The Rock Garden….My…Rock Garden.

The picture at the top of my blog. That is something I have been meaning to address. So I shall. I took that picture. That is a real place, and it is more amazing than pictures can do justice. The shear size. Defying words. I discovered it by accident late last summer.

I had been kayaking after work at Gifford Pinchot State Park, then at the Susquehanna River. I’ve been doing contract work at a company located almost equidistant from the two, so I had my choice. I paddled up in the Three Mile Island area for maybe a month, just covering distance around the islands there, exploring the islands themselves a bit, and the impounded water from the York Haven Dam known as Lake Frederic. Then I started looking for more put ins. Access points both down and up river. Down river I went. I found one just below the York Haven Dam on the western shore, but the weekend was coming, and so I decided on the boat launch known as Falmouth on the eastern shore, almost directly across the river from the York Haven launch. And this is what I found…..

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My buddy Tom is in a lot of the shots. I did this purposely to show the scale. Amazing. It feels like an alien landscape to paddle through it.

This was my favorite location for a long time. Almost every evening for 2 months. Occasionally I would seek out another spot, but I would always come back within a day or two.

I was here, in this spot, for Hurricane Irene…..and then for Lee. I sat here and watched the water come up to cover those boulders…..water rising a foot or more an hour for Lee. Listening as your heart begins to pound. Listening and feeling the sound of the water crashing over the dam as it gets louder. Wondering how much longer you should stay before the currents get unmanageable. Then when paddling back down, being shoved from one eddy line to the next, trying not to let the still water on the other side of that line hold you in place as her sinister sister, the current, shoves you sideways from the other in an attempt to roll you. Breathtaking. In all ways. Simply breathtaking.

I’ve been here in all conditions. Without words. Only feelings that cannot be expressed. Awed by the power of the water and what it can accomplish. Shaping these rocks. Amazed at how a few inches of extra water on the the gauge in Harrisburg can mean feet of difference down here below the dam.

Have I said amazed yet? 🙂

As I sit here writing this post, it’s late. It’s 1 am. On the floor in the living room. Hunched over a pillow, with my laptop under my fingertips. My sweet girl soundly sleeping on the couch. Cave maps spread out to one side of me from researching new places. New places to me. Several sessions of Google Chrome also open on this laptop, each filled with tabs…..more maps….articles. Putting pieces of a puzzle together for the next breathtaking thing that will leave me at a loss for words yet again.

And I realize.

I am happy. Simply happy.

denny

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Posted on June 29, 2012, in Kayaking and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Do you have to have a kayak to access this? And did you put in at Falmouth? Is there a way to launch from the Western shore? I am fascinated!

    • I use to use the Conowago Launch on the west shore a lot last summer to access this. It requires you to either paddle through, or around, the exhausted water coming out of the hydro plant.

      There is no way to get to these on foot from the West shore. You can get to them from the East shore, as I have seen teenagers hiking along the boulders on that side on many occasions, but I haven’t tried to get in on foot, so you would have to scout it a bit along 441. Paddling is by far the easiest way though. The water is really low right now, running around 3.2 feet or so on the harrisburg guage. There is very little coming over the dam, and only 3 of the turbines were running at the plant when Michelle and I were out last Thursday the 12th of July. The water was even pretty clear. We found 11 golf balls in 15 to 20 minutes, in anywhere from 1 foot to 4 feet of water.

      Here is a link for a map to the Conowago Boat Ramp
      View Conewago Boat Launch – Conewago Creek/Susquehanna River on a map!

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