My parents joke that everytime I come home to Philadelphia, the Tohickon, their local creek, runs. When I flew home in January, my mom picked me up at the airport, took me out to lunch, and then we threw boats on the car, and hit up the river. This year was no exception, as I made it home just in time for the semi-annual Tohickon release- probably the biggest boating event this side of the Delaware.
The “toh” as it is affectionatley called by PA, New Jersey and Delaware locals, is a short (approximately 4 mile), grade 2-3 creek run, located in Ralph Stover State Park, in eastern Pennsylvania. The Toh comes up quickly with a bit of rain, and is often the first run for local boaters to get their fix on. I’ve run the Toh at a multitude of levels, from below zero, to 7 feet, and have had fun at every turn. Every year, there are two releases, one in November, and one in March. A typical release is 1.5-2 feet.
After years of boating in PA, and hearing about the Tohickan release weekend as a sort of “season starter” or “season ender” for most boaters, Saturday, March 17th, was the first offical release weekend I have made it to! I was blown away by the quantity of boaters, of all ages that made it out to enjoy the day. The majority of people paddle in playboats, and it can be a maze to make it through the mess of boaters surfing every wave they can find. I wasn’t the only creekboat river seeking out and enjoying a few good boofs ! There were even a few dancers out on the water- accompanied by older Lehigh River Raft guides, whose retro gear stood out from the crowd.
The weather gods smiled, and granted beautiful, 70 degree weather. I had the joy of paddling with people from the Philadelphia Canoe Club that taught me how to kayak, people that I haven’t been able to get out on the water with in years. It was pretty entertaining, after having paddled with kids almost exclusively the past few months, to get to be on a river where the average age was 55! Our group was called the “youngins” as 4 out of our 7 paddlers were under 35! It was a great reminder that kayaking is a sport to be enjoyed for your entire life, and that it is great to get out on the water at any age.
After the river run, there was some serious tailgaiting going on, with Yuengling, micro-brews, and a multitude of snacks. Beers were free, or donation only, to raise money for PCC members Ron Samlin and Janet Merovitz-Samlin, whose son Michael died unexpectedly, leaving behind a wife and two young children with no life insurance. The PCC raised over $400 dollars for the Samlin family, resulting in a successful day all around.