Monday, July 7, 2014

Paddle Log #34 - Potomac River from Point of Rocks to Monocacy

After waiting so long to get out on the water for the first time this season, I managed to get out on the water TWO weekends in a row!  Cha-ching!  Cha-ching!

Saturday morning, my friend Bill called up and asked what I was doing that day and if I wanted to go kayaking.  Heck ya!  We got a bit of a late start since we didn't leave until after lunch, but it was really nice out.

Point of Rocks boat ramp with the bridge in the background

We dropped our boats off at Point of Rocks (on the Maryland side of the Potomac River where Route 15 crosses the river), went and dropped one car off at Monocacy, and went back to get in the water.  It was a spectacular, gorgeous, sunny but not too hot day outside.  The boat ramp at Point of Rocks was fairly busy and the parking lot pretty full, but there were some open spots. 

Let the watergun battles begin!

Bill and his two kids and me and my boys brought our water guns along this time.  Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my waterproof camera, so there aren't many action shots to share.  I just have the pictures I took when I felt brave enough to take my cell phone out of its waterproof case.

His first time paddling solo!  I love how this picture turned out.

This was my 10-year old son's first time out solo in a kayak instead of riding tandem with me, and he did a great job.  Most of the day, he was way out in front of us and I was having to paddle pretty hard to keep up with him. 

Family Selfie

My 13-year old son has outgrown his Perception Acadia Scout, which is a kayak designed for small children, so his younger brother used the Scout while he tried a loaner Old Town Loon to see how he liked it.  He seemed to handle it pretty well, although he's not sure he likes how open the cockpit was.

Air temp was low 80s and water temp was a glorious 79.9F.  Without paddling, the water moved us downstream at about 2 mph (for reference, this was a a gage height of 2.0 feet and a flow rate of 4,600 cfs at the Point of Rocks USGS station).  It's about 6 miles from Point of Rocks to Monocacy, so it would take about 3 hours if you just drifted and didn't do any paddling.

The water was never much deeper than about 5 feet using my paddle as a probe.  At one spot, we stopped to stretch our legs and play in the water a little bit where the water was about 2 feet deep and clear enough we could see the bottom.

As usual on the Potomac, we saw bald eagles, great blue herons, butterflies, dragonflies, and fish, but without my waterproof camera, there's no way I'd be quick enough to pull my cell phone camera out to take a picture of any of them.

For the last couple of miles, the boys were tired, so I hooked up a double-tow line and I did all the paddling pulling the two of them behind me.  I gave them each a waterproof pad of paper and a pen.  In the past, they've used them for drawing pictures, but this time they each wrote a story.  My older son's story was a very long epic about his younger brother that made his brother mad.  My younger son's story was along the lines of, "Fred the fish was a a fish who hated kittens.  One day he woke up and discovered he was a kitten, so he killed himself.  The End."  Isn't that sweet?  :-$  Where does he get this stuff???


It's hard to see where the Monocacy River joins the Potomac River from upstream.  In the picture above, the Monocacy River entrance is right smack in the middle of the picture.  As you approach it, the tall stacks of the power plant downstream on the Maryland side of the Potomac become visible.  If you see those smoke stacks, you need to be working your way over toward river left to get out.

We made it!

As you can see above, you won't be able to miss the Monocacy Aqueduct.  It's very easy to see and identify from the Potomac.

There's a parking lot with a nice boat ramp and a port-a-potty just upstream from the aqueduct on the right side.  Oh, and then there's the Rocky Point Creamery for some ice cream on your way driving back toward Point of Rocks!  :-9

Trip stats from the GPS

Stats for the paddle log:
  • Date: Saturday, 5 July 2014
  • Time In: 3:07 p.m.Got a late start, didn't head up there until after lunch
  • Time Out: 6:23 p.m.
  • Elapsed:  3 hrs 16 min (based on GPS)
  • Moving Time (GPS): 2 hours 20 min
  • Stopped Time (GPS):  56 min
  • Mileage (GPS): 6.65 miles
  • Sea State: 0
  • Winds: 0 kts
  • Air Temp:  81F
  • Water Temp: 79.9F
  • Current:  2 mph
  • Tides: N/A
  • Avg Moving Speed (GPS):  2.8 mph
  • Max Speed by (GPS):  5.9 mph
  • Rapids?  None. 
  • Hazards?  Not much.
  • Kit: My youngest son on his first solo time in his brother's Perception Acadia Scout.  My oldest son trying out a friend's Old Town Loon.  I was in our Ocean Kayak Malibu Two XL.  Flop hat, NRS paddling gloves, short sleeve shirt, swim trunks, scuba booties (for the rubber sole and to keep sand / rocks out).
  • Configuration:
  • Route:  Put-in at the Point of Rocks boat ramp and paddled 6.5 miles downstream to Monocacy River.  Took a left and paddled briefly upstream on the Monocacy River underneath the Monocacy Aqueduct to the boat ramp take-out.  
  • Other comments (such as wildlife spotted): Bald eagles, Great Blue Herons, butterflies, dragonflies, fish.

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