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December 30, 2006 Trip
on the Conococheague Creek

Last Paddling trip of the 2006 season, December 30, 2006
Where:  Conococheague Creek from Martins Mill Bridge to Rt. 40 bridge in Hagerstown, Maryland.
Distance:  Not exactly sure...
Time:  5 1/2 hours.  Put in at 1:00, took out at 6:30
Commentary:
     For the past couple of years I have been trying to find a place on the Conococheague Creek to put in other than Rt. 40 in Hagerstown, MD.  In November, while on a drive with my oldest son (he's currently on his learners permit, trying to get the hours for his drivers license), we found this almost unmarked park, Martins Mill.  Though it was a little further north then I was looking for, it still was the perfect spot to put in. 

     My son Thomas and I put in at Martin's Mill Bridge, just outside of Greencastle, PA.  Let me add real quick,  If you're going to take this trip down to Rt. 40 in Hagerstown, MD, leave yourself plenty of time.

Martins Mill Bridge, Chambersburg, PA

Covered Bridge

We got a late start, not putting in till 1:00, our trip took us until 6:30 in the evening and would have made a perfect summer time paddling ride.  Needlessly to say, the last 1 1/2 hours of the trip was made in darkness since it is now December.  Not something I recommend when paddling on a section of water youíre not familiar with.  The temperature range was about 40 - 45 for the trip and actually pretty pleasant. The water flow was a relatively easy Class I, with only a few small islands to navigate around.   It did get a little shallow in a few spots, but we where able to navigate around those with out any difficulty, except for once, where I had to get out and pull us through for about 10 ft.  (The section was hard to see because it was getting dark.)  All in all, this was a nice leisurely trip. 
 

     There is a lot of scenery out here, not to mention all the wildlife.  I didn't see any fish, actually wasn't looking.  However, there were many places where the fishing looked pretty prime.  We spotted at least 3 different types of woodpeckers, about 20 blue herons, at least 1/2 dozen red tailed hawks, a falcon, a few owls, about 30 wild turkeys, and yes a beaver!  As Matter of fact, we spotted the beaver at first about 60 feet down stream from us.  It disappeared on us, but then as we got close to itís home it resurfaced for about 20 seconds.  Just long enough for me not to have time to get a shot in with my camera.  You see evidence of beaver in this area here and there while paddling and hiking, but it is very rare to see one, so I feel we were pretty blessed today with seeing the one beaver that we did. 

Canoe, canoeing picture
Conococheague Creek      When taking trips of several hours or longer my family and I always pack food with us.  This would be a great trip to bring a grill and a cooler along and have a cookout on one of the small islands along the way. 

     As always, think about safety on your paddling trips.  This trip, I learned my lesson once again.  Two things this time:  Make sure you have plenty of time to finish your trip in daylight.  Navigating unfamiliar water is hard enough, let alone having to do it in the dark with no light other then the moon.  The other safety consideration could have been more serious if was colder outside.  Even during the winter months when the air temperature may not be that cold - plan on it anyway.  I mentioned that one spot where I had to get out and pull us through, well, when I got out, I was still in the water and this time of the year its cold.  I ended up getting wet to my knees when it was all said and done with.  I really should have been wearing hip waders of some sort to keep my feet and legs dry...

I am anxiously looking forward to taking this trip again, especially in the late spring and summer months, and am really considering that cook out idea that I mentioned earlier!

   

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