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Taylorsville Lake (Part of the Salt River)


Tuesday, October 12, 2009


Van Buren Ramp “downriver” to the end of what I will call the Van Buren “M”



Lemmetellya…  I really missed writing these, but financial constraints over the summer were such that I was not even able to justify the cost of gasoline to the put-ins!  Now that things have eased a bit, however, I am quite pleased to share this experience I had on Taylorsville Lake this day.  Not out of any sense of pride in the accomplishment at all, but in the hope that you will have an idea of what it’s like if you should ever decide to paddle out here too.  I think it’s quite an enjoyable experience!


With the summer having been mostly lost, my first consideration for this day was in how to dress for the now colder weather, keeping in mind that it seemed to be a little bit cooler this fall than it was last year.   Accordingly, I pulled out all the cold weather stuff I had the night before this trip:  a semi-dry suit (hooded), a moisture wicking layer for both top and bottom, some Eddie Bauer Thermolene middle layers (also moisture wicking), some 2mm neoprene gloves that I’d purchased last year, and a synthetic skull cap.  I didn’t have any shoes which were suitable except for the ones I wear in the summer, so I hoped to drape a towel over them as I paddled for insulation and see how that worked.  They’d be inside the boat anyway, and out of any wind that I would encounter.  At any rate, how these items would hold up would determine what I’d have to purchase prior to my next excursion…


As I made the drive to the put-in I was quite happy – my first new trip in about…  Oh, 5 months, maybe?  So I was pretty pumped and I knew that it would be great to go back to what has become one of my favorite put-ins in the state.  The Van Buren Ramp on Taylorsville Lake and the drive out to it from Lexington – which I took through Versailles, past the Wild Turkey Distillery in Tyrone, through Lawrenceburg and finally along the twists and turns of the Salt River before it drains into this lake – is simply wonderful.


When I arrived at the ramp at about 12:30 I found it to be quite popular.  There were maybe about 10 vehicles already present, with one having pulled up to the ramp right before I got there.  Another then came in after I had brought the boat down.  I hadn’t seen nearly as many people out here when I came in the spring, but this is a great put-in in many ways.  In addition to the fantastic view, there’s ample parking here with room for what seems like 100 vehicles with boat trailers.  The facilities also include a port-a-john and the parking lot is lighted - which would turn out to be helpful upon my return…


Once on the water, I decided to paddle directly across to the other side.  You see, when I do these out-and-back type trips I go in a circle, paddling along one shoreline on the way up and following the other on the way back so that I can explore both sides of the waterway.  This, however, requires two crossings which, on a lake, can be fairly lengthy and I always want to cross quickly in order to avoid any motorboats which might happen by. 


Well, today I did what I usually do – make the first crossing immediately so that the second one will be around the middle of my paddling day (usually around the late afternoon).  I do this because I’ve noticed that the greatest numbers of power boats are out on the water after 6PM – when people get home from work – so in crossing this way I can avoid doing so at the end of the day when most boats are on the water.  The plan usually works pretty well, although today the situation would wind up being exactly the opposite (although that didn’t turn out to be a problem).


At any rate, when I did reach the other side I made all the necessary adjustments and then headed out on an easy paddle along the north side of the lake, exploring each of the coves as I did so.  I always like to see these because they never fail to reward my efforts by providing an incredibly scenic view at the end. 


I also take what turn out to be some of my favorite pictures as I’m coming out of these coves and looking back down the “alley” they form back to the main body of water.  Another benefit is that you’re most likely to see wildlife back in these. 


There is a cove right across the lake from the ramp here, but I’d already explored it on the last trip (described in another journal) and so I moved on.  The terrain on this (north) shoreline seems to be an equal mix of mud and rocks which are strewn about, and I also noticed in the beginning that I was a tad bit warm in my gear when the sun was shining, but when a wind came up I was glad I had it on.  The temperature was supposedly in the low 60’s this day. 


As I passed the first pair of powerboat fishermen I got:  “How many miles per gallon do you get in that thing?”  “Not much!” I replied.  In addition to these guys, there were also some egrets trying their luck fishing today in this section and I was able to take the picture below.  They sure do pick some inconspicuous spots, don’t they?



Then I saw what they were after...  On the few trips I did take this summer on the Kentucky River I had not seen any shad minnows, yet that river had been positively TEEMING with them last year.  It had left me a little disappointed until now, but out here I found them in their schools forming incredible patterns in the water, all the while conducting a symphony of little “splishing noises as they flapped over the top of the water.  What can I say - I stopped and enjoyed the show for a while!


As I paddled on, there was a point at which I heard the “Screeee” of a hawk and the “Caw-caw” of a couple crows chasing it - guess the hawk had done something to irk them…  Speaking of birds, as I paddled out of one of the coves I noticed the first of several large wooden bird houses that I’d see today.  They’re scattered along both shorelines out here and they seem to be of the same style and construction.  They’re quite well done too, as if someone really likes birds and has taken pride in constructing nice homes for them.



This “M” shape I’d be paddling today actually looks more like a “W” on the map (see, but I turned the map upside down in order to see the lake from the perspective of the Van Buren Ramp.  Anyway, when I reached the middle of the letter there was a flooded cove which essentially took the edge off the curve here and provided a kind of short cut.  As I paddled through the flooded trees I met with my first view of the Chowning Lane Boat Ramp.  At least as large as Van Buren, this one is also very nicely done and has many spots off the parking lot where one can come down to the water and fish.  I didn’t see any facilities, however.



At the second top of the “M” there’s a nice and relatively large cove (the one formed by Timber Creek) where I saw a few more powerboats.  One trio of fishermen was stringing a line along the shore which was buoyed by a trail of plastic soda bottles.  As per my previously noted tendency, I paddled all the way back into this cove to see as much as I could, and as I was coming out I was startled to see another boat all the way back here attempting to enter where I’d just come out.  With all the underwater tree stumps and the very small channel at this point, I hadn’t expected to see one.


Getting back to the lake itself, I stopped to check the time.  I had hoped to reach the “pinch” in the middle of the lake which marks the half-way point today, but with some more large coves to check out on the way back, I had to admit that I wouldn’t quite make it back before dark if I didn’t turn back soon.  Thus, after exploring a couple more little coves, I decided to cross the lake at the end of the “M”.  There are some houses visible along a hillside as you look down the straightaway in the lake here, one of which might have been a black barn with a green metal roof.



Anyway, when I got to the southern shoreline, I was at the entrance to a tiny cove which was just above the one formed by Mitchell Run, and upon reaching the back of this little cove I spotted an otter.  “OTTER!” I was thinking.  “Please stay there!  I haven’t gotten a decent picture of one of you guys yet!”  I still haven’t...  As I stumbled and bumbled to get my camera ready, it ducked back under the water.  Foiled a-gain!



It was around this point that I made the general observation that the slope of the land down to the water on this side of the lake would be much more gradual (at least in this stretch) than it was on the other.  A couple more things also caught my eye on the way back including what might have been an old homemade raft on the shoreline, a la Huck Finn.


…and check this out - look how the mud can form “steps” on the shoreline.  Perfect fishing seats!  Incidentally, there are a few spots on this side, too, where you can just make out what might have been old roads leading down to the lake.



I met another fisherman when I got to a point across from the Chowning Ramp.  We talked a while, and he mentioned that the fishing out here wasn’t nearly as good as it was down at Lake Cumberland.  In fact, I got the feeling that he was a little bored.  Dale Hollow Lake came up in the conversation too.  It was apparently a real favorite of his.  For sheer beauty he said that he thought it beat Laurel Lake.  It’s all the way down by the Tennessee border, but guess where I’d like to paddle soon?


The last cove would be the largest – the Crooked Creek Cove.  There was actually an island here before I got to the point where the water really narrowed and the creek section began.  I was able to get into it fairly far, but it was really starting to get dark when I finally emerged and I was glad that I had decided to cross the lake when I did.



Back at the ramp I was startled to see a lone fisherman at the bottom as I rounded the last corner, his silhouette barely visible in the near darkness.  He was quite a nice fellow, but he was very soft spoken and every time I moved with my plastic semi-dry suit on, the “crunching” and “crackling” would drown out his voice.  I was embarrassed to have to ask him to repeat himself a few times. 


He set me straight on something which had perplexed me all day.  It seemed like every few minutes on the lake today – again, ALL day – I kept hearing loud booms in the distance.  It could have been thunder, but it was too short in duration.  Thunder kind of “rolls”, but these were short spurts of noise.  As this kept occurring the interruption went from being annoying to being a little maddening.  I HAD to know what that noise was!  Turns out, it was Fort Knox – maybe 50 miles away!!! 


…so I’m driving about 45 mph on the way back home, right?  It’s dark now and I’ve just seen deer in 2 separate instances right by the side of the road, just ready to dart out right in front of me.  I’m being very careful - I can’t afford to have my car totaled if I hit one.  Well guess what?  A tailgater, of course!  Right on my behind…  “Sorry, buddy.  You’re just going to have to stay on my bumper, cause I’m certainly not speeding up for you.”


So what happens?  After a few miles of this, 2 deer crossed the road right in front of me!  The first one cleared just fine, the second one was the problem.  It didn’t stop - it just kept following the lead dear, and I had to come to a complete stop in order to avoid it.  Here I am, frantically putting on the brakes, all the while praying that “ignorance” doesn’t ram me from behind.  Well luckily, since I was driving so slowly, I was able to come to a fairly gradual stop under the circumstances and a possible tragedy was avoided.  Who knows, had I been going faster a life besides that of the deer might have been lost.  Well, the person behind me disappeared for a while, probably none the worse for wear after such an ordeal, but they were soon right back on my bumper again!   It had me wondering – why should people bother to be mindful and considerate - either of each other or of life in general? 


A movie came to mind...  I once saw what I think was a made for television film starring Jon Voight.  It was titled “The Five People You Meet in Heaven” and it was based on a book by an author named Mitch Albom.  This film, about a man who gains meaning and perspective on his life after he dies, may very well portray our existence in this life vis-à-vis the next one.  It’s a reminder that:  “Hey!  Those little things you do - the ones that seem insignificant?  Well, they could very well be making a material difference in the lives of others, whether you realize it or not!”  In fact, I think that anyone whose heart has been hardened by a difficult life would gain a great deal from watching this movie or reading the book.  I won’t spoil it for you by telling what happens…




I took KY44 north from Lawrenceburg and then took a left on KY1579.  When this road dead-ended I took another left and, after going only about 10 yards, I took a right back onto KY1579 (there was a sign for the ramp here).  The road ends at the Van Buren Ramp.