Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A Wet Day on the Allegheny River

I don't know if we had more water under us or above us today...but the "above us" water quickly became "under us" water!

Dave, Bev, Grace, Charlie and I met at Buckaloons Monday morning at 10:30. After unloading the boats and packing in our gear, we set off on our adventure on the Allegheny. It didn't take long for the darkening skies to spit at us. But the current was swift and that helped to offset the "gale force" headwind we encountered during one of the early rainfalls. We hugged the shore along Thompson Island to block the wind a bit. But after awhile, the rain died down along with the headwind and we made some real progress. We found a nice little boat access in Althom where we were able to set foot on land to enjoy our lunch and share a bottle of Straub beer, which is brewed nearby in St. Mary's, PA. After we headed back downstream, we were treated to close views of eagles and mergansers. One female merganser had 19 babies with her! I suppose mergs are like Canada geese in that they steal each other's babies! We also watched a deer running along the RR grade for a few hundred yards, and paddled beneath a mature bald eagle when it lit back in a tree overhead after flying up initially at our approach.

We had gone about 2/3 of the way when the sky blackened and finally burst. No more spitting, these clouds meant business and they really peed on us bigtime! We headed for shore and knocked on a cottage door, but no one was home. So we sheltered under their carport, while Dave stood for awhile under his Tupper. We thought he was being brave and strong and showing us what a Real Man does in a storm...but when he finally joined us under the carport, he let it be known that he had ulterior motives involving the lack of an available outhouse and a privacy issue!

After about 45 minutes, the rain dropped off to spits again. I left my remaining bottle of Straub in the carport in thanks to the cottage owner and we pushed on. Before long we saw a sign stating that Tidioute was still 4 miles away. I marked the time, and we finished those 4 miles in about 45 minutes. The bright blue of our launch at the Tidhouse was a welcome site to 5 weary paddlers.

After 15 miles of dampness and wind, we all agreed that we had a great time! Bev and Grace handled a section of rollicking standing waves admirably in their tandem kayak, with a few odd noises of...delight? trepidation?

Charlie and I enjoyed meeting and paddling with Bev, Grace and Dave. What a marvelous day!