Three days of Primitive

Monday May 9th

Woke up 4am, threw my clothes on and made a cup of coffee.  The third degree burns on my throat account for the temperature of the coffee and how fast I drank it. Down to the parking lot I went to find my boat safe and sound.  I moved it to the side door of the hotel for easy access.  All the while I have my muck boots, putting them on outside and walking around in my socks in the hotel so as to not mess up their beautiful carpet. 

Back to my room with a cart, I load up and swallow one more cup of coffee. On with the boots, off with the boots, eventually the boat was loaded, and it was time for check out.  My bill settled, a few Little Debbie sweets in me, I headed for the river.  What a site, a 65 year old with his PFD on, pulling a loaded boat on wheels to the boat ramp at 5:30 in the morning.

WOW is all I can say.  I got on that river and got in that current and it was like a amusement park ride.  6 miles per hour and I hadn’t put a paddle in the water yet. I hit the confluence of the Muskingum River. Around and round I went in the swirls, but I got the boat headed the right way and off I went.  I liked this water.  It was clearing up from being so muddy, and the debris was not too bad.  People asked me if the trees and logs were a hazard, but actually they weren’t because that is about the speed, I was going so I just floated with them.  The debris line was actually the best place to float because there was less eddies and swirls in that area.  

I planned to stay at the Circle S campgrounds that night.  It turned out to be a wonderful campground.  They did not have their docks in the water yet, probably a good thing, so I landed at a West Virginia DNR ramp right before their place.  The campgrounds were one mile before the Belleville Lock and Dam which I could go through the next day.  I loaded up the boat, put it on the wheels and found out that if I pushed it, it was easier than pulling.  Off to the campgrounds I went.  I was early and Kevin the owner said he would be back from town shortly, so I waited under the picnic shelter and caught up on my social media.  Kevin and his wife soon returned and showed me where to set my tent and it wasn’t long before I was relaxing with a afternoon nap.

About 7pm Kevin yelled through the tent that his wife has sent me down some quiche that turned out to be wonderful.  I had bad news from the lock, it was full of driftwood, and I would not be able to get through it.  There was also construction on the large chamber, so barges were backed up for two days to get through the lock.  Keven agreed to portage me to the other side of the dam the next morning. 

Tuesday May 10th

I slept great, woke, packed and was ready.  Soon Keven pulled up with his truck and on our way we went.  The trip was about a half mile and I was looking at a handicapped ramp that went down to a swirling choppy end, but down we went.  A DNR employee was there too and he and Kevin helped me with my bags while I took the boat down.  Loaded, I backed into the surf, and after some maneuvering I got to the other side of the railing, almost tipping several times, and off I went.  With a wave, I was on my way again.  

I forgot to mention, It was election day for Kevin.  He was running for a state delegate job, and I sure hope he won because he was a good honest man.  He was proud of his accomplishments in life, he lived a good comfortable life and beautiful house, but you could tell it all came from hard work and dedication.  He and his wife were both rodeo riders.  They were just another example of the great people I had met on the river so far.

I had two gallons of water, several energy drinks for my caffeine and plenty of survival food.  I was headed for a stay on Letart Island, with a stop at Ravenswood first.  It was so HOT that day.  I pulled into the park at Ravenswood, found a food truck and made a order of a Italian Sausage, Waffle Fries, Baked Beans and 6 Cokes.  After talking the ear off the server, off to a shade tree I went to enjoy my spoils.  It was super food, and there was enough to save half for supper that night. 

Letart Island was covered in knot weed, there seemed to be no way I was going to get on this island.  The internet service sucked, and I considered passing it up.  I called ahead to the Racine Lock and they said that it may be two days before I could get through the lock because of all the driftwood in the lock. I looked harder for a campsite and finally found one.  I was surprised that when I stepped out into the mud to land the boat, the bottom was firm after about three to 4 inches of muck.  I was able to find a level place to put my tent, threw all my bags like bales of hay over my shoulder up onto the bank and started setting up my tent.

I thought I had stuck my hand into a wasp nest.  My introduction to the Stinging Nettle.  I looked all over for Jewel Weed, none to be found.  So I just went on setting up my tent in pain.  Eventually I knocked down all the weeds enough to get them out of my way and had a nice camp set up.  After talking to the lock operator I knew my stay here was going to be long.  I took stock of my supplies, seen that I had enough except I may run low on water, but I had my filters so I could make some clean water if I needed it.  I settled in for a lovely two days rest. 

Wednesday May 11th

There was a grocery store listed on Google Maps, I thought I would just take my boat upstream about a mile and get some supplies.  Well after fighting the current, I discovered a empty building and a dust covered grocery store sign, and that was about it.  Did I mention don’t trust Google Maps 100%?  I paddled back and improved my landing spot for the boat by putting logs down in the mud so the boat was on them and not the mud.  It is not easy to move a boat if it suctions down into the mud.  The water level was going down by the hour and had dropped about two feet since I had arrived. 

After drinking the last of the Coke and looking at my half full jug of water, I decided it was time to make some filtered water.  It turned out good.  I made a half gallon.  I sweetened it with some stevia and that made it much easier to tolerate.  It is not that it tasted bad, it is just that when you get the visual of the river in your head it is hard to get it out when you are drinking it.

I think I slept about 15 hours that day, or maybe more.  Afternoon naps are my profession.  It was restful as I listened to the bird that to me sounded like a crying baby but ended up being a cat bird.  The geese were obnoxious as usual.  Think I may have been close to some nests.  My sleep came like my internet connection that day, on for awhile and off for a while. 

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