Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Be prepared for anything

By Brandie Kessler

I might have to make this quick since we're only on a lunch stop. I am currently sitting in beautiful Morlatton Village. Lovely place, especially surrounded by such wonderful people such as those on this trip.
This morning was my first paddle with the sojourn. My first day but the fourth day for all those who have been on this trip since the beginning. Paddling is fun, but it's also hard work.
And it can be a little daunting when you realize all the things you need to be prepared for.
Upon arriving at Allegheny Aqueduct Park, where the group launched from this morning, I signed in and then stood with the group to listen to the mandatory safety meeting.
Kurt D. Zwikl, executive director of the Schuylkill River Heritage Area, gave a quick introduction for the day, and then Alan Quant, who is guiding the sojourn this year along with his wife Betsy, gave us the rundown of all the things we needed to be prepared for during the morning paddle.
Basically, all I heard over and over was "Be prepared for...," and "Then be prepared for..."
Knowing that one our our "obstacles du jour," as Alan Quant put it, was going to be immediately off the launch, I got a little nervous. We were going to have to forward ferry, or paddle upstream, to wait for every one of the 66 people on the sojourn today to be able to get onto the water.
The Tunnel of Love near Birdsboro.
Photo by Brandie Kessler
Then we were told about the "Tunnel of Love" Schuylkill River Style. This tunnel isn't a literal tunnel, rather a lovely little deviation off the river's main course which takes a paddler under a beautiful cover of lush green.
The tunnel sounds pleasant, and having made it through it, it was. But knowing what could have happened had I missed the entrance to the tunnel made the approach a little scary. It could have lead to the Birdsboro Bridge where I would have surely gone overboard, and that could have been both embarrassing and  dangerous.
Alan Quant and all the others who are guiding us along on this trip did a great job of preparing us for what to expect, and making sure we got to where we needed to go safely.
All in all, this morning has been spectacular. I've met people like Mark from Exeter, whose last name I need to get, who have been on the sojourn many times and look at it as a sort of reunion with the friends they've made. I also met a girl named Jess, from Pottsville, who is on the sojourn for the first time ever, along with her boyfriend. Jess said Monday was their first of three days on the river, and it's been great.
Jess told me she has done very little river kayaking, and the instruction from the guides on the sojourn has made a great impression on her and she wants to do more river kayaking.
As someone who has never kayaked the Schuylkill myself, I will tell you it is amazing to be transported to another place when on the water. I have lived in Pottstown for several years. I run the Schuylkill River Trail all the time, but it's amazing the difference you see when you get the perspective from the water.
And as for a weather update for all those who are wondering, the weather has been good to us, too. The clouds are abundant, but so are the blue skies .. so far. Temperatures are good. Keep your fingers crossed for a rain-free day on the river.


  1. Sounds fabulous, Brandie. Wish I could be there. My family homestead is directly across the river from the Mouns Jones house (Morlatton Village). In fact, during one of the recent flood scares in that area, I started to follow you on Twitter. it was a great comfort to know you were on the scene, reporting and tweeting! I now live in Indiana but my sister still lives in the family homestead, so Twitter is a great way to keep connected. Keep up the good work! (Did your family own the old Kessler's clothing storey in Pottstown?)
    Mary Spohn

    1. Mary,
      I remember getting some of your tweets during the flooding. Twitter is a wonderful tool for keeping in touch, and I say invaluable these days for reporters. My family did not own the clothing store (that I know of, but I'll have to check to see whether they could have been relatives down the line.)
      Thanks for commenting!

  2. Brandie,
    I'm betting his name is Mark Cholewa.
    See if I'm right.
    Have fun.
    -- Evan

    1. You are correct (as usual). He says "Hi," by the way. In fact, many have asked about you. You make quite an impression on people!

  3. Brandie, glad you're enjoying the sojourn. It's such a fun learning experience and paddling the Schuylkill definitely feels like some place far removed. Alan and Betsey and their son are great guides and safety support. Have a great time and enjoy yoga tonight!

    1. Pat,
      It has been spectacular. Paddling is awesome, but the people are what make the sojourn so amazing. The Quants do a fantastic job. I can't wait for tomorrow!