People ask me, why paddle the Ohio River? Why go so far? Hell, I even ask myself that sometimes. As a child I can remember seeing a river and wondering “where does that water go?” I was fascinated thinking that I could put a boat on that water and end up in the ocean somewhere. Hearing the stories of our ancestors putting their crops on flat boats and taking them down the river to market and walking back to their homes was so intriguing. The adventure of it all!
How did these people do it? They were sure a hardy bunch. I am sure it was not all work for them, they had to have enjoyed the solitude, and the experience of being with nature. They had to have known fear and shear terror at times when nature was at its most intense. The feeling after those moments were over of accomplishment at remaining steadfast and brave through it all and surviving another day must have been so satisfying.
I experienced a few of those feelings on my Muskingum River trip last year. No matter how much I had planned, I still encountered the unexpected, and saw it through. This experience is somewhat addicting. I am not a extreme thrill seeker, you will not see me dropping off bridges on a rubber band rope or jumping out of perfectly good airplanes. Swirling caldrons of water and rocks do not thrill me or even interest me. For me it is the slow steady pace or one stroke after another, one town after another, one eagle nest after another, one river lock after another. Each a challenge, each adding to my story of life.
I don’t want to be cliché but I must. Why do it? Because it is there!