PLACES TO GO ON LAND HOME PLACES TO GO ON WATER
This was my
first day trip on the
The navigation charts (numbers 103, 104 and 105) for this section are available online (http://www.lrl.usace.army.mil/optm/default.asp?mycategory=41) but I didn’t bring them with me today. I simply wanted to get a general feel for what paddling this river would be like and see how far I could get. While I didn’t expect there to be too much flow, I was hoping that there wouldn’t be too much wind!
The put in I
used today was right along the waterfront in
Would you believe that the
Anyway, as I
got on the water I found it to be fairly easy to paddle as I began upstream on
Meanwhile… On the left side you’ll start out with forested hills which will slowly recede as you paddle upriver, making way for more and more shoreline dwellings. Indiana Route 156 runs here the whole way to Patriot, Indiana as well, but here’s the kicker – this river is so wide that you can’t quite make things out over there! I couldn’t even see a fairly large Bryant’s Creek! In fact, I never even got to it today – ran out of time!
At any rate, as I took my first pictures I straight away came to the realization that a normal camera like mine would be poorly inadequate to capture the scope of the views out here – many of the long shots were completely out of focus through the sunny haze of the day. Add to this the fact that it decided to pull an I-pod imitation later and “forget” how to reliably turn on and off, and you’ve got the beginnings of an interesting day to say the least. Hopefully that would be the extent of my problems…
A little flock of geese passed over me in this first section, by the way – possibly the same group that went over again at the very end of the day…
A power boat also passed, and this event would normally have been insignificant, but for the fact that I’d anticipated it with a fair amount of interest. How would the boat wakes out here affect my kayak on this, the largest river I’d ever paddled? Well, “The wake from this boat shouldn’t be that bad.” I thought. It was all the way over on the other side of the river and it wasn’t that large…
WRONG! Did it ever leave a wake! The water was absolutely crashing against the shoreline, and I really began to wonder what it would be like when a barge went by!
At any rate, as I paddled on I also noticed that the shoreline consisted of little pebbles in many places on the right which would have made for very nice beaches had they not been covered in foliage (not that there’s anything wrong with foliage!). The water looked fairly clear at these spots too, and at one point I got into a little cove about 100 yards. Someone had a pleasant little fishing set-up on a little dock toward the back.
first little right curve in the
You’ll also notice by this point that those forested hillsides you started out with on the left will have receded almost all the way back to let in what could be one or two huge farms on the inside of the peninsula here. Meanwhile, on the outside (the right side) of the curve there are 2 streams that come in – the Big and the Little Sugar Creeks.
Big Sugar is the first of these and it has the US42/127 Bridge going over its’ mouth. There’s also a marina (The Sugar Creek Marina and Restaurant) just inside, and receded a bit across the way is a public ramp that looks like it can be accessed right off 42/127 on the east side of the bridge. As for the stream itself, I got back a solid ½ mile, finding the view at the back to be exceptional. There appear to be 3 dry streams and you can look directly up the one in the middle…
As for the Little Sugar, it had a very sharp left curve at the entrance and there were quite a few boats here. I decided to pass up paddling all the way in, but I did notice from the charts that it looks like I would have made it about the same distance I’d made it into the Big Sugar – ½ mile. (You’d have seen this stream from the road, by the way, if you’d driven in the same way I did - on US42/127.)
Back on the
Anyway, by the
time I’d reached the “plantation” I’d spied a set of barges approaching in the
distance. They were towed by the Marge McFarlin.
Built in 1976, this vessel is apparently owned and operated by the Ingram
Barge Company based in
Now, what would the wake from this be like??? Surely it would be much more powerful and produce much greater waves than that first boat had…
Yep - nonexistent. This was quite perplexing given what had happened before! Either the captain was especially cautious, especially courteous, or a combination of both --- or I was simply waaaay too concerned! Now of course I’m not going to paddle right up to a barge – I was all the way over on the bank - but I had no problem whatsoever.
Guess what, though?
unheard, another set of barges was coming at me from the other direction at
almost the same time! I’d been warned about how sneaky these
barges could be, having read Eddy Harris’ book Mississippi Solo (a great read on
one mans’ canoe journey down the
particular set of barges was being pushed upriver by the Raymond Grant Eckstein.
Built in 1981, this vessel is owned and operated by the Marquette
Transportation Company based in
Half way between mile 522 and 521 the Paint Lick Creek enters from the right at a really nice spot on the river. Curving right from the mouth where the Little Sugar Creek had curved left, the combination of these 2 streams forms a kind of “pinch” of water that nearly surrounds the grounds of the plantation house.
Paint Lick, by the way, would have been the largest incoming stream that I paddled today had I not noticed that my boat was filling up with water on the way back! Judging from how far I got into the Big Sugar (1/2 mile) and then looking at the map though, I’d guesstimate that you could probably paddle about a mile back into this one. It really opens up after that first curve and begins to take on more of a lake feel.
From here the
left side of the
Then, just upstream from mile 520 there was an incoming stream on the left which ran under one of the IN156 bridges. Unnamed as far as I know, it was in this stream that I encountered a MASSIVE fish. It must have been 5 feet long, so I’ll say 4 just to be safe, but it was huge. I’m not sure what kind it was, but when I first noticed it, I thought it was simply a log in the water bobbing up and down with the waves on the shallow, muddy shoreline...
There weren’t any waves!!!
It swam off in a rush of water! I could see its’ large silhouette, the size of which I’d compare to an otter or maybe a seal. Of course, having been thus unprepared, I certainly didn’t have time to get a picture at this point, but when I emerged from this stream I did get what I thought was my best farmland shot…
Over on the right side of the river there’s a long line of mud bank here which forms a good deal of the next right curve in the river from about mile 521 to 519. This bank was so uniform in height and in hue that from a distance I actually thought it might be some kind of barrier in the water – possibly even a dam (although again, I’d not brought the charts with me).
Anyway, by the
time I’d reached this point the outskirts of Patriot,
It’s quite inviting too, with a little sign on the shoreline that beckons boats to come dock at their pier and come ashore for some pizza! They also advertise a grocery, a liquor store, a park http://www.vevayin.com/attractions/patriot_memorial_park.aspx), and 2 Baptist churches. What’s the population? 202! Nice!!!
I began heading back at this point, but I later noticed on the charts that there was a public ramp just a little bit further upriver from where I’d made my turn. Oh well – I’ll check it out next time! And get some pizza!
Some other interesting sights on the way back? A junk yard along the bank with some absolutely classic cars…
...and speaking of classic, or maybe just plain classy, check out Fred and Barney having a great time out here! You've just gotta love the Flintstones! How incredibly cool is this!?! Hope these people don't mind me putting this pciture up...
At another point I saw some raccoons. You know you’re up against it when you see these guys! It’s starting to get late! I needed to cross back over the river soon, but not just now…
Another set of barges had emerged in the distance, you see, just visible over the surface of the water and just visible through the shadows cast by the setting sun. Can you spot it in the picture below?
Needless to say, you’ve gotta be real careful out here! At any rate, this set of barges was being escorted upriver by the Captain Butch Bowman below, a push boat originally built in 1953 according to a website I found (http://vessel-ship.findthebest.com/detail/16707/CAPT-BUTCH-BOWMAN). Owned by the Excell Marine Corporation out of Cincinnati (http://www.excellmarine.com), this vessel was moving veeeeery slowly – it must have had quite a load. Hopefully things like this bode well for our economy!
...but by this
point I, myself, had quite a bit of extra "cargo" – water in my boat, that is!
It wasn’t enough to prove evidence of a major leak, but it
was a leak nonetheless.
So, before I began my crossing (and after the barges had passed, of
course!) I wrung out as much as I could to increase my speed, and when I arrived
back at the ramp it was nearly nightfall. I found the area to
be just as pleasant as when I’d first arrived though! There
was someone enjoying one of the picnic canopies, and a woman and her son had
also come down to the water to take in the atmosphere with their dog.
I’ll get a good picture of
departure I this time tried going home directly through
I took the
You can take
the KY35 exit off I71 and head north right into downtown