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Tag Archives: Kayaking

Finding the Best Kayak Rack

As the weather warms up, many of you are either getting back out on the water or contemplating your first boat. Inevitably, part of the buying process is considering how you’ll transport that boat from home to water. Finding the best kayak rack can be challenging, so I’ll break down some of the differences in boat racks and pricing.

First, look at the vehicle you’ll use to transport the boat and ask yourself these three questions:

  • Does my car already have crossbars?
  • What kind of boat do I want (fishing kayak, canoe, recreational kayak, or sea kayak)?
  • Am I able to lift a kayak onto the roof of my vehicle?

Answering these moves you in the right direction. From there, we’ll break down the carriers by features, ease of use, and cost.


Foam Blocks: Sea to Summit Solution Traveller Soft Rack


Sea to Summit Solution Traveller Soft Rack

Many vehicles will not have crossbars and this can present a financial barrier, with Thule and Yakima rail systems costing upwards of $400, depending on the vehicle. There are alternatives if you only plan to drive short distances (within 25-50 miles and not on the expressway). If you can’t afford a roof rack and will stay local, consider foam blocks. These systems can be rigged many ways, but are largely the same. Two blocks rest across your vehicle’s roof. One strap goes through the vehicle and another goes over the boat. With wider boats, you may wrap the boat with one strap through the vehicle. In any case, never use ratchet straps, which can dent the roof of your vehicle and crack or warp the body of your boat.

The advantage to foam blocks is the low cost, but there are drawbacks, such as straps through your car (which can leak in the rain or bring moisture from the boat into your vehicle) and being limited to shorter drives at lower speeds.

Best for: short commutes and tight budgets


J-cradles: Thule Hull-a-port, Thule Hull-a-port XT, Yakima Jaylow

If you have crossbars on your vehicle or plan to get crossbars, there are several options for you. J-cradles are one of the most secure options for transport and make strapping boats easy. First is Thule’s Hull-a-port, a basic J-cradle. At $199.95, this comes with two cradles and straps to carry one boat. To transport two boats in their most secure configuration, you would need two sets, mounted on either side of the vehicle.

Thule Hull-a-port XT

If you have two boats and don’t want to buy two cradles or you park in a garage, other options are Yakima’s Jaylow or Thule’s Hull-a-port XT. Both systems fold down and have the capability of carrying two kayaks, with one going in the cradle and the other going on the crossbar similar to the configuration shown in the photo at left. These are a slight cost bump from the standard Hull-a-port, with the Jaylow coming in at $229.00 and the XT coming in at $219.95. If pulling into your garage without removing your kayak rack is important to you or you have a wider boat, this price bump will be worthwhile.

Best for: recreational kayaks, sea kayaks


Folding Cradles: Thule Compass, Thule Stacker, Yakima BigStack

Another option for those of you with two boats would be the Thule Compass. With a price tag of $299.95, it’s essentially a Hull-a-port with two cradles and is easy to use if you often carry two boats. The Compass is also a good option if you transport paddleboards and folds down when not in use. For someone looking to carry more than two boats, check out Thule’s Stacker (pictured below) or Yakima’s BigStack. These fold down for garage parking and noise reduction; they also give the user the ability to stack up to four boats on their crossbars. Both have a price tag of $199.95, but the systems can be difficult to use and often require a helping hand. For those willing to fuss with straps to secure their boats, their convenience and capacity pay for themselves.

Best for: multiple boats, SUPs

Thule Stacker with four boats

Load Assist: Thule DockGlide, Yakima Deckhand & Handroll, Thule Hullavator Pro

Yakima Deckhand

Load-assist systems work great for heavy fishing kayaks or solo paddlers that struggle loading their boat. Most load-assist systems simply involve pushing your boat onto your roof and then strapping it in. Some have panels that glide; others like the Deckhand (paired with Yakima’s HandRoll) have wheels. Prices can range from $300 for something like the Deckhand/Hand Roll all the way up to $800 for a fully load-assisted system like the Hullavator, the hydraulic loader pictured below which can lift up to 40 pounds of your boat.

Best for: fishing kayaks, solo paddlers


Thule Hullavator Pro

Canoes: Thule Portage

For canoe paddlers, Thule’s Portage carrier is similar to the DockGlide or Deckhand but tailored to fit canoes. Additionally, you could pair those systems with Thule’s Waterslide to easily push a boat onto your vehicle’s roof and minimize the potential for damage to your boat or vehicle.

Best for: canoes, hybrids


Hopefully this article helped you in your roof rack quest. For further information on the system that’s best for you or to inquire about car rack installations, come down to RRT to chat with an expert. Hope to see you paddling down the river sometime soon!


*Prices are listed as they are at time of posting. All prices are subject to change. RRT promises to offer the lowest price possible and always uses MSRP.


by: Ben Shaw

Packrafting on the Red River

by: Ben Shaw

I don’t typically write about my weekend trips, especially not to Red River Gorge, but this one has a special place in my heart. It’s my first time going on a packrafting trip since Alaska. Not familiar with a packraft? Come by the shop to check them out!

I had been down to RRG the week before to trail run and the river looked particularly inviting. After a morning splash and a swim at Jump Rock, I knew what I wanted to do the following weekend, I was going to packraft the Red River. I had taken the boats out on day paddles but nothing real solid since Alaska. So, the idea was in my head and I was off.

I had a few challenges, the first of which was, I’ve never paddled the Red River in my life. I knew the upper Red in the Clifty Wilderness could be pretty dicey in lower water (technical Class II) and in high water it was a Class III-IV run, so I didn’t want to mess with that too much. I also needed a partner cause paddling alone isn’t safe (never done that before…). In all reality I wanted some good company and didn’t really want to try something new alone.

After a few days of asking around I found my friend Lindsey who was super willing and able for this journey, so we were off. The night before we went down it poured in The Red and I knew the trails were going to be a mud bath, but luckily this also meant the river was at a perfect 4.5’ which would be excellent for paddling.

On Friday, without much fuss, we met up in Cincinnati and made the short drive south. It was an uneventful drive, with a little traffic and a stop for some fried chicken (much needed). After about two and a half hours we were at the trail head, ready to go. Starting down Bison Way, it was a muddy, hot mess but we were both optimistic about the journey ahead. We didn’t run into many other backpackers as we headed out towards Lost Branch, a few groups looking for a home for the night, but for the most part the only noises were the birds, the river below and our occasional chatting. Eventually, after about an hour and a half of trudging through the afternoon heat, we arrived where we wanted to camp for the evening. Unfortunately, another backpacker had already setup his hammock and nabbed the spot I wanted by the river, so we settled for another spot hidden in a valley back along a tributary. We quickly setup camp and gathered some soggy sticks for a small fire as the darkness and a light fog settled in for the night.

I woke up around 3AM to a bright full moon, the temperature had dropped, and I was freezing my ass off (smart move camping by the water…). I listened to the trickle of water in the creek and let it lull me back to sleep.

When I woke up, the morning was already warm, our valley was shaded but I could tell how hot a day it was going to be by the stickiness in the air. We got up and moving early, about an hour before we planned (the nice thing about a small group). The day started with a creek crossing and then a decent sized river crossing, one after the other. We ran into some trail runners, who sounded like they were having a great time as they passed by, they were the last people we’d see for several hours. We changed into dry-ish socks and shoes and began the long slog up out of the valley onto the ridge. It was a 2 mile mud slide up 500’, a great way to start the day, luckily, the heat was still holding off.

It was a good hike; Lindsey was proving to be a great partner and we were crushing it with our pace. As we neared the end of the hike, we peeled off onto the Eagle’s Nest loop, an unmarked and unmaintained route in the Clifty Wilderness. The trail was overgrown, covered in downed trees and full of spider webs, just the kind of hike I enjoy. It took some route finding and a good bit of patience, but we bobbed and weaved our way along the forested ridge through dense pines and small creeks until we eventually arrived at a steep downhill. We almost kept going, but my curiosity luckily got the better of me. We dropped packs and hiked up a the faint trail few hundred feet to a spot I had never visited before, the Eagle’s Nest. It was an awesome overlook with views off deep into the Clifty Wilderness and a few exposed ridges that seemed ripe for exploration. Lindsey and I enjoyed the views along with a few other hikers we discovered up there before heading down the muddy and scree covered cliff towards the Red River.

We got to the river a little after noon and grabbed a quick snack before inflating the Kokopellis and getting on the water. We put in on a sandy beach about a mile upriver from the boundary of the Clifty Wilderness at the HWY 715 bridge. Having never paddled this river, I was a little nervous, I knew the section down river from the bridge was gentle and flat but everything that I had read about the section through the wilderness was that it was rocky, technical in low water and the steep gorge walls on either side of the river make it extremely difficult to bail out once you’re on the water. We were only taking all our gear down the river, what could go wrong?

About sixty seconds into being on the water I realized that Lindsey barely knew what she was doing with a kayak paddle and was probably somewhat scared of damaging my boat. We floated and went through the motions for a bit before I noticed a bit of noise on the water ahead. Turning around to look there was about a 5’ section of river between two tight boulders that looked very shootable but if you messed up there were some nasty strainers on the other side of the rapid. I made the smart call and portaged onto the rocky shore next to it, we walked the boats down river a bit and got back on the water. Better safe than sorry right?

The rest of the paddle went wonderfully, we passed by day paddlers and enjoyed a nice drink in the sun. We both got a little too tan and had a very relaxing afternoon compared to our muddy and sweaty morning of walking. All in, it took us about 2 and a half hours to go around 7 miles down river to the Sheltowee Suspension Bridge. I hauled our packs up from the river to one of my favorite hidden campsites and then we continued another 1/4 mile to Jump Rock. I’ll give you a warning, if you’re worried about COVID-19, don’t go to Jump Rock in the afternoon… The place was packed with locals and weekend warriors alike, it felt nice to swim in the water and jump off the 15’ cliff at the end of a very long and rewarding day. It felt especially great to be back, having thought up this trip in this very spot a week before. I yelled at everyone to pick up their damn trash, we relaxed on the sandy beach for a bit and then eventually packed up the boats and walked up to our camp. We spent a nice evening by the fire, this one much better than the first night. Eventually the night cooled down and we both wandered off to bed. I laid in my hammock and watched the few stars I could see through the trees as I drifted off to sleep. The next day we packed up and road walked back to the car, a very anticlimactic end to our journey. We drove the long way around leaving the Gorge and I showed Lindsey some of RRG she hadn’t seen before. It was a tiring and relaxing weekend. I came out of it with a small hole in my left heel, thanks to a blister I ignored, and a very relaxed demeanor.

I’ve spent the last few weeks feeling penned up, none of my big trips I planned so far this year have happened. My urge to travel continues to get crushed by various complications and I’ve been filling my time with nonstop local paddling instead. Even though it was “just” a trip to The Red, it filled that growing hole for now. It was also an amazing feeling to go packrafting again, I hadn’t had a chance for an over-nighter with the boats since Alaska. Having these things has truly changed the way I look at maps and led me to think about packrafting trips in Wyoming, Utah, and Hawaii, all with their own amazing possibilities. Luckily, I have some big things coming up for July and August, I can only hope that everything goes according to plan this time

Our Community

By: Ben Shaw

If you would have asked me to describe the outdoors community a few years ago, I would have had no idea how to do that.  I probably would have guessed something along the lines of a rugged lumberjack or described a scene you might find on the front of a Mountain House Meal packet.  The truth is, it’s a much larger group than what most people think.  There are people all over the place, falling into different niches within the greater community.  There are backpackers, climbers, mountaineers, kayakers, day hikers, rafters, bikers, beach bums, and everything else you can think of. Then, even within these activities, you have more of a breakdown. For example, with backpackers you have weekend warriors, ultra-light minimalists, long distance through hikers, and probably a few more I’m forgetting about…

My First Community

What it comes down to is the fact that this is an extremely large but fragmented community.  There are people everywhere doing everything: kayakers hanging out on the river, backpackers clogging the trails, and mountaineers racing to the summit. If you never take the time to meet others on the river, trail, or climb, you find yourself staying around the same little bubble in the community.  Luckily, if you look hard enough you can find the things and places that bring this community of bubbles together.  For example, every time RRT hosts a presentation, or any other event, it brings together all sorts of different niches within the outdoors community and gives one a chance to meet others and possibly learn something about another part of the community or make new friends with similar interests.

Our RRT Community

Another nice thing about the outdoors community is that we tend to be open and outgoing people, ready to talk and visit with others, I can’t tell you how many times this has proven itself on the trail.  People have given me directions, pointed to hidden spots, donated gear and supplies, and so much more (often called “trail magic”).  Every time something along those lines happened it always made me feel a better sense of community with the people I’m sharing the outdoors with.  It also made me want to do the same things for others I came across out there and spread some of the “magic.”

Outside of RRT, I’m a student at the University of Cincinnati and am an active member in the University of Cincinnati Mountaineering Club.  For me, this has been where I’ve learned the bulk of what I know about the outdoor community as a whole, “whole” meaning each separate niche: climbers, hikers, bikers, kayakers, mountaineers, etc.  Each block has its own unique characteristics, but they all have a few things in common, they love the outdoors. They’re usually down to make friends and they always want to brag and teach their skills.  Even UCMC and RRT are a niche within the outdoors community, they’re vessels for people to meet, acquire gear, and learn new skills to get outside.

UCMC Whitewater Rafting Group

This is the unique way our community has developed, an unspoken understanding that if you share a trail, a story, or even just a similar interest, you have mutual respect and a chance for friendship. One of my favorite stories about this kind of experience happened about a year ago. I was hiking down in Red River Gorge with a group of people I didn’t really know. One of the guys who I had just met started telling me about his time on the Ozark Trail and we swapped stories and contacts, then we didn’t see each other for a little while.  A few months later I got back in touch and invited him out to the Wind River Range in Wyoming on a backpacking trip having simply bonded with him once on the trail and enjoying his stories and his company.  He came along with me and some friends and I couldn’t have been happier with it, we all had an amazing time filled with fun, laughter, and adventure.

Aaron and I in Wyoming

As I said above, this community is vast in its size, expansive in its hobbies, and fragmented in its communication but we all share so many common interests.  Everyone in this community appreciates the natural world and many of us strive to protect it so that we, and those after us, can continue to enjoy it.  For the most part we’re looking for others to adventure and share stories with. Above all, we enjoy what we do and can’t imagine spending our time any other way.  So, next time you’re on the trail, attending a presentation, or trading a hiking story with a stranger, think about the community you and the people around you are a part of, strike up a conversation and make a new friend.  You never know what adventure you’ll have or what part of this community you’ll end up in. Enjoy every trip, keep my young words of wisdom in mind and hopefully I’ll see you on the trail!

Sharing Adventures on the Trail with Friends in the Community

Outdoor Communities in the Greater Cincinnati Area


Caving: The Greater Cincinnati Grotto

Kayaking and Canoeing: Cincypaddlers & Tri-State Kayakers

Cycling and Mountain Biking: Cincinnati Cycle Club

Local Day Hiking: Cincinnati Parks Foundation

Day Hiking and Backpacking: Tri-State Hiking Club

The Best Trail Town

The Milford Trail Junction
Written by: Bryan Wolf

What is a trail town? I found this definition online; “A Trail Town is a destination along a long-distance trail or adjacent to an extensive trail system. Whether the trail is a hiking trail, water trail or rail trail, users can venture from the path to explore the unique scenery, commerce and heritage that each trail town has to offer.”  (

Milford Ohio fits the above definition as well or better than any town could. We are in fact the epitome of a trail town. We are home to over 22,000 miles of long distance hiking trail as the biggest trail junction in the United States. We are home to a “rails to trails” program that connects cities more than 70 miles apart. We are home to a National Scenic River that has year-round recreational opportunities. Lastly, we are home to a city that dates back to 1788 and boast unique shopping and dining experiences.

As an outfitter we hope that RRT adds to the qualifications, that we bring additional excitement and attract and inspire more recreational use around the city and that we support users of our trails and river. But we cannot take credit for a single aspect that has built the outstanding resume that you see above. What we are proud of is that we settled in this city because we want to be part of this trail town, and because we recognized it’s potential.

Every year we are lucky to meet and share in the experience of people walking one of three trails across the country, or around the entire state of Ohio. Every day we are lucky to personally enjoy and be immersed in the abundant recreation provided by the Little Miami Scenic Trail and River. Be it by foot, wheels, paddle, or pogo stick, this city ties it all together.

Junction mapThere are a lot of cogs in the trail town system that make us who we are. The over half a dozen canoe and kayak liveries that operate in and around Milford are a big part of that machine. You see the Little Miami River isn’t a one shot or one season river. This is part of the reason why Cincinnati is the self-proclaimed paddle capital. This is why we have the largest and strongest paddling groups in the country. Not because we have short term destination whitewater, but because we have year round beauty and access that is beginner friendly and harnesses the passion of the sport.

One of these great canoe and kayak liveries is Loveland Canoe and Kayak, who operates both out of Loveland and Milford. Owner Mark Bersani had this to say about the Little Miami; “We are fortunate to have one of nature’s best playgrounds right in our backyard.  I love the Little Miami River because of its incredible beauty, rich history, abundant wildlife and accessibility.  It provides awesome recreational opportunities for paddlers, anglers, nature lovers and explorers alike.  When you spend time on the river you can feel the stress of the day melt away as you take in the inspiring scenery and fresh air.”

I reached out to Mark to get some facts, because what good is my nostalgia without facts? The numbers blew me away! In one year Mark will personally put about 16,000 people on the Little Miami River! This is local love right there, we aren’t talking about tourists from other cities. We are talking about a town and its love for the river. Furthermore he added that amongst the half dozen other liveries they would total about 100,000 people per year on the river!

089_LittleMiamiFellas_5-26-15With a healthy and frequented river, so grows the city. This isn’t your grandma’s Milford anymore, although Grandma is still welcome and we love her dearly. In the past five years we have seen the city transform from half empty to overflowing. From a shopping and dining perspective Milford is blowing up, and if you’ve not been here in sometime then you have been missing out. Downtown Milford hosts festivals, has a nature preserve, and even riverside camping. The city grows everyday making it more livable, more shop-able, and more fun.

This year Milford has the opportunity to be part of Outside Magazine’s “Best Towns” competition as we compete to be the best “River Town”. Just having the nomination puts us as one of only sixteen cities to be voted on! So I ask you to please share this, to please vote, and to please spread the word. But also be proud, because if Milford is your city than you should know that it goes toe to toe with cities of a much larger reputation; like that of Bend Oregon, St. Louis Missouri , Charlotte North Carolina, the Appalachian Trails Harpers Ferry in West Virginia, and even Portland Oregon.

Click here to vote now (open until 4/29/16)

If you are unfamiliar with the vast trail town resume I’ve mentioned please check it out. You can find the breakdown of all 22,000 miles of trails that cut right thru Milford on the cities website and the link provided at the end of the article. Special thanks to Mark, visit him in Loveland or Milford ( // 513-683-4611).

Click here for Trail Junction details

Click here for Little Miami River Safety

Water Safety Along the Little Miami (and Surrounding Rivers) – Part Three

As in all things educational, you had to begin somewhere, but in a world so full of information, where does one start? Look no further! We have compiled a list of books and local experts (the same ones we pester for our information) that will serve you well throughout life.




Books – All books are available at Roads, Rivers and Trails.

Kayak: A New Frontier

by William McNealy

ISBN: 0897325893

Sea Kayaking: Safety and Rescue

by John Lull

ISBN: 9780899974767

Boundary Waters Canoe Area: Eastern Region

by Robert Beymer and Louis Dzierzak

ISBN: 9780899974613

Canoeing and Kayaking Ohio’s Streams

by Rick Combs and Steve Gillen

ISBN: 0881502529

The Northern Forest Canoe Trail

by The Northern Forest Canoe Trail, Inc.

ISBN: 9781594850615

A Canoeing and Kayaking Guide to Kentucky: Fifth Edition

by Bob Sehlinger and Johnny Molloy

ISBN: 9780897325653


Local Liveries: Your (and our) source for the most up to date information and some pretty kick-ass river-fun-time! Liveries are listed north to south along the Little Miami.

Morgan’s Outdoor Adventure

Ft. Ancient Canoe Livery

5701 St. Rt. 350

Oregonia, OH 45054



Green Acres Canoe and Kayak

10465 Suspension Bridge Rd

Harrison, OH 45030



Little Miami Canoe

219 Mill (SR 123)

Morrow, OH 45152



Loveland Canoe and Kayak

200 Crutchfield Place

Loveland, OH 45140



Scenic River Excursions

4595 Roundbottom Rd

Cincinnati, OH 45244



Mariemont Livery

7625 Wooster Pike

Cincinnati, OH 45227



Water Safety Along the Little Miami (and Surrounding Rivers) – Part Two

Today’s topic will be water safety gear, but first a PSA…

Floodwater is NOT Whitewater

We’ve all heard the awesome stories (or even lived them ourselves) about the instant rock-star status involved in running whitewater. Just you, your boat of choice, a helmet, life jacket and a prayer against the awesome power of the river! Hoo-rah! We’ve taken trips out to the New River, the Gauley or any of the hundreds of other whitewater rivers in the U.S. and come back with some great memories. Now you’re working again, kids have games and recitals, in-laws are visiting, and you really need a time-out. It rained really hard a few days ago and the river is up but the sun’s out now and you want some action. It only stands to reason that fast-moving water is fast-moving water, no matter where you go, right?


In whitewater, it’s just you and the river (and rocks.) With a flooded river, even the featureless albeit quick calm of anything above seven feet, you have to contend with uprooted trees, vegetation and other miscellaneous out-wash come down the banks with the rain. Furthermore, while the river may not initially tear up a grove of trees, if you find yourself on the water, it will carry you into said grove of trees. Roots and debris act as “strainers,” a collection of fallen branches or other vegetation which will catch a kayaker up while the river keeps them pinned. Needless to say, this isn’t a position anyone wants to be in, seasoned or fledgling. In addition to this, the river never loses steam. One cubic foot of moving water is roughly 69 lbs of pressure. If we go back to our original 1,700 CFS, that equates to 106,080 lbs of force per second that never stops pushing. As in almost every case, common sense will help you throughout the decision-making process. If it is beyond your comfort zone, either don’t do it or find someone who is better versed than you are in these matters to guide you.


PFDs – What Floats your Boat?

One of the key components to water safety is the Personal Floatation Device (PFD), growing up, these were simply called life jackets. They came in bright orange, sandwiched their wearer between a huge layer of foam and made it short of impossible to move either your arms or torso. Luckily for the world of water sports, the PFD has seen a redesign and revitalization in the realms of mobility while still maintaining their safety. The U.S. Coast Guard provides the following table to showcase the classes of PFDs:

Type PFDs

Minimum Adult Buoyancy

in Pounds (Newtons)

I – Inflatable

33.0 (150)

I – Buoyant Foam or Kapok

22.0 (100)

II – Inflatable

33.0 (150)

II – Buoyant Foam or Kapok

15.5 (70)

III – Inflatable

22.0 (100)

III – Buoyant Foam

15.5 (70)

IV – Ring Buoys

16.5 (75)

IV – Boat Cushions

18.0 (82)

V – Hybrid Inflatables

22.0 (Fully inflated) (100)
7.5 (Deflated) (34)

V – Special Use Device – Inflatable

22.0 to 34.0 (100 to 155)

V – Special Use Device – Buoyant Foam

15.5 to 22.0 (70 to 100)


The human body is naturally buoyant, considering we are 65 to 75% water, and our bodyweight doesn’t apply in the water as much as you may believe. In the above chart, the weights are in addition to the buoyancy of our bodies. For instance, in the Little Miami, PFDs up to a Class III rating are sufficient.  According to the chart above, that is only an additional 15.5 to 20 lbs of buoyancy, how can that be? Think back to the days of summer when you were a kid. No matter how deep you tried to dive in the pool, it was harder and harder to reach the bottom. When you fill your lungs with air, you are literally turning yourself into a flotation device! We are designed to float from birth, the PFD just gives us a little more pick-up.

Foam vs. Inflatable

Reading the chart, one would be inclined to grab an inflatable. Inflatables are effective, but their one Achilles heel is leaking. In the Little Miami area, the river is full of jagged corners, sticks, rocks and other miscellaneous hazards that would present an issue to inflatables. Foam may break down over time but we’re talking decades, and it can take a beating the likes of which an inflatable would never survive. Choose which PFD you will, so long as you choose one and keep it on during your trek. We’ve seen, too often, the jacket strapped into the boat and that boat go floating away down a wave-train sans paddler. You don’t want to end up in this situation (again.)


For the love of all things wet, if we haven’t made the power of the river apparent by now, I’m not sure we can. It’s really simple; you wear a helmet for everything from rollerblading to cross-country motorcycle touring, why would you not do the same for kayaking/canoeing? Your skull can take anywhere from 15 to 170 lbs of force before it cracks, depending on where and how you are hit. How many pounds of force are in the river? Get the picture? Put a helmet on.

Part three: at the feet of the masters, click here

Water Safety Along the Little Miami (and Surrounding Rivers) – Part One

Charlie Foxtrot Sierra

When is it safe to paddle? It’s not that simple.

Most of us are used to seeing the river gauges or hearing on the news that the river is cresting at X feet. What you rarely ever hear, and what all professional liveries go by, is the river’s CFS measurement. CFS stands for Cubic Feet per Second. You can think of CFS as the velocity of the river flow. For anyone who has ever been out on a kayak or canoe trip with the assumption that you will have two solid hours of fun, only to end up at your take-out point 40 minutes later, you have CFS to thank for that.

On the Little Miami and many of our other local rivers, a CFS of 1,700 or higher is a red flag. 1,700 CFS means the water is moving at 1,700 cubic feet per second. I know what you’re thinking; that last sentence may well have been in Greek for all the sense it makes. So let’s break this down into manageable terms, something we can all relate to: garden hoses. “A typical garden hose provides about 3 gallons per minute…one cfs is equivalent to 150 garden hoses being sprayed at the same time.” 150 garden hoses spraying full blast multiplied by 1,700 is…255,000 garden hoses. Understand now why our local river guides close above that?

Well Dam, Sam

“Okay, so 255,000 garden hoses at once is a lot of force, but I just saw the river gauge read in well below that, and I called to find out if we can go out this evening after dinner, but they still told me no. What’s up?”

On top of CFS, let’s bring in another factor we must acknowledge, the release of dams in the area. I spoke with a representative for the USACE at Caesars Creek regarding the protocol for damn release, and this is what he had to say: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers control the waters of both East Fork and Caesar’s Creek dams; using the “Guide Curve,” USACE determines water release from their lakes via dams based on several constantly changing factors (how high the lake is, stream gauges from Spring Valley in the north and Milford in the south, how much rain is in the forecast, what the temperature of the river is, etc.) Readings go to NOAA and USGS to issue various announcements, many are familiar with the flood advisories in our area. When the water level is becoming dangerous to the surrounding environment and/or the area is expecting a large quantity of rain that will endanger the surrounding environment, they release into the Little Miami to counteract what will inevitably be a large surplus of groundwater into the lakes. Caesar Creek is usually sitting around 2,830 acres of water, but in a potential flood threat, it can hold up to 6,110 acres of water.

Depending on the location, it will take anywhere from four to eleven hours to raise the river levels/increase the CFS. If, for instance, you are leaving out of the Morgan’s livery area (Northern Cincinnati) and the USACE releases Caesar Creek, it will take four hours to reach you, then up to another four to seven hours to reach the lower liveries. East Fork is further south, and it will be effect the liveries nearby in a similar time frame. As such, it will depend on the livery or put-in point, time frame and forecast to determine whether you should hit the water or not.

Part two: we discuss various safety protocol on the river, click here

RRT Boat Pick Up!

What We Do
A Day In The Life Of An RRT Employee
Written by: James Mobley

Well it is kayak season and that means one thing, we need Kayaks!  Every kayaking season means the monthly process of going to get boats for inventory.  This season it was my turn to tag along with Joe White. The days are long but always full of fun and adventure.  The day trek takes us from Milford, Ohio all the way to Fletcher, North Carolina to a factory known as Legacy Paddle Sports. Legacy is owned and operated in North Carolina, where all of our boats from Liquidlogic and Native Watercraft are produced. The whole round trip is 778 miles and takes about 16 hours by the time you include stops and the loading and unloading of the boats. This season our biggest pick up was 27 boats!

So why do we do this?  Because it saves our customers money!  We do not add-on a delivery charge to our boats where other company’s do.  We also get to stay in tune with what is new and going on in the factory of this American Made product!  We are often brought into the factory and onto the main production floor where they share with us the latest technology or products that are in place. (Trust me, Legacy is making some pretty innovative and new products that we are so excited to see released.) The standards at Legacy Paddle Sports is the best in the industry so buy with confidence friends!

While the trip sounds long and like a lot to pack into a day, it isn’t!  Joe is good company, lots of good music is played, and good conversations are always to be had.  I must admit though, I do nod off at times as he drives!  Joe is a champ and is always at the helm as we travel and I continue to offer to drive but it is never needed.  I guess you could say Joe is a road warrior and being behind the wheel is what he loves to do, among other things.  The trips always offer great scenic views as we head south and go from state to state. My favorite parts always come when we get into the mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina.  The rock faces make me melt inside and all I can think about is my passion for rock climbing.  The rushing rivers filling the valley floor remind me of my love for the water and all the magical powers it brings.  Nature is truly amazing to me!

What I find most enjoyable about these trips are the happy faces from our customers when they come to pick up their new boats!  Many of our customers meet us at RRT as soon as we get back into town to pick up their new boat investment.  This means customers meeting us well after 11 pm.  As we unwrap their boats and help load them onto their vehicle you can see the happiness in their eyes and face!  They know, and we know, that they have made the first steps to make paddling a part of their lives.  They want to immerse themselves into mother nature and be surrounded by all of its magical wonders.  These customers continue to support RRT and share there adventures with us, and we are happy to have them as a part of the RRT family!

Each boat pick up is a process that leads to greater adventure and untold stories. So come on in and pick up your new boat today, and help us keep this boat pick up process going!  I’ve put together a fun video that will help you live our boat pick up adventure.  I hope you enjoy it!!

Paddle On Friends!!!

The Ohio River Way Paddlefest

Let’s Paddle
The Largest Paddling Event in the Midwest
Written by: Bryan Wolf

This weekend it is happening again, a tradition like no other, Paddlefest. OK, so I totally stole that slogan, but for almost everyone that walks down the boat ramp Saturday morning they feel it is exactly that. Paddlefest has a huge sense of tradition behind it. The entire event continues to grow with 2,200 paddlers simultaneously on the river in 2012. Paddlefest hasn’t just captured the local paddling community though. It also includes two days of events and celebrations before a boat even hits water.

I think this is one of the most understated and most missed opportunities in the tri-state. The week kicks off with an amazing opportunity for tri-state kids. The Kids Adventure Expo is a free to the public event at Coney Island the Thursday before Paddlefest. This year’s expo sets up 4 villages: “Let’s Move”, “Let’s Explore”, “Let’s Splash”, and “Let’s be Green”. Events like this change not only our community outlook but also our world’s future.

Friday night takes a 180 degree turn and turns up the speakers. A free concert featuring acts like “Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band” and “Jake Speed and the Freddies” promises to please. Both food and beverage are available featuring delicious local brews from Mt. Carmel Brewing Co. The event draws several local specialty shops with goods available and there is a Gear Swap for cheap finds on used gear. RRT sets up a booth and donates the grand prize for the raffle, a brand new Liquid Logic kayak! Hamilton County Parks brings in a climbing wall and Camp Joy utilizes a climbing tree.

The mist is barely lifted off of the Ohio when the first boat hits Saturday morning. People have traveled from afar, many from several states over for the event. Once everyone hits the water, it is an 8 mile float from Coney Island to Sawyer Point. You might be thinking, “Why is there so much passion for a slow Ohio River paddle?” Well, I’ve got to be honest; the Ohio does not have a single rapid, there is not a single cove or stream on this section to float down, the water as we all know is anything but pristine and I have yet to see any whale or puffin splashing around. All that aside, I have a blast each and every year!

PaddlefestI get the same sensation during Paddlefest as I do from a big race. You are surrounded by people with a common cause and purpose. You also are physically exerting yourself, perhaps not to the limit but to the point of bonding. You are all equal and together, you are no longer strangers, but partners in a grand event that may near 2,500 strong this year. Looking far in both directions and all you can see are colorful kayaks sprawled across the Ohio River. We are after all in the paddle capital of the U.S.A.

Go out to the Ohio River this weekend, tip your head back and let the sun warm your face, relax, and appreciate the life force that a river provides. Thank you to the Ohio River Paddlefest and the Green Umbrella for all you do to share our resources for opportunity in exploring and protecting what we have.

Get Outside Cincinnati!