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Trip Reports

North Branch Potomac - Black Oak Ldg to Rte 656 - ...
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     10 of us from Coastals, BRV & CCA met at Black Oak put-in on Sun, 25 Aug, at 10:00 to enjoy the 1,000 cfs release coursing down the North Branch.  Katherine Mull had worked out the complicated take-out in advance - permission, scouting - and the first thing we did was set the shuttle & return to Black Oak.  We were:  Tom McCloud. Bob Whiting, Dana Verkouteren, Anna Normand, Ginny & Gary Quam, Rich Conde, Mike Martin, and Alf Cooley.  The past fortnight's hot (90 deg) weather had broken - only 70 degrees with 60 degree water.  sunny with a slight breeze.   Picnic half way down.

     This is 9.7 miles = 3.5 hours in swiftly moving water.  You definitely need the release - Luke gauge upstream registered 1,100 cfs - and two days later it's at 280 [min 300].  The put-in is 5 miles downstream from Keyser, WVa, and although bearing the name McCoole, the village across the Po from Keyser, one drives on Rte 220 NE bound, up over the mountain.  At the bottom catch the Black Oak MD State boat landing sign leading you over the RR tracks to a delightful rustic put-in - A+ for parking ( 20 cars) and access to the water.  It's just above an abandoned truss RR bridge.  Along the river no human habitation to be seen, and a good part of the descent is in a valley separated from shuttle route US 220.  Although none of the rapids are over Cl. II, as the river descends at 9 fpm, they run for almost a quarter of the way.  Along the second half 100-foot cliffs overhang right side of the river.  Trees crowd to the sides of the rio, which is half again as wide as the Bloomington release section.   It would make a delicious family paddle, save for the 60 degree water - not good for swimming or splashing.

     The T.O. indeed was a bear - a 45 degree drag 8 feet up the river bank. then out via three 4-W-D vehicles shuttling to take 8 canoes, 1 ducky, & 1 kayak for 1/2 mile back to Route 220, where the kindly golf club operator let us park.  Without Katherine's site knowledge and preparation anf the 4-wheel drive vehicles, this delightful trip would not have been possible.
- - - -  It's two and a half hours to get up there from DC - Put-in is on the MD shore 5 miles below Keyser, WV.   Katherine commented on the lack of sediments and clinging industrial mud from the now closed Westvaco paper mill.

Page 72 in Gertler for niggling purists like John Snitzer.


 
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