Hocking River
June 16, 17, 18, 2015



The Crew

The goal of the June outing was to paddle 78 miles, from Sugar Grove to the Ohio River, on the scenic Hocking River. Camping would have been on sand bars the first two nights then at the Savannah Township Park in Guysville. The USGS stream gauge information read 2.66 feet on the river height Tuesday evening June 16th. It was a wet spring and rain was still coming in regular intervals throughout the week. Hurricane Bill coming up from Texas didn't seem to help matters.

The meeting spot was at Jock's home in Logan. As Tony was driving by the St. Rt. 33 rest area, the newest club members, Bob and Chuck, were pulling out and followed Tony to Jock's. Steve, Tom, the other Chuck and Sam, car pooled arriving shortly after. The plan was to shuttle vehicles down to Guysville, an hour and half round trip. Steve chose to leave his at Jock's which proved to be a great idea later. The shuttle couldn't take place until Tony figured out a way to get his keys out of his locked vehicle. That seems to happen once a year. Liz and Coleen pulled in during the shuttle rounding out a group of 9 paddlers for the trip. The Cleveland Cavilers were playing in the NBA finals and most of the folks crammed into jock's living room to watch the Cavs lose a chance for the title. Rain fell off and on most of the evening keeping it on the damp side.

Wednesday morning talk turned to breakfast and since Jock was driving shuttle, (he wasn't paddling); everyone just decided to do McDonald's. When the full sized van parked in the lot, 10 people piled out and walked into the restaurant. It looked like a clown car! After breakfast, supposedly the last real food of the trip, it was off to Sugar Grove at the intersection of St Rt 33 and Sharp Road. They had permission to use the Hocking Valley Canoe Liveries access spot. The put in was a little steep and muddy but the water was only knee deep. "Lift off" was at 9:20 am with 5 canoes, 2 kkkayak's and a German Shepard, Husky mix dog going downstream in the light rain. The dog followed them for at least 5 miles before they lost sight of it. It could not have been its first outing with canoers the way it knew the shortcuts over land.

20 miles was the goal for the day to finding the first campsite on a sandbar. Everyone was carrying their own gear for at least 3 days so the watercraft were heavily loaded. Lunch was had at the Hocking Valley Canoe Livery still in the rain. At least the 70 degree day was warm enough to prevent hyperthermia. An eagle was seen as were the Zip Line Canopy Tours. Zip lines crossed the river looking like Tarzan may have lived there. Mills Falls is a mandatory portage just into Logan and with the river being elevated, the current was flowing fast. There are cement steps with a wooden rail for dragging canoes up the steep river bank. Tony and Steve arrived first and almost could not stop in time to miss going over the falls. With those two helping everyone else exit the river all boats and gear was soon hauled up, then portaged around the falls. Tom dropped his paddle getting out and it quickly disappeared. As luck would have it, it got caught in some limbs instead of going over the falls. You have to walk under a road bridge and thoughts of stopping to get out of the rain sounded good, however there was a group of kids with instructors teaching kkkayaking skills already using the bridge. Getting back on the water it was off on the next leg of the journey.

Mills Falls

A few miles below the falls was a nice sandbar on the west side of the river. It was very close to the Logan Public Schools. Everyone stopped and explored the thought of staying there for the evening but it was only at the 18 mile mark. A vote was taken and it was decided to stay on schedule and do the full 20 miles. Tom and Tony shoved off and started around a bend, looked back and saw the other boats starting to leave shore. That was the last they saw of them for the evening. A real nice campsite on a knoll with a great view of the river was found at the 20 mile mark and it was located 10 feet above the river. They stopped there waiting for the others. Tony turned on his cell phone and had a message. Steve reported that the ladies had capsized on that first bend, in water too deep to touch bottom. After they were rescued and all gear secured, they were just too tired to go on. They got back on a sandbar and sat up camp.

Liz.... We get off the water after 18 miles to check out a camping site near Logan Hocking High School. Some were concerned if we stopped short now we'd have 22 miles to do the next day. So we decide to move on with Tony and Tom in the lead. Liz and Coleen went next. Thank goodness the rest were behind them because at the next curve they encounter a snag. Liz was sure she was going to be impaled. When the boat hits something under the water Liz is saved. But Coleen in an effort to draw the boat around the snag goes right over the gunnels and into the current. Sam yells, "What do we do". His dad, Chuck, says "paddle after Coleen, the current is taking her". They come along side of her and tow her to the far shore. They start back upstream against the current to discover what was going on. Liz's blue portage pack is coming towards them. Sam yells "I've got it" Simultaneously Chuck yells "I got a fish". What? Yes a 10 inch small mouth bass jumped into his boat. Eat your heart out Tony! They tow the portage pack over to Coleen. Then rescue the fish which is flopping all over the bottom of the boat. Sorry no pictures, they were in rescue mode. Once more they paddle back upstream to see what's going on.

Meanwhile our other capsized victim is still with the canoe which has become wedged in the snag. Chuck and Bob manage to kayak over to shore. Steve lands his solo canoe there also. A line is thrown to Liz. (First time Chuck has ever had to use his line in 20 years of carrying it). Chuck uses the line to join Liz and her boat which is now on its side filling with water, bags hanging out of it. Thank goodness they had been hooked in. When the bags were unhooked Coleen's was pulled to shore but Liz's escaped. They tie a line to Liz's boat full of water and Steve pulls it to shore. Chuck and Liz swim to shore. Chuck and Sam discovered the rescue complete and the consensus was everyone had enough paddling for the day. It was decided to camp on the sandbars as Tony had originally planned. Of course Tony and Tom are long gone by now. Later we found they had discovered a campsite (not a sandbar) to camp for the night about 2 miles downstream. Chuck and Sam once more canoe down to Coleen. Chuck paddles back upstream leaving Sam behind alone on the sandbar. (Important to note as this becomes a pattern and a new rule. Sam is always to be left till last.) Chuck returns for Sam making this his fourth trip against the current. We all set up camp. Guys on one sandbar, gals on another with a higher elevation. The path between them was a shallow, narrow stream easily walked across in an inch or two of water.

After a quick supper people start heading to bed - first ones around eight the last by ten. At 11 pm Steve gets up and discovers the effect of our all-day paddle in the rain. The river was on the rise! He begins moving his stuff to higher level. He lets his fellow islanders know. "Liz, Liz." "What?", she growls back. "Is the water coming up"? She checks and our foot high step is now completely under water. "Yeah she says but we're still OK". A short while later he notifies us they are moving their tents to higher ground. Now Liz is checking the water level every little while, Coleen rolls back over. Next Steve yells "we're packing everything up. Do you still have dry land? Enough for all of us?" "Sure" says Liz, but the water is rising, it's close to my tent. "What, your tents are still up?" yells Chuck. Now Liz thinks we need to get our tents down. Coleen has no desire to pack up till she knows if we are continuing the trip. Does she need to worry about packing wet with dry? We pack up. Finished we sit on our packs and check the time - Quarter to 3. The guys who have our boat are planning their escape route from their diminishing island. Our shallow, narrow stream is way wider with 20 feet of very fast current. They want to wait for daylight to bring us our boat and to find dry land. But the water is taking their island. River is now about seven feet up from the two feet at the start of our trip. They send out Chuck and Sam with a line attached to the stern. But they get caught by the current and are pulled back in. Second try, the current from the other side of the island catches them and they are pulled back in again.

Hocking River

New plan. Line is attached to the stern of Chuck's kayak and he is sent forth. He almost makes it to Liz's island but is a few feet short. However he is out of the current and throws a line to Liz. She pulls him in. Next to come over is Steve, who has Liz's canoe in tow. (Thanks for all that line you packed.) Chuck returned to get Bob. Bob started out, but caught in the bushes and flipped. All we saw at our end was the glow of his headlamp under the water. (Remember it is pitch black out). He pops back up. "I'm alright" he yells. They pull him and his kayak back to the guy's island. Next time Chuck ties his bow to Bob's stern and they make it to the other island. Chuck returns for the last canoe. On his way he tips over. Steve pulls his kayak back to the gal's island and then realizes it is empty. Up goes the cry "Where's Chuck?" No answer, but ChuckSam is seen darting out into the current. Downstream both Chucks make it to the shoreline. Unable to cross the current to the guy's island they walk upstream. Once across from the gal's island they swim over in the quieter water. Observing the new rule, Sam is now alone on the "island". It's decided ChuckBob will make one more trip back in his kayak to return with Sam and his hundred pound canoe towing his own kayak. It is finally light enough for Liz to see their island which is two tree tops and a raging current.

The Chucks found (on their earlier hike/swim that we could paddle over to a small cove behind what was left of our island and take out. After several trips of about 1/2 mile we had everything to an access road off Rte. 33. This is the first time Liz and Coleen have ever pulled and pushed a canoe through the woods, following a trail made by Chuck and Sam who pulled their canoe in the lead to lay a trail. Thanks to Jock for the pick-up and ride back to his house.

Tom and Tony sat up camp, got a tarp up and were able to get out of the still drizzling rain. Supper was cooked and happy hour was enjoyed until dark. They were separated from the rest of the group by 2 miles and lots of water. The rain stopped in the night but not the water. The Hocking River rose 5 feet into the night. The stream gage at 6:00 am read 7.56 feet. That's a long cry from the 2.66 they started in. Since the river had 3 or more ox bows just downstream, they decided it was too dangerous to paddle. The only way out for them was to portage on a tractor path, 3/4 mile to the nearest township road, Grease Ridge Road. Uphill all the way. They made the first of 3 trips up when the other folks in Steve's van came to the rescue. The other 5 guys walked back and helped carry gear.

Back at Jock's place, wet equipment was set up to dry then it was off to the Millstone BBQ for much needed food. Since everyone decided to camp at Jock's another night, they went to the local Washboard Festival in downtown Logan. Later a wonderful campfire was had, after the last rain shower came through. In the morning everyone had a great breakfast cooked by Steve and Liz, then broke camp and started for home. Some went hiking in Hocking Hills since the sun decided to show its self.

Flooded River

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