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.

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. 

Day 7-8 Marietta Glamping

It was good eating, hot showers and a warm comfortable bed for the next two and a half days. Even Spaulding got a shave, hair cut and a shower.

I had a serious reconsideration of all the stuff I brought with me. I was being met Sunday by Marsha my wife and Rose my close friend and there was going to be some stuff going back with them. When I started the trip it was still cold out and I brought some cold weather clothing, that all went back. I had cooking stuff and a way to brew coffee, that all went back, replaced by room temperature monster drinks, one for each day. My old tent went back, replaced by the new one that Jason and Bland and I picked up at Wal Mart. My air mattresses went in the dumpster, they were worthless and got way to many holes.

I repacked everything and put it in two less bags. I probably should have sent about half my clothing home. I still held on to my hooded sweatshirts they made nice pillows and it still got chilly in the mornings. Things were all nice and neatly packed, all my batteries were recharged. I cleaned my boat out, put my portage wheels under it that Marsha brought. I was ready to go.

On the lighter note, I did get to eat pizza in a place with live music, have a sub sandwich delivered to the room, and have a pizza delivered to the room. I think maybe I am of one mind with it comes to food. What do you think?

Where I have to GO!

The water at Marietta has risen from 20 feet on the gauge to 33 feet over night on the 7th and was not expected to drop much until Monday the 9th.

Day 6 – Run for Marietta!

It rained all night, but was clear for a bit at 5:30 AM so off I went. Like a mad man, packing, taking down, loading the boat and in 15 minutes I was on my boat headed down the river. I hoped I did not forget anything, and I don’t think I did. The river was unusually fast, I think they were lowering the pool in preparations for the severe storms that were to hit that afternoon.

After about an hour, the rain stopped for me. I paddled hard and made almost 6 miles per hour the first hour. I had 39 miles to do that day so that was a good thing. It would be the longest day of paddling that I would do so far. I was combining two days into one so I could get off the river before it rose the next day from the storms. They were expecting at least a 12 foot rise and maybe more.

I texted my friend Rose and asked her to call the Lafayette Hotel and beg them for a room for two nights. She texted me back in a few minutes having successfully getting me a cabin room. It is so good to have friends when you are on the river. I paddled and paddled. I would stop and bail the boat out once in awhile, get back in and paddle.

In the afternoon I ran across a place in Newport Ohio named the Jug. I got a hot fudge sundae and coney dog and was filled up for the rest of my trip. The young ladies waiting on me were very interested in my trip and took pictures of me. 15 minutes and off I went back to the 4 MPH paddle of the day.

I got through WIllow Island Lock quickly and on my way. I kept getting messages to get off the river, the storms were bad. I did not know what they were talking about cause it was dark on both sides of me but clean ahead. I paddled and answered text messages. I tried to assure everyone that everything was ok, and I paddled. I texted my friends Jeff and Gina to see if they knew anyone in Marietta that could help me get my stuff to the hotel. All I got back was “On My WAY!”

At 7:19pm the nose of my boat hit the ramp at Marietta. Still no rain. It was mud everywhere. I did not know how on earth I was going to walk through the lobby of the hotel in these muddy boots, but I grabbed a couple bags and headed that way. It was like going through the looking glass into wonderland. Everything so clean and fresh smelling. Everything so beautiful. Checked in, I took my bags to the room and came back for more. By that time, Jeff and Gina were there, we loaded everything in the truck and went to the back entrance of the hotel.

I don’t know how but I got everything in that room. I started with a hot long shower. I even showered Spalding. I cleared paths through the bags of gear. That bed was inviting and it was not long before I was in it.