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River of Dreams

River of Dreams
An 86 Mile Journey Down the Little Miami River
Written by: Kara Lorenz

Water is wild!  It falls from the sky, crashes to the Earth, and races to the ocean only to repeat the process.  I’m not much for falling from the sky and crashing to the ground, but I sure will join in on the journey to the ocean!  When enough water comes to visit, I enjoy grabbing my kayak and taking it down the river.  Every trip I take is an adventure, no matter the length.  My favorite local paddle has always been on the Little Miami River.  Last year, my friend Vince and I decided to paddle the whole length of the Little Miami, but in a very different way.

When I say different, I mean in a way that has never been done before.  We were not the first to make this journey, nor were we the fastest.  What made this trip unique and record book worthy was our means of transportation down the river, stand up paddle boards, or two Liquid Logic Versa Boards.  For those of you who are not familiar with SUP boards, they are basically a longer and wider surf board motored by what looks like an extremely long canoe paddle.  Stand up paddle boarding is very prevalent in the coastal states and is gaining more and more popularity here in the Midwest.

Our four and a half day, 86 mile journey began at the northern most access point, located near John Bryan State Park.  The first 17 miles of the river were difficult, cluttered with fallen trees and debris.  We found ourselves dragging gear loaded boards through the woods and around large damned up sections of the river.  Gratefully, Liquid Logic was nice enough to include a tag-along wheel on the Versa board making portaging slightly more enjoyable.  It felt like we spent more time walking alongside the river than paddling the river those first 10 miles.  I fell off by board twice on the first day, and that was two times too many considering it was late March and 50 degrees.  After persevering through the most challenging portion of the river, Vince and I got more comfortable on our boards and fine-tuned our SUP skills.  I came to appreciate the different perspective that the stand-up paddle board offered me.  I was able to read the river clearer than ever and see so much more of the river and what lay beyond its banks.  For the next three and a half days, the river meandered across the northern farmland, cradled us between the hills of the ancient Hopewell Indians, and drifted us by an old Civil War Encampment, through the historic river towns of Loveland and Milford, and eventually delivered us to the Ohio River.

The river taught me more in the first 15 miles than I had learned in the first 15 years of my life.  I learned you can never have too many sets of dry clothes and that the northern Little Miami River geese are not as friendly as the southern Little Miami River geese.  Most of all, I learned that every river holds adventures within its banks, and if you let the river guide you for a little while, life becomes a whole lot simpler.  What makes a river different from any other journey is that you can embark upon the same river fifty times, and each time you will walk away with a different experience and understanding.  My challenge to you is to take a journey down a river, whether it is by canoe, kayak, board, or inner tube.  Water is not just for drinking, GO PLAY!