Trip Report - Blazing Down the Gunpowder

Trip Report - Blazing Down the Gunpowder

Post by Mike McCr » Wed, 04 Aug 2004 02:05:19

Gunpowder River, north Baltimore County, Maryland
Masemore Rd to Sparks Rd 8/1/04
OC1 Brian Sill, Mike McCrea

I had received an invitation to join a Greater Baltimore Canoe Club
run down a section of the Gunpowder, but wanted to fit in an earlier
start and a longer run, so a phone call to Brian produced a willing
partner. A willing and eager partner, as he was waiting at the take
out when I arrived and we were on the water at the Masemore put in
before 8:00.

On the water in the rain. The deluge. It had been raining all night
and was coming down in drops the size of horned toads. A true gully
washer, as the usually crystal clear Gunpower ran chocolate brown with
an unending train of leaf litter and twiggy debris flowing down the
main current line.

The river was verging on pushy - the usually flat sections were fast,
the usually fast sections didn't allow much time for second chances or
decision making and the outside of all of the turns were standing wave
trains - woo hoo, it was fun.

It's all fun and games til someone piles up in a tight corner and
their canoe flips. I won't say who that someone was, but I will note
that Brian is skilled at fast water solo canoe recovery and has the
rare ability to swim while holding a water filled boat with one hand
and a paddle with the other.

I should add that only my years of experience and expertise allowed
for a clean run of that section. Well, that and maybe going down the
bottom half of the rapid backwards and looking desperately over my
shoulder after misjudging an eddy fence. Shouting "Oh Crap" repeatedly
is simply my way of expressing joy and exuberance.

Since we had at that point gone all of a half mile, with 12 miles
still to come, this promised to be an exciting and event filled day.

Wrong again. That initial flip was the only mishap of the day, as we
successful threaded our way through newly appeared strainers (paddling
around the root ball end of one massive specimen via what would
normally be forest edge), skimmed down long standing wave trains,
popping in and out of eddies and blasting through the quarry rapid.

And yet, through all of that, it was a quiet day, paddling alongside
an old friend with little need for spoken conversation, where a nod,
an expression or a tilt of the head will suffice to communicate.

The rain diminished, then stopped. The sun came out. Standing and
sipping and smoking shore breaks deliberately slowed our progress, but
not enough to intersect the GBCC trip.

Just as well, I was in the mood for a quiet paddling day with an old
friend. Something that happens not often enough. Once in a blue moon
you might say.

(Unfortunately the two on-line river gauges for this section were
either broken or stuck, but gauge on the nearby tributary of Little
Falls went from 100 cfs to 800 cfs overnight)