About the Creek:
What to bring
Thing to do
- Reality Check
enjoyable as canoeing is, it can be dangerous - even on a small creek like Antietam.
our waiver form we spell out some of the risks (listed
below). The dangers are manageable but very real.
are the manager of those risks and dangers. They
increase with high water, cold and bad weather. Inexperienced boaters can expect to flip 2 or more times on any
Antietam Run and be un-sticking boats from obstructions more often than that. You will get
wet. It's a rule. You will be swimming or standing [flip
flops don't work, shoes are a must] in the creek.
What to bring
- Keep in mind that YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOU out there on
the creek. At some spots you will be miles from help or a phone, where it may be impossible
or imprudent for others to come to your assistance.... so don't count on it.
Many cell phones don't work there.
Washington County Hosp.l
[ Hagerstown ] 301 790 8000 or emergency 301 790
Sheriff , Washington County 301 791 3020
State Police 301 739 2101
All Fire and Rescue 911
Boonsboro Vol.. Rescue 301 432 6979
Sharpsburg Vol.. Rescue 301 432 5348
C&O NPS 301 739 4206 or 1 866 677 6677
Antietam NPS Visit Ctr.
301 432 5124 emergency 301 432 2243
Stay alert to
your situation; Wear your life jacket; wear shoes: know where you are. Use good
no drugs or alcohol; dress for the weather and the water. If you canoe you will flip. It's
the same rule as above. Ask about the 120 degree rule.
What to bring
- The banks of Antietam Creek are private property. When you step out of your boat, for
whatever reason, you are trespassing. You have no rights. You are in someone else's
yard......... be discrete; be courteous; be sanitary; be respectful of your surroundings.
Creek Banks don't grow back .. ever. Rocks belong where they lay (or is it lie?) even if you are
6 (yes I did and yes sometimes I do...but I go to meetings and try to
Do not confuse your wishes, needs, convenience, fun or good intentions with reality.
Reality to a property owner is that boaters, even courteous, considerate boaters are at
best a potential problem....and many quite simply are a pain in the ass! Those who
have gone before you in some instances spoiled the broth.
- Warm up before you paddle
(did I mention
about car keys?) . Start slowly, get your "seat".
Rock the canoe back and forth to get the feel....hips loose head and shoulders quiet.
in a canoe is just like a bicycle. You keep the boat up right ...not the other
way around. Practice the strokes you'll need to control the boat. No control ?... Take a lesson
[ email me here to set that up]
- Stay as far away from fishermen's (women's too) lines as you can, safely. They need nice
days too and we're sharing the creek. It's a long discussion, but Fisherman win all
arguments so don't participate and save yourself some anxiety.
- Be careful at each bridge and at each rapids. This is where strainers accumulate and
where a broach, flip or swim is most likely to occur. Scout if you are not sure of the
lines or consequences. Always Scout:
- Poffenbarger road bridge (the 1st bridge on the upper section)
- Wagaman Road Bridge (2nd bridge upper sec.)
- Furnace Rapids & Harpers Ferry Road Bridge (last
always Boat scout each bridge and each rapids.
- Watch for strainers (trees limbs rocks and debris that let water pass through but can
trap you or your equipment like a sieve. They occur often on Antietam and can be lethal,
especially at high water levels. Stay away from downed trees
or any trees in the water.
Stay to the inside of creek bends. Don't walk in fast moving water above your knees. If
you must walk in fast water at all, take a paddle with you to use as a staff.
- If you hit an obstruction, (rock, bridge pier, tree trunk,
Chevrolet etc.) lean onto it / lean into
it / lean down stream / hug what you hit - this all means the same thing.
- If you lean away from what you hit (your natural reaction) your boat will flip. I
promise..... It's another rule
- A canoe filled with water weighs about the same as a Volkswagen. Stay up stream of it.
Don't get between a swamped boat and anything.. rock, tree, another boat etc.
To empty a swamped boat. Pull it to shore up-side down.. pull it to shore upside down .
[sometimes it's hard to remember the simple
stuff] Put one nose on shore and lift up the other
nose. Like magic, the water falls out. Turn it over and away you go. If you do it the
other way you will get a hernia or a heart attack, maybe both.
- Tie your gear into your canoe with short lines. See item above "away you go".
If you don't tie your gear in, you will need to change the "away you go"
part to "away you go chasing your gear all over the creek". Make sure you have your car keys on your person secure[
like in a zippered pocket]. Make sure you have
another set at the car or at our shop. I'll say this another way. If your car keys
are tied to your boat, no matter how, you may loose them.
Wear your life jacket - fastened - while you're paddling. It breaks falls,( most
canoe accidents are caused by falls getting into of out of boats, falls on slippery rocks
or banks etc.) it gives rescuers a hand hold. Keeps you warm, or cool if you keep it wet.
It can even keep you afloat and save your life on a bad day.
I know you are a great swimmer and don't need....... etc. The point is "How
well do you swim unconscious or hurt?"
- Should you choose to assist in the event of a mishap, get boaters
to safety first. Get loose gear and boats after the paddlers are safe. Help only if
you can do so safely and realistically. There is no sense adding to a problem beyond your
capabilities with a flip or swim. Little is gained by the good intention
and sometimes good intentions get in the way of good rescues.
- BE SAFE AND REMEMBER THAT going out to paddle is not an
amusement park ride. Half way through the run you can't get the operator to
turn it off or slow it down. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOU
out there on the creek.
- Some risks and hazards on Antietam Creek:
- WEATHER - heat, cold (sun stroke, sun burn, hypo and
hyperthermia) wind, rain, dark, hail,
- WATER - waves, holes, water falls, rapids, hydraulics
(reversals, keepers) ,high, cold, fast water,
- RIVER FEATURES - strainers, bends, dams, ledges, falls (again) weirs, wire fences,
downed trees, must portages, bridge piers, rocks.low
- PREMISES - private creek banks, hunters, cows, dogs, insect, animal and snake bites, ivy,
nettle, slips/falls, cuts, walk outs, bacteria and germs.
- ANOMALIES - drowning, pins, broaches, flips, entrapments, swims, actions of others, over
exertion, heart attack, health limitations, paddling injuries, separations,
dislocations, blisters, low
- THE SCARIEST THING OF ALL - these are all real! and
it's not a complete list!!!...
Have a nice day....... Greg M-P