Susquehanna Sojourn completes river trip

BY HELEN B. FOSTER, Correspondent

On hand in Great Bend to greet the Susquehanna Sojourners as they completed their four day trip down the Susquehanna River were County Commissioner Mary Ann Warren; Cathy Blaisure, Northern Susquehanna Watershed Association; Erin Heard, Upper Susquehanna Coalition for Headwater River Trail Manager and Jim Garner, District Director for Susquehanna County Conservation District. Shown left to right, Erin Heard; Chuck Haupt, Jim Garner, Rick Schumacker, Cathy Blaisure and Commissioner Mary Ann Warren.

Sunday, June 19, was a beautiful sunny day in Susquehanna County as the 70 people taking part in the 2011 Susquehanna Sojourn arrived in Great Bend by Canoe or Kayak.

Commissioner Mary Ann Warren greeted them and gave a brief history of the county and told the group they were at the “Top of the Endless Mountains” where visitors are always welcome. She explained the importance of the Susquehanna River to the members of the Latter Day Saints as their founder, Joseph Smith, was baptized in the river and given the Aaronic priesthood. Warren also said the county was a famous stop on the Underground Railroad, as slaves made their way north to freedom.

The Harford Agricultural Society was organized in 1858 and has held a fair every year since that date, making it among the oldest fair in continuous operation in the Commonwealth, Warren told the group.

The group, which included four Boy Scouts and their leader, senior citizens and die-hard river travelers, spent Saturday evening in Lanesboro. The borough officials welcomed them to use the Community Center and Canawacta Lodge, F&AM served them a chicken BBQ. They also visited the Starrucca Viaduct while in Lanesboro where Lynn Conrad of the D&H Rail Trail gave the group the history of the Starrucca Viaduct, a county landmark.

Also there to handle the details of the group’s departure were: Erin Heard, River Trail Manager and one of the planners who worked with Rick “The River Rat” Schumacker and Chuck Haupt to make the event such a success; Cathy Blaisure who works with the Northern Susquehanna Watershed Association and Jim Garner, Director of Susquehanna County Conservation District.

The actual river trip started on Friday when the group left Bainbridge, N.Y., and traveled 16 miles to Doraville. Here they enjoyed a program on Native American History of the region. Saturday the group paddled 21 miles to Lanesboro and on Sunday it was another 10 miles of paddling to reach the spot in Great Bend where they left the river.

Before the group left for home Blaisure was presented a “Pirate Sword” for all her hard work planning the trip. The sword had been a part of Schumacker’s canoe decorations, and could have been given to Erin for providing all that pizza the participants devoured after they left the Susquehanna, dragging their canoes up a steep bank. The comradeship was evident as the younger members of the group took over helping the older members with their canoes and equipment.

According to a spokesman for the Sojourners, “people interested are invited to become part of the river community as a floating ambassador paddling down the ‘Mighty Susquehanna’. People are invited to learn new ways to become better stewards of their envirornment.”