Monday, June 4, 2012

Going with the flow

By Brandie Kessler

You know that phrase about best laid plans?
It's a phase people in the newspaper business are quite familiar with.
Nonetheless, for some reason we still attempt to make plans.

I had planned to camp overnight at Allegheny Aqueduct Park tonight before getting on the river for my first day on the sojourn tomorrow.
Flames rip through a Pottstown residence Monday.
Photo by John Strickler/The Mercury
But then there was a fire in Pottstown this morning, which I went out to report on. Sure it was my day off, but the news doesn't revolve around the plans or schedules we make.

So while I should have been getting my gear in order today, I was working. And now, instead of camping tonight, I am going to go home after writing this blog post and gather my gear like I planned to do earlier today. I will still get out on the river tomorrow, which brings me to my next concern:

What should I expect?

Kurt D. Zwikl, executive director of the Schuylkill River Heritage Area, told me tonight that several people have already gone in the drink. So I'm sure a change of clothing might be important to bring along, as well as my PFD, which is an essential for anyone and everyone on the water.

Paddling in a dam pool when the river was too high Saturday.
Photo by Jeremy Quant

"A couple (people) spilled (in) on Sunday afternoon, and a couple boats got loose while we were at the water stop," he said. "I think one person went in at Kelly's Rapids (in Reading), but it wasn't really in the rapids itself."
Zwikl said the weather has proven a bit challenging, but it hasn't been insurmountable. What is necessary to deal with the weather that's been dealt to sojourners is preparedness.

"You certainly want to be dressed" appropriately, he said. "You want to have layers. Something that can get wet. It was hot (Monday), it was wet (Monday) and it was cold (Monday,) all three things at different times."

Therefore, layers are best, he said. And a cotton T-shirt under a long-sleeved cotton shirt with a sweatshirt on top do not count as appropriate layers.

Sojourners need to wear clothing that will keep them as dry and warm as possible. That means synthetic fabrics that wick moisture away layered with other synthetic fabrics and possibly a wool sweater on top, and rain gear readily available. AccuWeather is forecasting a high of 70 degrees tomorrow and a low of 49, with a chance of thunderstorms, so that's reason enough to layer.

Aside from the temperamental temperatures, Zwikl said the trip has gone along swimmingly.

The river "is moving fast and it's high, so it's a nice ride," he said. "People are saying it's great. It's not frighteningly wild, it's just great."

If you've been traveling along on the sojourn and have any advice to pass along to people like me who are going to be joining the group this week, leave a comment. What suggestions do you have for making the trip more enjoyable?

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