Wills Creek
May 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 2014



Flooded Road

Ted met Tony on Wednesday evening at Lake Lila Campground near Newcomerstown, for an outing that promised to have the warmest weather of the season so far. Campground manager Pat Curley showed them around the campground that housed mostly permanent campers. The lake was flooded into parts of the lower campsites do to spring rains and the Wills Lake Dam, which wasn't letting much water out. Pat also showed them where the high water had township roads closed. Ohio had a lot of rain earlier in the week and the Wills Creek Dam was closed to protect cities downstream along the Muskingum River. After selecting a spot and setting up camp, a small Indian fire kept the chill off until bedtime.

Thursday morning was warm with clear skies. A creek scouting party was formed by the two guys and off they went to scout the severely flooded stream. The only problem was driving way out of the way due to impassible roads. Tony put out an OHCRA sign, by a stop sign, to guide other members to the correct road. When they drove back by the spot it was gone. Going to the local pig farmer and inquiring about the sign, the farmer said he would look for it. Tony apologized and explained that he should have asked permission first but thinking it was next to a stop sign, permission wouldn't be needed. An hour later the sign was back in position. The scouters did find a 15 mile run from upstream back to camp but the 12 miles from camp downstream was iffy. It was just too far to shuttle vehicles with the closed roads and detouring around. Lunch was in Newcomerstown where some great wings were had.

Sunset on Lake Lila

Steve and Tom pulled in after supper and as they were setting up camp Ted and Tony paddled Lake Lila looking for a way from the creek into the lake and camp. The creek is anywhere from 200 yards to 20 yards away from the lake depending on where you are in the campground. With the creek flooded there was a place where a canoe could paddle across the divide into the lake. The campers had a nice campfire and B S'ed until bedtime.

Friday started clear and warm. Waking up in a quite, peaceful tent really makes a morning. After breakfast it was off to the put in. They started around 5 miles downstream of the village of Kimbolton. The creek is very close to ST RT 541 and there was a stone pull off they parked in. While unloading canoes a farmer on a John Deere Gator drove up and asked what was going on. After explaining about the canoe club and why they were there, the farmer said they should have asked permission BEFORE parking on private property and trespassing. He then gave them the OK to park and portage on his land for canoeing. Twice in one outing the club members violated the clubs own rules in not securing permission to access private land for their use. ALWAYS get permission first! Soon the 4 canoes were paddling downstream on the muddy and flooded Wills Creek.

There were animals out enjoying the beautiful spring day such as the usual geese, ducks and squirrels. They also saw groundhogs, deer and an eagle on the ground in a farm field. At one point there was a squirrel floating on a log some distance from shore. Not sure how that happened. The creek was fun to paddle and they averaged 2.9 MPH for the day. With the flooding there were a couple oxbow turns where they just cut across the flooded fields and cut a mile of paddling off the days distance.

Eagle in farmers field

The 4.5 hour trip left lots of time for lounging around camp before supper. Tony fired up a dutch oven and cooked leg of lamb and grilled asparagus to share and adult beverages rounded out the evening. Chuck, then Harold arrived around dark and joined the blazing campfire party. As the wood pile dwindled so did the campers one by one to lala land.

Saturday morning started cloudy and by 7:30 am it started to sprinkle. Then it rained and rained and rained. A 5 mile trip scheduled downstream and back up again was delayed and then canceled. The rain did not stop until 4:30 pm so games were played and magazines read. There was cribbage and poker and snacking all under Ted's huge blue tarp. As the rain ended the cramped campers paddled on Lake Lila. Tony fished and actually caught some fish. When it was time for the monthly potluck the dehydrated themed food was brought out. There were red beans and rice, buttered noodles with turkey, refried beans and potato soup. As darkness fell they tried to finish off the reminding firewood of which they nearly accomplished.

Sunday May 11th was Mothers Day so camp was broken very early. Ted was on the road by 7:15 am, Tony by 8:00am and the others as soon as they could. It was a wet, flooded weekend but Wills Creek was fun to paddle and Lake Lila Campground was a great spot for accessing the creek. OHCRA will return to Wills Creek in the near future.

Wills Creek

View Pictures From Wills Creek