Thursday, December 2, 2010

Day One

12-1-2010   0530 hrs  14 degrees C (58 F)  DAY1          

The count down is over.  Shove off day.  I woke up early to do the last minute preparations.  Got a wonderful early morning call from my partner in crime, Mary Linkevich.  "This is it, are you ready?"  "What time will you be at the Lookout?"  Maybe she was just making sure I didn't oversleep?

Then the early arrival of Jeremy Scheivert.  As he stoops through the old doorway from what is still a darkness outside.  "You got to go know".  "It sure did rain and their calling for more".  We had a few more exchanges and he finished with, "See you at the top!"

Then my longtime friend Tony Zawada called, "You aren't still going in this!"  "Why don't wait till tomorrow."  I replied, "Just a little rain, and I am on a schedule, people to meet down river."

So I departed the dry of the historic tavern and made my way up the mountain trail that many of the past had used.  I frequently take strolls in heavy rains.  It is the best time to evaluate storm water issues.  We just recently completed some trail work on this particular trail and I was seeing how it held up.  Great job seasonal staff member Drew Smith on seeing this project to completion.  Connor Mertz, David Welsh, and Ben Gangaware, all members of the the Hawk Mountain Conservation Corps. They gave this project a great boost a week ago, nice work guys!  But I did stop to examine this work during the rain and cleaned out a culvert, sorry Mary and Jeremy on the wait, as you guys well know yourselves, duty called.

Now at this point it is raining with no immediate intentions of letting up.  Electronics do not like this type of condition.  Everything is packed, double dry!  Making it inaccessible till better weather.

Crested the lookout and interacted with Mary and Jeremy.  Thanks guys for walking up there on a day of not ideal conditions.  Then parted dropping off the front of the lookout onto the Skyline Trail and then took a left.  Wet, new leaves going down a very steep slope, well you can imagine, yes, I fell down a several times.

I roughly followed the path of the old, "Slide".  The gravity rail from the mid 1800's of whose remains are very evident on the mountain top.  First person I get to see at the end of the road, Sandy Moroney!  Then quickly met by Bonnie Warner!  Thanks guys for being there, and again on a day of not such ideal conditions.  Then, flooded with WOW!  Meeting and greeting.  President Jerry Regan came looking very spiffy!  Thanks Jerry for dressing up!  Even some news folks.  That I did not expect.  It all seemed a little overwhelming at that moment.  This is not just another trek of mine, it really is a trek for many!  Cool!

Now I know folks were taking photos of me paddling under a bridge I have floated under 100 times over the years, that did not seem that special to me, BUT, all the folks on the bridge with the signs, yelling, cheering, Tom Kerr, with a horn, thanks Tom!  That was the moment, that was the photo.  But of course I did not have a camera out!  Aaaagghhhh!  So, everybody there that day, next heavy rain if we could all gather in the morning so I can capture that moment that would be great!

 With the water volume travels went quickly.  Approaching the Kernsville dam I actually felt a very warm breeze.  Ryan Beltz, Robin Fitch, and Susan Schmoyer, were waiting for my arrival.  They all helped me carry the boat around my first portage.  This is was a serious WOW moment.  During that ten minutes of moving the canoe around, we get to the bottom of the dam and BOOOOMMMM.  These gale force winds just hit us blowing dam spray into our faces, literally pushing us to the point of having to adjust our footing so we didn't blow over.  Sue with her glasses said, "I can't see."  I looked over and she is all bundled up with her glasses completely "wetted over."    After a brief exchange of appreciation and good lucks,  I added some layers because the temperature dropped instantly, and they pushed me off.  Thanks guys for that help!

Making very good time I stopped at a small village.  Tied up at a set of steps and ventured into town.  Now at this time I was very wet and had a chill.  I came across what I can only say seemed like an oasis!

Ulrich's Sandwich Shop.  I walked in and was immediately met with this wonderful warmth and aromas.  I begin to shiver, brrrrr.....  And was dripping wet with backpack on, so I started to unrobe my layers, making kind of a mess.   Made my way up to the counter asked, "where am I."  That created a level of questions.  I also ordered a large cheesteak and fries.  I did not envision spending the next 2 hours so engaged.  It was a pure joy to meet and chat with Shirley and Cliff Ulrich, owners of the shop for the past 25 years.   Cliff went on to explain his romantic river story, he wanted to do something special for their 50th wedding anniversary a few years back.  After describing the glass bottom boat and dinner cruises that you can take at various places, he created his version.  He got a boat, packed a lunch for the special day, and even managed to have a youngster from town prepared to serenade them both
with a drum from the bridge when they would pass.  Well, to Cliff's dismay, Shirley said to him on that day she did not want to get in a boat and float down the river.  Sorry Cliff!  But what is going to happen is their first visit to Hawk Mountain Sanctuary.  After presenting them some passes Shirley did promise she would take off of work one day and her and Cliff would visit.  I plan to keep them to that promise.  And HMS staff, there is a lunch retreat in our future!

In quick order I departed and arrived at my evening destination, the Leesport Lockhouse.  What another joyful arrival.  Greeted by Bonnie Bohnenblust, a volunteer with the Leesport Lockhouse Foundation.
Warm, Dry, and very cheerful.  AWESOME PLACE!
This Lockhouse was built in 1834 by the Schuylkill Navigation Company.  It served as an intergral part of canal development and community and rural life for the better part of a century.  This structure is maintained by the Leesport Lockhouse Foundation in cooperation with the Berks County Parks and Recreation Department.  It is available for rent for small gatherings.  And it was one welcome spot for this wet traveler.  And, yes, thats right, I ate again.  Beverly Miller, a very gracious host, made me of my request ham and string beans with all the trimmings, even homemade cherry pie!
 The Lockhouse then opened the doors to guests.  Ryan Strause, a historian with the foundation was available with Beverly to share tales and interpret the history of this historic treasure.  Many folks came around, thank you all again!!  I presented a gift to Hawk Mountain's new friends and invited them up in the spring to historic Schaumboch's for a barbecue.  It was a magical evening filled with
  community connection.

I completed the evening as all  travelers before me have done, I stopped in at the local "Village Tavern" to toast the days adventures and tell the tales.  Thank you Shelly Hammersly and Tony Zawada for making sure I experienced the local wares.

To quote John Wayne, "Were burning daylight!"  Got to get started down the river for my next day of discovery.

Todd Bauman


MaryLinkevich said...

Big thanks to everyone at the Leesport Lockhouse. Words can't describe how thankful we are for going above and beyond the call of duty to take care of Todd and make him feel warm and welcome. If you have a chance, the Lockhouse is open the first Saturday of every month. Please visit and leave these fine folks a donation.
Mary Linkevich

Lissa Haas said...

Awesome! This was just the start of an amazing journey. Josh and I look forward to following along with you as you do it!