Date of paddle: July 12, 2019

Distance: 14 miles (By my estimate this puts me at about 273 miles paddled)

Time to paddle: 5 hours and 20 minutes. This includes about a half hour stop for lunch. Also, the river was very slow that day and I had a headwind almost the whole day.

Altitude drop: 7 feet 

Left the Hanover Township river access area at 10:44

 I left by boat at the Hanover Township river  access and drove down to the Shickshinny river access where I left my car. My brother drove me back and thankfully the boat was still there. I have left my boat many times with nothing bad ever happening, but I still get a little nervous each time. 

 It is only 14 river miles between these two points and I had hoped to do more. But, the next river access is about 10 miles further down river. This would have been too much for a hot day with a slow moving river and a headwind. 

 I'm glad I did the shorter distance as it gave me a chance to take a lot of photos, make good notes and enjoy the surprisingly beautiful scenery. From time to time I would stop paddling and let the boat drift. As it drifted it would turn so that I would be facing backwards and it made me realize that when paddling I am too focused on whats ahead and often miss some really nice scenery behind me. Try it next time you go on a paddle.

The view of the river leaving the Hanover Township boat ramp

Not a very good picture, but notice the antlers. Most of the deer are females so seeing a buck can be special. As a matter of fact I am pretty sure that all the other deer I've seen on the river have been does. This one actually came out of hiding and approached the river bank. Deer can be curious, but will take off as soon as they figure out that you are a human. This one did just that when I got just a bit closer.

I took this photo of a sand bar to show that the river is low. This is very normal in summer. actually this summer it has not been too low. Two summers ago it was very low compared to this year. Last summer the river was very high; check out my pages from last summer: Sugar Run to Meshoppen; Meshoppen to Harding

I reached this landmark at 11:24, 40 minutes into the trip. This concrete block once supported a bridge. I don't know if it was for automobiles or trains and I don't know when it came down. Many old bridges where destroyed in 1972 due to heavy rains from a hurricane; the same one that almost killed Wilkes-barre. But, I don't know if that's what happened to this bridge.

Support for the same bridge but on the opposite bank. Not as visible because it was hidden by vegetation.

The first bridge is the Route 29 bridge I took this photo at 11:47 and passed under it at 11:55. The bridge in the far distance is the Lower Broadway bridge; the second bridge of the trip.

The Lower Broadway bridge is in the foreground and behind it is a rail road bridge. I took this photo at 11:48 and passed under it at 12:16. Two minutes later I passed under the Railroad bridge.

The railroad bridge just after the Lower Broadway bridge. This is the third bridge on this trip.

This close-up photo of the rail road bridge shows signs of erosion and deterioration of the bridge supports. I don't know if the bridge is still being used or if  it has been abandoned to nature. 

 Soon after going under the railroad bridge (maybe 10 minutes) I ran into the worst rapids that I have encountered on the river. The Google Earth map above shows that there really is no way to avoid them as they stretch across the entire river. My boat was swamped and half filled with water. I slid off the seat to sit on the floor of the boat in order to improve the center of gravity and that might have helped to keep me from capsizing. I had thought that water in the boat would act as ballast, but instead it added to the danger because as it sloshed from one side to the other it made the boat sway back and forth and each time I thought it would tip over. after a while it stabilized and once I got to calmer water I bailed out the water using a large sponge (I carry two of them in the boat. but after this trip I will secure them to the boat with string so that they don't float away in case I do capsize) 

In the page before this one, Harding PA to Wilkes-Berry PA, I wrote about the orange water coming into the Susquehanna from the Lackawanna river. I mentioned that it is the most notorious one because of its size, but there are many smaller ones. Note that on the left side of the above photo everything looks normal, but on the right side everything is stained orange. This is where a small stream enters the Susquehanna. The water that I saw was not orange, but I have to assume that at certain times it must be orange. The orange comes from Iron Oxide deposits from old coal mines. The water flows thru the deposit and carries the Iron Oxide with it. 

The river bank stained orange. I estimate that the orange stained bank here is about half mile long. I'm not sure why it suddenly ends. My guess is that the iron oxide in the water is heavy and eventually sinks to the bottom. And, how far it goes down stream depends on the concentration of the iron oxide and the speed of the current.

uprooted tree stained orange. Ok, that's enough orange photos. but, I have many more I could share

Along this stretch of river is a hand built wall that extends for miles on the left side of the river. Route 11 runs along side the river and I'm guessing that the wall was built to protect the road from floods. I did a little research and I am pretty sure it was built around 1936; one of the many make-work projects sponsored by the government to get the US out of the great depression. I can imagine the work that went into building a wall like this. I worked in my family's landscaping business thru high school and college and I know what's involved. Building a stone wall is a bit like putting together a gig-saw puzzle; except that after a few hours your back is killing you. A good stone wall builder will look at the pile of rocks and will make a mental note of which stone goes where, which ones will be used for the base, which side will face the outside, which ones will be used for the corners, and which will be used to cap the top. I can't imagine how many man hours it must have taken to built it. And it is sad to know that slowly the river will erase the memory of that work. take a look at the breach in the wall. This is just one of many along it. Eventually the breach will be made wider and more rocks will tumble into the river. While doing my research I found an article about the deteriorating  stone walls along the river in Sunbury PA  being replaced by large white concrete blocks. I guess repairing the existing walls is not practical and most likely someday these walls too will be replaced by large white concrete blocks. Too bad if it does, these walls are beautiful. 

Just a nice view. As I have already mentioned, this 14 mile segment was surprisingly scenic.

 A white cliff. This is the first white rocks I have seen along the river. 

Whenever I stop paddling, my boat gently turns around and I find myself facing backwards. When that happens the scenery I see is pretty much the same as the scenery in front. But, this time I saw this mesa like mountain and It made me think about how many beautiful sites I may have missed by always focusing on what's in front of me. Now that I am getting closer to my goal I think I'll take my time and look back more often. Allow yourself plenty of time when planning a paddle trip, and turn around from time to time to see what you would otherwise might have missed

I reach the Hunlock Township Gardens river access at 1:07. About 2 hours and 25 minutes into my trip. The sign shows that I have paddled 6.7 miles so far today. It also shows that I have paddled 265.7 miles of the Susquehanna river.

The boat ramp at Hunlock Township Gardens. Not a very good photo, but there was a car parked on the ramp with a man and woman sitting in the back (storage area) of an SUV with the hatchback opened, and the man was reading aloud from a book. It might have been some religious passages but I don't know for sure. I did not want to disturb their privacy and did not point the camera in their direction. The woman greeted me and we had a brief conversation. She asked where I was coming from and where I was going. I told her and then added that I have been doing the whole river from the source at Cooperstown. She asked where Cooperstown was as she had not heard of it. I told her it was in NY and she was surprised as she did not know the river went up that far. The man did not acknowledge my presence and seem annoyed as he ignored our conversation and continued reading aloud. First time meeting someone on the river who was not friendly.

About 50 yards downstream a man, two boys and a dog enjoyed the river by fishing and soaking in the water. I spoke briefly with the man and he too did not know the river started as far away as Cooperstown NY. "That's crazy"! He said. After these two encounters it occurred to me that many people don't give a lot of thought to the river other than the access they have to it.

A few hundred yards downriver and on the left bank  (opposite of the Hunlock river access)I spotted these nice flat rocks and thought it would be a good place to stop for lunch. I have mentioned before that there are many sections of the river where it is difficult to find a comfortable place to stop. A lot of the river bank is muddy and steep and once out of the boat it is hard to find a place to sit. A place like this is perfect. You can stretch out on the flat rocks or sit and let your legs dangle above the water.

Lunch time! I took a leisurely 30 minute lunch break and got back on the river around 2:00 

Back on the river

The mountains in this section are quite high. As I mentioned already, the scenery in this section surprised me. I did not expect it to be as dramatically beautiful as it is.

I took this photo at 2:07. About 3 hours and 25 minutes into my trip. I did not know it at the time, but the white vertical structure in the distance is a smoke pipe from a gas power electric generation plant. 

 Two minutes later I zoomed in to take a photo of the fourth bridge of the trip. Notice that the mountain in the background is the same as the one in the previous photo 

At 2:19, 12 minutes after seeing the smoke stack, I passed by the power plant. As I approached I could smell the fumes from about 50 yards away. The smell reminded me of a truck stop, or being stuck in traffic behind a tractor trailer . As I  got past it and downwind from it I could no longer smell it.

The wall continues. In this area the wall is built at an angle, sloping away from the river

And here too there are signs of erosion. That's just what rivers do! 

This is the Retreat Rd bridge, the fourth bridge on this trip. I passed under it at 2:38, about 30 minutes after I first noticed it in the distance. I looked at the area on Google Earth just now and noticed that  Route 11 is on the right bank (west) and the bridge crosses the Susquehanna into a dead-end area with several buildings. I was puzzled because the buildings where surrounded by woods with no roads other than the one leading back to the bridge. So,  I did a little research and learned that the bridge is the access for the minimum security Retreat State Correctional Institution that houses about 350 inmates and is located within the town of Glen Lyons. Giving the name "Retreat" to a prison seems like a cruel joke, but on further reading I learned that it is located on the site of the former Retreat State Hospital; making the joke only slightly less cruel.

 When I paddled passed it I did not know it was a prison. The buildings style and baseball fields gave me the impression that it was a school. Now that I know it was a prison I wonder if perhaps an inmate saw me paddle by and, wishing that it could have been him on the river made his incarceration even less tolerable. I'm a little sad thinking about that.

This is the same bridge, but looking at it from the downriver side. I took this photo to show the falls that I encountered shortly after going under the bridge. In order to avoid them get over to the far right side of the river (as you look down river). There appears to be a small gap between the right bank and the beginning of the falls where the river channel runs unobstructed. I did not know it until after I went over the falls. Fortunately, they were more of a nuisance than a danger because they sloped down gently like a ramp. My boat got hung up at the rim and I had to pole my way thru. My boat turned around and I went down backwards. I could have capsized but the water was not rough and it would not have been a big problem. But, perhaps on some other day that area could have larger water volume going over it and could be dangerous.

This photo shows the gap that I mentioned above. Look at the far left side of the photo, but keep in mind that this photo was taken from the downriver side of the bridge. So, to avoid the falls stay to the far right when you go under the bridge. TO BE C

The wall continues. Just think, each one of those stones was laid by hand. The bigger ones by two or more men, shifted into place with iron bars. Then, small stones where stuffed in the spaces in-between. Mile after mile.

I reach the Union river access at 3:13. About 4 hours and 30 minutes into the trip

174 miles to the Chesapeake bay. I've traveled 11 miles so far on this trip and I have paddled a total of 270 miles of the Susquehanna. 

The boat ramp at the Union river access

A motor boat approaching. The river here is wide and as long as the motor boats stay far away the wake from them is not a problem. So far I have  encountered very few and have never had a problem.

These unusual white cliffs are a good landmark for checking your progress. I took this photo at 3:40. Almost 5 hours into my trip

A couple of minutes after the white cliffs Bellis island comes into view. The Shickshinny river access is just after the island on the right bank

The Route 239 bridge comes into view at 3:50. The shickshinny river access is before the bridge. So, if you go under the bridge you have gone too far.

A blue heron hunting for a meal

Two birds with one photo. Its possible that the smaller one is a yearling still hanging out with his mom and learning the ropes.

An Egret. They are not nearly as common as the Blue Herons, but from time to time I have seen them on the Susquehanna.

Finally reached the Shickshinny access at 4:07. 5 hours and about 20 minutes after leaving the Hanover Township river access area. But, keep in mind that I was really taking it easy on this paddle and I took about a half hour lunch break.

Up until now the mile markers show a countdown to the Chesapeake. For example the Union access, the one just a few miles up river showed 174 miles. But this sign shows the number of miles from the source of the river (Cooperstown NY).

 so far I have paddled 271.3 miles of the Susquehanna.