This story starts on Memorial Day weekend 2021. The temperature outside is 53, the water is low in the Kokosing but with the rain that is falling we keep hoping for more water in the river. My boat is packed, I did my best, all my stuff with is Army packs that my sons had given me, most of it in water proof bags, some even vacuum sealed. Each pack is wrapped inside a extra large garbage bag and sealed ( I think.) Plenty of water on board, about three days worth. Everything weighed and calculated not to o over the boats weight capacity.
Ready to go, we started down the Kokosing from Memorial Park in Mount Vernon, Ohio. Headed for Marietta. Six days and 160 miles ahead of us. I had been down this river 5 times this Spring, I was a expert I told myself. I found out different. 4 miles in I went around a log as I always did, but this time I got caught by the log, pulled under, and was going down quickly. Four other guys stopped, got me out of that predicament, got my boat pumped out and on I went. The problem was, I probably had 50 pounds of water left in my boat that was in between all my little water proof bags and water bottles, and everything else that was floating around in the boat. On top of that, the river was low and I was dragging on every rock in the river, getting in and out of the boat over and over, getting wetter and wetter.
I made it to Howard / Pipesville Road access, about 16 miles and I had enough. My boat kept filling up with water, I kept getting colder, and the day was just falling apart. I pulled out at Howard, and went home. After a visit to the ER later that evening, for the hypothermia and shock that I was in, I survived. Very disappointed and disheartened.
In a couple of days, I got in the car with a friend and we caught up with the group and I took a case of beer to the guys who had saved me that day. They were paddling on, and I was not. After getting home I told myself, I am going to do this trip even if I have to do it myself. So I did major alterations on my boat so that it would not fill with water so easy. I bought dry bags for my equipment. This is the single most important thing that I did. On long trips you MUST have your things in dry bags. Just remember that even if something is so called water proof. Once little nooks and carneys get filled with water, that all has weight. And trust me, it does weigh you down. I planned my trip, mile by mile. Using the charts that Joey Butts had made up for the Paddle for Heroes trip on Memorial Day weekend. I contacted the owners of the campgrounds PFH had used and asked if I could stay at their facilities. I contacted a couple friends along the river to stay at their place. I used every resource I could to make this trip happen, all in secret because I thought people might try to talk me out of it because I was doing it myself.
To be continued