The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

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May 25, 2014

River about to be flooded with visitors

Even landlubbers respond to the pull of the Susquehanna

SUNBURY — While the Susquehanna River may be the longest non-navigable river in the United States, Valley residents will begin to navigate their way toward the Valley’s playground this weekend, the unofficial beginning of summer.

They’ll barbecue, picnic, pleasure-boat, hike and bike.

They’ll head out in canoes and kayaks or other personal watercrafts.

You might not see anyone water skiing or swimming though, even though the bags that comprise the Adam T. Bower Memorial Dam have been inflated to create the 3,060-acre Lake Augusta at Sunbury.

While everyone is ready for the Susquehanna River, the Susquehanna River might not be ready for everyone.

“It’s high,” said Angela Troutman, owner and operator of Lake Augusta Outfitters at Shikellamy State Park in Sunbury, “about 5 feet higher than average, and it’s running fast. It’s normally lake-like right now.”

On Saturday, the Susquehanna River was at 13 feet in Sunbury, the National Weather Service said, and the current was faster than usual.

That’s likely why so few boats were on Lake Augusta on what was a gorgeous day, though Troutman’s rental pontoon boat was booked solid for Memorial Day weekend, she said. Saturday’s clients put in the river south of the Edison Bridge.

While the high water may have kept some at bay, many people chose to soak in the scenic beauty from the banks.

Picnics by the river are always popular, and several families chose to make the Susquehanna the backdrop for their special occasions Saturday.

Michele Eisenhart, of Milton, and Crystal Barry, of Sunbury, chose the park to host the 50th wedding anniversary party of their parents, William and Shirley Eisenhart.

“This is the nicest place,” Michele Eisenhart said of the park and the river, while fishing is the favorite of son Jacob Hess, a kindergartner at James F. Baugher Elementary School in Milton.

“I caught one,” Jacob said of a trout he landed this year, “and I ate him. I love fishing.”

A bridal shower for Nicholas Herb and Stephanie Derk, who tie the knot June 14, was under way with a toilet-paper bride gown contest while groom’s mom Cindy Derk looked on.

“This is first time I’ve been here, it’s beautiful!” said Derk, who’s from Dalmatia.

Jean Zanolini felt the same way. She and husband Jerry, who were visiting from Drums, about 55 miles northeast of Sunbury, took a fast walk around the park, spending time while their daughter was having fun at Bounce Fun Plex in Shamokin Dam.

“This is really nice, we walked the waterfront. You don’t see a lot of places like this” where water access or views are easy, she said.

The may be why the pontoon boat rental is one of Troutman’s most popular offerings, she said, closely followed by the jet skis and kayak rentals. With her season kicking off Saturday  through Labor Day, Troutman said she’s just one of two places in the entire state that rents out jet skis and pontoons.

“The river is underutilized and underappreciated,” said Troutman, who celebrates her fifth year in business this summer. “My goal is to connect people more to this beautiful natural asset we have.”

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