I love the Susquehanna River, but I don’t spend as much time on or near it as I should, considering how close to home it is. One Saturday evening, I set out to remedy that by going on a Chiques Rock Outfitters’ 5:00 pm “Therapy Float.”
The Therapy Float is a guided trip on the Susquehanna River from the southern end of Marietta down to River Park in Columbia, where I parked my car at the Chiques Rock Outfitters rental shop.
I was equipped with a solo kayak, paddle, life jacket, and dry box for my camera. When we put our boats in the water, there were no others in sight, but we did spot a great blue heron fishing off a rock not far from shore. My guide, Ranae Tibbens, co-owner of Chiques Rock Outfitters, gave me a refresher on how to steer since it had been at least twenty years since I’d last been in a kayak. Then we were off to explore the river.
We paddled under the railroad bridge, where Chiques Creek empties into the river, to take a look at the water level and a new pedestrian bridge. As we headed out to the middle of the river, a bald eagle came swooping down over the water. He came close enough overhead to be seen in detail, but I was too slow getting my camera out of the dry box to be able to get a good shot of him. He was very shortly joined by another, and we watched the two of them fly circles above the river and the shoreline for a few minutes, before flying away.
Getting out of the kayak during the trip is not only acceptable, it’s encouraged. We pulled up on an exposed stretch of pebbles, then waded out to a rock to examine someone’s 100+ year old script signature etched into the surface. We also examined the bore holes at the base of the rock, worn by the action of small pebbles in the current over time. Some rocks on the river seem to be more hole than rock, honeycombed by friction of stone and water. After taking photos from the top of the rock, we climbed down and waded back to our boats, thankful for the traction of water shoes on slippery rocks.
Shortly before sunset, we stopped at the boat launch by John Wright Restaurant for a few minutes then we took our time crossing to the other side of the river. We stopped often to take photographs of pink and orange light reflecting off of the bridge piers and the water.
When we pulled our boats in at the launch at River Park again, I was pleasantly exhausted and happy to have explored a couple of miles of the beautiful river in our backyard.
To learn about other water activities in Lancaster, click here.