Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Riding Down The Red Mo

A few - okay, several posts back, I wrote about the annual canoe/kayak race that takes place near my home on the last Saturday of March -and this year marked the 40th anniversary of that race. If you recall, I also posted some photos I happen to have on hand that were provided to me a couple years back when I wrote an article about the Red Mo Race and focused on a father/daughter team who often competed in this race.

I also promised to post results from the 40th race but as yet, I haven't found them posted in either of the local papers, so I guess I'll have to bite the bullet, sign of the internet so I can make a long distance call to Tussey Mountain Outfitters over in Bellefonte and see if they will provide that information to me.

However, I do have something today about the race. I asked my friend, Howard Pillot, who I have really known "forever" (since they brought him home from the hospital anyway) and whose photos I posted about him and his daughter prior to the race, if he would give me a bit of a report from the race this year. I love the way Howie writes things - makes you feel as if you are right there at the race with him!

When I wrote that piece, he had offered then -if I was interested - to take me along on a ride down the Red Mo. Considering at that point in time, my back was totally on the blink, I declined his offer. But boy, this is something if my old and often aching joints would cooperate and if my nerve would hold up too, I'd love to take him up on that offer. My son would totally enjoy an outing like that too! (Maybe provide him with a form of entertainment that is totally wholesome as well? A mother's dream, I suppose.)

So anyway, here's his take on the race this year - hope you all enjoy reading this as much as I did. I put Howie's note in this color because it is sort of the same shade the water of the Red Moshannon often has - rusty. And yes, as Howie describes this body of water, it is truly a beautiful sight in the mountains here as it cuts its way downstream to the Susquehanna's West Branch.

Here goes... This was the 40th year for the Moshannon Creek Downriver Race. A record crowd of paddlers and I wonder how much more it will grow? As I think about the 40th year I remember being 9 years old watching the boats go down the road to Peale, wondering what paddling the creek was like. I'm sure seeing the boats each spring was a major influence in why I took up the sport of canoeing in the first place. My first year in the race I was a senior in high school, I think, and it was a very high water experience with lots of spills.

The race has changed over the years as recreational kayaks are much more popular today. However, the race still draws the canoe crowd, and I'll always paddle an open canoe. I've been in the race with many partners over the years. My fondest memories are with my children and we had great runs. Now they are so busy with school and other interests that I've had to seek out new partners. Last year I had a partner from Norway. Trygve was great and we placed second in the master class and probably would've done better if the front seat had not broken in the canoe. My canoe is pretty old and the seat suffered dry rot. The seat broke right at the start and Trygve was pretty uncomfortable for seven miles. This year my partner was Ed, a doctor from State College. Ed experienced his first race and we were able to place third in the century class (combined age of over 100 years). We add up to 103 years. He did really well for his first time and we worked hard to stay in with the top three boats in our class. Seems odd to be in the century class after being in the over 30 under 16 class for so many years with my children.

The water level this year was really good. Last year it was the lowest level I could remember. This year was much better. The last mile of the race had plenty of nice bouncy waves and a healthy flow. Everyone seemed to enjoy it this year and the weather turned out to be just about perfect. The race is always a fun way to make the transition from winter into spring. It would take me a while to figure out how many times I've paddled the Moshannon. It always goes by so fast in the race and I can't wait to get back on it again to just enjoy it. It is a very special stretch of water away from the civilized world.

I fear the dump proposed for the area. I can't understand why anyone in government would allow such a massive dump in the headwaters of the Chesapeake Bay. The other irony is that the water from here flows right past the State Capitol building in Harrisburg. Seems like the Moshannon Valley has suffered enough from abuse from mining. If anything we should be cleaning up the Moshannon and if I had my way the Creek would become a linear park from at least Philipsburg to the mouth at Miller's Landing in Karthaus. It is a great resource for the area and polluting it more seems evil to me. I hope somebody important sees the value in having clean water and an untouched river basin like this because it would be a shame for it to get worse and ruin it for good!

1 comment:

Vic Grace said...

Thanks for your lovely messages Jeni. What a terrible thing to do to the Chesapeake Bay. I read 'Chesapeake' by Michener a while back and it sound like a wonderful area. One of the things in the book that may or maybe not true said that there was a court ruling that the individuals that used the waters of the Chesapeake had the right to pollute it if they wanted. The issue was people throwing their beer cans into the water when fishing.