Friday, April 24, 2015

A Few Highlights from the SRT Spree

From April 17-22, a two-person team from Sly Fox Brewing Company traveled over 110 miles by bike, kayak, horseback and on foot along the Schuylkill River and Schuylkill River Trail. Dubbed the SRT Spree, their journey helped promote the new Schuylkill River Trail Ale (SRT Ale), while drawing attention to the trail, which stands among the region's most treasured recreational resources.

They set off in Schuylkill Haven by kayak on April 17 and pedaled into Philadelphia on Earth Day, April 22, with support from Take it Outdoors Adventures. In between, Sly Fox held two 5K races as well as tastings of the new SRT Ale at 11 different establishments located in trail towns. The Schuylkill River Heritage Area held five trail cleanups, and volunteers got free SRT T-shirts and a voucher to taste the new ale.

Overall it was a great event, and a fun way to celebrate a new beer that benefits the Schuylkill River Trail through a portion of the proceeds. Here are some highlights from the Spree.

Day 1 Fri. 4/17 (15.5 miles Schuylkill Haven to Port Clinton by kayak): The two-man team--Sly Fox Brewery Sales Manager Corey Reid and Todd Palmer, Creative Director at Virtual Farm Creative--carried flags bearing the SRT Ale image along every leg of their journey. Corey's flag made it all the way to Schuylkill Banks in Philadelphia, while Todd's disappeared off his bike in East Falls. The photo on left shows Corey (left) and Todd at the start in Schuylkill Haven. They celebrated their arrival in Port Clinton at the Port Clinton Hotel.

Day 2 Sat. 4/18 (18.3 miles Port Clinton to Muhlenberg Twp by bike & kayak): The pair cycled two miles to the Kernsville Dam Trail Head, where they greeted a team of volunteers who were raking and pruning along the trail. Then, they were joined by about a dozen other paddlers as they kayaked 16.3 miles to Jim Dietrich Park in Muhlenberg Township.

Day 3 Sun. 4/19 (19.6 miles Reading to Pottstown by bike & horse): Following a 9.5 mile ride along the Schuylkill River Trail from Trooper Thorns Pub in Reading to the Unionville Township Trailhead in Birdsboro, Corey and Todd met up with a team of about 30 hardworking volunteers who were assisting with a trail widening project. From there, they hopped on horses and trotted
to Pottstown.
Day 4 Mon. 4/20 (17.8 miles Pottstown to Lock 60 by kayak): Joined by a contingent of kayakers, Todd and Corey got a rainy start to their day at Riverfront Park, stopped for lunch and a tasting at the Railroad Street Bar, and finished the day with sunshine and by locking through Lock 60 of the Schuylkill Canal.  There, 25 volunteers worked to beautify the park with plantings and mulch, while the Sly Fox team biked to a ribbon cutting for a new piece of trail in Phoenixville, then attended an afterparty and a Sly Fox 5K.

 Day 5 Tues. 4/21 (23.5 miles Lock 60 to Manayunk by bike and foot): Two Schuylkill River Heritage Area staff member pedaled with the Sly Fox team from Lock 60 in Mont Clare to the Conshohocken Brewery. There, representatives from the two breweries had a good-will exchange of their beer. The day ended in East Falls, with a tasting at the bike-friendly In Rival bar.

Day 6 Wed. 4/22 (5.5 miles East Falls to Schuylkill Banks by bike): The SRT Spree came to an end at the beautiful Schuylkill Banks in Philadelphia. About 50 volunteers were on hand to pick up trash, rake, mulch, paint and tidy up the trail. Another 5K and park cleanup was held at the nearby Paine Park. Then the SRT Spree finished up with an Earth Day SRT Ale  Release Party at Philadelphia's World Cafe Live.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Why Not Paddle on One of the Sojourn's Mid-Week Days?

Photo by Ted Danforth, 2014 Sojourn
It's happened again. Only hours after we opened up registration for individual days on the annual Schuylkill River Sojourn the first three days of the seven-day guided canoe/kayak tour (June 6-12) are sold out. Sure, everybody wants to paddle on the weekend. But, to keep things safe we allow only about 100 boats per day. That means we wind up turning people away on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, while Tuesday through Friday fill up more slowly--or sometimes don't fill up at all.

If you are one of those who hesitated a bit too long to get on the sojourn's weekend days, don't despair! Tuesday through Friday offer plenty of fun paddling opportunities. Here's a day-by-day guide to the sojourn's mid-week days. All have openings so you can sign up for one or all four! As always the sojourn will begin in Schuylkill Haven and end at Philadelphia's Boathouse Row with participants paddling 14-18 miles per day. The program theme is Schuylkill Canal: Legacy & Landmarks.

 Tuesday June 9. (13.9 miles: Gibraltar to Pottstown)
If you have never done the sojourn before, and want to test out a day, this is the day to try.  It's an easy paddle featuring beautiful scenery and, often, interesting wildlife. Last year a bald eagle was spotted along this section (see photo on left).  Another reason to consider Tuesday? Great programming! The lunch stop is at Historic Morlatton Village, a beautiful and historic setting where we'll have a presentation on the Irish & the Schuylkill Canal.  And the evening stop, at Riverfront Park in Pottstown, includes arguably the best dinner on the trip, catered by Bause Catering. The evening program will feature a special Battle of the Bands program with multiple area bands in celebration of Pottstown's Bicentennial.
paddling day, featuring  beautiful scenery and interesting wildlife.

Wednesday June 10. (17.8 miles: Pottstown to Mont Clare Lock 60) One of the major highlights of the week-long sojourn happens on this day. Sojourners end the day by "locking through" the restored Lock 60 on the former Schuylkill Canal (see photo on left). This year, with the program theme focused on the canal, it's worth doing Wednesday for that alone. But, there's also some nice scenery and an enjoyable lunch setting  at Victory Park, in Royersford, where the Borough officials welcome sojourners with a delicious cake.  In the evening, paddlers can camp out near the canal, eat spaghetti dinner at nearby St. Micheal's Pavilion, and listen to author Charlie Adams talk about pirates that once plagued the Schuylkill Canal.

Thursday June 11. (14 miles: Mont Clare to West Conshohocken) This is a great day to paddle for several reasons. The river features a nice mix of scenery through this area. Paddlers begin the day in the canal and make their way into the river and through some wooded areas. The sojourn lunch will be at Valley Forge National Historic Park.  Later in the day sojourners encounter some interesting bridges and urban settings. At dinner, in West Conshohocken, they'll learn about the fascinating history of the Manayunk Canal.

Friday June 12 (16 miles: West Conshohocken to Philadelphia). This may be the final day, but it's also one of the best days of the sojourn! Sojourners love having the opportunity to paddle with the Philadelphia skyline as their backdrop and alongside the iconic Boathouse Row. If you need another reason to paddle on Friday, lunch is at the historic Philadelphia Canoe Club, where you eat surrounded by some amazing antique boats. You'll also hear a presentation on Invisible River, a performance art that celebrates the Schuylkill River.  The final takeout is Lloyd Hall on Boathouse Row. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

10 Reasons to Sign Up for the 17th Annual Schuylkill River Sojourn

Registration for the 17th Annual Schuylkill River Sojourn is now open! If you've always wanted to participate in at least one day on the sojourn, let this be the year you do! This 112-mile, seven day guided canoe/kayak tour takes place from Saturday June 6 to Friday June 12. Keep in mind that the first three days fill up quickly, so if you want to paddle on Saturday, Sunday or Monday, register early! Partial trip registration opens April 15; full-trip registration opened April 1. Click here to register.
Still not sure whether to sign up? 
Here are 10  reasons we think you should:

1. You don't have to do the full trip: Every year, people ask us if they need to sign up for the entire seven-day event. The answer is no! In fact, only about half the people on the water each day are full-trippers. So customize the trip to suit your needs. Try out one day or any combination of days you like. (Partial trip registration opens April 15).
2. You can go it alone: No friends want to join you? No sweat. The sojourn features a lead boat and a sweep boat that keeps the group from spreading out too far. That means you'll be paddling along with about 100 other fun-loving people. You are bound to make new friends.
3. We make it easy for you: How easy? We give you breakfast, lunch, dinner and a place to camp. We shuttle your gear and take you  back to your car. We provide water and Gatorade at all stops, and on long paddling stretches, we take breaks.  Our amazing guides from Canoe Susquehanna have been leading the sojourn for 17 years. If you're a novice, they'll give you pointers to make sure you have a great time.
4.You'll learn something fascinating: We provide speakers at all lunch and evening stops. This year,  the program theme is Schuylkill Canal: Legacy & Landmarks. Among the highlights are: a tour of the Allegheny Aqueduct,  a  talk about pirates on the Schuylkill Canal, and an opportunity to visit the Port Clinton Transportation Museum.  See Full List of programs.

5. You don't even have to own a kayak or canoe: Hey, we know not everyone has a boat. That's why we partner with an outfitter, Take it Outdoors Adventure Group, who can rent you a kayak for as many days as you need it. Kayak rentals include life vests and paddles
 6. Experience not necessary: While it is helpful to have some paddling experience under your belt, it's hardly necessary to be an expert. Every year we have beginners join us, sometimes even for the full-trip. Our guides are particularly good at assisting newcomers.

7. Your age doesn't matter: Octogenarians and elementary school children have paddled on the sojourn and loved it.
8. It's a bucket list item: Don't believe us? It was number 17 out of 25 on the Philly Fitness Bucket List   put together by Philadelphia Magazine's Be Well Philly.   

9. Every day is fun: People often ask us which sojourn day is best. Well, here's the truth: All the days are great! Saturday and Sunday are favored for their scenery (and also because they are weekend days!) Monday features a short section of white water called "Kelly's Rapids."  Tuesday is a nice, easy stretch ending at our headquarters, where we promise a great dinner! Wednesday ends with sojourners "locking through" the only watered lock remaining of the Schuylkill Canal. Thursday features a lunch stop at Valley Forge National Park. On Friday, the journey ends at Boat House Row, and sojourners paddle with the Philly skyline as their backdrop.

10. It only happens once a year: If you've always wanted to paddle on the sojourn, but don't do it this year, you'll have to wait all the way until June 2016 to get another chance!

We hope we've convinced you! If so, hurry: we only allow about 100 people on the water each day, so registration can fill up quickly for certain days. You can learn more about the sojourn on our website.
Or, if you're ready to join us for the 17th Annual Schuylkill River Sojourn, Register Here!