This weekend is Tohickon Creek release. It usually happens the third weekend in March, and the first weekend in November. It is widely considered to be the unofficial start and end of the whitewater season, respectively.
It is also my favorite creek of all-time. It is fun, challenging, but not panic-inducing, and relatively short (the run itself is 4 miles, but you can make that four miles take all day because it’s a complex river with lots to dissect). I paddled today in a Shredder, which is like a small raft. These things are so FUN. You can blast through just about anything as long as you keep the it straight. Unfortunately, I did not get to take my canoe out this time. By the time we were done with our run, it was somewhat late in the day, getting colder, so there weren’t too many takers for a second run. It’s okay, it was just so nice to be out on the river.
We in the paddling community call this Tohfest, because most of the time it becomes a gigantic party where everyone camps. This year was a bit subdued, mostly because of the ill forecast of 3-5 inches of snow made for Sunday (which has been downgraded to nothing). People come from all over, as far as Virginia, to inundate this little town in Pennsylvania. So, I wouldn’t travel several hours for one day to boat either. Either way, there were plenty of people there to reconnect to, catch up, and revel in the amazing community that we paddlers have created. It’s a special bond, because things happen on the water and we are all there to help each other in those instances. I am grateful to be a part of this community that has given me so much.
So while not a gym in the traditional sense, I’m going to use it as one because it’s an all-body workout when you do it correctly, especially if you are in a whitewater canoe. Kayaking is mostly upper body, and some legs.
This was a short run of about 4.5 miles, and it wasn’t really whitewater. There were a couple of riffles, some waves, tiny bit of surfing, but nothing intense about it. I still made sure to use my legs to move the boat, do my torso rotation, and paddle on both sides of the boat. You may be asking how does canoeing have you utilizing all of those muscle groups.
An example of a bulkhead set-up. Your legs go in the cut out holes, where you carve them out as needed to fit you. It is not my picture. Photo credit: Wetnobby on Photobucket.
Whitewater canoes are not set up as your typical canoe. Some have saddles and/or thigh straps, but I had mine installed with a bulkhead set up. I love it, it was worth every penny. It allows you to use your legs, thighs specifically, to get the boat where you want it to go along with your torso. Your arms do some of the work, of course, but I know my form is off if my arms are getting tired.
There have been days where I have woken up after canoeing all day the previous day, and my legs and abs have been so sore that I was limping. Days like that, I knew I had done it right and pushed myself. This will not be the case tomorrow. I did not paddle 14 miles or 6 miles of continuous whitewater, this was just a beautiful day on the river with a friend of mine.
The river is one of my places where I reset my mind. I had not been out in a couple of weeks, and I was beginning to notice the way I was feeling because of it. Now, my mind and body are reset to tackle the challenge and task at hand. It’s go time.
I become instantly still when on the river.
Whitewater canoeing during winter. Photo by Kevin O’Neill
The river is my outlet, my passion, and my place of confidence. Everyone needs to find their own special place in life, and the river is mine.