St. Mary's River
March 22, 23, 24, 2013



St Mary Paddling

The first outing of 2013 was scheduled for the St. Mary's River in western Ohio. Spring, which according to the calender came on March 20th, did not arrive in true fashion. Harold, Liz, Ted and Tony were planning on camping at St Mary's State Park on Thursday evening. The predicted low was 19 with snow flurries. Liz had to work 3 hours from home that day with a 3 hour drive to camp so did not make it. Tony was seriously ill with the flu and the other two folks did not want to camp in freezing weather. Trip leader Lance had just bought a new home in Ft Wayne, In and the club was welcome to use it for the weekend. The "camp" house that Lance hadn't even moved into yet, had heat and running water but nothing else. Harold and Ted met Lance in Fort Wayne, Indiana Thursday evening and the three went out for dinner and socialized until Lance had to go home to his apartment. He had to work the next morning.

Friday morning was clear but the temperature was in the teens. Harold and Ted went shopping while waiting for Tony to make the 2.5 hour drive from his place since he felt better. The three had breakfast at McDonalds while discussing what to paddle on a cold spring day. The last leg of the planned weekend trip was decided upon. 5.5 miles from Bostick Road to Lances apartment on St Rt one and Fairfield Ave. Tony wasn't paddling because of his sickness but helped with the shuttle, seeing the two paddlers off as they headed downstream.

The St. Mary's River has steep, muddy banks which makes finding entry and exit spots hard to come by and there are no designated launch ramps available. The river was high due to snow melt which made for a swift current. The 1.5 hour paddle was uneventful and only the birds of spring greeted the two members. After loading boats and changing clothes it was off to the Mad Anthony Brewing Company for lunch and drinks. The daily fish special was delicious.

Steep Banks

Back at the "camp house", Lance called with information on a tour of his job site. Lance works for GM at their award-winning full-size pickup truck plant. The four took a two hour tour and the information they took in was astounding. There are 34.9 miles of conveyors throughout the plant and 66 truck docks, with a delivery to a dock every 2.57 minutes. There are more than 3,600 employees at the plant that was founded in Fort Wayne in 1986 and makes the Chevrolet Silverado Extended and Regular Cabs and the GMC Sierra Extended and Regular Cab trucks. After the tour it was off to the Tilted Kilt Restaurant for food and the watching of March Madness College Basketball. Back at the "camp house" euchre was played with Lance and Tony beating up Harold and Ted.

Saturday promised to be a beautiful day but with temperatures starting at 25 it was a dress warm day. Harold had other obligations and soon left for home. Wil arrived around shuttle time and was gearing up with a wet suit he bought at a yard sale. The orange, purple and black suit made him look so happy that Ted started calling him "The Happy Paddler". Lance soon pulled in and the four members drove to Decatur, In and left Lances vehicle there. Ted's car and the canoe trailer with 4 on board, drove to Wilshire, Oh and the put in. The goal was to paddle 10-11 miles back to Decatur, In. With the steep banks on the river, the only decent launch area was where a culvert crossed the road and entered the river. Only problem was, ice had to be broke so they could reach the river. In short time the 3 canoes were headed downstream. Lance and Ted went solo while Tony paddled bow in Wil's canoe.

2 Happy Paddlers

The sun was shining adding warmth to the day which made for wonderful paddling conditions. The water was moving along at a great clip and song birds were filling the air with their voices. Squirrels darted here and there along with groundhogs and a muskrat. The deer must have been bedded down enjoying the suns rays as none were seen. The temperatures reached a high of 42 by days end but that was quickly followed the next day by a massive snow storm that dumped 6-10 inches of snow in the area. Spring will soon make it to canoe country. As the quad of paddlers reached Decatur, their path was blocked by a huge logjam at a city bridge. They pulled the boats out and Lance walked the last mile to his car. Soon the canoes were loaded and it was back to the "camp house".

Discussion was had about the rivers in the area. The St. Mary's River starts in Ohio and flows to Fort Wayne. The St. Joseph River starts in Michigan and flows through the northwest corner of Ohio before arriving in Fort Wayne, In. Those two rivers merge to form the Maumee River which flows from Fort Wayne into Ohio before flowing into Lake Erie at Toledo. So the question came up, if the St. Joseph and St. Mary Rivers merge why isn't it called the Jesus Christ River? After happy hour and solving the worlds problems it was off to the Granite City Brewery for supper and more basketball. The GC has wonderful food and even with the 35 minute wait, it was worth it. Back at camp it was conversations until sleepy eyes closed.

Sunday morning was cloudy with threats of that massive Midwestern snow storm heading their way. Ted headed out first towards Cincinnati and ran into snow before reaching home while Tony drove east towards Columbus missing snow until night fall. Lance and Wil arrived at Frisch's for breakfast before parting ways. All in all a great weekend for the first outing of 2013, even if plans had to be altered due to weather.


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