Thursday afternoon Tony and his yorkie Muffy were heading south to the Shawnee Valley Campground & Kayak at 307 Alum Cliff Rd in Chillicothe, Ohio. Trip leader Chuck wanted him to scout a part of the Scioto River as the fall water levels had been low. Some rain on Wednesday evening helped raise water levels a bit but Chuck was wanting an alternative route if necessary. Harold was supposed to meet Tony somewhere in route but got detained. Where Deer Creek crosses ST RT 107 there is a nice put in that is only 1/8 mile from the Scioto. Making a mental note of the spot, Tony called Ruth, the only other member camping on Thursday night. She was only 15 minutes behind Tony so they made plans to meet at the Roosters Restaurant in Chillicothe. After a nice lunch of pizzas, BBQ chicken for Ruth, buffalo chicken for Tony, the left overs were taken for supper and Ruth went to camp while Tony went to the 2 breweries in town. Ruth was set up when Tony arrived and as he finished Harold drove in. They got to meet old Jim the campground owner and he was a hoot to talk with. There was a young boxer type dog roaming the campground but no one knew who it belonged to. It took a liking to the OHCRA folks and even slept in Tony's chair all evening. When the dog warden came to get her, she conveniently disappeared. It was a cool fall Ohio evening and the roaring campfire felt really fine. Bedtime was late, 10-11:00 for the 3 old folks.
Friday morning was 39° but that was the only drawback to an otherwise beautiful day. Chuck pulled in around 9:00 am and paddling plans were made. The USGS stream gauge on Paint Creek near Bourneville was at 2.19 feet, up from 1.56 before the rain. The cubic feet per second was at 286 CFS up from around 180. Since the water looked good it was decided to put in at Jones Levee Rd near Bourneville. Harold wasn't feeling well so he choose not to paddle but would shuttle Chucks truck pulling Steve's canoe trailer, drop the 3 paddlers off and meet them back at camp. The 12 mile trip back to camp was wonderful. Bright sun light, temperatures reaching 63, changing leaf colors and nice water was picture perfect. Ruth wished she had 6 more inches, of water in the river, as she was using a kkkayak that sat a little lower in the water than the canoes. No one had to exit their boats but some water panthers (rocks) reached out to grab sometimes. There wasn't any wind early but by afternoon some gusts made it hard to keep the boats straight. Dead leaves came floating gently down to meet the water but other times they came in for a rough landing. There was a mature eagle, a juvenile eagle, muskrat, king fishers, blue jays, buzzards, crows and blue herons. Jason, a campground employee warned them about some dogs chasing paddlers in the creek. Sure enough, 3 rottweilers chased after them, running into the water being very aggressive and mean. Only after a pistol was pulled and pointed at the dogs did the owner call them off. Another 2-3 seconds and the lead dog would have been killed. Apparently the owner thinks it's funny to scare paddlers and Jason said they have capsized boats before. There were 3 different dead buck deers in the creek that were all badly decomposed. One was a 5 point complete with skull and backbone but stunk too bad to put in the boat. There was a pumpkin plant growing along the shoreline and Tony had to stop and pick the 2 biggest. He was thinking that some seeds floated downstream and was deposited there to grow. The plant had already been hit with frost and was dying. Muffy was riding out front in the canoe as she always does when Tony had to power stroke to miss a log. In the water she went and she wasn't happy. She shivered and gave evil eyes to her owner until the bright sunshine dried her. Jason had put the exit sign out so they knew where camp was and the 12 mile trip only took 4 hours and 15 minutes including a lunch stop.
Back at camp the 3 relaxed in the sun until Steve, Coleen and Murphy arrived pulling a trailered pontoon boat. What has OHCRA become? Steve set up their hot tent then everyone enjoyed another evening campfire in the now chilly air. As folks were drifting to bed, in pulls Mike and Judy. Judy set up a tent but Mike likes to hammock and he found 2 good trees for support.
Saturday morning was warmer than Friday and just as sunny. Ruth was not paddling today as she was going pontooning with Steve and Coleen. The pontooners put in on Ross Lake for a spin and then went over to Lake Rupert where they enjoyed lunch on the water. The other 5 were forming plans for another beautiful paddle. From camp to the Scioto River was 9 miles and another mile on the Scioto would put them were Indian Creek flows in. Chuck drove the shuttle vehicle with Harold and Tony followed as they searched for a good take out. After a while they found where a house had burnt down and there was a good path to the river. They left the vehicle next to the railroad tracks across from the burnt house and headed back to the put in. At 11:11 am they pushed off from camp for the 10 mile trip downstream. The leaves where again very pretty and the wind played with them at times. Near the paper mill in Chillicothe the air stunk and the water changed to a shade of red. The water had to be really polluted. When they reached the Scioto you could see how low the water really was. Carrying the boats and gear up the steep grade to the truck at the take out got everyones heart beating faster, so they had to stop in Chilliocthe for refreshments. Both breweries were visited before heading back to camp. The pontooners were already back relaxing and that was the plan until potluck time.
The potluck theme was soup and soon everyone was getting ready. Chuck had gumbo, Tony creamy wild rice soup, Judy had French onion soup, Ruth had home made bread warmed on the fire and Steve brought macaroni and cheese with ham. As always there was enough food to feed an army. Another fire was stroked and enjoyed as was games of poker. Slowly everyone drifted off to tents and bed.
Sunday was the third beautiful day in a row. The club got really lucky with the weather in mid October. There was a group breakfast with bacon, biscuits and gravy, hash browns, eggs and fresh fruit. How can you go wrong with that? Harold had to leave right after breakfast, Judy and Mike were paddling the Fridays trip, Chuck and Tony were going to hike Buzzards Roost trail and Ruth, Steve and Coleen were packing up to go home. By noon the campsites were empty and the 2022 canoeing season was over. It went out with a bang with one of the best weather weekends in October for years. Until next year...