08-02-16

CUDC’s 3rd Annual Crooked River Commute

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This summer, August 26-27, Kent State University faculty and staff will embark on the 3rd Annual Crooked River Commute. This kayaking trek along the Cuyahoga River from Kent State University’s main campus (Kent) to Kent State’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (Cleveland) is intended to promote the river as a shared regional asset for education, recreation, and sustainability.

Cheer us on as we paddle into the Great Lakes Burning River Fest

Meet us at the finish of the trip. We should arrive in Cleveland on Saturday, August 26th, around 7:15 PM. Grab a beer at the Coast Guard Station during The Burning River Festival and watch us paddle in.

Follow us for updates. 

We’ll keep everyone posted on trip details through the CUDC’s social media accounts.
Follow us at: crookedrivercommute.org
Facebook: ksuCUDC 
Twitter: @ksuCUDC
Instagram: @ksuCUDC

Share our story.

Tell your friends, family and social network about the Crooked River Commute. We’ll be using social media during the trip, using hashtag: #RiverCommute

Learn More. 

Read our summary to learn more about the back story and goals of this trip. 

2015 photos

2014 photos

10-29-15

Commuting the Crooked River; Making a Present out of History

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by Dax Roman Godkin

Morning. The river glistens with sunlight and possibilities. I paddle my kayak around a bend. A magnificent great blue heron rises from its quiet hunt in front of me in the river. I have disturbed its potential breakfast and it will have to seek different hunting grounds. The extended spread of the heron’s wings carries it into the horizon, two skinny little legs dangling along like an afterthought.

I am on the Second Annual Crooked River Commute down the Cuyahoga River. Organized by David Jurca, Associate Director of Kent State University’s Cleveland Urban Design Collective (CUDC), this trip begins at Kent State’s main campus and ends near the CUDC in Cleveland. More precisely, the trip ends at the river’s egress into Lake Erie at the U.S. Coast Guard station at Whiskey Island, site of the Great Lakes Brewing Company’s Burning River Festival. Many of us brought our own equipment, but there was a generous contribution of boats and gear from Mark Pecot from 41 North Coastal Kayak Adventures. Additional gear was rented from Dan Hudak of River Cruiser Kayaking.

The purpose of this event is to “promote the river as a shared regional asset for education, recreation, and sustainability.” Our intention, besides just enjoying the river, is to look for areas of improvement along the 50-mile stretch of river between Kent and Lake Erie.

The Cuyahoga River has the dubious reputation of catching on fire in the late 1960’s. This was not an isolated event. River fires were not uncommon in those days, but this particular fire became the catalyst for the creation of both the Clean Water Act and the Environmental Protection Agency. Vast improvements in water quality on the river have come about from the interventions of these governmental agencies. There are over forty species of fish that call the Cuyahoga River home, many of which live only in clean waters.

The group met for the first time at Waterworks Park in Kent. Most of us were strangers with David being the primary connection between us. I knew David because we had lived in the same neighborhood for a time. When I heard about last year’s trip, I made sure that I got myself included in this year’s adventure by consistently pestering him for months.
Another member of the crew, David Brandt, a Cleveland Heights native and graduate of Kent State who now resides in the Washington DC area, read about the trip in an alumni newsletter and similarly pestered David to be included. Sometimes it pays to be perseverant.

There was one return member from last year’s trip, Chris Maurer, a freelance architect and instructor at Kent State, who would act as our primary scout and guide.

We all said our hellos and had a little breakfast, then hit the water for the morning.

The weather could not have been nicer, seventy-five degrees, slightly overcast, with an occasional breeze to keep it cool.

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The water through Kent was placid and serene. However, as we expected, the water levels of the river were a little low. High-centered on the bedrock and gravel riverbed several times, we scooted our way into deeper water or just got out of the boats and walked around the longer shallows. This did not take away from the beauty of the morning as we wound around the bends in this truly crooked river, talking and laughing, getting to know one another without the usual filters.

Conversations were often interrupted with the necessity to pay attention as we maneuvered through the obstacles and occasional obstructions in the river. We all watched and learned from each other, sometimes following in a member’s path as they had obviously chosen a good line through the potential stickiness, others going a different way as they got stuck in their path; the low water levels adding spice to the complex decision making processes.

We stopped for lunch and a necessary portage of the Sheraton Falls in Cuyahoga Falls. These falls are impassible for all but the most experienced paddlers.

Charles Frederick of the CUDC was in charge of the truck for this portion of the trip. Charles, a member of last year’s Commute, was quite disappointed that a shoulder injury kept him out of this year’s trip. However, his and others efforts as the support crew were invaluable assets to the trip.

A good portion of us rode with the gear in the back of the truck. We felt we were on a secret spy mission during the dark, jostley ride to the next put-in below the falls.

The next section of the trip took us past Akron and into the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Read more…