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Ohio River

 

Maysville, Kentucky River Park (Mile 407) To Isaacs Creek in Manchester, Ohio (Mile 389.5)

 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

 

 

 

(I was feeling somewhat contemplative when I began this, so feel free to skip the first 5 paragraphs to go directly to the trip)

 

 

Do you ever just want to give up?  Things are so bad that you just don’t think they could possibly get any worse - but do?  Well there’s only one way I can deal with it – I get out on the water.  Any body of water will do, but I think a gently floating stream works best.  It’ll really help you put the circumstances of your life in perspective.  In fact, it doesn’t matter just how bad things are.  Even if it seems like you can’t go on, you’ll still be able to find solace as you find your concerns slowly melting away, to be replaced by a feeling of acceptance.  It’s almost like a blanket is being placed over your problems – you’re putting them to bed.  It’s really quite amazing.

 

What I do is I get out on the water and then bring all my problems to bear in my mind.  I feel them, and I feel them acutely.  Then I hold them as I envision myself as a molecule of water in the stream.  If you think about it, a molecule of water is totally at the mercy of whatever goes on around it.  Its journey might be quite tumultuous, but things will generally turn out OK.  After all, it’ll eventually wind up with all the other molecules in the same place, right?  The ocean!  Well, if I focus on this idea my problems will have completely faded away by the end of the day!  How dire can your problems be and still be negated?  Well, I’ll tell you…

 

On this day my misfortunes had left me with only one stock holding as net worth.  Until recently I’d had 3.  These had all been battered by the market but still had nothing but good things going for them.  I’ll even tell you what they were:  Finisar, Active Power and Network Solutions.  If I could have just held on to these stocks long enough, I’d have been OK.  Gains from such previously unloved stocks can be tremendous. Well, long story short:  the market dove and I was forced to sell what I thought were my 2 riskiest stocks while I held on to the least risky. 

 

The result:  Active Power was up by 50% a week after I was forced out at an average of 80 cents/share - I’d held it for over a year while it did nothing.  Network Solutions then almost doubled after I was forced out at an average of 78 cents/share.  …and the kicker:  because these stocks had not gone up like this when I’d held them, I also had to sell a critical chunk of my Finisar position on a margin call.  The end result of all this was a 50% hit in one week in August!  Devastated, I found myself wondering why some lives have to be fraught with adversity while others seem to sail right along. 

 

Well, it wasn’t until I got on the water today that the above water molecule analogy came to me.  Also - could it be that certain people have been given an inordinate amount of adversity so as to somehow spiritually relieve it from others who might be in a more vulnerable position?  That thought once occurred to me, and it gives me hope that the things I go through might be of some benefit to someone.  So…  I hope that anyone reading these will find the same kind of comfort I’ve found by getting out in nature, and that this website will prove useful to that end.

 

On to the trip!  The charts for this section (128, 129 and 130) are available at (http://www.lrd.usace.army.mil/_kd/Items/actions.cfm?action=Show&item_id=3204&destination=ShowItem), and the put-in I used can be arrived at by driving along the top of the levee at the end of Main Street on the east side of Maysville, Kentucky (full directions below).  This ramp costs $4, and while I usually hold out for free ramps, I decided to use this one anyway since it looked to be more easily accessible than the other one in downtown Maysville (although I’ll check the validity of that the next time I’m out here).

 

Upon arriving at the ramp I drove half way down to the water and then up a little incline on the left to park on the pier (which is lighted, by the way, so as to provide an added measure of safety).  Then putting my last 4 bucks in the drop box, I immediately made the crossing to the Ohio side.  The river seemed really quiet at this time of day and as I looked downstream I could clearly see downtown Maysville (www.cityofmaysville.com) with the Simon Kenton Memorial Bridge going over the water.  I got some pictures and started heading upriver…

 

 

 

As noted in the title, this is mile 407 with the Maysville River Park on the Kentucky side.  Also – and for this entire stretch - you’ll have CSX railroad tracks in Kentucky while US52 will follow alongside the river in Ohio.  Signs of commerce will also become immediately evident with a power plant on the Ohio side (Dayton Power and Lights’ JM Stuart Coal Fired Electric Generating Station - http://www.duke-energy.com/power-plants/wholesale/stuart.asp) and TTI (Transcontinental Terminals Inc. - http://www.ttirailroad.com) on the right side in Kentucky.  I watched as the Janet Elaine (a towboat which had just embarked upriver from a mooring cell as I left the ramp) dropped off a barge and picked up another at TTI.

 

Meanwhile, despite all the industry in this first mile, there were plenty of signs of wildlife.  On the left along the gently sloping Ohio shoreline I encountered a large flock of geese and then another flock of turkey vultures.  Both kept a respectful distance from the other - about 100 yards.

 

 

 

The Three Mile Creek soon entered from the left as the power plant loomed large just up ahead on the Ohio; a towering, somewhat ominous-looking monolith.  Hmmm…  I was going to have to paddle along that shoreline if I wanted to do this right, and there seemed to be an immense number of barges up there!  How was this going to turn out???”  (Kennedy Creek was across from me at this point, by the way, but I didn’t have time to paddle in on the return trip.  It looks to go directly back, maybe a hundred yards?)

 

 

 

At any rate, I first had time to ponder my power plant navigation strategy on Three Mile Creek as I paddled through a partial steel barrier and got back roughly ½ - ¾ mile through a fair amount of current - seems the plant was going through quite a bit of water that it was returning back to the river via this creek.  In fact, I wondered just how much of this stream was attributable to the plant…  Would it even exist without it?

 

Now emerging back onto the Ohio, I was ready to negotiate the barges and get some pictures of the power plant itself.  At first a bit nerve-wracking, I was nevertheless determined to make it around this congested area.  However – I did notice a push boat facing my direction (Ingram Barges’ http://www.ingrambarge.com Ocie Clark), so I at first had to be very sure that this boat was idle and not coming at me!

 

Padding very slowly and cautiously I eventually made it through this section.  Y’know, I didn’t realize it at first, but the grounds of Dayton Power and Light run for more than 2 miles - from mile 405.5 to about mile 403!

 

 

 

…and while I was paddling I actually thought that there might be 3 businesses in here, yet it was all apparently part of the same one...

 

 

 

The line of barges seemed to run forever too, and most were all loaded up and waiting to be pushed to their destination.  Business must be good!  I watched as one was loaded.  It was an interesting process.

 

 

 

Meanwhile, the Crounse Corporation (http://www.crounse.com) has a facility directly across the water from the plant in Kentucky at mile 404.5, and there were 3 towboats docked here today, the Patsy Coleman and Donna York among them.  According to their website, Crounse began operating in 1947 and they have their headquarters in Paducah, Kentucky.  They operate a fleet of 30 towboats and nearly 950 barges!

 

 

 

…and Carmeuse Lime, on the same side near mile 403 seems to be a customer!  Once you’re finally able to get around the last of the mooring cells for the power plant on the Ohio side, you’ll be across from it.  Crounses’ Mary Alice Baker towboat seemed to be at work here today. 

 

 

 

Carmeuse (http://www.carmeusena.com), based in Pittsburgh, is a supplier of lime, limestone, and silica products to industry and they have a pair of what look like grain elevators at this point on the river.  In fact, if you paddle back into Cabin Creek which also enters here you’ll be able to see more of their operation.  (Cabin Creek has a railroad bridge going over it at the mouth and it was navigable to me about ¾ of a mile, but you might be able to paddle back even further.  I ran out time on the way back.) 

 

Now by this point you’re on a left curve in the river, and you’ll find that its character will have almost completely changed.  Whereas you at first had all the industry on the river, you’ll now be in the midst of a rural farmland section on your way to Manchester, Ohio.  I found this contrast interesting.  Granted, this was only my fourth trip on the Ohio River, but this was definitely the quietest section I’d yet seen.  There weren’t even many dwellings at first.

 

 

 

Parts of the shoreline were really inviting too, although that was more the case on the Kentucky side (the ones in Ohio started out nice, but were fairly trash covered in this particular area).  Let me say that the sight of such shores would have surprised me before I started paddling out here.   I’d have thought that the Ohio River would be really trash strewn with totally uninviting shores.  It does, after all, flow through some MAJOR cities; Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Louisville among them, yet I can tell you that having now explored it a little, it really can be quite nice!  Check it out…  (Elk Run and Burkes Creek enter the river at mile 402, by the way, but I didn’t even see them until I looked closer at the charts just now!)

 

 

 

Crooked Creek enters the river at mile 401.5 with a railroad bridge of very interesting construction going over its’ mouth.  I got in about a mile to a point where my progress was halted at a large rocky shoal.  This creek, to me, was a really pretty one - it’ll definitely be a favorite.  In fact, it reminded me a bit of Bull Runs’ stream just downriver from the convergence of the Red River and the Kentucky River at mile 188.5 in the latter.  There’s also a business across the Ohio from this creek, by the way.  It’s noted as being Ershigs on the charts but I’m not able to find out any more info than that.

 

 

 

Anyway, from Crooked Creek you’ll next be on a straight section, and looking down it you’ll see a cleared out area just past mile 399.  This spot marks the outskirts of Manchester, Ohio at Manchester Bend; a right curve in the river at which you’ll also find a green day marker on the shoreline.  At first I thought this clearing might be for the town ramp, but no.  That put-in would soon reveal itself around a corner in the process of paddling down there – turns out, it’s closer to mile 397.  Alas, I’d have to explore it another time because I had to be heading back. 

 

One little problem!  There was a barge approaching from behind me…  Hmmm…  I really had to get going, so I decided that since the barge was all the way over to my side, presumably to better negotiate the right curve of Manchester Bend, I’d have a good chance at getting across.  I’d simply be able to clear his path much more quickly than if he was on the opposite side.  Had this not been the case I would have waited.  Nevertheless, it was only after making sure that the barge was also moving very slowly, that I began to very quickly make my crossing.  I ended up being OK.

 

Now at this point it occurs to me to mention something and, first off, let me say that I’ll never consider myself to be an expert at anything.  At this point, however, I’ve kayaked somewhere around 2000 miles and I can tell you that like any other physical activity your body will adjust to paddling and become more efficient the more you do it. 

 

To wit:  I’ve really come to appreciate just how powerful you can feel while you’re paddling as well as the affect it can have on your body – specifically as regards your midsection, or core.  Not just your abdominals either – but also your “lats” (latissimus dorsi).  In fact, when you reach a certain point you’ll start to feel extremely powerful in these areas because when you do it right, these muscle groups will seem to act in perfect harmony.  I’m not great at explaining things like this, but I’d at least like to try because I think it’s pretty amazing… 

 

When paddling a kayak, you’ll pull your right arm back using the lat muscles on your mid to upper right side.  As you do so, it feels as if these lat muscles are being forced diagonally downward across your body toward your lower left abdominal area.  Meanwhile, at the same time you’ll be pushing your left arm forward using muscles from that same lower left abdominal section that’s being pushed down upon.  This time, however, the force is exactly reversed, and it feels as if these abdominal muscles are being forced diagonally upward across your body toward those same lat muscles on your mid to upper right side that are still pushing downward. 

 

The effect is like that of a pair of fists meeting.   One comes down very slowly and powerfully from the upper left and ones comes with equal strength and velocity up from the lower right and when they meet you’ll get a huge burst of power when they push off from one another.  Then you’ll begin the next stroke.  It’s almost like you’re drawing an “X” across your midsection with each series of 2 strokes.   The effect is very interesting, immensely powerful, and extremely exhilarating – and I felt it in full as I crossed the river here.  Good thing too!  Turns out, I’d need to keep it!  I’d be paddling against the wind for most of my return trip! 

 

It was after having made the aforementioned stream explorations that I arrived back to the ramp just past sunset, in the process getting some interesting sunset photos…

 

 

 

My overall impression today?  If you come out here be sure to bring your “A” game if you’re a paddler!  Yes, every section of such a large river can pose challenges, but the first portion today was especially so with all the traffic.  The second half to Manchester is much more hospitable.

 

 

 

DIRECTIONS: 

 

 

From Lexington I took Paris Pike, or US68, all the way into Maysville; in the process passing around Paris, Kentucky and through Millersburg and Washington.  Then, once in Maysville, things got extremely confusing.  You’ll merge with US62 here, but if you just keep straight on 68 through all the lights you’ll eventually come to the  KY10 light after making a steep descent to the river (in fact, you’ll know you’re getting close when you begin making this descent – don’t worry:  you’ll know it when you see it).  Making a right here, you’ll then go exactly 1 mile on KY10 and start looking for Main Street.  Here you’ll take a left and then keep heading straight to the river, in the process ascending the floodwall and curving right, to wind up at Maysville River Park.