PA - Lake Aldred - 2009/04/18 - 9.8 Miles



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Mid April paddle on the pool between Safe Harbor and Holtwood dams on the Susquehanna River on an overcast day.







It was a grey day in April. The weather had warmed even though the water had not. So it was one of those days where you knew you were going to sweat in your outfit needed to protect you in case you took a dunk in the 52 degree water. That is spring paddling here on the Chesapeake. In another month the water temperature would rise enough that the really warm dress would not be necessary. But for now the extra layers were prudent, even on this protected lake. I put my bag of dry warm clothes into the stern of the boat along with my emergency repair kit for both myself and the boat and launched from the large parking lot at York Furnace.




With a fresh eighteen dollar two year sticker on my boat I could launch from any Pennsylvania ramp under the Fish and Game system. This ultra convenient permit system in Pennsylvania has no equivalent in the Balkanized ramp system in Maryland. At the York Furnace boat launch, I set off from the single concrete ramp, not noticing the more kayak friendly beaches to the left and right of the ramp itself until I returned at the end of the day. I went over to the islands immediately off the ramp where I encountered a sign giving the rules for use of the islands in Lake Alred, the pool behind the Holtwood dam which is a couple of miles downstream. I continued along the west side of the lake to York Furnace creek. I paddled up into the deep channel but was soon turned back by multiple trees felled completely across the creek. I turned around and rejoined the lake.




I paddled across the lake over to Pequea Creek. The launch there is temporarliy closed while the construction of the new bridge is completed. The launch ramp there is full of cranes and trucks. I headed upstream on the creek but only was able to get about 400 yards up the stream until I was stopped by a small riffle that extended all the way across the stream. Turning around I headed back out to the lake.




I angled across the lake to a large island and followed the shoreline towards the dam. The trees on the island showed the ravages of the periodic floods that oversweep the low lying island.



Leaving the island one begins to be affected by the current flowing out of the Safe Harbor dam spillway and power gates. I headed toward Safe Harbor creek hoping to go as far up that creek as possible. However, the current got strong enough to discourage me from making it all the way to the creek mouth. Its close proximity to the dam made me slightly nervous about the reaction to someone in a boat so close to the facility and what they might think about that. So I turned to the left a made it over to the western shore of Lake Aldred. From there I followed the shoreline back to my starting point.



As I neared the ramp, the wind picked up and began to blow about 20 knots, raising little ripples on the once glassy surface. With the wind over the cold water, my overly warm attire felt much better.

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EVEN THE BEST BOATERS CAN FIND THEMSELVES IN SERIOUS TROUBLE ON THE MILDEST OF DAYS ON THE WATER. PARTICIPATION IN THIS SPORT IS A STRENUOUS ACTIVITY. CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN BEFORE UNDERTAKING ANY SUCH ACTIVITY. PLEASE BE AWARE THAT EACH BOATER TAKES FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR HIS OR HER OWN SAFETY, AND IS TOTALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR ASSESSING THE DANGER LEVEL AND ACCEPTING THE CONSEQUENCES OF PARTICIPATING IN THIS SPORT.


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