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2008 Kentucky River Kayak Trek

Friday, August 8, 2008

Calloway Creek to Dam 11 (Mile 201)

 

I felt lazy taking some time off, but Wednesday had not turned out to be a good day.  Not only was the weather not cooperating, but I also had a little accident.  I can now, without doubt or reservation, add another dubious quality to my repertoire.  The amazing forgetful man can now add klutz to his resume.  The amazing forgetful man-klutz! 

 

You see, on my way back from coffee in Lexington Wednesday morning I tripped over nothing on the sidewalk and, in the process of trying to catch my balance, I tripped over something on the sidewalk.  Well, I dinged myself up pretty well – knee, shin, forearm and palm - so I allowed myself Thursday to heal.  I’d make up for some lost time today with a long trip. 

 

Trying out the ramp at the end of the Drowning Creek Road (behind Bybee Pottery - see directions below) I found it to be a good ramp.  It was a bit crumbly like the one back at Old Landing, Kentucky, however, so you’ll want to watch your footing here.  I got under way a tad after 10AM.  When you put in here you’re right at the mouth of the Drowning Creek where it flows into the Kentucky River – and Drowning Creek supposedly an apt name!

 

On this day I paddled upriver to the spot where I ended on Monday at the Calloway Creek (mile 213), arriving at almost exactly 1PM.  By the way, due to the points of the put-ins on the river I’m not able to paddle it exactly in sequence, but I do plan to describe it as if I’d been going in a continuous route down the river.  Thus, even though I may start at a point downriver and paddle up, I will continue to describe it in sequence.

 

Having said this, I technically started my paddle in the midst of a mile long straightaway between mile 213 and 212.  The scenery for this trip will be primarily forested hills on the right bank occasionally interrupted by farmland, while the scenery on the left side will be exactly the opposite – farmland occasionally interrupted by forested hills. 

 

As you near a right curve at about the end of mile 212 you'll find that there’s a little unnamed stream coming in here on the right side and today I happened to notice a sweet little wooden bridge going over it.

   

 

 

From mile 212 to mile 207 the river is very nearly heart shaped, and half way up the right side of this heart you'll reach the Polecat Creek just past mile 211.  The stream wasn’t paddle-able, however, due to deadfall debris.  The name of this creek reminded me of a song by the same name on a Magnolia’s disk that I have.  The Magnolias were a great underappreciated punk/pop band of the 1990’s. 

 

Anyway, it was at about this point that the railroad track which I'd been following alongside ever since Beattyville deserted me.  As I heard a train go by, it occurred to me that this would probably be the last time I’d hear one for a while.  I wasn't sure whether or not the river would “revisit” this track further down the line, but I was going to miss the trains!  In fact, the track itself had almost been like a friend beside me - the kind of friend who might follow along with you for the first part of a trip to make sure you’re OK and then - once they’re satisfied that you’ll be all right - they leave you to go it alone. 

 

Speaking of friends (but not necessarily of railroad tracks) my Uncle likes to say that while different friends will pass through your life at different points, they are gifts for the time that you’re blessed with them.  That’s the best way to put it that I’ve ever heard.

 

By the time you get to some power lines over the river half way between mile 211 and 210 you’ll begin to see glimpses of the pine tree lined mountaintop of Richardson Bend in the distance.  This bend reminded me of the ridgeline back at the Cow Creek in Ravenna, although this one rises much higher. 

 

On a side note, I ended up taking 99 pictures on the day - 99!  It seemed like I only took about 30!   I’m always amazed at how many pictures I get and it just goes to show how you can be so overwhelmed by what you see out here that you can become totally oblivious to what you’re doing.  Maybe that’s part of the reason why I’m so forgetful…

 

Upon rounding Richardson Bend I saw some power boats in the distance between mile 209 and 208 (about where the indention would be at the top of the heart shape I mentioned) and when I reached this point I noticed that there was a little dock here as well.  What really caught my eye, however, was the SWEET little cabin up on the shore!  Nestled in the midst of a wooded area behind the dock it made for an incredibly picturesque setting.  Were I to own this cabin I could easily just spend an afternoon hanging out on the front porch watching the river!

 

At about this point some farmland begins to crop in on the right side and here I started to see some cow paths.  This was the first major plot of open farmland that I’d noticed on this (right) side since before Ravenna.  I knew that farmland had probably been up there just beyond my sight, but this was the first time it had been readily apparent. 

 

The farm grounds quickly end, however, as the mountains start to retake the bank around Shaving Machine Bend (...and I'd love to learn the source of that name!).  Just after mile 207 you'll see Possum Run enter the river from the left side.  This looked interesting and so I paddled up, but I only got in about 100 yards.  It was a pretty tight squeeze as you'll see!  I was paddling mud on both sides rather than water!  This was a new experience for me as it was the first time that a narrow channel had stopped me on a side stream.  Prior to this point I'd only been stopped by low water, deadfall debris or bridge.

   

 

 

Paddling out this stream you’ll notice some shale lined banks downriver from its' mouth, while on the left side the Blue Lick Branch will enter.  Today it wasn't navigable at mile 206, but not long after this I was back at the Drowning Creek – lots of streams in a short span, but:  “Why not paddle up Drowning Creek?”  I thought.  “Well, don’t mind if I do!” 

 

I made it about 1/3 of a mile - roughly the same distance I was able to cover at the Sturgeon Creek back in Heidelberg.  Thus, the Station Camp Creek in Irvine still held the top spot in terms of length of navigability, although the Red River would probably be the ultimate best in the next section.  I could probably spend a week paddling that river and its forks.

 

Once back at the ramp, I headed down to dam 11.  There’s farmland on both sides of the river in this stretch, and just past mile 205 there are 3 sets of signs at different intervals which indicate the presence of gas pipelines under the river.  Falling Rock Branch enters just after these on the left.  It’s nearly uniform in width throughout the first long curve and, in this regard, it looks almost like a canal.  The gently sloping rock faces of this aptly named stream come all the way down to the bank on the left side with a plot of farmland on the right.  Interestingly, the branch ends at what looks like a rock fall which forms a shoal almost all the way across.  This is a really pleasant little stream!

 

Little Polecat Creek also enters on the left at a bend left in the river between mile 204 and 203.  I got into this nearly 100 yards before hitting the ruins of an old metal bridge just prior to a large drainage pipe going under an embankment. 

 

Back at the river there’s another long straight which runs about a mile and a half, and at mile 202 the river bends right.  Flint Creek comes in here (yet again on the left), and this is a really nice one too.  You can’t get in far but it runs through some forested hills which give it a dense, private feel. 

 

Continuing on the river after emerging from the Flint, I saw an interesting sight right after some power lines near mile 202.  This is supposedly the Richmond Water Intake, and last year it appeared as if they were just reinforcing the bank by hammering in some steel girders.  This year though, it was quite apparent that they’d done a ton more work here than just that.  There’s now an entirely new complex here next to the old one – and they were still working on it when I passed!

  

 

After going a bit further around this curve, the lock and dam would begin to appear in the distance.  This structure is located in another beautiful rural spot with cascading rock cliffs on the left (dam side from this direction) and scenic farmland on the right.  I really wanted to see it from up on top, but I decided to try it on another day, because the lock corner here was not incredibly inviting.  It was more overgrown with weeds than the others, and just as steep with about a 10 foot climb up.  I did, however, notice some steel structures just under the water, so it appears that there may once have been more to this lock than there is now.  Some other topside structures had the appearance of lock houses but I couldn’t quite tell.  I headed back.

 

Usually when I get back to the ramps after taking my trips I try to go pretty fast getting my gear in the car in order to avoid gnats and must-quit-o’s (mosquitos).  To that end, I get my duffle bag out of the hatch and generally load it up while still on the water.  I then paddle to shore, carry the bag up and into the car and then get the boat.  Well today I did all this and repositioned my car prior to putting my boat on top so as to avoid the weeds I had parked right up against (not room for many cars out here.  I wanted to be out of everyone’s way).  Having done this, I put the boat atop the car and it almost slid right off!  The angle was too steep!  I had to move the car again. 

 

Driving out I took some shots of Bybee Pottery when I got back to KY52.  My mom is a big fan.  Bybee was established in 1809!

 

DIRECTIONS:

 

Take KY52 to the community of Bybee, KY at the intersection of KY52 and Drowning Creek Road (approaching from the West as I did this intersection was just after KY977 and the Waco post office on the left).  Go left on Drowning Creek and keep going straight on the main paved road past Ben Reeves Road and Snowden Lane which cut right.  Then go past Fike Road and another unnamed one which cut left.  The road will eventually become a gravel one for another mile.  The ramp is at the end of this (Drowning Creek Road).