The last week has really went by quickly. It is incredible how much the river has changed as it continues to grow and form. The days blend into each other with distinctions being weather changes and perhaps a unique view from camp. Each day along the waterway I observe bald eagles, coyotes, raccoons, deer and even a wiley Coyote.
The second busiest lock and dam in the country is at Newburgh, IN and as I approached, the moored 8 or 9 tows foreshadowed something was amiss with the lock.Repairs to the main chamber forced all tows to take the smaller 600′ chamber which meant they had to break in half. With all traffic having to break in two, it takes nearly 2 hours per boat. That was about 24 hours to lock through and I wasn’t in the mood towait. I was in the mood to throw in the towel after a solid long day of paddling. The sun was setting as I called in to the lock and got word I’d have to portage. As I was pulling the boat up onto the rocky rip-rap and unloading my gear, one of the kind lock keepers offered tohaul my gear and boat around to the other wall. It wouldn’t really fit in his short bed truck so we put it crosswise, all 16 feet of it, and drove it around carefully to the other wall. I can’t stress how helpful this was. With sweat dripping off me, I then carried and dragged the boat down 40 feet to the water’s edge and hoofed all the gear through the rocks and driftwood back to my boat. Did I mention my flip flops were tied together with rope by this point?
I’m carefully letting the kayak down to the muddy shore when it slips and takes off like a torpeedo into the lock area where half of a two boat sat waiting to lock in. I was able to wade into the water fast and grab the submerged kayak, flip it and haul it back onto the mud where I proceeded to sop out gallons of water and mud before reloading it. Dripping with sweat and my head pounding, I took a few minutes to collect myself before slipping off into the inky river darkness as the wash from the tow boat entering the chamber shot me downstream at twice my usual speed. The first clearing of shoreline I saw just outside the approach looked prime for camp. After a bath in the shallows that didn’t really do the trick, I lay sweating in my hammock waiting for the upcoming rainstorm to sweep through. The rumbles of tow boats and toot of the whistle blew through the night as sleep was fleeting. In the morning though, I was on the correct side of the lock and a new day was ahead of me…
While passing through Pittsburgh, I camped on a half submerged dock and found a plastic duck floating in the muck. On it’s head was written 152, no doubt one of hundreds thrown into a small stream or town river for an event. Well it took me a month but 152 is now securely glued to my Yak’ as a hood ornament companion.
These moths are quite fond of the tropical colored flowers on my shorts. Yes, I found these shorts on the shore in PA and have been wearing them since.
The shoreline of Illinois along the Ohio is geologically rich with many escarpments and bluffs of sandstone. I stopped to explore the many boat-only accessible caves before making it to the tourist attraction of Cave In Rock. The history here goes back hundreds of years and was used by theives, robbers and many colorful characters as far back as the 1700’s. The 55 ft keyhole entrance is covered with grafitti and the roof darkened by the smoke and soot of countless fires. If these walls could talk.
A quite peaceful sunset from the Kentucky shore.
I was quite affected by the sight of a mature barn owl floating downstream swirling in the current. What a sad sight.
This hitch hiker hung with me for a good 10 minutes as I paddled along.
My food supplies were growing low as I finished half of a big can of salmon yesterday. I knew I’d eventually make it to Rosiclare for groceries, water, electricity and wifi. Fortunately, I had planned right and my food lasted until I arrived today. It feels like hitting the reset button as I reload all my podcasts, print new maps for the next section of river and get contact with family members for the first time in a long while. All told, it took about 50 days to go from Fairmount to Rosiclare, over 1000 miles. The entire Mississippii only took my 70 days and that was over 2000miles! Looking forward toheading upstream. In 20 miles I will lock through Smithland Dam and turn upstream onto the Cumberland River toward Lake Barkley and then Tennessee Lake. Looking forward to visiting all my friends in Alabama shortly!