April 13, 14, 15, 2012



Woodland Altars

Southern Ohio Appalachia Country and the Woodland Altars Campground was the destination for OHCRA's April outing. Ohio Brush Creek which runs around 57 miles and flows into the Ohio River sounded like the perfect paddling creek. The rolling hills of that unglaciated portion of the state creates a beautiful landscape. Unfortunately, it also helps the water flow faster and drains the hills faster. Friday afternoon, trip leader Lance along with Tony scouted the creek from the village of Belfast downstream to Peebles. The water was very low. No rain fell for almost a month and a very warm and dry winter combined to create a semi drought condition. There wasn't any way the club could canoe the 11 mile planned stretch. Scouting the next 12 miles looked promising. They could launch from near the Serpent Mound State Memorial and take out on private property just south of Peebles.

Friday evening at dark, after Lance and Tony had a nice campfire blazing, in pulls Guy (Not A Guy, Guy is his name) and his dog Butter. Luckily he was sleeping in his truck as the camping spots had old compacted stone. You could not pound a tent stake in the ground. Lance had his tent just sitting on the ground without stakes. While enjoying the fire in drives the ladies, Colleen and Liz. Tony showed them some ground without stones and they soon had their tents up and ready. It was a beautiful day in the high 60's and sunny and the evening was also warm and dry for April.

Indian Sutff

Saturday morning they awoke to warm temps but overcast skies. Rain was forecast but only a 30 percent chance. After breakfast Guy and Lance shuttled a vehicle and canoe trailer downstream to the crossroads burg of Lawshe. The take out was an old bridge embankment. Colleen, Liz and Tony went to the bridge crossing the creek on ST RT 73 for the put in. It's also next to the Serpent Mound State Memorial. ODNR has an access spot there but the members chose the other side of the creek which was easier to get to. The group got on the creek at the unheard of time of 10:50am. 100 yards downstream Colleen and Liz had to walk some riffles, as they had to all day. They were paddling tandem while the other three were solo. Liz owns a carbon fiber canoe and the rocks and stones were beating it to death. The USGS stream gauge listed a reading of 2.48 feet. Brush Creek is a pretty, winding little creek with lots of character and with another 6-12 inches of water; it would be a real pleasure to paddle. Guy and Lance had to exit some but, Tony weighting 145lbs in a 15.5 ft canoe didn't exit once. Not to say there isn't some red paint on selected rocks.

Lots of birds darted from the canoes and squirrels constantly ran the banks. A few turtles and fish rounded out the living creatures. On one sandbar the empty shells of the largest mussels anyone in the group had ever seen lined the stones. This area of Ohio is really neat. No wonder the ancients settled here. 3/4 of a mile into the trip it started to sprinkle. Raincoats were brought out as the sprinkles quit. The sprinkles started again and quit again as if teasing the folks. By lunch time the constant getting in and out of the boat for Colleen and Liz was starting to wear them down. Lunch was at the 7 mile point of the 12 mile trip, under a road bridge. It was already 2:09 pm. Back on the water the rains started coming harder and not letting up as before. On they paddled, each to their own rhythm. Tony pushed it hard finishing the 12 mile trip 30 minutes before the last canoe arrived. It was 5:30pm when everyone got off the water and the rain was still coming down.

Rain Falling

Jock and Deb were joining the group for the potluck and they arrived around four. After starting a great campfire and milling around in the rain, they headed for home before the paddlers arrived back at camp. Cold, tired and hungry Colleen, Liz and Guy went for hot showers. The other two went for dry clothes. The rain was starting to let up around 7:00pm and talk of driving 10 miles to a McDonalds for supper came up. Who wants to cook late when you're tired and starved? Off they went to the Golden Arches. After world famous French fries Guy had to head for home. The other four went back to camp and enjoyed the campfire under now clear skies. The stars looked so much brighter in this dark part of the state. After some idle chit-chat it was to the tents where everyone just kind of past out.

In the night the local dogs barked off in the distance but closer to camp coyotes howled. Two owls made lots of racket and at daybreak turkeys were gobbling. The morning was warmer and dry but cloudy. Everyone was slow to rise and get started. Lance had pork and cabbage made ahead for the potluck so he heated that up for everyone's breakfast. Liz added strawberry short cake for desert and they had a morning potluck. Talk of the Serpent Mound went around and soon the four were headed sightseeing. Acting as tourists they envisioned how the area may have looked to the mound builders and why they would spend the energy to pile clay and dirt into the shape of a snake.

That ended the Ohio Brush Creek outing and hopefully someday in a future outing the club can again paddle the creek, only next time with higher water levels.

Serpent Mound

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