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Laurel Lake


Marsh Branch Ramp to Craig’s Creek Ramp

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Wednesday, May 21, 2009



Things had just begun to show some signs of hope, but now they’d gotten worse with the above news.  It was enough to throw me into a state of despair if I let it.  I needed time to think and I needed inspiration.  Today would thus be a nice, lazy and peaceful day of exploring the little coves of this lake.


3 things that help to characterize me are that I’m optimistic, hopeful and trusting.  The problem with this, however, is that it also makes me naïve.  Nevertheless, 6 years ago I immersed myself into the ultimate leap of faith.  Stymied in every attempt at success through employers, I left my last job to make a living completely in the stock market.  I simply figured that if working for others wasn’t meant to be, then maybe my ardent work ethic could bring me success if I went it alone.  Like I’ve said – if things are consistently going wrong in one direction, then maybe you’re meant to go in another.  You can only hit your head against a wall so many times before you start to get bloody!


Prior to doing this, of course, I did all my homework:  I studied all the market masters throughout history, I read all the charts and I analyzed all the financials.  I had plenty of time to do this too, as I was able to devote a full day to analyzing the market as a whole, along with individual companies and stocks. 


In such a way, I followed all the proven methods of success.  I bought stocks of promising companies at low prices.  I bought and held them (I was optimistic!).  I concentrated on small, underappreciated companies which give you the biggest bang for your buck.  I diversified.  I couldn’t fail!


Well guess what?  EVERY one of these things had turned out to be exactly wrong, and I was on the brink of ruin.  I needed some fundamental answers.  I needed to know what the point was in being optimistic.  Optimism had never worked for me.  Why should I bother?  Should I become a pessimist and give up on all my aspirations?  Again, if you fail consistently in one direction, as mentioned above, were you meant to go in another? 


I hoped that Laurel “The Beautiful” Lake would provide an answer (if I’m ever blessed with a daughter, I should like to think that I’d name her Laurel – after this incredible lake).  I put in at the Marsh Branch Ramp off KY192.  Last year I’d used this ramp for another trip (detailed in another entry), and on that day I’d gone left.  Today I would go right, exploring every contour of shoreline as I pondered my dilemma, and then head back either when I had to or when I simply felt like I should.  The ramp here is quite nice, and they even have a set of restrooms.  I got on the water a little before noon. 


The clear turquoise water out here is what makes this lake so attractive, and the first cove got me right into the spirit of things.  Power boats can’t get into a lot of these because of what I call “tree graveyards” which form barriers to entry.  This makes them a lot more peaceful, and you can usually spot quite a number of fish, among other things.



The scene which greeted me at the very back of the first cove would turn out to be my favorite of the day.  I was ready to turn around as the water started to get pretty shallow, but I decided to keep picking my way back to see how far I could get before I got stuck.  Well, I made it back much further than I thought and saw this:



How amazingly cool is that!?!  I’d love for you to see it too.  What type of trees these are, I don’t know (I found a leaf in the water in order to try and figure this out), but in all my travels in Kentucky to date I’d not come across a scene quite like it.  There may be many more, I don’t know, but I…     couldn’t…     leave!  I tried about 4 times, and kept going back!  On this particular day at this particular time, it was deeply meaningful to me to have met with something like this.  Not only did I want some pictures of it, I wanted the memory of it etched in my mind.



This will now be one of my favorite places to visit – period.  Not only was it the scenery which got me, but there were also a couple little waterfalls for the ears, as well as some of those spots where the sunlight reflects off the ripples in the water and shines a dancing kaleidoscope on some of the tree limbs - a fantastic experience!


Once I was able to finally tear myself away, I continued on out of the cove.  Each of these offers something different.  The next one was one in which I noticed what seemed to be brown grass on the bottom.  This would probably provide shelter for many different kinds of aquatic life, including fish.  Could it also be that this is some kind of hearty grass which holds up both in times of high and low water?  Not sure…



Coming out I was greeted by a pair of ducks who just paddled themselves right on out to me, and then went in a large circle around my kayak.  At one point they did come fairly close, and I asked them whether they were actually posing for me.  Why not?  There’s no one else to hear me talking to ducks, right…



In reality, the ramp was just across the way (I’d arced around it to this point), so they might have been used to people feeding them and that’s why they drifted up, but it was kinda nice.  They followed me for a little while before settling back into the “routine”.


Some of the funnier sights of the day were the underwater fire pits.  I noticed a few of these…



As I continued on the trip during the day, I became aware that I was noticing less and less and taking fewer pictures.  I lament this sometimes, because I feel as if I’m not appreciating things enough.  You know what it could be though?  While it’s certainly true that we will eventually become adjusted to an experience, I think there’s a point - in nature especially - at which we stop becoming active observers of the scenery and simply become part of it as passive observers.  In this way, it’s not so much that we’re not appreciating things enough; it’s that those things are affecting us at a deeper level than just a sensory one.


Once on the main part of the lake I saw the sign for Marsh Branch at the tip of one peninsula.  I’d covered quite a bit of shoreline, but all the little coves I’d so far visited so far were technically just a part of this big one.



I decided to try and see if I could make it to the marina which I knew had to be a little further down.   I’d seen it on part of a Sheltowee Trace hike last year.  Before that, though, there would be plenty more sweet coves to check out.



At the tip of another peninsula I went under some power lines, and around a third one was the marina.  Aha!  I’d reached it!  There are actually 2 ramps which come in on either side of this.  The one nearest me was Craig’s Creek Ramp, and the one on the other side was for the Holly Bay Campground – lots of activity here.


As I headed back, I wondered how much time it would take me...  Probably not too much – I knew that the peninsula with the power lines was coming up almost immediately…  Well, when I rounded the corner I found that it was    o     v     e     r    there!  What in the world?!?  I didn’t remember paddling all that!  I guessed that I must have been lost in thought, but I couldn’t think of what I might have been thinking of!  It’s bad enough to have things drop from your awareness as you become more fully immersed in them, but this just seemed to be a complete and absolute waste!  There was only one thing which could explain it in any kind of positive way.


Understand this:  I don’t do tights (unless you count bike shorts, which I’ll wear as an insulating layer sometimes), and I do it in the privacy of my own home via DVD, but I do practice yoga sometimes.  I think it’s immensely helpful, but besides the exercises, yoga philosophy also contains some interesting things.  It holds that at a certain point, a person can attain a level of interaction with his or her surroundings which rises to that of becoming one with that something.  It’s akin to being “in the zone”, or in being in a state of bliss.  I guess I could have reached that point while I was paddling that section.  I’m just not sure.


Believe it or not, it took me 5 hours to reach Craig’s Creek Ramp, but only 45 minutes to return.  That’s because you can cut across the coves on your way back.  I’d definitely bring a lake map if you do this though because, while each cove is unique, they do start to look about the same from a distance after a while.  You can follow the power boats on their way back to assist as well.


So, was I able to draw any conclusions?  Should I give up being optimistic, hopeful and trusting? 


Probably, because if I kept my expectations low, I’d have less chance of being disappointed.  The problem though, is that to give up on these things means to give up your youth - you become jaded as you lose your zest for life, and the things and experiences which once meant so much (or could have) simply lose all their depth of meaning and wonder.  I will never cede my youth, no matter what my age becomes!


At any rate, the conclusion I came to at Laurel Lake today was that the beauty of nature is the looking glass through which we see the good and true spirit, and it is in seeing that spirit that we are renewed and rejuvenated - if we are open to it.  It is thus from this enlightened perspective that we are able to see what is truly important.


No, I don’t think I’ll give up being optimistic, hopeful or trusting because while these things may ultimately fail me in this life, this life is not the one I’m after.


(On an interesting note, the band Anberlin seems to both sum up the situation I’m in now and to draw a similar conclusion in their song “Burn Out Brighter (Northern Lights)” from their new album.  Being my favorite band, I listen to them quite a bit anyway, but this song now has special meaning.  Guess I was drawn to them for a reason…)





I75 to exit 38 (KY192).  Go west about 10 miles, and once you pass the Bald Rock Picnic Area on the right, begin keeping a sharp lookout for the Marsh Branch Boat Ramp sign.  It’ll come up quickly and you’ll have to turn.  The sign will be on the right, but the road will enter from the left.  This is forest service road 774.  The ramp is at the end of this road.