Hocking River
June 30, July 1, 2012
by Jock



This was supposed to be a laid back trip but it was anything but that!! Everyone was supposed to meet at my place Friday evening or Saturday morning before 8:30am, shuttle time. Tony was already in Athens, so he was going to meet us at the put-in. It all started Friday evening with Wil calling. He said he would be here Saturday morning and to batten down the hatches because a storm was headed our way. It had already hit his place. About 15 minutes after he called all hell broke loose. Our electricity remained on. We didn't get much rain, but we got 80 mph winds, which blew the hell out of everything...power lines, trees, etc.

Tony called and said he had called home after the storm and his power was off and he had a freezer full of meat that he had to do something with, so he wasn't going to be able to make the trip. Harold called next to let us know that he and Laurie was on their way. His ETA was a little after 9pm. Paul Kerlin rolled in about 8pm. He had to make several detours because of downed trees and blocked roads, but he made it. Lance showed up next. It was very hot, but we had to have a fire, so Paul, Miss Deborah, Lance and I sat around the fire waiting for Harold and Laurie to show up. They finally arrived, but I'm not sure what time it was. We all turned in around 10:30pm.

Saturday morning we got up, had breakfast and was waiting on Wil to show. In the mean time, a Ms. Pat Speck called from McArthur and said she was on her way to the put-in with her paddling partner. I then called Wil to see if he was coming. He said that he couldn't make it and that his town was torn up from the storm. So, we took off for the river. We got to the put-in. Pat had just arrived. I think that we got on the water around 10 or 10:30 am. We had 12 miles ahead of us with high temperatures to contend with. We started out and around the first bend we ran into what was going to be "strainer-city" for the next 4 miles. Us "old-salts" didn't have any problem. Pat and her partner was a different story. As Paul put it, "They were like a pinball machine ball hitting everything in the river."

At 1 pm we had gone 3 miles and Pat and her 14 year old partner (who had never held a canoe paddle) had stated that they had had enough and wanted off of the river. So, I looked at the map, scratched my head, trying to figure out where we could get them off the river. I thought that we might not be able to get them off the river until we got to White's Mill in Athens where we were going to have to portage around the broken dam. Fortunately, we came upon the bike trail bridge that was across a small creek that flows into the Hocking. Paul checked it out and said we could access the bike trail there. At about 200 feet up the bike trail was a bike trailhead. There was a guy there that had just finished biking. He said that he would take one of us to our take-out to get Pat's truck. Lance said that he knew Athens, so he took off with the guy. Well, in the meantime, we got Pat's canoe out of the river and got it to the bike trailhead where we waited...and waited.

Finally the twosome came back. They could not find the take-out, so I hopped in the car and guided the guy to the take-out, hopped into Pat's truck, went back to the bike trailhead, loaded Pat's canoe for her, and told her how to get back on the main drag. We got back into our canoes and headed downstream again.

We ran a small dam with no problem. But, had the other two been with us, they would have been swimming. We saw the most wildlife through this area--wood and mallard ducks with ducklings, kingfishers, buzzards, deer, carp and suckers and geese. Our Saturday camp was under the first highway bridge, just past the channelization. We pulled into our campsite at 7pm finishing our 12 mile trip. We shuttled up to put-in, got Paul's truck, came back to the campsite. Paul remarked to me that the stretch of channelization that we went through was a hard pull even though we had at least a 2 mph current and plenty of water. I agreed with him. I think it was the heat for one thing, and we had to zigzag to get through the channelization without walking. While doing the shuttle, I noticed the temperature was 94 degrees and we were on the river for a long time, also. We ate supper. Paul sat down in his chair and fell asleep. Lance fell asleep in his chair. I was dog-tired, also.

We got up Sunday morning, shuttled and was on the river shortly after 8am. We paddled 12 miles and was off the river before 12 noon. I failed to mention the devastation that the storm caused on and off the river. I have never seen in my lifetime a storm that affected such a huge area. Hope to see you all on the Mad. Let's hope for calmer, cooler weather.

View pictures from the Hocking