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Trip Reports

“One of the 23 best river trips ever” Conde Nast T...
John Snitzer

1 October 2023 GW Canal Loop. LF=2.99’, warm and sunny, no wind.

“A whitewater tour de force” NY times

“Glorious day on the river” London Review

“One of the 23 best river trips ever” Conde Nast Traveler


We had a cast of thousands, or 17 anyway for the Sunday GW loop trip. In K-1s: John S., Dean, Natalie, Hildy, Pam, Barb, Gordy, Diane H., Temmy, Mikey B., Beth, Toni B.; in OC-1s: Alan G., Gary and Ginny Q.; and in a tandem inflatable: Tim and Monica. All paddled elegantly. After the mental tension of whether Congressional fumbling would close off our river to us, it was a joy to get on the water. The silt from last weekend’s storm has settled and the river was clear. October 1 was the kind of warm and sunny fall weather that comes to mind when you think of the perfect autumn day.

Your author noted three things about the day’s trip. First, we had a fine example of foliar fruit flagging as the Virginia creeper in the still green treetops has turned burgundy and scarlet. Some plants do this to signal to wildlife that their fruit is ripe and tasty and that it is time to distribute seeds. Similarly flashy displays can be seen on humans in social settings.

Next, we again had white birds that have the same conformation as great blue herons, are about two thirds the size, and are pure, bright white. I had seen them recently and asked a birder what they might be and was told I needed to know the color of bill and legs for a positive ID. I can report a yellow bill and black legs. I don’t recall seeing these before this year. They are a graceful addition to the local wildlife. 10/2, species confirmed as an egret by Alan. No suggestions on which flavor. There are several.

 Mikey lamented the elimination of the trip back up the canal due to NPS dithering and delay and wondered how the famous turtles there were doing in the low water without us there to monitor them. Perhaps we need a Sunday morning walk or bike ride on the towpath.

And finally, the humble GW canal is a fine place to improve whitewater skills. As TC, I had suggested that seeking out tight eddies and difficult ferries on easy whitewater was a good way to improve paddling technique and conditioning. Many took this advice to heart and Barb and Beth were observed sharing their expertise on the river. 

I was part of a discussion of mushrooms. Apparently, it is easy to buy mushroom culture of some sort and inject it into logs, woodchips, or bales of straw to grow your own. There might be a possibility of raising your own truffles under the right trees. I have a hundred extra bales of straw if any would like to give it a try. Recipe follows.

Fall mushroom soup

3 pounds of fresh mushrooms, 2 or 3 different kinds, e.g. shiitake, creminis, chanterelles, and white button, sliced. Leave the biggest ones chunky

2 T Butter and, slightly more olive oil

Allium: yellow onions, shallots, garlic. Sliced and chopped. Two of the three recommended

1C dry wine--red or white

Flour, salt and pepper, chopped fresh parsley

2t “Better than Bullion” if desired

1 C cream or half and half

2 more T butter

Sauté the onions and garlic gently in the butter and olive oil, add the sliced mushrooms with S&P, cook until moderately browned. Taste and adjust the S&P. Add 4 T flour (or some other starch to avoid gluten), Stir and sauté until the flour disappears into the oil and browns.  Add the wine and stir. Add water to cover and cook 20 minutes. Add chopped parsley (lots) & the cream, add the final 2T of butter and heat to warm. You want little bubbles of butter with parsley and black pepper floating on top. Serve with crusty bread and a green salad.

Alan Gale

Note that the near river-wide tree blocking the GW described by prior reports as being located at the first bend has been removed. Also check the CCA FB page for a short video of the group paddling Diagonal Rapids.

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