Roads Rivers and Trails

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Tag Archives: Get Outside!


Outdoor Adventure Clubs

The Green Umbrella, The Ohio River Way, and Paddlefest

In 2011, RRT became corporate sponsors and donors for the Ohio River Way. At the time, the Ohio River Way was also the organizing group behind the Ohio River Paddlefest. Paddlefest is the premier paddling event in the Midwest and sees over 2,000 people paddle their way down the Ohio River. RRT remains a partner and financial sponsor for Paddlefest still today. The Ohio River Way was also the leadership behind the Tri-State Guide to the Outdoors, a yearly free publication that highlights the areas outdoor recreation.

Later, the Ohio River Way would be operated as part of the Green Umbrella, a not-for-profit that aims at making Cincinnati one of the 10 most sustainable metro areas by 2020. RRT continued their financial support for the Green Umbrella and their sponsorship of Paddlefest. In 2014 and 2015, RRT donated their efforts to help make the Guide to the Outdoors publication possible. RRT owner Emily became one of the largest content contributors and organizers for the magazine and would see it reach new heights. The Green Umbrella would also host the Great Outdoor Weekend across the tri-state providing over a 100 free opportunities to get outside and experience something new, look for this years details here. Since 2012, RRT has sponsored the event and often hosted a free event for participants.

Meanwhile another organization was getting started: the Outdoor Adventure Clubs were formed in 2013 with RRT being one of their very first cooperating partners. The OAC is directed at getting more underserved students into nature by providing free school-based outdoor recreation, education, and conservation opportunities for urban teens. RRT immediately started working with the group, showing up to schools to promote the new club and travelling to different schools to present to club members and get them excited and prepared for outdoor events. RRT has also helped to lead local hiking trips for the inner city youth in the club. Starting in 2017 we’ve began co-sponsoring WVXU radio spots with OAC to raise awareness and fundraising efforts.

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Working with Columbia we were able to secure a grant for the OAC in early 2017 totaling $5,000 of equipment and financing. In April of 2017 we hosted our first annual Fashion Show Fundraising event with Fifty West Brewery to benefit the OAC and raised almost $1,500 and our efforts were doubled in 2018 to raise $3,000!  Today, we continue to be financial sponsors, but also help with gear donations for the club’s events. If you have old outdoor equipment or clothing, please consider donating it to the club through RRT. Any donation is rewarded with a 10% discount on any same day purchases. Look for RRT to join with the OAC through out the year for some significant raffle donations as well; Support the OAC and test your luck with a different outdoor package every month including RRT packages worth hundreds of dollars!

The OAC also adopted Paddlefest for 2016 and looks to expand their outreach and programs. The OAC continues to improve the lives and outlook for hundreds of area youth. Please consider supporting their efforts anyway you can. For more information visit them at the link below.

Outdoor Adventure Clubs

Read “The Ohio River Way Paddlefest” Blog

Back to Community Involvement Page

Mt. Rogers Loop

 

Trip Report

Mt. Rogers Loop – Virginia

Trip report by Kayla “Clover” McKinney.

 

Date: Mid-May 2015

Conditions: Warm, sunny, breezy, mid-70sF during day, mid-50’s at night, some rain at night.

Trip Length: 3 days, 2 nights

Mileage: 18.1 miles

Highlights: Wild ponies, tallest point in Virginia, beautiful mountain vistas, Appalachian Trail, rhododendron forests.

Distance from Cincinnati: ~6 hours by vehicle

Directions: I-81 S, exit 45 in Marion, head south on VA 16, passing by the Mount Rogers National Recreational Area Visitor Center in 6.1 miles. Continue for another 11.2 miles to Troutdale, then turn right onto VA 603. The Trail Head parking is identified by a small brown sign on the right 5.7 miles down (pictured below.) This sign is easy to miss, so watch your odometer.

sign

Description: The beauty of southern Virginia cannot be easily summarized in words and on this hike, you get not only that, but views into the ridges of North Carolina as well. This hike begins with almost immediate elevation gain as you follow the Mt. Rogers Trail up to the ridge line where it meets up with the AT. Keep trucking! It will be worth it, believe me. As you crest the ridge, the world below opens up and the rest of the hike is stunning view after stunning view of the sparsely populated, rolling landscape. Summit Mt. Rogers and you’ve reached Virginia’s highest point at 5,729 feet. You will run into groups of wild ponies along the trail. Please do not feed the horses, but they are very friendly and will pose for pictures. Stay the night at the Thomas Knob Shelter about 8 miles in for an amazing sunset or keep hiking and camp at any of the great campsites off the trail further on. As you hike, your view will be the legendary Grayson Highlands before dropping down from the ridge, down through the Fairwood Valley, and finally looping back to your car.

The trails: Parking Lot -> Mt. Rogers trail -> Appalachian Trail -> Side Trail to Mt. Rogers Summit -> Appalachian Trail -> Pine Mountain Trail  -> Lewis Fork Trail -> Mt. Rogers Trail  Parking Lot.

Water: Water was somewhat scarce on this trip. I packed in about 3.5L of water: a 2.5L reservoir and a 1L Nalgene water bottle. There is a stream off the Lewis Fork Trail, approximately 1.5 miles off the Mt. Rogers Trail in case of emergencies. The next water source is at the Thomas Knobb Shelter, 7.6 miles from the Trail Head, and the location of the first night. There is also a small stream approximately 10 miles from the Trail Head along the Appalachian Trail.

summit

trail

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Reconnecting Children with Nature

In today’s technologically driven world, children are spending more and more of their time in front of screens and less time in nature. Children’s pastimes are spent more with video games, TV, laptops, iPads, iPhones, etc. This means less time kicking the ball, running around, climbing trees, and less time spent in what many consider a quintessential childhood experience.

“We’ve gradually allowed exploratory experiences outdoors to be traded for indoor, largely sedentary experiences that depend on learning tools imagined and manufactured by humans.” Evan McGown, author of Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature.

The term Nature Deficit Disorder, coined by Richard Louv (author of The Last Child in the Woods), describes the physical and mental consequences of a lack of exposure to nature, particularly in developing children. These consequences include obesity, anxiety, depression, ADD, and ADHD, among other mental and physical disorders. Exposure to and the understanding of nature is vital to a child’s developing mind. Nature is a source of primary learning, and there are many skills and character building attributes that one acquires through exposure to the outdoors.

Children learn both self-reliance and teamwork, stillness and a sense of adventure, self-awareness and compassion from unstructured play in nature. It bolsters their imagination, confidence, resourcefulness, sense of scale, mental and physical strength, and respect for the world around them.

These are not skills that children typically learn hunched over on a couch, staring into a screen. Yet it is these attributes that create well-rounded, happy people.

The American Academy of Pediatrics states that, “Play, especially free play, is essential to development, as it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social and emotional well-being of children and youth.” Yet free play hardly exists in a child’s day to day life. Nature is the best place to allow a child to play freely, and unstructured in a way that inspires their imagination and growth.

But what if you’re unmotivated, scared or just unaware of being outside? This is the reality for many children nowadays. Going outside can be foreign, uncomfortable, and scary. It’s not air conditioned and there are too many bugs. They need strong role models to push them to turn off the screen and go outside. It is best to expose children to the great outdoors early and often. But if it’s too late for you to do this, then consider other options. First, be excited yourself. Plan family trips. Go for walks. It doesn’t have to be a grandiose backpacking expedition; any outside time is valuable. Let your kids bring their friends, so that they can run off with them and have fun.

Encourage them to explore and to have unstructured play. Try to relax and let them explore and be rambunctious.

Consider changing your blogphoto2routines. Could you do what you’re already doing outside? Homework, dinner, reading, relaxation: all of these things can be done comfortably outside in decent weather. Start small. Incorporating nature into your daily life requires a fundamental switch in how you prioritize your time.

“You should sit outside for 20 minutes a day… unless you’re busy, then you should sit for an hour.” – Zen Proverb

Many children, and their parents, teachers, family members and other adult figures, no longer know how to delegate and spend time in nature. It is essential to prioritize time outside every day. It’s as if it is wired in our brains that we do not have time for nature in our routines. In reality, you probably have more time than you think. If you have time to watch Netflix for an hour, then you have time to go for a walk through the local woods. You don’t have to sign your child up for a wilderness summer camp or Scouts if you’re not ready for these commitments. There are plenty of local, more convenient options.

 There is no shortage of activities to do and places to go outside. There are many programs, activities, places and things to do with your children outside in Cincinnati, as well as within a several hour radius of the area. Southwest Ohio is rich in parks and green spaces, as well as miles upon miles of rivers and lakes to explore. Go somewhere new, find places you love to return to over and over again.

Places to Go:

The Cincinnati Nature Center in Milford is a great place to start. 1,025 acres of Eastern deciduous forests with fields, streams and ponds in Rowe woods is an excellent place to hike and spend the day with family. They also have events, a playscape, and a Nature Preschool. The CNC Nature Preschool is for children ages 3-5 years old, where “direct experience in nature is the foundation for our curriculum that is based on Early Learning Content Standards and developmentally appropriate practices.” For more information and rates, visit cincynature.org.

There are many great parks around Cincinnati as well, and to find an unexplored park near you, visit cincinnatiparks.com.

The Little Miami River is a great, calm river to explore with children. There are many liveries in the area which rent out canoes and kayaks as well as providing shuttle services. Check out Mariemont Livery, Loveland Canoe and Kayak, Scenic River Canoe, Morgan’s Canoe or many others for information and rates.

For longer trips, check out Hocking Hills State Park in Logan, Ohio, Red River Gorge in Kentucky, Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee/North Carolina, sections of the Appalachian Trail, and countless other options just a short drive away. If you ever need help with trip dreaming and planning, visit the shop and any of us would be more than willing to help you out.

Book Recommendations: 

For more information on local trails, check out the book 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Cincinnati, by Tamara York, which we always have in stock in the shop.

Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv is the inspiration for this blog and is a great book for understanding the fundamentals and importance of nature to a child’s development.

Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature by Jon Young, Ellen Haas and Evan McGown is an excellent resource which features specific nature activities and games to inspire connection with nature through free play and sense-oriented activities. Richard Louv said, “this is good medicine for nature-deficit disorder. Coyote’s Guide should become an essential resource for anyone who wants to revive their sense of kinship with nature but needs some help.”

The Best Tent Camping in Ohio by Robert Loewndick and The Best Tent Camping in Kentucky by Johhny Molloy have many good examples of good tent camping for the whole family.

Resource Guides:

There are several comprehensive outdoor guides for the Cincinnati Area. Check out Green Umbrella, a National Sustainability Alliance that seeks to organize events in one comprehensive place.   They promote many outdoor events that are fun for the whole family. For more information, visit greenumbrella.org.

Meet Me Outdoors is a place to find year-round outdoor recreation and nature activities in the tri-state area. They publish an annual magazine which features local activities including places to hike, fish, swim, paddle and backpack. We also always have this in stock (it’s free) at the shop! Meetmeoutdoors.com.

Ohio Leave No Child Inside, ohiolnci.org, is a movement dedicated to getting children outdoors every day.

For a list of local day camps for children, visit cincinnatifamilymagazine.com/family-fun/summer-camp-2015-preview for a list of summer camp opportunities created this year by Sherry Hang.

Resource Link List:

Childrenandnature.org

Cincinnatiparks.com

Cincynature.org

Greenumbrella.org

Meetmeoutdoors.com

Ohiolnci.org

These resources are just the start. They are meant more to inspire and help start you upon a connection with nature and outdoor play. There are many more opportunities left unlisted, places to explore and things to do out there. It’s time to turn off the screens, step outside and explore!

“We don’t intend to simply provide more ‘recipes’ for nature connection – instead we want to help you learn how to cook.” – Evan McGown, from Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature.

lilbbeli

Eli “Shinbone” Staggs as a youngin’ with his father.

21 Things I Wish I Knew on My First Backpacking Trip

By Kayla McKinney

We all remember our first time out there. The first time we strapped up, laced up those boots, and set off for what was supposed to be a rewarding, life-changing event. Only…the pack was so heavy, you smelled for days, and you just felt so unprepared. Someone told you what to expect, but you didn’t really know. It’s only after we experience mistakes that we learn from them and this is especially true for backpacking. But that doesn’t mean you can’t look for advice from those who have been there before.

Below is a list compiled by some friends and me as a memento of what we wish we knew before our very first backpacking trip.

  1. You don’t need 4 pairs of pants.
    1. If you have the right pants, you should be able to wear the same pair for several days in a row. You might not even need two pairs of pants, realistically. The idea is to lighten your pack by only bringing what is necessary.
  2. Cotton is Rotten/Cotton Kills.
    1. Cotton will pull heat from your body if it’s wet. It will smell horribly and won’t dry very quickly. It will chafe and you will be uncomfortable. This includes your favorite pair of jeans and your snuggly soft hoodie. Save them for the city.
  3. There’s no point in bringing razors. You’re not going to shave out there.
    1. Backpacking is not a beauty pageant. Who are you trying to impress? To tell the truth, you can leave the deodorant in the car as well (but don’t forget your toothpaste!)DSC_0194
  4. “There’s no such thing as bad weather! Your discontent is due to improper gear!” – John Ferree
    1. Good gear is important. You don’t have to go overboard, but you want gear that holds up to the elements. Different gear is appropriate in different situations. Gear can be the difference between staying and leaving, a good time and a bad time, or sometimes even life and death.
  5. Footwear is the most important piece of gear you have.
    1. When backpacking, keeping your feet happy is rule number one. A good pair of hiking shoes or boots coupled with merino wool socks will make a world of difference. The soles on these shoes are designed to protect you from rock bruising and support the muscles in your feet differently than other shoes. Merino wool wicks sweat, prevents blisters, and is anti-microbial. If there is one piece of gear that will make all of the difference, it is proper footwear.
  6. “They’ve started making lighter weight tents since 1994 when I bought mine.”– Aaron Boyd
    1. They’ve started making lighter weight versions of nearly everything. Sometimes it’s really worth it to upgrade your gear. These days, you can turn your 50 lb. pack into a 25 lb. pack without sacrificing much of anything.
  7. Modern backpacks come in various sizes and are adjustable to fit the contours of your body.
    1. Everyone is shaped differently, whether it is torso length, hip width, or shoulder girth. Backpacks can and should be customized to fit your body appropriately. Look to someone who knows what they are doing to help you be as comfortable as possible with your bag on. If you borrowed a bag, make sure it is the right size and ask your friend or local outfitter to help you to adjust it to fit you specifically.
  8. “Bring food you like! 7 days of oatmeal for breakfast is better when you end the night with a tasty dinner.” – Todd Cline
    1. Vary your snacks as well. Save something special for a hard day to reward your accomplishments.
  9. You’re going to eat everything you have. Bring more food than you think you’ll need.
    1. Once again, hiking takes a lot of energy, so be mindful and put in the fuel you need so that you’re not running on fumes all day. A long distance hiker can burn up to 5,000 calories a day. Skip low-cal, low-fat foods. Calories and fat are code words for energy.
  10. There’s no bathroom.
    1. No bathroom for days.
  11. If you’re going to use leaves as TP, plan ahead. Make sure there are appropriate leaves where you’re going.
    1. Sometimes I grab nice leaves as I walk past them knowing that they will be useful later. You want large, smooth, and abundant leaves.
  12. Bring sunscreen.
    1. If you are outside all day, the sun will burn you. This goes especially for times when you’re above tree line, right up in the sun’s business. Sleeping in a sleeping bag is terrible if you are sunburnt.
  13. “…it’s good to hike early in the morning, but not to be first on the trail. Spider web clearing is a creepy job.”– TJStatt
    1. If you do have the job of being first in line, first thing in the morning, consider waving a stick in front of you as you walk to clear the spider webs. Trekking poles work great. If you’re afraid of spiders, perhaps let someone else lead.
  14. Marmots are cute, but can be evil. Same goes for mice, raccoons, porcupines and chipmunks.
    1. If you let them, they’ll eat everything. Your food, socks, hip belts, etc.
  15. Snakes, bears and other dangerous animals rarely want anything to do with you.DSC_0610
    1. You are a bear’s only predator. They want to be far away from you. Let them be and obey proper bear country safety tips.
    2. Most snake bites occur when the animal is handled. Give them space and they’ll give you space.
  16. Waking up to watch the sunrise is always worth it no matter how cold and tired you are.
    1. The sun will warm your body and getting an early start will ensure that you enjoy all that nature has to offer. Every day starts with a sunrise. Enjoy them.
  17. Never try to cross an exposed ridge or summit after noon if possible.
    1. Afternoon storms are the real deal and should not be taken lightly. Never underestimate a big cloud. Things can escalate quickly and there’s little to no protection up above tree line.
  18. It is worth it to climb out of your tent and urinate in the middle of the night.
    1. You will sleep better. You will be warmer not having to keep waste fluid at body temperature all night. Plus, you will get the chance to appreciate the night sky in all of its glory.
  19. “Carrying firewood into the forest is unnecessary weight.” – KurtGaerther
    1. Surprisingly not as obvious as it should be: there’s usually a lot of dead wood in the forest (and only use dead wood! Live, green wood doesn’t burn well). Pay attention to the regulations in place if you plan on building a fire. Also note that bringing in firewood from another area can spread parasites and is forbidden in many states.
  20. Duct tape is extremely useful.
    1. You can repair gear, prevent blisters, make a belt, and find a hundred other uses. Wrap it around your water bottle or trekking poles to save room. It is a multifunctional tool.
  21. Cameras will never do it justice.
    1. If you really want someone to see the place, take them there.

Nobody knows it all. Even the most experienced backpacker makes mistakes now and then. Despite all the things it seems like you need to know before you go, go anyway without knowing it all. Take chances and learn from your mistakes. The only thing you really need to know is that it’s always worth it.

RRT’s Live Inventory now on Locally.com

Down and Dirty: How to Clean Your Down Gear

Greetings RRT Adventurers! The Bear here with another gear update.

We know that the thought of your down gear is probably the last thing on your mind in the dead of summer, but that is precisely why we thought it would make for a good blog topic. We neglect our gear for months, cramming it into a closet, bag or stuff sack until we need it in the colder months and climes. What better time than now to give your down some TLC than when you know for sure you won’t need it immediately.

The following directions are geared mainly toward sleeping bags, as they are normally the garment we need to clean most often. However, down cleaning rules apply to any down garment (puffies, etc.) and will keep your gear feeling like it did the first day you bought it for years to come.

Before we dive into the bathtub of down-wash, let’s cover a few basics. First, make sure you have a down drying bag handy for any piece. Most jackets don’t come with a laundry bag, so keep a cotton pillow case around to use in its place. Remember to tie it shut before throwing it in the dryer. Second, if you notice your plumules (down feathers) sticking out of the garment, make sure not to pull them out. You are increasing the diameter of the hole each time you pull one out, and it is the nature of a down garment to have at least a few quills poking through. Instead, grab the protruding culprit from the other side of the garment, like the inside sleeve or bag liner, and pull them bag into the baffles. Finally, regarding storage, many sleeping bags and garments don’t come with store sacks. Kelty sleeping bags, for instance, come with a stuff sack but no storage sack while Sea to Summit and Big Agnes come with both. This isn’t an issue; it just means you need to store in hanging up. This will prolong the life of the bag and/or garment by allowing the down to maintain its loft.

Now, onto the nitty gritty…

Hand-washing

1. Fill tub with water.

2. Soak down garment in tub.

3. Pour an amount of down wash into the water; different washes will have different measured amounts, be sure to consult the specific wash you are using.

4. If bag or garment is heavily soiled, let it soak for up to an hour so the down wash can work its way through the soiled fabrics and plumules.

5. GENTLY knead the bag or garment from top to bottom while it is still submerged in the water. The goal here is to press loose dirt particles through the cloth into the water. Depending on the amount of grime, you may need to repeat this process a couple times. DO NOT pick the bag or garment up while it is wet.

Down companies have many variations on filling their products, but they are typically all done via a wand blowing down into the baffles, one by one, until the garment is full. Down, when it’s dry and fully lofted (fluffy) cannot push back through the openings the manufacture used to fill them. However, when wet (as you have seen in our dry down vs. standard down video on YouTube), down clumps together, and gravity and/or centrifugal force will pull it through the baffle openings. This results in uneven distribution as your down dries, sometimes in whole baffles being empty. So how do you avoid this?

6. Drain the tub, press the garment flat against the floor of the tub and roll it tight toward the drain.

What you will be accomplishing here is flattening the down inside the garment while simultaneously wringing the water out. This flattened down will not move, so long as you keep tension on the rolled garment. Think of it like wringing out a rag; the tighter you squeeze it, the more water it sheds. Be sure not to let up on it when you move to the next step.

7. Take the still coiled-up garment out of the tub and place it immediately in the laundry bag supplied with your down bag.

DO NOT dry your bag without one of these laundry bags. Gravity + Loose, Wet Down (even the compacted stuff mentioned above) + rapidly spinning cylinder = bad news. Set the drier to medium, and make sure to periodically stop the cycle and break up clumps from the washing process. Keep it in the bag, dry it until it is completely dry, like hot, fluffy dry. No moisture. Period.

8. You’re done! You know that awesome feeling you get from clean sheets? Exactly. If you’re going to store it, put it back in its storage sack (the bag you bought it in.) Otherwise, cram that thing back in your sleeping bag compartment and get yourself outside!

***

Machine Washing

DO NOT USE A TOP LOADING WASHER!!

Trust us on this one, front-loading only.

1. Follow the same rules for soaking as in hand-washing, spot treat directly with down wash to heavily soiled or stained areas and soak for up to an hour.

 

2. Turn the garment inside out prior to washing. Water will push through the lining material on the inside of the bag or garment more easily than it will through the shell as the shell is designed to be water repellent. Hence, if it won’t let water in, it won’t let water out either.

 

3. Use the normal, cold water cycle, with a cold water rinse

 

4. Run through a complete second cycle without soap. This will make sure the soap has completely washed out.

 

5. Wring as much water out of the bag as possible before attempting to pull it out of the washer.

Push and squeeze it into the bottom of the drum a few times; just make sure the bag isn’t sopping wet when you take it out of the washer. The baffles are sewn on with either a single or up to a triple stitch per baffle, but neither the thread nor sewing techniques are designed to support suspended weight. If you’ve picked up wet clothing, you know how drastically different the weights are. Water is heavy.

6. Follow same steps for drying as hand-washing. Wring out, put in drying bag, hot and fluffy, etc.

There you have it! Now, stop reading and go outside!

 

More Gear Reviews?     Next

Water Safety Along the Little Miami (and Surrounding Rivers) – Part Three

As in all things educational, you had to begin somewhere, but in a world so full of information, where does one start? Look no further! We have compiled a list of books and local experts (the same ones we pester for our information) that will serve you well throughout life.

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Books – All books are available at Roads, Rivers and Trails.

Kayak: A New Frontier

by William McNealy

ISBN: 0897325893

Sea Kayaking: Safety and Rescue

by John Lull

ISBN: 9780899974767

Boundary Waters Canoe Area: Eastern Region

by Robert Beymer and Louis Dzierzak

ISBN: 9780899974613

Canoeing and Kayaking Ohio’s Streams

by Rick Combs and Steve Gillen

ISBN: 0881502529

The Northern Forest Canoe Trail

by The Northern Forest Canoe Trail, Inc.

ISBN: 9781594850615

A Canoeing and Kayaking Guide to Kentucky: Fifth Edition

by Bob Sehlinger and Johnny Molloy

ISBN: 9780897325653

 

Local Liveries: Your (and our) source for the most up to date information and some pretty kick-ass river-fun-time! Liveries are listed north to south along the Little Miami.

Morgan’s Outdoor Adventure

Ft. Ancient Canoe Livery

5701 St. Rt. 350

Oregonia, OH 45054

1-800-WE-CANOE

www.morganscanoe.com

 

Green Acres Canoe and Kayak

10465 Suspension Bridge Rd

Harrison, OH 45030

513-353-4770

www.greenacrescanoe.com

 

Little Miami Canoe

219 Mill (SR 123)

Morrow, OH 45152

513-899-3616

www.littlemiamicanoe.com

 

Loveland Canoe and Kayak

200 Crutchfield Place

Loveland, OH 45140

513-683-4611

www.lovelandcanoe.com

 

Scenic River Excursions

4595 Roundbottom Rd

Cincinnati, OH 45244

513-576-9000

www.scenicrivercanoe.com

 

Mariemont Livery

7625 Wooster Pike

Cincinnati, OH 45227

513-479-0337

www.mariemontlivery.com

 

Water Safety Along the Little Miami (and Surrounding Rivers) – Part Two

Today’s topic will be water safety gear, but first a PSA…

Floodwater is NOT Whitewater

We’ve all heard the awesome stories (or even lived them ourselves) about the instant rock-star status involved in running whitewater. Just you, your boat of choice, a helmet, life jacket and a prayer against the awesome power of the river! Hoo-rah! We’ve taken trips out to the New River, the Gauley or any of the hundreds of other whitewater rivers in the U.S. and come back with some great memories. Now you’re working again, kids have games and recitals, in-laws are visiting, and you really need a time-out. It rained really hard a few days ago and the river is up but the sun’s out now and you want some action. It only stands to reason that fast-moving water is fast-moving water, no matter where you go, right?

Wrong!

In whitewater, it’s just you and the river (and rocks.) With a flooded river, even the featureless albeit quick calm of anything above seven feet, you have to contend with uprooted trees, vegetation and other miscellaneous out-wash come down the banks with the rain. Furthermore, while the river may not initially tear up a grove of trees, if you find yourself on the water, it will carry you into said grove of trees. Roots and debris act as “strainers,” a collection of fallen branches or other vegetation which will catch a kayaker up while the river keeps them pinned. Needless to say, this isn’t a position anyone wants to be in, seasoned or fledgling. In addition to this, the river never loses steam. One cubic foot of moving water is roughly 69 lbs of pressure. If we go back to our original 1,700 CFS, that equates to 106,080 lbs of force per second that never stops pushing. As in almost every case, common sense will help you throughout the decision-making process. If it is beyond your comfort zone, either don’t do it or find someone who is better versed than you are in these matters to guide you.

***

PFDs – What Floats your Boat?

One of the key components to water safety is the Personal Floatation Device (PFD), growing up, these were simply called life jackets. They came in bright orange, sandwiched their wearer between a huge layer of foam and made it short of impossible to move either your arms or torso. Luckily for the world of water sports, the PFD has seen a redesign and revitalization in the realms of mobility while still maintaining their safety. The U.S. Coast Guard provides the following table to showcase the classes of PFDs:

Type PFDs

Minimum Adult Buoyancy

in Pounds (Newtons)

I – Inflatable

33.0 (150)

I – Buoyant Foam or Kapok

22.0 (100)

II – Inflatable

33.0 (150)

II – Buoyant Foam or Kapok

15.5 (70)

III – Inflatable

22.0 (100)

III – Buoyant Foam

15.5 (70)

IV – Ring Buoys

16.5 (75)

IV – Boat Cushions

18.0 (82)

V – Hybrid Inflatables

22.0 (Fully inflated) (100)
7.5 (Deflated) (34)

V – Special Use Device – Inflatable

22.0 to 34.0 (100 to 155)

V – Special Use Device – Buoyant Foam

15.5 to 22.0 (70 to 100)

 

The human body is naturally buoyant, considering we are 65 to 75% water, and our bodyweight doesn’t apply in the water as much as you may believe. In the above chart, the weights are in addition to the buoyancy of our bodies. For instance, in the Little Miami, PFDs up to a Class III rating are sufficient.  According to the chart above, that is only an additional 15.5 to 20 lbs of buoyancy, how can that be? Think back to the days of summer when you were a kid. No matter how deep you tried to dive in the pool, it was harder and harder to reach the bottom. When you fill your lungs with air, you are literally turning yourself into a flotation device! We are designed to float from birth, the PFD just gives us a little more pick-up.

Foam vs. Inflatable

Reading the chart, one would be inclined to grab an inflatable. Inflatables are effective, but their one Achilles heel is leaking. In the Little Miami area, the river is full of jagged corners, sticks, rocks and other miscellaneous hazards that would present an issue to inflatables. Foam may break down over time but we’re talking decades, and it can take a beating the likes of which an inflatable would never survive. Choose which PFD you will, so long as you choose one and keep it on during your trek. We’ve seen, too often, the jacket strapped into the boat and that boat go floating away down a wave-train sans paddler. You don’t want to end up in this situation (again.)

Helmets!

For the love of all things wet, if we haven’t made the power of the river apparent by now, I’m not sure we can. It’s really simple; you wear a helmet for everything from rollerblading to cross-country motorcycle touring, why would you not do the same for kayaking/canoeing? Your skull can take anywhere from 15 to 170 lbs of force before it cracks, depending on where and how you are hit. How many pounds of force are in the river? Get the picture? Put a helmet on.

Part three: at the feet of the masters, click here

Water Safety Along the Little Miami (and Surrounding Rivers) – Part One

Charlie Foxtrot Sierra

When is it safe to paddle? It’s not that simple.

Most of us are used to seeing the river gauges or hearing on the news that the river is cresting at X feet. What you rarely ever hear, and what all professional liveries go by, is the river’s CFS measurement. CFS stands for Cubic Feet per Second. You can think of CFS as the velocity of the river flow. For anyone who has ever been out on a kayak or canoe trip with the assumption that you will have two solid hours of fun, only to end up at your take-out point 40 minutes later, you have CFS to thank for that.

On the Little Miami and many of our other local rivers, a CFS of 1,700 or higher is a red flag. 1,700 CFS means the water is moving at 1,700 cubic feet per second. I know what you’re thinking; that last sentence may well have been in Greek for all the sense it makes. So let’s break this down into manageable terms, something we can all relate to: garden hoses. “A typical garden hose provides about 3 gallons per minute…one cfs is equivalent to 150 garden hoses being sprayed at the same time.” 150 garden hoses spraying full blast multiplied by 1,700 is…255,000 garden hoses. Understand now why our local river guides close above that?

Well Dam, Sam

“Okay, so 255,000 garden hoses at once is a lot of force, but I just saw the river gauge read in well below that, and I called to find out if we can go out this evening after dinner, but they still told me no. What’s up?”

On top of CFS, let’s bring in another factor we must acknowledge, the release of dams in the area. I spoke with a representative for the USACE at Caesars Creek regarding the protocol for damn release, and this is what he had to say: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers control the waters of both East Fork and Caesar’s Creek dams; using the “Guide Curve,” USACE determines water release from their lakes via dams based on several constantly changing factors (how high the lake is, stream gauges from Spring Valley in the north and Milford in the south, how much rain is in the forecast, what the temperature of the river is, etc.) Readings go to NOAA and USGS to issue various announcements, many are familiar with the flood advisories in our area. When the water level is becoming dangerous to the surrounding environment and/or the area is expecting a large quantity of rain that will endanger the surrounding environment, they release into the Little Miami to counteract what will inevitably be a large surplus of groundwater into the lakes. Caesar Creek is usually sitting around 2,830 acres of water, but in a potential flood threat, it can hold up to 6,110 acres of water.

Depending on the location, it will take anywhere from four to eleven hours to raise the river levels/increase the CFS. If, for instance, you are leaving out of the Morgan’s livery area (Northern Cincinnati) and the USACE releases Caesar Creek, it will take four hours to reach you, then up to another four to seven hours to reach the lower liveries. East Fork is further south, and it will be effect the liveries nearby in a similar time frame. As such, it will depend on the livery or put-in point, time frame and forecast to determine whether you should hit the water or not.

Part two: we discuss various safety protocol on the river, click here

RRT Tent Series

Roads, Rivers and Trails is going to be putting together an extensive video library of the products in our stores. This is our tent series, which will be showcasing our tent selection for you! Our video library consists of specifications for each tent including various weights, space availability and how they look set up.

The video series will take the form of playlists on YouTube. So if you wish to view a specific tent, click the YouTube icon in the bottom right of the video screen and scroll through the videos on the playlist. Of course, if you’d like to watch the whole series at once, we certainly won’t hold that against you!