On my trip to Ohio in 2011 I finally did something I’ve wanted to do for years: I paddled a canoe. With the help and hire of Ernie’s Bike Shop and Canoe Rental I went solo six miles down the Tuscarawas River north of Massillon. My arms felt spent the next day, but the effort was worth it.

The Tuscarawas is a gentle river, about 4 feet deep this time of year. Still, I was so nervous at the idea of canoeing that I was wearing the PFD in the van taking me to the put in spot. After five minutes instruction from the driver, I was afloat. Here I’m approaching the pedestrian and bike bridge in Crystal Springs.

I had only one difficult spot during the trip, and its shown in the photo.  I was warned that due to the river level being so low and my weight that I could get caught up on rocks. Success went to my head as I’d managed to avoid getting hung up. I was so intent on navigating the ripples ahead I missed the overhanging tree to the right. I lost my baseball cap, and almost lost my glasses. Oh well. A small price to pay. And despite running into the branches of the tree trying to avoid the shallow water, I still got stuck. However, I turned the boat around and let the current pull me free, rather than try to get out of the canoe.

At the start and end of the trip I needed assistance. Getting into a canoe wasn’t too bad, but getting out provided to be a small challenge. Fortunately the shop had someone there to help me, and I was standing on the bank soon enough. I hope to repeat my journey on the water during my Ohio vacation next week.

After getting out of the canoe and changing into riding gear I rode the Ohio and Erie Canal towpath trail for about ten miles or so. Here’s the nice part, before the mess that is Massillon.

A couple of miles past here the trail deteriorates to detours, broken glass, and youths throwing firecrackers on the path. Turn around and head back north!

I considered riding the connecting Sippo Valley Trail. But there’s not much of a connection at the moment. A bridge on the trail was burnt down by arsonists a few years ago and never fixed. I decided one set of detours was enough and returned to finding the towpath. When I found it, I also found rougher trail conditions. While navigable, it was a bumpy ride.

My travels for the day ended at a small trail park south of Messillon, err, Massillon. The highlight is a sculpture of Ohio native and American hero John Glenn. There was still light, and the towpath continued south, but I’d had a full, exciting afternoon, and I was so euphoric I felt I was in orbit.