Saturday, April 11
Today was a day of milestones: a week on the river, traveled 100 miles, overcame last man-made impediment, performed last mechanical portage, reached the most northern part of the river and began making our way south.
Emerging from the tent after a very brisk night, we were greeted with a frost-covered morning. (No wonder I was cold!) Luckily, the wind had died down over night, making it possible to finally have a warm breakfast – breakfast casserole – the warm food tasted especially good on such a cold morning.
After scraping the frost off our gear and eating our warm breakfast, John’s brother Paul arrived with his carpeted trailer. He had offered to help us past the Huntington Dam since they were releasing water, and it wouldn’t be safe for us to put in directly on the other side of the dam. (So we had to go further downstream quite a distance, too far for a manual portage.) He arrived around 9:00 – we weren’t quite ready since we are becoming less and less accustomed to a schedule. Paul brought us some treats – filled donuts, orange juice, and snickers bars. (Not losing any weight on this trip)
Once we were safely in the water, we encountered some sites we wouldn’t have seen at home – we saw three eagles and nests. Not too unusual for the river. However, the next thing we saw was a little more unique. We passed a couple of men who were building something in their back yard. They claimed they were building a food shack so “folks traveling down the river can stop and get a sandwich and a beer”. We came along too early!
Today’s beautiful weather and fast current, due to a swollen river, were conducive to a successful, quick paddle. The weather brought many fisherman out to test their luck on the banks catching crappie and catfish. For lunch, we maneuvered (landing is always a maneuver) off the river by beautiful and historical Hanging Rock. Hanging Rock is a large example of how the banks are beginning to change. They are still steep but not as muddy – becoming striations of rock, making departure from the river a task. While eating our lunch we met well-wishers from Montpelier, Indiana. So many people to meet!
As we were looking for someplace to camp between Largo and Wabash, John found a large eddy, which formed a small lagoon parallel to the river. Even though it is remote, we can still hear the train, which has become a near constant companion on our journey.
One of the first things we do when setting up camp is put up a clothesline to dry laundry that hasn’t dried from the day before and wet clothes from the day of kayaking. Yesterday, we did laundry at Huntington and just a few items weren’t dry, some of which were John’s cotton underwear. Cotton underwear is a bad idea for a trip like this – they take forever to dry. Actually, cotton anything is a bad idea and we avoided it on most of our items. When you have only three pair of underwear, you really do need them to be fast drying.
After we had set up camp, John was charging the phone with the solar panel. He went to check on it and discovered the phone wasn’t charging. Upon further investigation, he decided the phone cord wasn’t working. The phone was immediately turned off to save power except to make arrangements for Travis, my son, to get a cord at our house, take it to Rat and Sam Boyce, who would deliver it to us at Wabash, Indiana tomorrow. Unfortunately, the cord Travis found at our house was for the iPad – not the phone. Travis, being wonderful, took his own cord to Rat and Sam. It’s interesting how we are so attached to technology, even when we are trying to live a simple life! Many people have made similar trips ten or more years ago without any technology, however, we don’t think we can go a night without it.
After arranging a fix for the phone cord emergency, we had a delicious dinner of chili, cornbread croutons, and apple pie.
We had just settled in for a relaxing evening after the cord drama – me to journal and John play his guitar – when we heard a nasty ruckus about 100 yards away – raccoons fighting. Then about ten noisy geese flew over, while a couple landed and are continuing to yell at us. Then looking out over the lagoon, we saw a beaver swimming toward us. Sounds and sights of nature!
As we were relaxing to the sounds of nature, we discussed what items to send back home when it the weather gets warmer – to free up some space in our boats so they will be easier to pack and lighter to maneuver. John said he wanted to keep his down vest as a PILLOW, maybe then he’ll quit stealing mine.
What an action-packed, milestone-making day! It seems like a week since we climbed out of our frost-covered tent this morning. What adventures will tomorrow bring?