August 2012 Archives12

What’s with the Weather?

Posted on August 24, 2012

What’s with the Weather?

Last year it was flooding on the Wabash. This year it’s exceptionally dry over most of Indiana. How does anyone make sense of it all? Well, if you’ve canoed on the right segment of Blue River you may have noticed a river gage. There’s one in Fredericksburg, and another near White Cloud. There are thousands of these in the US that collect data constantly on the water levels of rivers and streams. They’re maintained with our taxes by the US Geological Survey. We all agree that not every tax dollar is wisely spent but in this case I’d say they are, because they do start to make some sense of the weather.

Blue River has been measured and recorded almost every day since 1931. Many other rivers in Indiana have been too. Take today, August 23rd for example. The gage reported the water flow of Blue River at White Cloud at 29 cubic feet of water per second (cfs). Last year on this date August the flow was 49 cfs. The lowest flow in the past 80 years for this date was 18 cfs in 1936 (the dust bowl years), and the highest flow was 1830 cfs in 1977.

That’s a lot of numbers. What are important are averages. The median discharge for August 23rd for the past 80 years has been about 67 cubic feet per second. So obviously Blue River has been well below normal both this year and last. That’s bad news for most animals that live in the water. Back-to-back droughts are hard on their habitat.
Take the small colorful fishes known as darters. We had a drought in the 90’s where the whole population of spotted darters in Blue River moved miles down the river because they needed better water. Slow moving and stagnant water contains little oxygen. It took a years before they were able to expand further upstream again.

What will this year do? Again the fish will suffer greatly, and probably many of the mussels. With a drought this bad it will probably take years for them to fully recover, so let’s hope next year we get plenty of rain.
To check real time river and stream conditions in Indiana go to nwis.waterdata.usgs.gov/in/nwis/rt.
By Allen Pursell with The Nature Conservancy in Indiana

What’s with the Weather?

Posted on August 24, 2012

What’s with the Weather?

Last year it was flooding on the Wabash. This year it’s exceptionally dry over most of Indiana. How does anyone make sense of it all? Well, if you’ve canoed on the right segment of Blue River you may have noticed a river gage. There’s one in Fredericksburg, and another near White Cloud. There are thousands of these in the US that collect data constantly on the water levels of rivers and streams. They’re maintained with our taxes by the US Geological Survey. We all agree that not every tax dollar is wisely spent but in this case I’d say they are, because they do start to make some sense of the weather.

Blue River has been measured and recorded almost every day since 1931. Many other rivers in Indiana have been too. Take today, August 23rd for example. The gage reported the water flow of Blue River at White Cloud at 29 cubic feet of water per second (cfs). Last year on this date August the flow was 49 cfs. The lowest flow in the past 80 years for this date was 18 cfs in 1936 (the dust bowl years), and the highest flow was 1830 cfs in 1977.

That’s a lot of numbers. What are important are averages. The median discharge for August 23rd for the past 80 years has been about 67 cubic feet per second. So obviously Blue River has been well below normal both this year and last. That’s bad news for most animals that live in the water. Back-to-back droughts are hard on their habitat.
Take the small colorful fishes known as darters. We had a drought in the 90’s where the whole population of spotted darters in Blue River moved miles down the river because they needed better water. Slow moving and stagnant water contains little oxygen. It took a years before they were able to expand further upstream again.

What will this year do? Again the fish will suffer greatly, and probably many of the mussels. With a drought this bad it will probably take years for them to fully recover, so let’s hope next year we get plenty of rain.
To check real time river and stream conditions in Indiana go to nwis.waterdata.usgs.gov/in/nwis/rt.
By Allen Pursell with The Nature Conservancy in Indiana

Paddling Lingo 101

Posted on August 14, 2012

Paddling Lingo 101

There are many different terms associated with canoeing and kayaking. We all hear them, but what do they really mean?

For example, CFS – what in the world does that mean?

CFS is the measurement by which water flow is determined. It literally means “cubic feet per second.” When guides speak of river levels, one often hears “It’s at 35 CFS” meaning, every second 35 cubic feet of water is passing a given point on the river.

That’s all well and good, but what does a cubic foot of water look like? A good rule of thumb is to think of a cubic foot of water as a little bigger in size than a basketball. So, let’s say you were standing beside the river. If we use the previous example of 35 CFS, every second, 35 basketballs would whiz past your feet. Mind boggling, eh?

But there’s a trick to this CFS stuff. A relatively high CFS doesn’t actually mean a particular river is running at high water levels.

You see, every river has a specific, and different, optimal flow which is determined by many factors including its gradient, depth, width etc. A high CFS measurement on one river might mean it is in flood stage, but on a different river, that same CFS could mean the water is exceptionally low.
Now that you’ve been introduced to river terms and have a better understanding water levels, the next time you hear a number followed by “CFS” and your buddy turns to you with a “huh??”, you can just tell ‘em it’s all about basketball!

Paddlesports Lingo 102

Posted on August 13, 2012

Paddlesports Lingo 102

If you hang around the river much, you will hear paddlesport terms… but do you really know what they mean?

What are “EDDIES”?

Eddies are usually found behind rocks or other obstacles where the water reverses itself and is pushed upstream. Most eddies are calm and quiet, and other eddys can be squirrelly and unpredictable (maybe you know an “Eddy” like this!). Eddys are great places to stop the boat and wait for people, or to ambush them in a water fight.

Blue River offers a half day trip that is a Class 1 trip. What is a Class 1 river?
Class 1 is categorized as easy – waves small, passages clear; no serious obstacles, perfect for all ages and abilities. No guide needed.

River Left- When you are facing down river with current the side to your left is river left.
River Right-When you are facing down river with current the side to your right is river right.

Riffles- Are a common term used for small areas of rapids.

Flat Water- Is still water or water with minimal current.

Back Water-is a still body of water held back by a dam, obstruction, or prevailing countercurrent.

Got a term and need a definition? Stop by or contact us online!

Getting on the water legally!

Posted on August 10, 2012

Getting on the water legally!

Where is the public access to the Blue??? This is a common question from many of our visitors. Blue River flows through one of the most scenic, interesting and diverse areas of Indiana. There are different sections of the river for all to enjoy, each bringing it’s own qualities to the river.

Generally, public access sites are from Milltown south. There is no public access north of Milltown. Listed below are the public access sites along Blue River.

Milltown to Rothrock Mill

The most popular day-long trip would be from Milltown to the Rothrock Mill Access Site owned by the Department of Natural Resources. The trip is about 14 miles in length and should take 4-6 hours to float. The mill dam has been breached, but canoeists should still portage around the old mill and dam site on the left bank. Watch for the iron bridge about 800 feet upstream from the Rothrock Mill Access Site and take out on the left bank at a gravel ramp and wooden steps. You may picnic at the access site, but overnight camping is not allowed. To obtain driving directions to the take out point, ask for a map at the canoe livery. It’s not far, but there are several turns involved!

Rothrock’s Mill Access Site to Harrison-Crawford State Forest

The float from the Rothrock’s Mill Access Site to Stage stop access site is about 13 miles and takes 4-6 hours. This section of the river flows under Interstate 64 and State Road 62 before encountering another old mill dam near White Cloud. You may be able to navigate through the middle of this small dam since it has also been breached, but you may also want to portage around either side of the dam, particularly if the river is above average flow. Continuing the float, you will come to the State Road 462 bridge in about 2 miles; within another 1/2 mile, a Department of Natural Resources access site is available on the right bank (near Blue River Chapel) just downstream of the bridge. Another mile will take you to a large “horseshoe” bend in the river, on the right bank is Stagestop Campground, owned by the Department of Natural Resources. You will also be able to exit the river at the Stagestop Campground sign.

If you wish to continue another 10 miles to the mouth of Blue River, a Department of Natural Resources access site is located on the right bank at the confluence with the Ohio River; the lower several miles of the river are very slow flowing. The road to the access site at the Ohio River is indicated by a boat ramp sign and arrow pointing to the left on State Road 62 about 4 miles west of the road to Stagestop Campground.

From Rothrock’s Mill Access Site to the access site near Blue River Chapel or to Stagestop Campground, two shuttle routes may be taken. Leaving the mill, go southeast on Rothrock Mill Road and immediately turn right (south) onto Burgess Circle Road. Follow this road along the river and turn right (south) at the next road, which is Moberly Road. Turn right (south) at Harrison Spring Road (paved) and follow it south to State Road 62. Turn right (west) on State Road 62 and another three miles will take you to the road to Blue River Chapel and less than another 1/2 mile to the road to Stagestop Campground. Both roads are on the left (south) side of the road.

Since the public access sites are owned by IDNR, contact the State Park for more information: 812-728-8232

All information provided by the Indiana DNR. For more information you can visit the following websites:
• http://www.in.gov/dnr/outdoor/4493.htm
• http://www.indianaoutfitters.com/blue_river.html