Friday, June 1, 2012

The paddler's 4-letter word

By Brandie Kessler

It's the eve of the start of the 14th Schuylkill River Sojourn, and the paddler's 4-letter word seems insistent on showing its face.

Rain. (What were you thinking I was going to say?)

We all know even the people who get paid to forecast the weather don't get it right all the time, but looking at the local weather forecast for the next week, it seems like there's a pretty good chance sojourners are going to see at least some rain on our journey through Schuylkill, Berks, Chester, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties.
Buck up folks, it could be a wet sojourn.
I don't know about all of you, but an umbrella isn't exactly an accessory I have room for on my boat, so what's a sojourner to do?

Laura Catalano, staff writer for the Schuylkill River National & State Heritage Area, who is one member of the team of people making the sojourn possible (Yay people who made this possible!) said the main concern with rain is the high water levels that can result.

With AccuWeather forecasting close to an inch of rainfall tonight, it could be high waters straight from the launch tomorrow morning.

Catalano said sojourners can rest assured knowing they are in good hands.
"We do have a lot of safety people on the water, so we have our two guides Alan and Betsy Quant (from Canoe Susquehanna) and then they have a bunch of safety people who guide people through anything that’s difficult," Catalano said. "There could still be points where the water is too high" to pass, and the Quants will make assessments as they go and choose from their options with safety in mind.

There is a possibility the Quants will decide to bypass dangerous portions of the river where the water is too high and launch downriver from those spots. That decision would likely be made if the water is high and there are low-hanging trees and low bridges that would prove hazardous to sojourners.

Acknowledging the rainfall forecast for tonight, Catalano said "our contingency plan at this point is we’re going to see what the water looks like Saturday morning at 9" and make adjustments on when and where to launch from depending on what it looks like in the morning.

Although rainy weather might seem less than ideal to some, Catalano pointed out that rainy days on the river can be fun.

"Paddlers sometimes like paddling in the rain, it’s kind of pleasant," she said. "It’s cooler" than paddling with the sun beating down on you.

Even if paddling in the rain could be fun, as Sharon acknowledged in her comment on an earlier post on this blog, camping in the rain might be less fun. With that thought it mind, take every step you can to be prepared for camping in the rain. Make sure your tent will hold up, make sure you pack your rain fly for your tent, and make sure you pick a good spot to set up camp so you don't wake up in a puddle.

Perhaps the most important thing to pack along on this trip which is sure to come in handy in all situations, rain or shine, is a good adventurous spirit. Just think,  navigating a river in the rain might be more memorable than having perfect conditions. Maybe rain can be a four-letter word for fun


1 comment:

  1. Say hello to my father Barry Powell he is on the sojourn by himself for the 5th year. Jason