People mark the beginning of summer in different ways. For some it is the end of school. Others consider Memorial Day weekend as the official start of summer. For the past 30 years the annual Gray Water Boys / River Rats canoe trip has been the event we use to remind us summer is officially underway. As if 11pm sunsets aren’t enough.
This past weekend the gang met up at Evensong Farm in Sharpsburg, Maryland to canoe Antietam Creek and a portion of the Potomac River. Big group this year, 34 in all. The members of the group (ages 19 to 89) hail from all over the East Coast, Ohio, Colorado, and Alaska (obviously).
This year’s trip was a big deal for me as it marked the 30th anniversary of my joining the group in 1988.
It is also our annual vacation and a chance to visit with my dad, brothers, brother-in-law, cousins, nephews, and friends. My dad starting attending the trip sometime around 1965. The exact year has been lost the mists of history. In 1978 my little brother became the first of the family to begin participating. Our family participation grew over the years and hopefully we haven’t ruined everything.
Things began in 1947 when the three Gray brothers (Harold, Vern, and ) canoed most of the length of the Potomac River. An account of their trip would be published in the National Geographic Magazine in June of 1948. This trip, in a much shorter form, became an annual late spring family tradition. Over the decades the trip grew and the ‘family’ that particpates has expanded to include many friends. It is an extended weekend of music, stories, and family.
This year was the 71st anniversary of the original trip. Tom Gray, our organizer, selected a trip that began on Antietam Creek and was planned to end on the Potomac river – where all this started. The weather had other plans in store for us.
Over the last several weeks the area near Antietam Creek has been subjected to constant and heavy rain. The result was a river level higher than normal but not dangerously so. Our first day (and as it turned out, only) on the river was wonderful. Although humid as a tropical greenhouse, the weather was sunny. Later at camp, around 9pm, the clouds rapidly rolled in and we found ourselves in a huge thunderstorm. The rain was so heavy it doused a roaring campfire in just a few minutes.
We fared well that evening but found the next morning that the river level was up nearly nine inches. Opting to stay safe, we chose not to get on the river for the second half of the trip. It was a wonderful weekend non the less.
All of the slideshow photographs are in a gallery at this link: Gray Water Boys Photo Gallery 2018
If you are a Gray Water Boy (past or present), friend, or family member feel free to download any of the slideshow photographs from the gallery. If not, don’t even think about it…..