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Paddling Trips

Patapsco Info - May 2020
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by Larry Lempert - 17 May 2020 - About non-auto-shuttle possibilities

I decided to swing by Ellicott City today while out walking my dog. I drove up Oella Ave. and looked for some way to park and get over to the trail that ends, coming from the north, just above the mill. That would be a reasonable access point for running Oella, Suicide, and Doughnut. But I rate the prospects for river access at that point as considerably less than zero due to exhaustively posted Private Parking Only signage. Taking out below Ellicott City would be a problem too, as River Rd is still blocked off right at its intersection with Frederick Rd. And on top of all that, the walk up Oella Ave looks pretty hazardous--stretches with no sidewalk, no shoulder, and sharp bends. For my money, the only prospect for running the rapids during social distancing limitations is doing the standard Old Frederick Rd to Ilchester run with what would be a Class III-IV bike shuttle. The distance isn't bad, about 7 miles, but either by way of Rogers Rd or S. Hilltop out of Ilchester, the biking is steep with some stretches of minimal shoulder--but I think it's doable.

Easily doable, on the other hand, is the new stretch from Ilchester to, say, Avalon. I've done this twice in recent weeks, once walking the shuttle and once biking it. It's an easy, scenic 3 miles of walking or biking, partly on a road blocked to cars and partly on paved bike path. I wish we could broadcast such trips to a wider audience but under current circumstances, we've kept these outings to very, very small groups--just two of us in one case and four in the other. Two caveats are (1) that parking can be a problem at Ilchester--by afternoon, it's been getting very crowded, and (2) that the bike path on a nice day has too many people for absolute comfort in terms of social distancing. A nice way to handle the logistics is to drop boats at Ilchester (locking them unless there's someone to watch them), drive down and leave cars at Avalon (big parking lot), bike the shuttle, lock bikes, paddle down to Avalon, and then finally retrieve the bikes. Ilchester to Avalon is about a 15-minute drive. We've declared canoe zero to be about 450 cfs (Hollofield gauge) for this stretch, which is higher than canoe zero for the main run. It's starts off with a very pleasant mile of Class II (at low to moderate levels--I have no experience and no report at high levels), and then flattens out but keeps moving. An unexpected surprise is a great surfing wave at the end of the Class II stretch, a bit above the swinging bridge at Orange Grove.

Meanwhile, I had a very pleasant hike with the dog today on the Buzzard Rock trail, a steep mountain bike and hiking trail that parallels the river, but high up on the hill for the most part, along the Class II stretch. Social distancing was less of a problem there, although I occasionally needed to step aside into the weeds to let hikers or bikers go by. Limited parking off S. Hilltop.

Defer to Larry on the Bloede Dam section - it's good to have a cushion until the rebar is totally gone.

As for the classic Hollofield to Illchester run - I've done it down to 202 cfs = 1.95', 222, 186 - this latter with Ettinger (He decided to put 200 in his book, and that's the figure I have in the Stream-Finder)

 Cheers, Alf

Larry Lempert <

Tony - I'm suggesting 450 as a minimum only with regard to the new Ilchester to Avalon section. This number is based on two recent runs there and takes into consideration shallow, sharp rocks we encountered in the mile below Ilchester in the wake of the dam removal. Mark Brenneman (present on the first occasion) and Lisa Laden (present on the first and the second) would place the minimum at 475, in fact. Our runs were at 475 and 493, respectively. 
I've had enjoyable runs on the main section, Old Frederick Rd to Ilchester, down to 300. I'm sure you could get down it at the lower level you mentioned, 244, but portions before the bigger rapids that were already bumpy/scrapy at 300 would be even more so. Personally, I'd take a pass if it were below 300.
From: Tony Allred
P.S. Here are my feet/cfs correlations for the Hollofield Gauge on the Patapsco (2.0' Hollofield was the traditional zero):
2.0' = 244 cfs 
2.8' = 680 cfs
3.0' = 828 cfs
3.5' = ~1,200 cfs
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