Monday, January 30, 2017

h2o Traveler


This is a photo from Scott Warren’s last post.   He is doing the Florida Circumnavigation Paddling Trail, which runs about 1,500 miles around the state.  He is currently at Jupiter, on the East Coast, for a couple days, but making tracks north.  He is taking about five months for the trip, and anticipating a finish at the end of March at Fort Clinch State Park, at the Georgia border.  You can read all his posts, plus follow his progress and current location through his ‘Paddle Tracks,’ making it both enjoyable and informative.  Going back to day one last October and reading all the way through makes for some very interesting reading.  Find his blog at

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Pride of the Susquehanna

The front of the Pride's wheelhouse.
The Susquehanna River, at 464 miles in length, is the longest river on the U. S. Atlantic Seaboard, and the 16th largest in the country.  At its southern end, it pours into the Chesapeake Bay at Havre de Grace, Maryland, to provide half of the Chesapeake’s freshwater inflow.               
While in Pennsylvania following our aborted trip on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, we spent most of a day at City Island in Harrisburg.  City Island is a favorite tourist and recreational destination in Harrisburg, and is reached by the Market Street Bridge.  It is beautiful and remarkable by virtue of the activities there, but also because of its survival through some of the city’s worst weather and floods.
The Pride going under the Market Street bridge, Harrisburg, PA.
Our daughter took us on a cruise aboard The Pride of the Susquehanna, a real stern-wheeler built in 1988 by a local non-profit group.  It is one of only 6 or 7 real paddle stern-wheelers in the country, which means it is both propelled and steered by exclusive use of the paddlewheels. During the 45 minute cruise, a thorough history of the river and city are narrated as the city slides by.  The cruise takes place in a substantial pool of the river between the rapids on one end and a dam at the other.  Between cruises, weddings, receptions, dinner cruises, murder mystery cruises, school classroom experiences, the Pride has carried nearly a million people along the waterfront.  Unfortunately, the organizers fail to realize that many people go on the vessel because they are more enamored by the boat than the city.  While I can find vast promotions for the cruises, I remain starved for anything about the vessel, dimensions, power, or construction history, so all I can relate is that it was indeed a nice trip.
The General being serviced between trips.
We also rode the General, a civil-war era 2-foot gauge Crown Metal steam locomotive and train built in 1985.  It is billed as a kids’ train ride, but I think we all enjoyed it equally.  During the layover at the station, I had to chance to talk with the engineer, who related his experience in operating and maintaining the engine, and the training he had to take to learn his job.  Its tracks carry passengers on a ride around the perimeter of City Island.    



Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Keeping Ahead of the Storms

Slipping into a 'hole' in the ravine's wall long enough for a drink.

On the third day at Steed, the wind was gusty from the south.  With all the hills along the south end of the lake, the wind would funnel between them creating unpredictable gusts in the acceleration zones.  The forecast called for strong and severe storms the next couple days.  Before packing up to head home and get the RV under rented indoor storage, I decided to sneak in a couple hours of paddling back down the west arm, but stayed closer in to shore.

The ravine that leads south to the dam really accelerates the wind.  I decided to play with the Falcon Sail in the stronger winds.  I paddled down the ravine dead into the wind.  Just before reaching the dam, I turned and sailed both broad reaches jibe on jibe as I ran back and forth across the channel.  There were a couple side branches in the walls of the ravine, and I sailed in and out of them.  I would be in behind the ravine wall and in the wind shadow one minute, and then suddenly take off on exhilarating reaches as I stuck my nose back out in the open again.  I’m getting much better using a hip roll to get the boom to jibe when I want.  Before getting the sail, in spite of my sailing experience, I was a bit apprehensive about the heeling moment that may be created by the tall mast.  So far I have found the rig to be extremely manageable.  It sets in an instant, and is quick enough to stow and furl that there is no excuse for not using it every opportunity that the wind permits.  I made a couple runs up and down the ravine, but still, it was just a short 5 mile sail before I decided to head back for lunch.  Then we cleaned up, packed up, and got back on the road ahead of predicted severe weather.
(Kayak & canoe sails: Falcon Sails at

Monday, January 23, 2017

South on Lake Steed

The Falcon Sail making easy work of the south end of the lake.
(Kayak & canoe sails at

For the next day, the wind had gone east at 5-8 mph, so I set the Falcon Sail and made a leisurely paddle/sail to the west.  Instead of the variety of birds I saw yesterday, this part of the lake seems to be the domain of pelicans.  I paddled gently. Someone experienced with the sail could have gotten more out of it, but I was being conservative and hugging the shore. I still got a good boost from the sail while hitting 4 mph in total comfort.  This was great, because paddling in open water in the fall means being on the lake pretty much alone.  I’m still not entirely at one with the sail, and swamping or capsizing in the cold water could be a problem.

Just chillin'.

The goal was to paddle the circumference of the lake, but this became difficult since the northwest quadrant of the western arm of the lake was made up of stump fields.  I did go in among the dead stands far enough to get a picture of a couple fishermen tied to a stump.  He was a local fishing guide, and offered some interesting background on the lake.  We had been having severe drought for a decade that had dried up many of the lakes.  I asked how Tom Steed Lake had been affected.  He said, “Oh, there was no water in here at all except right down the creek channel and a puddle in the middle.  This whole area around here where you’re paddling (as he made a sweeping gesture around the lake with his arm) could all be driven with a pickup truck.”

It's always good to call ahead for reservations.

Flies have been especially bad this year.  It may have to do with dried vegetation being soaked for the first time in years.  For the last two months, they have reached unbelievable populations.  But, if you have a pet lizard and need to harvest a good supply of flies for it, pan-frying fish will do it.  This drew so many bugs that the screens in all the windows and the door were so densely covered that we didn’t dare open a door.  Even then, those that did manage to find a way in kept us busy with the swatter.

Wetting fishing lines in the stump field.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Lake Tom Steed -2

Working the shore features, I was able to stay out of most of
the wind on the open lake.
We drove 133.8 miles to reach Tom Steed, and the lake couldn’t help but be a bit of a surprise.  After passing Hobart as we headed south on Rt. 183, we drove across brown, featureless prairie that showed little promise of anything.  We had about given up on the appearance of any lake as a humorless joke when we saw a small sign telling us to turn right onto E1570.  We drove straight at rock formations until we crossed a railroad, and curved right into an oasis of grass, trees, and miles of water in the middle of Downtown Nowhere.  The park and facilities are great.  The staff we met couldn’t have been friendlier.  While we had the park nearly to ourselves, it is apparently the mecca in the summer that draws crowds from near and far.  For our stay, it was quiet and peaceful.

In protected areas, I encountered large flocks of American Pelicans.
The next morning, a north wind of 15-18 mph. ran the full fetch of the lake creating an impressive chop.  A kayak went out, but didn’t venture beyond the little cove in the shoreline.  A couple people offered the opinion that they didn’t think I should go out in a canoe, but I wanted to at least give it a try.  I played the shoreline and did fine.  Best of all, every time I was able to fall off the wind a bit, I set the Falcon Sail and beat my way to weather.  Another creek, which I never found a name for, enters the northeast corner of the lake, and I had hopes of paddling up it to the Rt. 183 bridge.  The surrounding wetlands give me the chance to see great numbers of Canada geese, grebes, pelicans, ducks, egrets, and herons.  Apparently I was within a stone’s throw of the bridge when I became totally blocked by deadfall.  Along the north bank was the largest beaver mound I have ever seen.  The inhabitants of the beaver condo were undoubtedly the cause of all the fallen wood.  Now, this is no exaggeration.  If there had been a way to get my pickup in there, it could have been totally enclosed within that beaver mound.  That is huge.

Much of the shore was bold and rocky.
When I got back out of the creek, I set the Falcon Sail.  I held the paddle in case I needed to brace, but the miles flew by as I sailed back to the campground without more than about a dozen strokes.  I’m loving that sail.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Lake Tom Steed

After miles of brown, featureless prairie, an oasis.
Tom Steed Lake can be located in the DeLorme Atlas and Gazetteer for Oklahoma, P. 49, map grid 10-F.  It is located between the village of Cold Springs and the town of Mountain Park.  The reservoir was built by the Bureau of Reclamation in 1975 with 30 miles of shoreline and 6,400 surface acres.  There were 460 acres set aside on the SE shore for the Great Plains State Park with 56 RV hook-up sites and 30 tenting sites.  The lake’s source is West Otter Creek.  At the south end of the lake, the creek passes between canyon walls that created the perfect place for a 535-ft. long dam that stands 133-ft. tall.

We had a couple neighbors, but the campground was mostly
our own for this visit.  Ibi sits in the foreground on the cart.
The lake is named for Thomas Jefferson Steed, who was born on a farm in nearby Texas in 1904.  He completed only one semester of high school after the family moved to Oklahoma, and then got a job with the Ada Evening News.  He worked his way through several newspapers, served as an aide to three congressmen, and returned from Washington to become editor of the Shawnee News-Star.  With the outbreak of World War II, he joined the Army and served as an anti-aircraft artillery officer in the India-Burma Theater as he rose to 2nd lieutenant. 

A Great Egret tolerates a brief intrusion.
He served Oklahoma in the U.S. Congress for 32 years.  He cosponsored the Upstream Conservation Act of 1954, which led to the construction of 2,107 dams for flood control, enabling Oklahoma to lead the nation in flood management.  Forty-two of these dams also provide water reservoirs for municipal and rural water supplies.  He cosponsored a bill with Sen. Robert S. Kerr to create the Arkansas River Navigation System, which ties Northeast Oklahoma to the Mississippi River, and creates the Port of Catoosa just northeast of Tulsa, the most inland port in the United States.  He also worked to fund college and vocational schools, and in 1956 cosponsored the Library Services Act, which among other things created the bookmobile program to make library books accessible to suburban and rural communities.
To be continued.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Who's Protecting Mother Nature?

Credit: Elk by U.S. Fish & Wildlife
Animals can’t balance a checkbook or post on Facebook, but when it comes to health and survival, many animals are invariably smarter than humans.  Unless trapped in a cage, you will likely never see an animal take a dump in the same place it intends to eat and live, yet humans do it every day and in countless ways.  Animals insist that all those in the pack abide by all the social rules that affect the social order.  Those that don’t abide are driven out, which usually means death, or they just have their throats torn out resolving the problem immediately.  Humans fool themselves into believing that they are more humane, more evolved, more sophisticated, and spend billions of dollars to house, feed, and care for those who will never be part of nor contribute to overall social welfare in any way.  Animals, and even insects, understand that everyone must personally contribute, but humans assume that there is always someone else to look after their needs and responsibilities.  Animals and humans are alike, however, in that they get what they deserve.  The difference is that animals understand this, while humans don’t.  Humans, like turkeys looking up to find the source of the rain, witlessly stare at the heavens, confounded by the cause of their own suffering.
Animals work and strive to create the world they want and need to survive.  They understand the need for shelter and habitat, food supply, and the continuation of their species.  You will never see them work against these goals, because, again, when it comes to survival, animals on the whole are smarter than humans.  The leading reason why this is so is because animals are not subject to self-delusion.  Humans are not guided by much beyond self-delusion, and there but for our curiosity, I would suggest, is the next single, greatest distinction between animals and humans, our apparent limitless capacity for self-delusion.  In comparison to animals, we are less faithful, less honest, less dependable, less rational, less objective, less cooperative, less supportive, and a long list of other ‘less-es.’  We have no doubt that we are more intelligent, more perceptive, and more diverse than animals.  We are taught that we are created in God’s likeness, but in total honesty, too many secretly strive to mold God in their own image. 
Let us take more concrete subjects that are dear to most of our hearts as paddlers---nature, wildlife, waterways, natural resources like beauty, peaceful solitude, clean air and water rather than resources like copper, coal, oil and gas and whatever else can be turned into money.  So, it would seem totally alien, totally against our interests, to vote against our desire to protect and preserve these priceless treasures, and yet we did.  We put into offices of power the largest collection of people ever in American history to create our new kakistocracy.  These are people who only think in terms of what can be dug up or torn down for money, and who think only in knee-jerk terms of today with no ability to conceive how today’s actions will impact the long-term future.  We had the power to prevent this, but sat on our duffs and ignored the chance to avert the disaster we now face.  Almost 100 million eligible voters did not vote in this last election.  According to the Environmental Voter Project, if “did not vote” was the name of a candidate, he would have won by a landslide with 490 electoral votes.  Even among those of us that consider ourselves environmentalists, over 10 million of those that think in environmental terms did not vote.  This proves we are not as smart as animals.  If we had simply performed the easiest and most rudimentary task of walking to a voting booth and flipping a lever, we could have protected our public lands and parks, forests, streams, rivers, and oceans, wildlife, the health and safety of our planet, and the lives of our children and generations to come.  This is not about politics, party, bigotry, emails, pussy grabbing, loss of decency or many other things that were used as a smoke screen to hide what was important.  We willfully and wantonly caused issues to turn against our own best interests.  If we really think of ourselves as being further along the evolutionary continuum than the simplest animals, we need to prove that by being more discerning and less easily manipulated, and to use the power given to us as citizens.  We need to shake ourselves out of our sense of comfort and superiority as to be above such matters.  Since any political party can begin to look more to its own greed and power over the need of its citizens and society at large, we need to demand better candidates and proposals.  Instead of political platforms that are made of lofty promises, we should demand proposals that contain actual detailed plans for action.  We need to look at news not as reality TV, but information upon which to make wise decisions.  As Dorothy Thomas would warn both the citizen and the journalist, “There is nothing to fear except the persistent refusal to find out the truth.”  We, therefore, need to demand the end of fake news regardless of source.  We need to protect what is important and ignore the crap thrown in our paths as diversions.  Instead of all this, while we had the power to protect our most important treasures, we squandered it all.  Since, instead of seeking wisdom and truth, we have insisted upon being voluntarily stupid and led about by our need for incessant titillation.  No matter how bad things get, we have proven that we deserve the worst, and are likely going to be getting it.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Tailored Approach to Packing

This is the canoe pack I got from Cooke Custom
Sewing last year at Canoecopia.

I’ve assembled camping checklists offered by several different people on trips of different lengths.  This may help you fine-tune your own pack list.  There are two assumptions here that I feel are appropriate.  First, the greater the experience, the more refined the understanding of what is needed to accomplish a trip of a given length.  However, there are other considerations.  For example, the need for a bear can or how reaching a certain age can make some “nice to haves” nearly essential, like a comfortable chair.  Secondly, while name brands are given in several cases, the brand chosen may represent things other than the best quality, like the region where the camper who made the particular list resides.  It may be more appropriate to look for the suggested attributes that a product may offer, and see what other brands offer the same advantages than just trying to duplicate another person’s vendor choices.

Day Paddle Pack

First aid, water treatment, trail mix, toilet paper in bag with cat hole trowel, bug spray, belt knife, foul weather gear, paracord, headlamp (Black Diamond, waterproof),   Sol Thermal Bivy, tarp, bear spray, Bic lighter, duct tape, and a SPOT.  Carry-out trash bags.

3-Day Pack

Nemo Astro Insulated Light 25L sleeping pad, sleeping bag in compression bag, Sierra Design 2-man, 3 season tent, foil insulating pad layer, water purification, cook kit, food bag, headlamp, phone, GPS in waterproof case, Anker PowerCore 10,000 recharging power pack, first aid, Picaridin bug/tick spray, cat hole spade & TP in dry bag, compass, belt knife, garbage bags to put pack in or on, and baby wipes.  Carry-out trash bags.

5-Day Pack

Radio for weather, water treatment & filter, first aid, gloves, bear spray, Tuban folding bucket/collapsible sink, foul weather gear, REI Flex-Lite chair, belt knife, cook kit, stove, fire kit, toiletries, flashlight, bear food can, clothes, Thermarest folding sleeping pad, A Sea-To-Summit Comfort Light Insulated mat on top of that, Mountain Hardwear Down Ratio 15 sleeping bag, Snugpak Scorpion 2 four-season tent.  Carry-out trash bags.

Appalachian Trail Pack

Osprey Atmos 65AG pack, SPOT, phone/camera pouch on shoulder strap, Kelty Ignite Dri Down 20 sleeping bag, Six Moon Designs Solo Lunar LE tent, Thermorest Trekker Pad, Sea to Summit Aeros pillow, REI Black Diamond trekking poles, bandana, first aid, ear plugs, Sea to Summit Reactor Thermolite sleeping bag liner (adds 20-deg), bug net, Anker PowerCore 20,100 recharging power pack, paracord, Black Diamond Headlamp, pack cover by Sea-to-Summit, Smart Water water filter bottle, Sawyer drip filter or Platypus GravityWorks filter & bag, MSR Pocket Rocket stove, cook utensils in 700 ml pot, Bic lighter.  Carry-out trash bags.

Not only is carry-in, carry-out a noble practice, but from a purely survival point of view, trash can attract wildlife just as much as food if not handled properly.  A simple solution is to put the trash in zip-lock bags, and then put those in larger bags, making them double-bagged, or back in the bottom of the bear barrel.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Seeking Out Molly Pitcher

The grave of Molly Pitcher
Carlisle, Pennsylvania, is a town caught between two periods of history.  While being modern enough to serve the needs of its residents today, it is a colonial town that dates from our nation’s earliest history.  It was laid out in 1751 by John Armstrong, Sr., and named after his home town of Carlisle, Cumbria, England.  The jail, which now serves as office space for Cumberland County, was built to resemble The Citadel in Cumbria. 
Carlisle was an important hub of commerce from the earliest fur trading days, welcomed pioneers to what was then the American frontier, and served as a point of origin for expeditions pushing further west. The Appalachian Mountains had pushed back against the Western Expansion for years, but it was from Carlisle that they were finally assaulted by the pioneers.  It was the point from which much of the settlement of the Ohio River Valley occurred, was critical in providing protection for settlers during the French and Indian Wars, and was a munitions depot during the American Revolution.  It became the site of the U.S. Army War College, which continues to operate to this day.
One of the local key figures of the Revolution was a Carlisle woman who became known as Molly Pitcher.   She was born Molly Ludwig on October 13, 1744.  She married John Hays in 1769.  As the British forces began to push south from Canada in 1777, John enlisted in Proctor’s First Pennsylvania Artillery.  Molly accompanied her husband into battle and served as a nurse.  She would aid in any way she could, even carrying water into the field of battle for soldiers.  Her acts of kindness and service became so common that Molly became known throughout the Army. The expression between soldiers about “here comes Molly with her pitcher,” became so common that she became best known among the combatants as Molly Pitcher.  When John was severely wounded in the Battle of Monmouth on June 28, 1778, he fell to the ground by the cannon he had been serving.  The gun was ordered to the rear, but instead Molly sprang into action and took her husband’s place and kept the cannon in the action.  After the battle, Gen. George Washington sought her out and thanked her personally for her bravery and valiant action.  She returned with her wounded husband to Carlisle to nurse his wounds until he passed away.  She was awarded a pension in 1822, and at her death on January 22, 1832, was buried in the Carlisle Cemetery with full military honors.
We went to the cemetery to seek out Molly Pitcher.  Several areas around the city remain much as they did in that era, including streets designed for horse and wagon.  I had to creep down the alley with only an inch to spare at the outer ends of the truck’s mirrors to avoid scraping them on the stone buildings and walls on either side.  As soon as we entered the gates of the cemetery, the worn path became obvious, and led us directly to her grave site.  Located directly behind her grave is that of the first American soldier to be awarded the rank of colonel, a member of Thompson’s Pennsylvania Rifle Battalion of 1775-1776.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

On the Conodoguinet

After several day trips on Lake Opossum, I was able to plan a trip down the Conodoguinet Creek. (con-o-dough-GWEN-it)  The Conodoguinet is a 104-mile tributary of the Susquehanna River in South Central Pennsylvania.  It is an outflow of Lake Opossum.  After the stream passes a Carlisle municipal water treatment plant with no portage trail possible, about 35 miles remain before joining the Susquehanna.  It is well described by its Native American name, meaning “a long way with many bends,” as well as a continual series of riffles and Class I rapids.  It has one 130-foot long covered bridge in Cumberland County, not in the section I would be paddling, that was built in 1870.  There were four other covered bridges that have all since been swept away in flood waters or replaced with concrete bridges.
I would do a 13.5 mile stretch that was all floatable except for the low-head dam that needed to be lined or portaged shortly after launching.  The water level was low, but in spite of bumping a few times, was a lot of fun.  At one point there is a series of five rapids as the creek passes under an Appalachian Trail bridge.  Several hikers lined the bridge railing with their cameras to document my demise, but all went well.

A small rock sculpture done in mid-stream likely to last only
until the next freshet.
The water was crystal clear and alive with fish.  The rock formations in the bottom were interesting, but the edges of the layered shale rocks looked razor sharp, suggesting the obvious desire for a helmet in higher water levels.  We followed several busy highways, including parts of the Pennsylvania Turnpike and I-81, as well as commercial sites.  Yet the creek appeared pristine and wild.  Except for an occasional siren or whining motorcycle, which were hardly audible, the only sounds were birds.  There were a lot of birds including heron, owls, orioles, egrets and others.  I even got a visit from a water snake.  Our daughter had been watching my SPOT track.  I hadn’t planned on an end point before I put in, and didn’t know where I would stop, but with only a couple hours of daylight left, she decided on the park that she felt would be an obvious take-out, and was sitting there waiting for me when I pulled up to the ramp that afternoon.  We have such a smart daughter.


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Is the Blight of 2016 Over?

No, it's not a new boat cushion, but a coccyx cushion. 
But it does seem a nice setting for it.
The paddle on New Year’s Day was supposed to be a way to break 2016’s general ‘suckiness.’  The injury to my tail bone leaves the 2016/2017 sucky balance in question.  The medical pronouncement is that nothing can be done for it unless it is bad enough to require surgery.  No thank you.  For the sake of comfort, they prescribed the use of a cushion or donut to reduce spine and pelvic pressure, 2-3 Aleve or similar per day, and warm bath soaks, which all deal with symptoms rather than a cure.  I asked how long it takes for something like this to heal, and the nurse said, “My sister broke her tail bone years ago, and she still has problems with it.”  So much for the good news.  I guess I just need to sit on it awhile and see what hatches.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Paddling in the New Year

The trip led to a chance meeting with Anthony Grippando in
his new fishing kayak.
I hated 2016.  It was the worst year ever.  I was happy to see it go, and didn’t really celebrate its replacement, but I am determined to do my part to make this year better, or at least until the 20th.  So I was determined to get on the water today, especially since the Oklahoma weather was cooperating with highs in the 50’s and winds less than 15.
I headed to Canton Lake to launch on the Canadian side.  When I reached the launch, the lake’s water level was really high.  This meant that the shoreline was all jagged riprap with no sandy edge or bank to launch from, and that left me with just the concrete ramp.  It was slicker than any concoction you can conjure.  I backed Ibi, my Superior Expedition pictured in the header above, into the water and removed the cart.  If I stepped just an inch into the water, my footing was already tenuous.  I got one foot into the canoe, but had to kind of fall into canoe to keep from slipping on the ramp.  It wasn’t graceful, but I was launched and underway. 
The wind was supposed to be 6-8 from the south, but quickly built to 12-15, or about double what was forecast.  It was still workable, and as I drifted away from the ramp, I yanked the Falcon Sail up, and off we went.  I travelled up the lake under sail alone and reached 5.1 mph.  I was getting stronger gusts and waves large enough that I was just beginning to feel a bit of a surfing ride.  I wasn’t going anywhere, but was just out for a chance to be on the water.  I decided that before I got too far away, I should turn and try paddling back against the wind.  It worked fine with me hugging the cliffs in spite of the constant crashing of the waves against the cliff base.
 When I got back up near the ramp, I turned into a side branch that brings a stream in from the west.  As I got close to the head, I was surprised to see another paddler.  When I pulled alongside and wished the fisherman a Happy New Year, I learned he had just gotten the fishing kayak the day before, and was out for a fishing maiden voyage.  The paddler was Anthony Grippando, and the kayak was an Ascend H12 fishing kayak hybrid.  It is 12 ft. by 32-in wide, has a tunneled hull for extra stability if standing to cast, and boasts a 450-lb. capacity for all those fish enticed aboard.  After wishing him luck, I paddled and sailed a bit more, and then headed back to the ramp.
Now I was faced with getting back ashore.  I got one foot on the ramp and had zero friction or traction.  I scrubbed my foot back and forth hoping to clean away a spot I could get a footing on.  When I felt I had something that might work, I prepared to get out of the canoe.  I normally undo the paddle leash as I prepare to get out so I can use the paddle for a crutch to steady myself, but I realized that if I slipped, the canoe would take off with nothing to restrain it, so I retied the leash to the gunwale.  I gingerly stepped out, and used the paddle to steady myself as I carefully put weight on my other foot.  All looked well and manageable……..BAM.  Both feet shot out and put my butt hard on the concrete faster than I could realize I was falling.  Sure enough, the canoe shot out, but stopped when it fetched up on the leash.  This was the slickest ramp I had ever seen, but admittedly it is a steep ramp.  Even while sitting, every time I moved, I slid further down the ramp.  I fell in about 4 inches of water, but was shortly up to my chest.  Thank heavens for the Stohlquist drysuit.  The water was ice-cold.  I rolled onto my knees and tried to crawl up the ramp.  Even crawling, I would slip and slide on the ramp as I held the paddle in one hand to keep the canoe in tow.  Stohlquist had just cleaned and serviced my drysuit, replacing the gaskets, and returned it as bright and yellow as when it was new.  It was now covered front and back, waist down, with the same slime that covered the ramp.  I could not stand until I had crawled completely out onto dry concrete.  There was no one around, thankfully.  If I had seen anyone videotaping, I may have been tempted to just slide below the surface and end it all.
 There are four observations in closing.  (1) I had hoped to go back to the lake tomorrow, but my tail bone hurts bad enough to make sitting here at the computer painful.  Tomorrow may be a no go.  (2) In spite of the fiasco, it was a nice chance to get on the water between arctic fronts. (3) I know of another campground at Longdale, the east side of the lake, where there is enough sand to allow launching off the shore alongside the ramp, which also has a much more gradual ramp surface. (4) I use my rubber Crocs over my drysuit booties.  On a slippery surface like this, they have zero traction.  This has worked for 5 years, but maybe I need to research some better booty footwear before I do permanent damage to myself. 
This was posted the following day.  I am doing fine while up and about and moving around, but getting up and down or sitting is still painful.  It looks like this may take a few days.