Kayaking the Susquehanna River: Falls to Harding


On the river.

The Susquehanna is the largest river on the east coast, and spends most of its time in Pennsylvania. It is also a remarkably undeveloped river, with miles of forested shoreline dotted with towns and cottages.  We recently paddled from Falls down to Harding.  At Falls, there are tall, reddish cliffs that rise hundreds of feet over the river.  There were several anglers and kayakers on the water.  As we headed downstream, the river became more undeveloped as we enjoyed a faster current over a riffle.  We then reached a long, deep pool that seemed as much a lake as a river.  The wind blew against us, making it slow going.  Yet, the scenery was enjoyable and only became more scenic.  I saw a bald eagle, geese, and mergansers.  I then heard a large pop and crack.  At first I thought it was a firecracker, but soon realized it was a large tree falling in the water with the rush of air and splintered branches.  Good thing I was away from the shore.

A few miles below Falls, the river became very scenic as it was surrounded by tall, forested mountains and distant cliffs. The river was completely undeveloped and beautiful.  Herons searched for food on the far shore.  On the right shore there were hemlock forests and rhododendrons that were in bloom.  The breeze and lack of current made the paddling slow, but it was still worth it.    Cottages returned to the river as we paddled down another riffle with much needed current.  A man was standing in the water, searching for bait under the rocks.  We passed a family kayaking, but taking a rest on the shore.  The father and his daughters were taking turns skipping stones. It seems the river creates a culture all its own, where people follow the rythyms of nature, instead of being distracted by the glare of technology.  On the river, people seem quieter, more contemplative (unless, of course, beer or firecrackers are involved). The skies grew darker and we were worried about rain, which never came.  The river was peaceful and serene as it reflected the passing clouds, rolling green ridges, and giant sycamore and silver maple trees.  We paddled along some islands as minnows fled, at times skipping across the surface of the water.

We reached a factory on the left and took out at the Apple Tree boat access in Harding on the right. We paddled over seven miles, which took us almost four hours.  While I could have walked faster than we paddled, it was still great to get out on the river.

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