Saturday 10/17 began with the remaining trip participants gathered around the campfire for breakfast and planning the day. Liz, Lis, Ron Z., Colleen, and Lance bid farewell to Ruth and her dog Cobi who headed for home in the morning. Lance was persuaded to stay on for another day of adventure.
Paddling options for Caesar Creek Reservoir, the Little Miami River, and Caesar Creek were bandied about.
Lis and Ron Z. scouted Caesar Creek State Park the previous afternoon on foot and tried the hiking trails. The Reservoir there is vast and the dam is a marvel that empties directly into Caesar Creek which then flows west into the Little Miami. The water level on Caesar Creek is constant and navigable. There is a canoe launch and picnic shelter near the parking lot where the dam outflow merges into the creek. Several fishermen enjoyed the afternoon along the outflow of the dam and some on the Reservoir too. The State Park is well maintained and has Army Corps of Engineers camping and a host of amenities and historic points of interest. USGS marks the confluence between the creek and the river as a hazard. Since the water flow is stabilized by the dam, the only hazard is when there is a release of excess water from the reservoir. Warning sirens will sound in the event of a release.
Lis and Ron Z. opted to paddle an 8-mile stretch of the Little Miami putting in at Morgan's and taking out at South Lebanon. Liz, Colleen, and Lance planned to paddle a stretch of the Little Miami north of Morgan's. After packing up for the day's outings, Liz and Ron Z. made a shuttle run to South Lebanon. Upon their return, each group set out for the day's paddling. It was perfect paddling weather; in the mid-60s and sunny to partly cloudy with light breezes.
Lis and Ron Z. launched from Morgan's. Lis noted the river level seemed to be up a few inches from the day before. Initially they paddled the same route Lance recommended to the group on Friday to the three mile Morgan's takeout. The RRT maps from the Little Miami Conservancy website were helpful in gauging progress along the river towards the South Lebanon take out. There was a family in three kayaks out on the river that took out at Little Miami Livery in Morrow, but other than that, Lis and Ron Z. had the entire river to themselves. There were some great logs to rest on while stopping for a picnic lunch at the Morgan's take out river right near Morrow.
Moving down the river from Morrow, it was peaceful and serene. There were periodic riffles and low spots to navigate as the river twisted and turned southward but enough flow to slip through in a tandem with two people. The river channel became consistently deeper the further south we paddled. The river banks were full of deciduous trees coming into their autumn colors. Every now and then we caught a glimpse of cyclists rolling along the multi-purpose trail that runs parallel to the river above us on river left. The trail is undetectable from the river due to the tree cover but every now and then you can spot well-constructed arched chiseled stone block culverts from when the trail was a railroad on river left. We saw great blue heron, kingfishers, blue jays, cardinals, and turkey vultures along the way. Autumn leaves, curled up at their edges, floated down from the trees and landed gently on the river's surface like miniature boats in a flotilla silently moving with the current. A few more miles downriver there were some folks out enjoying the day on the river bank fishing and playing with their children.
The takeout at South Lebanon is well engineered with a smooth sand landing pad, a grooved concrete ramp, and ample parking and grassy areas at the top adjoining a large community park and sports field. The paddling was so enjoyable it would have been easy to continue on further south along the river but it was time to head back to camp to meet up with the other paddlers to hear about their adventures up river.
On Sunday, we all had some time to warm up around the campfire early morning before the rain set in and we had to scurry to pack up and say some hasty rain spattered goodbyes. Lis and Ron Z. took Lance up on his suggestion to visit the Chateau La Roche in Loveland on Sunday. While there was no paddling involved that day, the effort to find the castle, which was entirely hand built by one man, take the tour and hear about its history was worth the trip. Loveland is a fun place to stop with several upscale restaurants and shops. The Little Miami river runs along the chateau's frontage and wends through Loveland and the water level was more than adequate for paddling there so we will save that for another trip.
Submitted by Lis Kroepel and Ron Zackowski