Raccoon Creek
March 25, 26, 27, 2011




The 2011 OHCRA canoeing season started in the unpredictable month of March. Raccoon Creek, close to Rio Grande, Ohio was the destination. Tom arrived on Thursday evening and spent the cool night alone, camping at the Bob Evans Farms campground. The campground is located about a 1/2 mile from the original Bob Evans restaurant on state route 588. The club had permission to use the unopened campground free and it was very primitive. No toilet facilities or running water.

Tom spent Friday morning exploring until Tony pulled in around 11:00am. After setting up his camp, the two took a short walk and scouted the high water. The rains a few days earlier had Raccoon Creek and its feeder streams high and muddy. Watching a little footbridge by camp, you could see the muddy water still rising. As the day was chilly with temperatures in the mid 30's, the two looked for firewood. They found some in another part of the campground and lucked out as two of the farms hired hands were in the campground working. They received the OK to drive behind a barn and get some old wet pinewood to help with the evening's heat. As they were working on that Harold and Laurie were setting up their camp. Their sleeping arrangements were under an Easy Up tarp system with sidewalls attached. They put tarps on the ground and set up cots to sleep on. The 8 x 8 foot stand up room was very cozy and with a cook stove, the room was semi warm. Trip leader Lance showed up and brought a couple plastic tables for us to use since there wasn't any type of tables there. He stayed around for a while then headed home as he wasn't camping or canoeing this weekend.


A while later in drives the clubs newest member Liz. After a 4-hour drive, she got her camp set up. Since Raccoon Creek is in the southeast portion of Ohio, most everyone had a 3 to 4 hour drive to get there. Liz seemed to fit right in with the concept of the club and the cold weather didn't seem to deter her from camping. At dark while sitting around a very welcoming campfire, Paul joined them. There were now six crazy people sitting in the cold all bundled in winter clothing and coats, staring into the flames. As the darkness grew Harold and Laurie headed in. Tony went to his tent to listen to Ohio State lose their sweet 16 game against Kentucky. Liz was waiting for a friend to arrive and around 11:00pm in pulls Coleen. After getting her stuff organized Liz and Coleen called it a night. That left Paul and Tom who talked and laughed around the fire until midnight.

Saturday morning the temps were 27 and it was chilly. Tom got the fire restarted and as people emerged from their tents, right to the fire they went. After everyone had his or her breakfast, the shuttle commenced. Harold and Laurie were not paddling but helped get the others upstream to Vinton. The village of Vinton has a very nice park and a great spot to launch canoes. Liz and Coleen were paddling a Swift canoe tandem while the three guys were going solo. At 10:00am, they shoved off on the fast, muddy, creek for an 11-mile trip.

It only took 2.5 hours to paddle, float and rudder the entire 11 miles. We saw lots of signs of beaver, some pleated woodpeckers and herons but very little other wildlife. There was some green showing in the woods but spring wasn't completely sprung. Lunch was enjoyed back at camp and the now sunny sky made them feel warm. Just didn't need the breeze. After eating, everyone went on a hike to try to find Boones Cave. In 2003, the last time the club paddled the creek, there was a sign and a path to the cave, but not now. After hiking up ravines and getting a great workout, the search was called off. There was some land further upstream that may have been the place but there were no trespassing signs all over.

Canoe Livery Road Sign

Back at camp Coleen had to head for home while Jock and Debbie arrived. They came over for the potluck. Lance came back and reheated some great chicken and mushroom gravy, in a small pressure cooker, that was put over Liz's rice. Tony had salad, Tom breadsticks, Paul French onion soup, Deb brought baked beans, deviled eggs and Harold made apple and blackberry pies. What a wonderful meal. Paul and Tom went to Gallipolis to attend church services and got to eat when they got back. Lance brought some additional firewood and everyone relaxed around a bed of hot coals while the food digested.

Liz soon packed up and headed north, Lance went home to the west and Jock and Deb drove east. Snow was in the forecast so Tony packed up his tent and made a bed in his vehicle for the evening. Harold and Laurie moved their Easy Up system into the shelter house while Paul and Tom stuck it out. After getting that all settled, chairs were pulled up to the fire and more wood was consumed. As it grew dark and the wind kept blowing it just wasn't as comfortable so off to their places everyone went.

Sunday morning did arrive and with it, there was snow. A wet snow. Tony was first up and rekindled the completely dead fire. The heat felt good as eyes gazed out over the beautiful, snowy scene. Even the muddy but now receding creek looked pretty with the white backdrop. The five stood around the fire and visited with cups of hot drinks in their hands. It wasn't warming up too quickly so camp was broken and promises of meeting again next month were made. It was a good trip with good people. Not so good weather, but true to form, OHCRA members were brave and paddled through the March weather on Raccoon Creek.


View All Pictures From Raccoon Creek