Twelve paddlers gathered on Thursday for a somewhat rare trip down Fifteen Mile Creek. The water level was perfect (see below) and the weather was surprisingly balmy, with temperatures in the 70s. We put in below old route 40 on Fifteen Mile Creek Road, finding space for 2 cars, a pickup and a Sprinter van. The going was slow at first, with four portages in the first half mile. There were murmurs from the crew about abandoning ship and going back to the put in. I wondered if the harsh penalties for mutiny at sea applied to a Thursday Paddlers trip, but the mood soon brightened as we entered the gorge.
The remainder of the trip was beautiful and lots of fun. Strainers appeared at virtually every turn and twist of the creek, but were mostly avoidable with precise paddling, ducking, boofing, gorilla walking, and limboing. We had a few mishaps on a couple of strainers, but nothing serious. Rapids were plentiful throughout the trip, all class II. The riverside cliffs were spectacular and were covered with sedum.
After four hours on the water we reached the final portage around the low water bridge and then quickly made our way down to the confluence with the Potomac where we had parked. A few of us headed home, while the rest had dinner and drinks at Bill’s Place, right next to the takeout in Little Orleans. Paddlers were Mark, Cindy, Barb, Carrie, Jean, Gary Lisa, Tony, Wayne, John and Randy in K1s. John Sunda paddled the lone open canoe.
Water levels as noted above were pretty much ideal. All the levels were well in excess of the minimums, but at no point did it feel like too much. At the time of the put in (12:45) / takeout (4:45) Sideling Hill was 1450/2330 cfs; Town Creek was 1030/1690; Tonoloway further east was steady at 3910. It looks like we caught a mid-day bubble from an early morning thunderstorm, but the rise was not perceptible as we paddled.