Sojourners make a big splash
The StrongLand Chamber of Commerce broke its record for the most paddlers ever for its 16th Annual Alle-Kiski-Connie Sojourn, a three-day water journey of about 40 miles down the Conemaugh and Kiski rivers and other local waterways.
A fourth day is reserved for a safety and practice paddling outing.
This year's trip drew 63 participants from throughout the northeastern United States including New York, Ohio and Connecticut.
“This is amazing — the organization, the volunteers — and I've been on many sojourns,” said Helena Garan, 71, of Binghamton, N.Y.
“It is beautiful here,” she said as she beached her kayak from the emerald-green waters of the Kiski Saturday afternoon at the kayak/canoe boat launch at Roaring Run trail in Kiski Township.
“And thank Pennsylvania for the beautiful weather,” she said as the paddlers enjoyed blue skies, low humidity and temperatures in the mid-80s.
But you don't have to be from another state to appreciate the sojourn.
Barbara Raschiatore, 68, of Vandergrift, who is in her sixth year of paddling the event, said, “I love being outdoors and on the water. You can see how everything is cleaner. You can see fish and sometimes eagles, ospreys and great-blue herons.”
Raschiatore brings her sister, Michelle Buchlitener, 59, of Allegheny Township, along on the sojourn for some “sister time.”
Buchlitener added, “They always have good programs scheduled in between time on the river.”
The Alle-Kiski-Connie Sojourn is one of only nine river sojourns in the state supported by the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
And of those state-supported paddling events, it is the only sojourn sponsored by a chamber of commerce. The others are presented by nature conservancies and other environmental groups, according to Allan Walzak, retired executive director of the StrongLand Chamber of Commerce.
Walzak and his wife, Gloria, of East Brady, are coordinators of the sojourn.
Walzak created the event to showcase the beauty of the Kiski River along with the history and culture of the Alle-Kiski Valley.
“It's been wonderful watching it grow,” he said, noting that the number of participants has doubled since he started it 16 years ago.
“The sojourn promotes who we are and what we do,” Walzak said.
Paddlers don't spend all of their time on the river, but visit local museums and historic places.
This year, the Saltsburg Herbal Society hosted the group at the Saltsburg museum. Paddlers also were treated to a trip to Avonmore and Apollo to visit the Women's Christian Temperance Union building on North Second Street, Drake's log cabin and the Heritage House, formerly the Chambers Hotel.
The sojourn kicked off Thursday in Crooked Creek State Park, which is base camp for the paddlers throughout the four-day event. Friday and Saturday, the group floated down the Connemaugh to Saltsburg and from Saltsburg to Avonmore, then Avonmore to Apollo.
Today, the last day of the sojourn, the paddlers will explore Mahoning Creek and the Allegheny River north of Templeton.
Mary Ann Thomas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4691 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Arnold fireman falls from truck
- Mia Z voices no regrets after failing to advance on NBC show
- Freeport High School students rise to the challenge
- Pittsburgh man taken for wild ride on Route 28
- Alle-Kiski Valley answers the call of ‘Banshee’
- 2 Republicans square off in Washington Township
- New Ken raid nets 2 suspects, $4,000 in drugs
- Bank attempts to foreclose on Heights Plaza in Harrison
- Highlands extends superintendent’s contract for 3 years
- Mia Z makes Kiski proud
- Alle-Kiski seniors attend Walk the Red Carpet event