The weekend started early with Tom, Jess and Coleen setting up camp, at Camp Hi, on Thursday afternoon. Also included were canines Macie and Murphy. They spent the evening chatting around a campfire.
On Friday morning they kept the fire going all morning until others showed up including Liz, Harold and Laurie, Ruth, Ron and Jilinda, Jamie, Doug, Steve and Chuck. As everyone got set up we had tents of all shapes and sizes pop up all over the area. We had Ruth with her car tent and Doug with a hammock set up in addition to all those with the regular tent set ups.
Friday nights paddle was an evening float under the stars. 13 paddlers met at Eldon Russell where Lis also joined the group. Foster Brown met us at the park to join our paddle and share with us stories of the area. Foster is a naturalist of Cleveland Metro Parks. He spoke on the history and wildlife of the area throughout the trip. We learned about the Onion Wars and Dan Best's work with the Prothonotary warblers. We will never look at Metamucil bottles the same way again. We called for Barred owls. We heard the slap of several Beaver tails. We got to hear one of his Voyager songs. We saw many bird species including Kingfishers. Paddling in the dark was a new experience for many of us but we all stayed up right and came back dry. I think the only ones who did not like paddling at night were Macie and Murphy. Tom and Jess left shortly after returning to camp. Foster joined us around the campfire. We talked a little more history such as the electric train service in the area.
Saturday morning Kerri joined the group and 11 paddlers headed up to Russell Park and were on the water by 10:48. It was a beautiful sunny day. Doug initiated his boat with a wet entrance and appeased the river gods for the rest of us. It was cool in the shade but hot in the sun. We stopped for lunch on a muddy poison ivy filled spot about a mile below 422. Many stayed in their boats. After lunch just a bit further down the rive we saw a nice grassy opening that would have been perfect for a lunch spot. Noting this for our next trip. We saw red tailed hawks, bald eagles, kingfishers, turkey vultures and other birds We also encountered a tree down across the river. The middle section had been cut up but the pieces were still lying there. We went through them. Carrie and Chuck in the biggest boat had the bigger challenge. Everyone was yelling go fast. Kerri wasn't so sure about that but decided to do her best. They came through the other side victorious to much applause. But this left them in the lead on the approach through the Hiram Rapids. We all followed them keeping left, but not so far left as to hit the hidden concrete block. Then it was just a short distance from there to the takeout at Camp Hi in early afternoon. Meanwhile at camp Laurie and Jamie had kept the fire going so the coals were hot that evening for pie iron pizzas and strawberry pies, hot dogs and Chuck's chile. Ron Z joined our campfire on Saturday evening, rounding out our total count at 16 for the weekend. He then joined Lis at their campfire at the other end of the campground. We finished the night with conversation around a Jock sized fire.
Sunday morning began with getting the fire restarted (wasn't hard as we had a large pile of coals from the night before). We then had a big breakfast that Steve and Liz prepared. 7 paddlers took off from Camp Hi and paddled to Buchert Park in Mantua. The riverside was beautiful. The river had a number of strainers to navigate and some small ripples that allowed us to use our river reading skills. We made the 5 miles in about an hour and a half. Steve picked us up to shuttle us back to camp. The packing up and heading out started soon after. It was a very fine weekend - people, weather, and water.