Hocking River 2017
June 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 2017




In 2015 the club tried to paddle the Hocking River from Sugar Grove, north of Logan, all the way to the Ohio River. Rain the entire first day swelled the river, washing away the sandbar the members were camping that first night. The trip had to be aborted. Fast forward to 2017 where the plan was to resume the trip where they left off 2 years earlier. Trip leader Tony got all the logistics figure out and headed to Logan on 6-7-17. The plan was to camp at Deb's house on that Wednesday evening, same as before. Tony got into town, set up his camp and left all gear at Deb's, then scouted the next day's put in. Everything looked fine at the ST RT 328 Bridge just south of Logan. There was a steep hill to slide boats down to reach the river but it was a do-able put in. From there he drove to Friday night's campsite in Guysville. The Rome Township Trustee gave the club permission to camp at the Savannah Community Park. Harold met Tony as their 2 vehicles were going to be left in the area as shuttle vehicles. Tom came down and drove them both back to Deb's house. It was a long shuttle back and forth but it was the only way to do the trip.

Back at Deb's Chuck joined the group for a total of 4 members. After supper at the Mill Stone BBQ and watching part of the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball game, it was off to bed in anticipation of a wonderful 3-4 days on the river. Thursday morning dawned beautifully. Breakfast was had at the Hocking Hills Diner where Jonathan and his father Charles joined. After shuttling boats to the put in, Chuck's and Jonathan's vehicles were left across the street at a gas station. At 9:30 am 4 canoes and 1 kkkayak pushed off for a 23 mile paddle. All gear was carried as camp that evening was going to be on a sandbar. Lots of wildlife was out. Deer, herons, squirrels, muskrat even saw a coyote for the first time on a club outing. Turtles, fish, fishermen and children swimming rounded out the living creatures they saw.

The USGS stream gage at Enterprise recorded a depth of .91 feet and at Athens it was 3.57 feet. Both were great water levels for canoeing but 6 more inches would have hidden some of the logs (water panthers) sticking up above the surface. There were some downed trees to maneuver around and only one that blocked their path. Charles only paddled half the day and at Nelsonville, where he had staged his vehicle, he departed leaving Jonathan on his own for the rest of the trip. Camp for the night was on a sandbar just upstream of the village of Chauncey. Sandbars leave sand on and in everything but sleeping was very comfortable.

White's Mill

Their camping spot was close to a farm and in the morning when the dew was on the grass and mist was rising off the water, the smell of cow shit greeted their nostrils. After breakfast and packing camp they paddle away from the smell at 7:45 am. The angle of the sun and paddling east made reading the river very difficult. There were still lots of wooden debris sticking up and just under the water which kept the paddlers paying attention. If they looked at their maps for instant, a log would pop into view or bounce off the canoe. It took 2.5 hours of steady paddling to reach the mill in Athens. They had to portage all gear and boats around the waterfall less they die trying to run the narrow chute. The day was getting very warm and sweat was beading on foreheads. While portaging, poor Jonathan slipped on a mossy, slime coated rock and landed on his finger. Later in evening it was very black and blue. Being a trooper, he paddled the rest of the trip with that sore finger. The Hocking River around Athens was dredged years ago and the higher grassy shoreline is great for flood control but not so great for people paddling in the hot sun. With very little breeze and very hot temps, the only relief they had was the shade from a couple bridges spanning the river. Where St RT 50 crosses at the far eastern end of Athens the river changes back to natural shoreline with trees on both sides. Lunch was had in the shade of the St RT 50 Bridge and like all the bridges they passed under, that one had lots of swallows living in mud houses attached to the concrete pillars. The birds would just fly all around and they are such a beautiful sight to see. How do they keep from running into each other?

They saw more deer, squirrels, turtles, fish and swallows. Tony managed to pick up a cold somewhere along the route and by time they reached the Savannah Park everyone was whooped. Heat, 23 miles of paddling and sickness takes a toll on old human bodies. The pull out at the park was very steep. Lots of locals use the spot and the park trustee talked to them about improving the access in the future. Hopefully soon. Harold strung a rope from the river up the first steep hill, which was the camping area and another rope from the camping area to the parking lot. Holding onto the rope made going up and down much easier. The park had a shelter house with picnic tables, pit toilets and water available. After supper and a trip to the convenience store up the road, it was fire and relaxation time. New members Sherman and his wife Diane joined setting up their tent for the first time with OHCRA. Now there's 7. Chuck had to listen to the Cavs game and for the first time in the finals they won. Later sleep came easy to the wary travelers.


Saturday was warm. Vehicles were shuttled down to Coolville for a 13 mile trip and everyone was on the water by 8:30 am. As they were loading the last canoe, in pulls Ken with his shark canoe. 10 minutes later and he would have been left behind. The river was different from this point on. Only a couple water panthers and not many rapids like upstream. They finally saw the first eagle of the trip. Then a second one later in the day. No nests were found. The wind speed was picking up and back flow from the Ohio River was slowing the flow of the river. If you stopped paddling the wind would actually blow you upstream. This section has motorboats on it and folks were out fishing like crazy. Poor Tom was really feeling the effects of paddling so far and he asked for help. A motorboat grabbed his line and towed Tom 2 miles down to the landing. That's cheating but it worked for Tom. The boat ramp was very busy with people coming and going. Tony and Jonathan talked about doing the last 5 miles to the Ohio River but Tony's sickness and the hot sunny day sucked the energy out of everyone. With the wind, river flow and motorboats, it was probably a wise decision.

Back at camp Sherman and Diane headed for home. They really paddled hard on the lake like stretches of the river and made the ramp way before anyone else. Ken also went north while the rest sat and watched the locals pull kkkayaks out at the park. One couple had a larger canoe that Chuck and Tony helped get up the steep bank. The lady said she was strong enough to do it but she sure took the help. Someday there hopefully will be a nice concrete sloping ramp at the park. Saturday evening the guy's played cards and relaxed after paddling 59 miles in 3 days.

After 3 days on the river the members had some thoughts about the Hocking. With all your gear loaded in a canoe, maneuvering around logs and sticks on curves or S turns, it's so hard to turn the canoe quick enough to keep from eddying out. Anyone who has been caught in an eddy and had their boat come to a stop heading upstream understands. It got to the point where the guys were really wanting to kick eddy's ass. Harold and Tony both had fishing poles and neither pole left its storage spot. Jonathan proved to be a strong paddler handling an Old Town Penobscot tandem canoe very well. Until next month!

Hocking River

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