What to do?

What does a person do when they would love to be out on the water for a long kayak trip and they are in between trips? This is what I have been doing.

Planning a long trip, of course. I think that I may have come up with a good one for next weekend. 125 miles to Marietta again, this time starting at Mohawk Dam. I will be camping at the locks and some stealth camping on islands to change things up. This time I will also be using a canoe instead of a kayak. I still paddle it like a kayak but I have started to enjoy this beast. It is much lighter than my big kayak that I took on the Ohio River and is a bit faster, and can carry about 100 pounds more gear.

All decked out for 4th of July celebration at Ariel-Foundation Park

I have also picked up a bit of litter, at Riverside Park in Mount Vernon and in the Kokosing from Riverside Park to Memorial Park. I have a really difficult time walking past litter. If I see it, I must pick it up. I think it is part of my mental illness, but if it does good, then it is a good thing.

Riverside Park Before
Riverside Park After
All the Litter I got at Riverside Park
What I got out of the Kokosing

Good news, I got a hammock, and next I am going to try to learn to sleep in it. It is much lighter than a tent, we will see how it goes. I will take it over to Ariel-Foundation Park and try it out between a couple trees for a afternoon nap sometime.

I have been doing frequent sunset paddles at Ariel-Foundation Park lately. I like to go over after supper and get 3-5 miles of paddling in. It is calm and peaceful and helps me keep in shape for my long voyages.

Sunset at Ariel-Foundation Park

Last Saturday we went to the Muskingum River Advocacy Council Boat Festival at the Zanesville Boat Club. Joey and his family and Sonya, Rose and I paddled from Riverside park in Zanesville, through the locks and to the Boat Club. Was a nice paddle and going through the locks is always fun. We took a side trip up Moxahala Creek for about a mile and found some beautiful rock formations and a ledge that formed a small water fall about a foot high. Any time we take Rose someplace she always starts picking up litter.

Rose picking up litter at Riverside Park in Zanesville, Ohio

I have not totally ruled out attempting to finish my Ohio River trip this year. I have a trip down the Little Miami to do the first week in August. We will be paddling to the Ohio River Paddlefest in Cincinnati. After that the next weekend we are on the Au Sable in Michigan for a weekend trip. After that I am free and clear to possibly finish that trip.

A project that I have decided to take on is to improve the river access points in Knox County. To make them more accommodating to everyone, not just people who can throw a 100 pound boat over their shoulder and carry it half a mile. I think there needs to be some kind of stairs or ramps to the river from most of them. We also need to have more secure garbage containers like the one in Greer to keep the animals out of the cans. I also am designing a onion bag box that can be made out of metal, something we could have the Career Center welding students put together for us at a reasonable price and put them on metal poles so that they are flood resistant. This project will take some labor and some money. Grants will be applied for to fun some of it. We are not sure exactly what we need right now so not sure what the cost is going to be. If you have any suggestions please IM me or email me with them.

I was told this week, “you love the Kokosing River!” I agree. I do. I love everything about it. The twists, the turns, the riffles, the rapids, the trees , the birds, the deer, the goats (yes I have seen a herd of goats.) I love it all. I love to see it clean and as nature meant it to be. I don’t like to see it polluted and littered. I love that a kid, or a big kid sometimes, can swim in it and not come down with some deadly illness. I love that there a huge fish and small fish, and big turtles and small turtles. Some fish become a Eagle’s dinner, and some swim free for some angler to try his skill on. I like it that you can eat a fish out of this river and not be a pound heavier from the lead and mercury that might be in them. I love it that you can paddle down this river and not be pushing cans and bottles out of the way to get through the water. I love it that once in awhile a tree falls across the river and you have negotiate that obstacle and test your skills. I love the sandstone cliffs with water dripping into the river. I love the river best when there is frost on the dead grass and leaves on the bank and a mist drifting off the cold clear water. I love to sleep next to a riffle and hear the water each time I wake at night, reminding me I am still alive and next to one of the most beautiful waters in the world.

Magical People in A Magic Land Part 4

There was no hurry to wake up. I didn’t even want to wake up. Not because of being tired, but because I knew soon the trip would be over. There was a certain unease in the camp. I think the feeling was mutual with several other paddlers. This wonderful trek down a beautiful river would soon be history. We would be back to our daily routines and the group would be forever in our memories. Until then, we had 16 miles and two locks to negotiate.

It was amazing how fast this paddling went. Even though my body did not want to paddle. My arms did not want to pull and push. My legs did not want to push. My muscles were sore, the ones I had not noticed yesterday or before. My mind was not into it. It was, thank goodness, a short trip that day. The sun beat down melting through layers of sunscreen. Water was consumed by the bottle full, empties littering the bottom of my boat, rolling from side to side as my boat swayed.

The notorious Rainbow bend, came and went with a whimper. Memories of last year when the waves were two feet high white caps and I could not tell if I was making any forward progress went through my mind. Today was much different. The water was like glass, and the heat oppressive. City park passed, and we grouped up for a loose diamond formation for the final push to the Ohio River and up river to the landing.

Soon we were pulling boats up the incline and grouping up for photos and media attention. Me all I could do was be sad, it was all over. Yes I had finished. and yes I was happy that others had finished. We accomplished something few do, but my solemnity was overcoming me. I could have kept on, miles, more miles. I wanted this group to paddle more and more. Day after day of the closeness we had. Purpose, it meant something! This group of women and men meant something, do ourselves and to many others.

Some of us loaded up and took off for other adventures. Some hung around the Lafayette Hotel for a day, having dinner and breakfast and then returning home. Everyone took home precious memories.

Each person added their magic to this trip. Each took from it more than they ever expected. The magic land of the river flowed through us now. For a moment it washed us clean of the world around us and it’s troubles. It is always there. It beacons us, come to me and I will fill you. And we will all return.

Magical People in A Magic Land Part 3

I could go on and on about how slow and boring the progress was. How there was little to see but tree after tree. How the sun beat down upon us relentlessly. How the heat caused sweat to pour out of us almost as much as the water and electrolytes we poured into us. But let’s get to a little magic.

We got to beautiful Stockport lock early and waited in the shade enjoying the view of the old mill and hearing the rush of the water over the dam. Soon we were through and on the other side awaited very turbulent water that most enjoyed, pushing them along at super speeds. Then more mile after mile to Luke Chute where we enjoyed lunch as a log was cleared from the lock to let us pass. I think maybe the river knew this was a much needed break from paddling and maybe put that log there. If you have not been to Luke Chute, go. It has lovely grounds, lots of camp sites. not much traffic and is way off the beaten path.

Next came a big challenge. Since the lock is not operational at Beverly, we chose to go to the other side of the river and portage out boats around the damn. A trusty knight of the magic people, Mike, was there again to help is with is truck and trailer, hauling boats and gear down roads that were almost impossible to walk. His services were so valuable to this trip. I can’t thank him enough. Boats in the water, eddies to manage, we rushed to the other shore. Dangerous storms were on the radar and we needed shelter.

It is hard to explain how muddy Beverly lock boat ramp was. There was a wooden ramp that sufficed for many to get their boat out without sliding their way through 6 inches of pure slick goo. Mixed in was a blown up dead racoon that added to the ambience. Lightning was in the air, so we pulled out quick and found shelter. Some of us better than others. I chose to stand outside in the rain letting it fill me with refreshing energy. The lightning and thunder had gone so it was nothing more than a good strong shower and I felt clean through and through.

Skies clearing, we were on our way. Some chose to porpoise their boats on the wooden ramp, and some went into the drink! But it was all in fun. The group was refreshed by the storm also, and paddle on we did. Until the crack of thunder broke the silence, so under the trees we hid. More rain and more thunder and lightning came and went and we ducked under the trees a few times, but eventually we made it to the campgrounds for the night.

There was hot lasagna and salad, cold water and beer, and a warm welcome from the hosts at Stonehouse Campground. It had become so routine, pull in, unload the boats, set up your tent, eat, make a campfire, etc, etc. After 5 days, we all just took it in stride. We settled around a warm campfire as the sun set and talked about the trip, and how we could improve it. There were many grateful hearts around that fire, much love was shared and we went to bed that night, knowing, we had one more day together, one more day till the end.

Magical People in A Magic Land Part 2

The day was supposed to be an easy day. Nothing unexpected, nothing particularly dangerous. But the heat of the day became our enemy! Mile after mile we paddled and paddled and paddled. We had several locks to go through this day. One was the notorious Philo lock which can be dangerous. But not on this day. There had been no recent flooding and there was no debris in the area so it was smooth sailing. We arrived there early and hung out under the shade enjoying each other’s company talking and having a good time. Some were frustrated that we got there so early but soon that was all forgotten as we entered the lock.

Philo lock is notorious for the currents on the down river side. We got a quick ride on the bucking horse that was our boat, and everybody got through safely. We were on our way to the next lock, Rokeby. Before that we stopped at the long hoped for Greenacres store, which due to septic issues did not have a bathroom and the restaurant was closed. This was a real disappointment because most people were depending on a nice hot brunch and a restroom break. We moved on and there was a wonderful ice cream shop just down the river Most stopped and enjoyed the feast of the cold delight.

We got through Rokeby lock in short time and we were McConnelsville bound. It was long hard paddling, and the heat was horrid. Bends and curves, and little shade to be had. Then came into view the golden arches! I guess you can always depend on them but I don’t know for what. Many stopped and refreshed themselves. Others moved on and found the lock.

It is difficult to explain in words how long trips on the river can be. For me, I pass the time in many ways. If I have a companion I paddle and talk about just about everything. If alone, I may sing to myself, even write a short verse or two. Sometimes I count cadence as in the military, or just count the strokes. Mantras come in handy to pass the time. There was the beauty of nature, birds of all sorts. Female ducks attempting to lure me away with their crippled act, I only felt sorry for all the effort the put in to save what was never threatened. Once in awhile a fish will jump or roll. And there is always the people. Wonderful people, all waving, yelling hello, finding out what the group was all about and us so willing to share why we were there. Flags waving on boats, and flags waving on land, all Americans and feeling it.

There was a Vietnam Veteran, that one of our members seen fall. We paddled over and spoke to him. He told us of his service and we of ours. he was sitting on his boat ramp talking to us, and said he was ok, so we paddled on. By the time the next group of boaters came, he was out and in serious condition. A ambulance was called and off to the hospital he went. Our lives all touching even for just a moment.

Arrival at River’s Edge Campground is a truly fun experience. Keli is there with her camera taking movies of each paddler as they approach the beach. If you miss her she will ask you go arrive again! Hugs were exchanged, food was on the fire, and tents went up. Keli and Erik are two very wonderful people who give of themselves to our cause. Keli is a veteran herself. We had another great night of great food and conversation. Most retired early, I personally was beat and needed a good night sleep.

Magical People in A Magic Land

We came together for many personal reasons. Some for the nature, some for the healing of that nature, some for the personal challenge. There were skill levels from extreme novice to well seasoned and the wise, to those who over estimated their skills and those who underestimated them. There were under packers and over packers. There were expensive sleek fast craft and box store plastic. Some like me thought they could make it with overloaded garbage scows, with everything including the kitchen sink strapped and hooked on to every square inch of usable space.

The morning was sunny, beautiful and cool. The magic land was calling. Sounds of it churning and gurgling across the rocks beckoned us. “Come to me” it said, “and I will change you.” The excitement was amazing. Old friends coming back together and feeling out the newbies. Can they make it? Are they prepared. Do they need help? We asked ourselves. I’ve got extra dry bags, do you need one? How would you like to have a pretty flag on your boat? Then back up to the parking lot we went. (If the safety briefing was held by the river, the river’s call would have distracted us way to much.)

This challenge was familiar to most on the trip. We cut a line through 32 miles of twisting and winding waters, through a few downed trees, and over shallow riffles. Paddling side by side with old friends and new acquaintances that were soon to become old friends. Over several challenges, we progressed. Some stumbled and picked themselves up and returned to the flow. We arrived at Mohawk Dam full of spunk and fire, we had survived the first day and we had a lot to be proud of.

Slipping and sliding through through the mud, we piled our boats onto trailers and over the dam we went to the great food and company that awaited us. In the back of some of our minds was the dread of the next days challenge of 39 miles, in the heat. Broken up by a new kink in the plan, the prospect of the old broken 6 mile dam project and all it entailed. Some had experienced the transformation of that area and some had only heard. Good conversation and great food and hospitality permeated the skies of Mohawk Dam campsite. Tents went up, hammocks strung between trees, bedding dried out from leaks here and there in dry bags. The sun slowly hid behind the hills and the temperature fell to a chill some wished they had felt that day when the sweat poured off their brows.

Sunshine and stirring, the clatter of equipment being packed. Breakfast smells, sweet bacon and sausage and eggs frying. Excitement coming to a crescendo as boats went on trailers and to the water. No gear today! Pile it here, was heard around the camp. Sighs of relief went through the group. I gladly shed myself of 100 pounds of gear out of my boat. The first group is off to scout the dangers. Into the mist they go, around bends and across riffles they glide. The water is deep and swift, and soon the old dam is found.

The water level has lowered over night and it doesn’t seem to bad. Some take the safest route to the left and easily glide through, some choose the adventure of the riding the wave train and go through easy, and some think they are on mechanical bulls, but all make it through safely. The rest of the day becomes tedious dip after dip of the paddle. Pull and pull, stroke and stroke. Miles and miles of beautiful nature, and more paddling. We pass homes, cities, and villages, and on and on we go. 39 miles of sometimes pure boredom, but for the most part the absolute perfect time to get to know each other.

Campsite in site, we pull onto the ramp which is small so we have no time to doddle, get the boats out of the water so the next person can get theirs out. Find your gear, set up your tent. Find some cold water to drink and some hot to shower and dress for the feast that awaits us. Hot corn, with butter “crack”, pulled pork, and every kind of salad and desert on earth. A open bar with a wild and wonderful bartender serving, it was a great party and just the thing everyone needed. These were good people, salt of the earth, hard working Americans that were giving of themselves to thank us for being there. It was amazing. There were drawings and auctions and giveaways and in the end substantial amounts of cash raised for our cause.

Some retired early, some later, but all slept very well and were ready to go the next morning after a wonderful breakfast served by fellow members not on the trip. Hot coffee and eggs, and bacon and home fries, it was a delight. We were able to sleep in this morning and there was no hurry to get anywhere. It was that long awaited short day where we could take it easy and prepare for the next two days of hard river miles.

Along with us, Olive the magical dog. The being that could spread happiness and bring smiles just with her presence. The super dog that could out swim the boats. The wonderful river smelly ball of fluff and curl that could warm hearts as she passed. I personally was so glad for her presence. I am sure other’s were also.

On the river again, we made it the short miles to Terry’s tavern for a warm lunch and drinks. It hit the spot for sure, but I think after all this generosity from others I was starting to gain weight. Maybe I did not need to be quite as accepting of that extra helping.

We made a large rainbow as we crossed to the other side of the river, all in line, preparing for our first lock experience. (I also think the Lock Master’s first!) Slowly we settled as the water flowed downstream out of the lock and we got to the bottom level. The door creeped open and we were in a rush of water coming from the damn. It churned and we paddled and eventually we were on our way. Our target a bridge in the distance and a lush lawn for our tents.

This was going to be a wonderful night, it was in the air. We had reached camping nirvana. Hot showers, flush toilets, trimmed grass, no weeds and all the pizza you could swallow. Space to spread out, though we didn’t, tents, were right next to each other, except for Bob, his snoring meant we had to put a bit a distance from him! It wasn’t that he kept you awake at night, but when he slept in in the morning, it was like packing in a sawmill! We could have had a campfire, but we chose to sit close at the picnic tables and hash out the day, the past and the future.

The bar was open. and in walks the bar tender! Shots, were poured! Apple Pie shared. Our hosts became the hosted as magical Rose entertained the crowd. The spirit was in the air. We were reminded of the dedication of our trip. Toasts were given. And most retired, as others sat around the campfire sharing of themselves.

Update Kokosing River Scouting Report 6-16-22

Water gauge is 4.28 ft and 527cfs at Mount Vernon

Location of Strainer 40.395186880076224, -82.33764318272705

With such short notice, I suggest we go through the Right, you will have to duck and go through the center but should be clear sailing after you get through.

Here is the back side.

Don’t be tempted to go to the left side, it appears you can get through but there is a jam on the other side.

Kokosing River Scouting Report 6-15-22 1140-1340

Water Level was 5.33 ft 990 cfs reported at Mount Vernon

First Strainer is an old one just off Glenn Road. 40.37350854970736, -82.45126945284207. It consists of a root ball in the middle of the river. You can make it around to the right, or portage on the gravel bar on the left.

40.361749, -82.392247 this is not a strainer but it is a cable from a electric pole hanging in the water. You can get under it.

40.366983277190975, -82.37120623226505 Lots of debris in the water blocking the River Right passage. Go through the canal on River Left. The root ball that was in there last year is not there anymore and it is clear sailing.

40.3819596221791, -82.3576177227819 This one is across the entire river. You can get under the Left side of it. The right side will be blocked at lower water.

I have no pictures of this, but there is a lot of debris and weird currents next to this island at Indian Field park. 40.385002813466365, -82.33689256138899

40.39810123944191, -82.32979147624927 These are approximate coordinates. There is a large tree on River left blocking over half the river, and just past it is another on river left, and just past that is a large one on river right. There is no place to get under safely. I am thinking that when the river goes down that going River left at the first tree is the best bet. I did not notice any good portage areas either. This one took me under. I almost lost my boat and had to swim a half mile to catch up with it. Be very careful around this one.

From Howard on, there is a large debris field at the Rt 36 bridge after Millwood. There are a couple passable dangerous debris fields near Riley Chapel. Rose Caskey has seen those and can let us know about them.

Onward to Gallipolis

After my stay on Letart Island, I was ready to go! It was still dark when I woke up, but I started packing anyway. Taking stuff to the boat, I hoped I could get it out of the mud. Sun rising and boat loaded I was on my way. The mud did not prove to be much of a issue.

The sunrise was beautiful and I was so happy to be back on the river! It was moving quick, I was making almost 5 miles per hour. That would stop soon. I called the Racine lock and they told me they would not recommend that I go through, but I told them I didn’t have a choice. They prepared the lock. When I arrived there was a hundred yards of logs, trees, litter, car tires, and anything else that was floating down the river for me to pick my way through to even get into the lock.

Safely tied into the mooring float we started going down. Everything, me and the crap, down and down. The doors opened and I could leave, I think. It took me 45 minutes to dig my way through. As I was leaving I noticed three men on the gangway. I asked them who had the money on me making it through? They laughed, I don’t think any of them bet on me.

The water on the other side of the dam was calmer than I was used to. I crossed to the other side, got back in the current and hoped to make up some time. Next thing I know I am approaching Pomeroy, Ohio. I seen what I thought was a reasonable place to land and go to the grocery. The wall was steep and large limestone. I climbed slowly and made my way to the grocery. I got some Powerade, some water and cream cheese pastries. Back to my balanced diet.

As I paddled down the river I noticed a nice landing ramp downtown Pomeroy and a store close. A hundred yards later a lovely dock next to McDonalds. Jumping the gun again.

I paddled hard and found a park to meet my old High School buddy Ervin. He was picking me up and we were staying at the Super 8 for some glamping. I got their before him so I took the time to wash off all the mud from my gear. I changed clothes, and put on comfortable shoes. Ervin arrived and off to Walmart and the hotel we went. We had 40 years to catch up on all in one night. We went to Bob Evans and got a huge breakfast for supper.

Ervin took me back to the park to set off in the morning. I got off early and had hot coffee and 2 pounds of Oreos for my daily bread. It was hot, I paddled hard, and hoped to find a great place to camp. It was Friday the 13th. The rest is history.