The hot muggy days of summer are now upon us. The heat and ultra high humidity turn everything that is not air conditioned into a sauna. This combination takes your breath away and makes going outside unpleasant. Arriving home from a day’s work, nothing would be better than a refreshing dip into a cool pool, but like most of us I don’t have a one. So now we are faced with the question of what to do for relief. You could try a public pool or awkwardly invite yourself to a friend’s, but have you considered all the soothing water of our region that is so easily accessible. Canoeing these waterways offers all the same benefits of a pool plus an adventure. See things just as the first explorers did and you get refreshed as well.
Clermont County and the surrounding areas are rich with paddling history. The NCAA Div. 1 rowing National Championship was held at William H. Marsha Lake (East Fork Lake) this year. The Ohio River host numerous events annually. The Little Miami River may be best known for a small scale water excursion, but it’s not the only place to have cool wet clean fun. East Fork and Stonelick Lakes are both formed by and let out wonderful rivers. It’s rumored that Stonelick Creek has the highest drop of elevation in the Tri-State from the lake to it passes under St. Rt. 132. If the fabulous water environments are not enough to entice you maybe the excellent water levels will. Our recent rainfall has been a blessing in disguise ensuring great canoeing levels; flowing enough to avoid constant porting and also insures the water is clean and stagnant free. All you need to do is round up some canoes or kayaks and you’re off to cool down.
When planning an outing you need to figure how much time you have available to be on the water and then set your start and ending destinations accordingly. The average weighted canoe travels at roughly 2 mph. Use the internet and/or aerial maps to calculate the actual distance you will travel, not just as the crow flies or road distances. Two cars, one at start and finish, or a second driver is required to drop off and pick up. When on the river use roads, bridges, and other land marks as mile markers. These will not only be used to check if you’re on track but also to make sure you do not over shoot your departure place. A journey down a local river is just as exciting as if you were on a more renowned river. You need to go somewhere close to home for a practice trip to check all your gear and make sure you like it before spending gobs of money on trip. I know not everyone has access to canoes, but do not let this stop you. Loveland, Milford, and most other river towns have liveries where you can rent canoes for a reasonable rate. They also take care of pick-up and drop-off.
There are some basic guidelines you need to follow before getting on the water. Never go out alone! Most river pools are only 4 to 5 feet deep but accidents can happen and better safe than sorry is the best rule of thumb. Read and follow all state rules of boating; life jackets and license. ‘Experience in the back’; the rear seat is the steering wheel, so the most experienced person should be there to make decisions and steer clear of danger. When going through fast water hit the tongue of the rapid which is the smooth “V” caused by the maximum amount of water flow, indicating the deepest water. Avoid rocks and other debris which may overturn your boat. If you see what looks like a fish just barely breaking the water surface, stay clear because that is a rock which will hang-up your canoe. If a situation is questionable remember ‘When in doubt get out’. Paddling hours and hours on end can be exhausting so bring plenty of fluids to keep hydrated. To break up the travelling stop on a shaded sand bar take a dip and eat a lunch. Sandwiches, cheese and crackers, and fruits are always great as they can be prepared ahead of time and will also boost your energy. Seal your gear in water tight containers. 5-gallon paint buckets, pickle jars, or anything else with a screw on lid lying around the house will work. Remember if it’s free it’s for me!
So go out have some fun that you usually would not have. Take it from me; small inexpensive trips can bring great memories for many years to come. A group of friends I graduated high school with take a local canoe trip every year. All the petty problems of our “grown-up” lives wash away with the current and we cannot help but have fun. Even if we have not seen each other for sometime as soon as we are on the water it’s like we are in high school again. The jokes fly constantly, lies never stop being told, and the ribbing never ends. You can’t help but feel young and carefree, which is not hard for me due to the fact that I never matured past 12 years of age.