OHCRA canoeing season.

Shallow Stillwater

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