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Markland Dam (Mile 531.5) to
NOTE: This journal includes a portion of the
Yes, I’ll admit it… I bit off a little more than I could chew out here the last time and missed a section. Hey, it was my first trip on the
The charts for this section of the river (102 and 103) are available at (http://www.lrl.usace.army.mil/optm/article.asp?id=145&MyCategory=41), but let me first mention for the sake on continuity that I’ll be describing this trip in an upriver fashion. Not only are the miles numbered that way on the charts, but that’s also the way that I recommend paddling any river – upstream (try getting stuck downriver after the wind picks up and you’ll know what I mean!).
Yes, I did the opposite today, by only after checking out the wind forecast for the area and only after getting to know it better on the charts. Also influencing my decision: I knew exactly where the ramp in downtown
At any rate, I got my gear together and started paddling as a set of barges floated by under the escort of a Marathon Oil push boat called the
The dam is a pretty monumental sight as you approach it, by the way…
…and speaking of which, I made my approach on the lock or
Meanwhile, I’d heard the lock-through process can take some time, and since nothing yet seemed to be happening on this front I decided to see if I could get a better view of it from across the water. However, prior to making that crossing I first paddled back upriver about ½ mile from the dam (near a marker called Arrival Point) for a measure of added safety. Then, paddling in a slow upriver arc to counteract the slight wind and current I began to cross, only changing direction slightly past mid-river to then head in a direct line toward the opposite shoreline.
Once there, I found the shoreline to be pretty trash strewn, yet it was otherwise pretty pleasant with a nicely forested bank. As far as the northeast corner of the dam, it appeared to contain a marsh-like area (although I again lost my nerve and didn’t get too close – I just didn’t know exactly what to expect).
Meanwhile, I didn’t forget to keep an eye on what was happening across the way. Apparently the ships come up to lock gate, and once all is clear the gate is lifted and they enter into an inner chamber which will then lower them to the same level as exists on the opposite side of the dam. I watched as the
OK… Since I’m technically starting my trip at this point, I’ll mention here that this section of river has roads which follow it for its entire length – IN156 on the
Just inside its mouth there’s a beautiful riverboat casino - the Miss Belterra - part of the Belterra Casino complex which contains the tallest building for miles, a hotel. Now I think I made it back into Dans about 200 – 300 yards, but to be honest I lost track of my paddle count. I was distracted both by the boat and by the spectacular swan I encountered in the back of this stream!
Meanwhile, Craigs Creek Cove on the
The ramp on the other side belongs to the Smugglers Cove Marina, formerly Dans (this Dan must have been quite a guy – there was a ramp and a creek named after him!). Smuggler’s Coves’ website is http://smugglerscovemarinaonline.com, but the Pier 99 Marina is also back here with a convenience store and BP gas station. Seems
Anyway, this cove spreads in a few directions, but I headed back and to the right, eventually reaching a “T” about 1 ¼ miles in. There were 2 low bridges back here, just negotiable to the paddler but a bit too low for a power boat. Both were navigable too, but I didn’t have enough time. I opted for the one on the right -
After you negotiate the bridge on this one you’ll be in a totally different environment. Compared with all the boats and houses you’ll have seen to this point, it looks much more like a wilderness back here. It also branches again, so just to be consistent I headed to the right, soon finding myself in a very low lying area where the houses had returned.
“Hmmm… This is getting a little too up close and personal.” I thought. “I think it’s time to head back now!” And so, once I’d gotten to the end of the other (unnamed) branch, I encountered a beautiful environment...
I also had a meeting with a pretty bold little turtle that held its’ ground long enough for me to get some less than perfect pictures…
Back to the
Meanwhile, the Turtle Creek enters at mile 529 on the north side of the river on the outskirts of
…and speaking of looking nice, check out
(As a side note, there’s an ancient ramp just downriver from
Also passing me at about this point was the Steven J Mason of the Ingram Barge Company (http://www.ingrambarge.com)...
It was from here on that I was exploring the aforementioned area that I missed the last time in
I also met what I believe was an osprey in this section. These birds are simply amazing the way they fish! You’ll catch them out of the corner of your eye as they swoop down from whatever tree they’ve been perched upon and hit the water – hard! – to grab their prey. You’d think they might hurt themselves hitting the water so heavily, but it’s quite a spectacle.
Last up –
…and I also thought the fallen tree below made for an interesting sight…
This cove gets really shallow at the furthest point and the fish were really enjoying it. In fact, all it seems you’d need is a canoe or kayak and a net! They were jumping all around me. Even the ones I couldn’t see left telltale swooshes of mud in the water.
Anyway, emerging back onto the Ohio from the other side of the “A”, I was intrigued by the sight of a little pier out in the middle of nowhere and I crossed back to the Kentucky side at about the same point I did last time, across from a really grand house. I got back to
The ramp and park look pretty safe, by the way, but I did notice a certain element which might be of concern if you arrive solo much later than that. I say might because my instincts as far as people’s tendencies are usually wrong. As always, however, pick your spots and be please careful out there – bring a phone too.
I took the
Take the KY35 exit off I71 and head north directly into downtown