It was a beautiful, sunny day on the Potomac River for our paddle. For this adventure, we went a total of 12 miles up and back on the People's River. Starting from the dock at the old Shepherdstown Gauging Station, which lies across the river from Lock 38 of the C&O Canal, we went up to Mermaid Beach and returned.
We were joined by Pat, a seasoned "old school" paddler who is a true inspiration to all beginners. She was with Audrey the shy paddler who made us realize that we talk too much. Some of us, that is. We had father and son paddlers, and even Gulf paddlers.
We passed by the hidden Killiansburg Cave, famous as a hiding place for citizens during the Civil War, and, of course, for the moonshiners in another epoch. Almost all the buildings and structures on the land were invisible due to the thick foliage. We paddled past the golf course, and there was no sign of life therein, not even of the round men usually transported from one hole to another on the golf carts. We carefully passed Old Man Morgan's place by Chimney Ridge, and it looked deserted. To the untrained eye, that is.
With much anticipation, while at Snyder's Landing, we made our obligatory stop at Barron's Store, four miles upstream, to see our good friends, John and Renay. Barron's always has surprises, as you learn things there that you don't read about in books. The store is also a proud sponsor of the "Rural Family of the Week" contest. While at Barron's, we had a birthday to celebrate: Renay was finally of legal age. While we were scaring the paying customers, Renay was visited by a duo of interior decorators who brought her flowers and some ideas for an extreme rural makeover for the cabana. Thankfully, Gayle had a cake in her kayak (in addition to coffee and real milk), so we had that with ice cream to commemorate.
The "Rural Family of the Week" award was won by a bass fisherman who put in as fast as he could but forgot the engine key and when his elderly mother showed up with the key he was too embarrassed to return to the boat ramp. He was last seen floating downriver towards the confluence of the rivers
If it wasn't for the bass fisherman, the disappearing then reappearing kayaker would have won the prize (you had to be there).
After our break at Barron's, where we talked about things that happened and should have happened, 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. That is, only three of us did so: Those who had 17' kayaks, which included yours truly, Steve, and Gayle. The rest of the group did not think they could make it over the rapid current. We passed Catfish Cove, and all was silent and calm. The turtles just stared at us.
When we got to Mermaid Beach, we realized that it was underneath us, as the water was very high. So we kept paddling, and actually paddled over the rapids that are below Taylor's Landing. That was the first time we ever did that.
We took a well-earned break on the MD side, in Little Tijuana. After that, we shot downstream in a rapid current back to Shepherdstown, and even picked up two members of our own group along the way who had put in at Taylor's Landing in their sit-on-tops.
Along with a rapid current, we had a strong wind, which made Gayle go topless. I found her lost hat, however, and grudgingly returned it.
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 after us.
The photos have been posted in a photo album entitled "5-31-2009" in the Photos section of our web site at:
Please be aware that next Saturday we are planning a moonlight paddle. It is going to be a full moon. Stay tuned.