Catoctin Creek

December 30, 2005

By Chip Walsh, 12/31/2005

Paddlers:  Chip polled and paddled the Tripper, Mike Martin was in a Shaman, Tom Gibb was in a Swifty K1.
Level:       2.15 on Middleton gauge
Section:     Poffenberger Road to the Potomac at Lander Road.

Rain promised for December 29 generated only a smattering of water, and as we awaited Mike's arrival at the BP station in Jefferson it was grey, cold and windy.  What happened to the promising forecast for partly sunny with a high of 52?

Down on the Creek, the wind was a non factor, and the sun intermittently broke through the clouds, providing very nice conditions for paddling.  We got on the water a bit after noon.  Gertler cites 2.3 as the minimum level.  AW lists 1.9, to which Dave Cooke observed he had found 2.0 mighty scratchy.  We did a bit of scraping but found 2.1 a very enjoyable level.  It is rare we get Mike out for winter paddling, and we found the easy riffles and class I rapids provided fun and relaxing float that will be sure to lure Mike out again.  The Creek winds among wooded hillsides and is a nice rural getaway, especially given it is only about an hour driving time from DC/Balt.  There were a few strainers to be negotiated, but it was all boatable.  

A strainer combined with bridge works and  an abandoned bridge abutment under route 464 formed an S-turn with rapid, constricted current, and a few must-make moves.  I only made half the required moves, became frozen with indecision over which side my pole should be on, and struck the abandoned bridge pier squarely with my bow.  The impact put a nice dent in the bow, or actually the stern, since I had the boat reversed and was polling from the bow.  The sudden decelleration knocked me off my feet, and I landed laid out on the downstream gunwale.  Dam if I didn't find one of the deeper spots on the creek to swim in.  I started to collect the boat, but noticed my camera floating by me in a glad-ware tub.  I decided to let the boat fend for itself and went with the camera.  As you may dedeuce from the pictures below, I got the camera back and didn't drown.

~~Chip

Tom Paddles away from Poffenberger Road put-in.  Mike follows in the red Shaman
Put-in
TJ On Catacton
              Creek
photo by Mike Martin
Chip on Catoctin
              Creek
photo by Mike Martin
TJ on Catoctin
              Creek
photo by Mike Martin
Whadda ya do with
              this pole?
photo by Mike Martin
TJ on Catoctin
              Creek
Mike Martin on
              Catoctin Creek
Mike Martin on
              Catoctin Creek
Railroad Bridge
Sunshine reflects under the Railroad Bridge.  C&O Canal Structure in the background.  Not far to the Potomac from here.
Ruins of
              Aqueduct
Ruins of the C&O Aqueduct.  The Catoctin Aqueduct was known as "the Swayback Aqueduct," because it began sagging not long after it was completed in 1833.  It finally collapsed in October, 1973--just guessing that the date coincides with Hurricane Agnes, does anybody know for sure?  Granite blocks were hauled from quaries along the Patapsco.  
TJ plays on
              Potomac side channel
Tom playing around in current from a side channel off the Potomac as it joins Catoctin Creek.  Note low angle of the sun on the trees, its getting late.  We came off the Creek about 4:30.