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Trip Reports

Thu Pad - Casselman 1500 & Bloomie 1500 & Savage 6...
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   by David Cottington
Several of us have been trying to run the Lower Yough all summer.  Every time David Cottingham schedules a trip there, it rains like crazy and flows go up.  This week we had planned a 2-day paddle on the LoYo.  However, last week's rains caused flows on the LoYo to be over 9 feet earlier in the week, and about 6 feet on Thursday and Friday.  Nevertheless a hearty band consisting of Mark Brenneman, Larry Lempert, Jim Pruitt, John Snitzer, and David Cottingham threw caution to the wind and headed to the Laurel Highlands on Thursday morning.  

When we met at Myersville to dither, we quickly concluded that the best option for us was the Casselman on Thursday and we’d check gauges for Friday.  Having smart phones with access to American Whitewater and USGS websites greatly streamlined the process.  Nevertheless, we pulled out our well-worn copies of guidebooks we’ve used forever — Gertler, Davidson, and Ettinger.

Mark, Larry, John and David met Jim and his friend Wayne in Confluence.  Casselman was running a 3.5 ft (about 1500 cfs), a delightful level for practicing eddy turns and surfing.  Jim and Wayne provided great information to lead us down.  Sun was shining and it was 85, a perfect summer day in mid-September.  Several people commented that we often overlook the Casselman.  We left remarking that it, too, should be a destination river and not just a fall back when LoYo is too high.

Mark, David, and John stayed over.  We dined at the Maywood Grill on route 40.  We were fortunate that Thursday was “wing night” — darn good wings for $12.  As we pored over gauges and forecasts for Friday at dinner, we settled on the Savage if it was in the 600 cfs range and the North Branch Potomac Bloomington section as a backup.  

The Maywood Grill was good enough that we went back for breakfast on Friday.   Tony Allred met us at the Bloomington take-out Friday morning.  After checking gauges for up-to-the-minute levels, Mark, Jim, and David decided to try the Savage at 611 cfs.  Jim and Tony hit the North Branch at 1500 cfs.  We all had fun runs. One of the wonderful aspects of paddling both of these streams on weekdays at times of unscheduled flows is that both groups had the rivers to themselves.  What a real treat, not to be avoiding other boaters, or especially rafts.

 Jim kept saying that the Savage at 600 cfs is his “Goldilocks level” — high enough to have good waves and rapids but not too high to be overly pushy.  Mark and David agree with Jim’s assessment and appreciate him showing us the lines as neither Mark nor David had run the Savage in several years.

submitted by David Cottingham

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