June 1-2 Skip, Bob, Steve and I paddled the Tioughnioga River from East Homer to Chenango Forks – roughly 40 miles. The Tioughnioga River is a narrow river with several twist, turns and easy “swifts” to keep paddlers engaged.
The water level gauge at Cortland (http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?01509000 ) was showing 3.1 feet with ~150 cubic feet per second discharge, well below the median 300 CFS for this time of year. The lower water level meant that we were able to easily run a couple of obstacles – a 2’ dam below the East Homer Bridge and a few strainers lower on the East Branch, but conversely we had to drag our loaded Royalex canoes through some shallow areas – probably 15 times over the two days.
Where East and West Branches meet the Tioughnioga River is born. Cortland appears below the confluence, above the right (western) bank of the Tioughnioga. From this point the river bends southward to form the eastern boundary of industrial Cortland and then assumes a southeasterly direction.
Just below Cortland we met up with two teenagers paddling from Cortland to Marathon with no knowledge of the distance/time it would take, no ten essentials, no water, only a cell phone and a Dad expecting to pick them up in Marathon. As the temperatures were in the 80s I gave them a bottle of water. We leapfrogged each other a couple of times and later saw a car driving slow
Through out the trip we passed several hundreds of Canada geese; about half of which flew off upon our approach and the rest just watched us from close range. I also heard and saw an unusual number of Northern Orioles – a very pretty sounding bird.
Below Gridley Creek Junction and above Marathon the valley floor widens to 3/10 mile with steep slopes and islands, and side channels offering sites for overnight camping. We took advantage of an island for camping overnight. A wonderful site except for the truck noise on I-81 and an early morning south bound freight train less than 30 yards away across the river. The early wake up call got Steve making coffee and we had a leisurely breakfast while serenaded by turkeys coming off their hillside roosts. We packed up and were paddling by 7:40am.
Given the forecast for a hot humid day I commented to Steve that I was glad for the early start and hoped that it would mean that we wouldn’t be paddling at 2 in the afternoon. We were close. We arrived at Chenango Forks at 2:10 with threatening rumbles of thunder. While we didn’t get hit with any serious rain I understand there were some violent thunderstorms in the southern tier during the afternoon. We were just lucky.
Overall the Tioughnioga River offers a nice paddle and certainly offers lots of options for day trips for those so inclined.