By Phillip McKnight
It was a November night when we pushed our canoe from the sandy shore into the cool trickling creek water. My friend sat in the front and I waded until the 50-degree water reached my knees. I swung a leg over the canoe and continued my journey into the dark and under the stars down northern Maryland’s Deer Creek.
I made the decision to embark on this 7 day sectional paddle of the entire Deer Creek because I grew up as a boy playing, and occasionally peeing in a gravelly stream that I didn’t know at the time was called the Little Deer Creek. Now thirty, I realize that any action I did on the land (or in the water) surrounding that creek would eventually end up somewhere. I made the decision to find out where that somewhere actually was.
I began the journey on a summer day near the intersection of the Maryland/Pennsylvania line and I 83. The Deer Creek, with its headwaters reaching into York, PA, is Harford County’s largest watershed, covering 38% of the county or approximately 171 square miles (Deer Creek Watershed Association). My friend Andrew, who owns property near the creek’s headwaters, offered me the perfect place to launch the old kayak that I had owned since I was 13. I uncomfortably squeezed my body into the small black craft, said goodbye to my friend, paddled 5 strokes and then bottomed out on a shallow rapid. It was an anticlimactic start to a 35-mile journey. Little did I know then that the picture of me bottomed out on a sandy spit would be a common sight. Read the story