After timing everything just right to make each lock on the Muskingum River when they were open, I set off from Coshocton Ohio, all packed in dry bags, only carrying what I really needed and nothing extra. Only 2 gallons of water and very little food. (You can see my weird eating habits on other posts on this blog.) I had a new paddle, a redesigned boat, warmer weather, what could go wrong? Off I went. I notified my friends on Facebook as to what I was doing. Lots of well wishes followed.
Smooth sailing to Dresden, and a pleasant lunch on the banks of the river. More smooth sailing to Ellis lock where I camped for the night. I got there a little early, so there was a bit of boredom because there is not much to do at Ellis lock but watch the cat fishermen and listen to the roar of the water over the dam. After going to bed way to early, and waking up way to early, I made coffee, that’s another story. And was off to paddle to Zanesville. It was 330 in the morning! There was a moon out and the river was wide and smooth so I paddled on. Back to the coffee. I decided that since I had not purchased a small stove yet and did not want to take the time to build a campfire, I just mixed up some instant coffee in cold water and add some sweetener and I had coffee. It actually wasn’t to bad and gave me that needed caffeine rush.
I reached Zanesville very early and the lock was not open yet, but I knew that was going to be the case even in my planning. It is a easy portage there and actually faster to just go over the bank and slide back into the water. You could almost get in your boat at the top of the hill and sled ride down to the water but I didn’t want to try. The trip was going great, smooth sailing, what could go wrong.
Well a lot could go wrong, let me tell you. There was a monster lurking and it was coming into site soon. My experience with this monster was by watching this You Tube video, over and over and over. Knowing there was No portage, No going over the dam, you had to go through it. Philo lock. I still have bad dreams about it.
It was not like this when I got there. The river was clean, and I sat at the door of the lock for about 20 minutes blowing my whistle to get the lock master’s attention. No response. I called the lock on my phone, no answer. I called the state park, no answer. It was a Friday, they should be open. There was no way to just stop there, I had to do something. I could not climb that monster wall, so I paddled back along the shore. Found a spot I could get out, drug my boat up onto the shore, about a 4 foot mud bank, and grabbed my gear and proceeded through the woods to the road that runs by the river and down the road I went to start my portage around Philo Lock. It was a half mile to he other side of the bridge and dam, and very steep hills with jagged boulders, but I took my time, got down close to the river, found a place to stow my gear to go back and get my boat. I was determined to do this trip.
On my way back, I walked by the lock masters shack and she was in there. I asked her was she open and she said, yes, and that she did not hear me whistling. She said she would let me through. I walked back got back in the water with my boat and went through the lock. I noticed later that I had left my PFD with my gear. I am so glad she let me through without one. On the other side was a different story. A huge whirlpool with crazy currents awaited me. I got the boat to shore, tied it up, and went to get my gear. As I am coming back down the hill with my gear I see my boat floating away. I ran down those jagged boulders and dove into the water after my boat, got it and swam back to shore with it. I tied it up VERY tight this time, got my gear and loaded back up and got on my way.
more to come!