Trip Report, 3/2/2008, Shepherdstown to Mermaid Beach & Return
- It was a sunny, warm day on the Potomac River for our paddle. Seven
brave adventurers set forth against a robust current, as they took
off from the dock (with a new wooden ramp) at the old
Shepherdstown Gaging Station, which lies across the river from Lock
38 of the C&O Canal, and headed upstream on a 10-mile aquatic journey.
When DNR reported that there were a number of cougar (synonymous with
mountain lion or puma) sightings (in Lovettsville, Boonsboro, and
Dargan), we had to reevaluate our safety techniques. With mountain
lions, there are four cardinal rules to remember. One, Don't run as
it trigger's the cougar's instinct to attack; two, stand tall as you
open your arms wide while making loud noises; three, fight back if
attacked; and, four, which is the most important rule, if you do
begin to run ensure that you never, ever overtake your trip leader.
We saw no cats on our trip.
The Killiansburg Cave as well as the adjoining caves, which provided
shelter for citizens during the Civil War, were all clearly visible
from the river. It's interesting what one can see from the water
that is not visible from land.
We carefully passed Old Man Morgan's place by Chimney Ridge, and the
compound looked deserted - to the untrained eye, that is.
With much anticipation, at Snyder's Landing, we had a hearty
collation, courtesy of Gayle's Paddling Café. And then we had a
pleasant surprise: John and Renay, proprietors of Barron's Store,
came running out of the woods to greet us. And so we made an
obligatory stop for ice cream and coffee at Barron's Store.
The "Rural Family of the Week" contest is apparently taking a hiatus,
since the post-hunting butcherings are still occupying the
After we ate, we decided to go all the way up to the rocky Mermaid
Beach, that lies on the Maryland side of the river just below the
rapids and south of Taylor's Landing. Passing Catfish Cove, we
noticed that the river level was higher than normal and the current
was quite strong. As we rounded the final bend, we realized that the
entire beach was underwater, but we were nonetheless able to safely
land on the solid ground of the Free State.
It was a beautiful day, shared with a great group of people, on the
People's River, a river that was here before us and will be here
The photos, with hilarious captions courtesy of Coalminer's Daughter,
have been posted in a photo album entitled "3-2-2008" in the Photos
section of our web site at: