I got my first prep for the river trip in the mail yesterday. a spanking brand new wet suit from Dive Masters. It was an year end closeout for last years model. No big, and it is warm. I put in on and tried it out in the 35 degree water. It works well as advertised. I was lucky that the 3xl fit like it was made for me, or I would have to go custom. I was sold on the suit last week when I got into the water in a borrowed suit and did some rolls in a loaner kayak. It was 32 degree water then and the suit was a life saver. This was a frugal find at 30 bucks delivered. This farmer john is made of 3mm nylon II with soft kneepads and front-zip jacket. DiveMaster Two-Piece 3mm Suit http://www.gandermountain.com/modperl/product/details.cgi?pdesc=DiveMaster-Two-Piece-3mm-Suit&i=36426&r=view
Next I’ll need some paddling gloves, high top water boots and a rash guard top and bottoms. I’m not screwing around on these. water temps in the mountains is barely out of the high 40’s all year round. The trip is not going to wait for better conditions. Once the kayak is ready, packed and registered. It’s a go on the first leg of the trip. From Somerset Pa to Confluence Pa. I’m shooting at-for launch date in mid April. Going by my figures it’s around 120 miles from put in until I pull out of the water and head for home. That trip is following the one made by my Great, Great Grandfather in the late 1800’s. He made his journey down to Confluence by canoe and continued his trip by a Scow-flatboat. Depending on the time of year and weather conditions, the water can go the whole range of 1-4 class in the length of this ride. The weekender paddlers only put in for a few miles here and there in the length of the creek that is my route.
Lets add some sauce to this goose. Make it interesting. This is run what ya brung and I’m going mostly the DIY route. After the wet suit and safety gear, It’s almost all DIY.
There’s no time limit…But there is only just so much gear I can back into a kayak. At the moment, It looks like I’ll be using a homemade boat. That will be a stitch and glue wood boat with triple fiberglass inside and out. Some of the water will be rough and I’ll be skirting a few class four areas. Not the place for a long length boat or a deep draft beauty either… If I recall the trip descends 1000 feet or more. If I shove off in a spring rain, the route will go up in class at all rapids. A 2 becomes a 3 with the additional few inches of water. That’s the reason seasoned river men pull their boats further off the water and tie off as far up as 8 foot above the ground in the flood zones. Last month the river was 6 feet higher than its current levels. I’m keeping a watch on the water levels and temps as well as packing a weather radio.
One thing I haven’t got around to yet is the food. Provisions are to be mostly DIY staples with a few MRE emergency reserves. Some suggestions would be appreciated there. One thing needed here is a personal water filter. It should be rated at several gallons a day and for about a month of use before maintenance. I regard all water as suspect on the trail these days. Even if it came from a spigot. Giardiasis is not a picnic anywhere, but especially on the trail it sucks donkey balls. In some areas I pre-filter, then boil, and finish the water with another filter. Overkill I’m sure, but since I started that. I have been very rarely sick. This is a wet trip so I plan to vacuum seal most of the food stuffs. Between homemade and repackaged foods, I’ll be OK.
On the camping gear side of things I’m going with my homemade lean to, or baker tent with a lean pi ( one pole lean to) backup. http://www.cdamuzzleloaders.org/baker_tent.htm
I have a few items made to use from reflectix and tyvek…. The sleeping bag is one of those items. All the gear is made with the K.I.S.S principle, Like my wire stove. The wire stove is a surprise when I spring it on the trip. The heaviest piece of gear is my coffee pot and I don’t leave home without it. I don’t use yuppie gear, I use mountain man gear.
So far it’s shaping up to be a great trip. I can’t wait.