Paddle Notes

I got out for my annual paddle along the tidal Patapsco this morning, putting in at Southwest Area Park at around 7:45am, just before the 8:00am predicted high tide at Fort McHenry. I paddled about 3.5 miles upstream and back, for a total of 7 miles, which I believe is a new distance record for me on this particular stretch of river. Usually, shallow water prevents me from getting too far upstream of the B/W Parkway overpass, but today, the water was navigable all the way past the Baltimore Beltway overpass. I could have gone farther, but ended up turning around because I wanted to be home by 11.

Southwest Area Park was quite busy this morning with people launching, fishing, etc. It was the first time I had been there on a weekend in several years. To be honest, I had been kind of avoiding it on weekdays recently, because there always seemed to be sketchy people hanging around using various substances, etc. I may stick to weekends going forward, as I did not get that vibe this morning.

This part of the river has not changed much in the year since I last paddled here. On the upstream leg, the stretch between the launch and the MD 648 overpass was stagnant and murky, with no current at all, and a dismaying amount of trash floating around. It really made me wish I had brought some trash bags, and I’m going to try to remember to do that going forward. On the return leg, the breeze had picked up and the water had a few more ripples (as well as a couple of wakes from small boats). I also noticed a lot less trash — way too much to have blown anywhere in that short amount of time — so I am thinking someone must have picked a bunch of it up, which makes me feel a little bit better about the state of humanity.

The best part of the paddle was the stretch upstream of 648, out towards 295 and 695. This part of the river has a little bit of a current, and the water is much clearer as well. It can be a challenge to navigate the shallow sections, but it was much easier today at high tide. I turned around just shy of the Halethorpe Ponds area, which is somewhere I have been wanting to check out as both a paddling area and a potential put-in. I am curious if it would be possible to get as far upstream as US 1 and the Thomas Viaduct. I suspect I won’t find out until next year at the earliest, but you never know.