Tag Archives: water activities

A Day of River Therapy

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.

Tubing down the Pequea Creek

Myself and a few coworkers decided to check out Sickman’s Mill Tubing. Yes, tubing. Something that none of us had done in years. Let me say, we had a blast!

After driving on winding back roads through beautiful Lancaster County, we found our destination. The large, beautiful stone mill greeted us as we entered the property. The mill, adjacent barn, fresh country air, and the nearby creek – full and flowing – made us feel like we were stepping into one of the adventures of Huckleberry Fin.

We were greeted by Trina, whose family owns the property. She was kind and hospitable. Excited to go tubing, we signed the waiver forms and headed to the barn to pick up our canvas-covered tubes. There we were instructed on what to expect during our tubing adventure.

As we entered the creek, we felt the cool water surround our legs – it felt wonderful. Once we climbed into our tubes, the water did the rest. From calm water to mini rapids, we spent approximately an hour drifting along the two mile stretch of the tree lined Pequea Creek. We laughed a lot and enjoyed relaxing together. As we neared our exit, we jumped off our tubes and ascended up the small hill toward the meeting point. There the shuttle van conveniently picked up us (and our tubes) and returned us to the Sickman’s Mill property. I highly recommend wearing water shoes or old sneakers, sunscreen, and bug spray for this trip; and it would be good to bring a towel and a change of clothing.

We were pleasantly surprised by the other offerings that Sickman’s Mill has in addition to tubing. If you’re looking for a longer experience, you can sign up for their reservation-only kayak tube trip that lasts anywhere from 3-5 hours with a distance of about 7 miles. You can also enjoy a self-guided tour of the 4 1/2 story mill. Hungry? No problem. You can bring a picnic or buy food from their reasonably priced snack bar. If you’re planning a trip to Lancaster, you can rent their onsite, air-conditioned A-frame house which has 3 bedrooms and 2 full baths, and can up to 12 people comfortably.

Sickman’s Mill has everything you need for a getaway – lodging, water activities, and beautiful scenery.

For more information, hours of operation, and pricing, visit www.sickmansmill.com.

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