Tuesday, August 25, 2009
The Canoe Trip, part two
When undertaking a trek of this magnitude, it is always best to put lots of thought and planning into it. With a plan under your belt, you stand a much better chance of having an easier and more enjoyable trip.
Let me start off by saying that almost no planning went into this adventure. There was more thought put into where to put the "no smoking" section on the Hindenburg. Sure, I've done a fair amount of camping and canoeing before but I never planned a week-long trip. When Lewis & Clark set off on their famous expedition, they packed a lot of crap that they didn't need including a small cannon. We made the same mistake.
We took enough food for six men to have five meals a day. We had four knives, one hatchet, one machete, two camp stoves, nine gallons of fresh water, six changes of clothes, a flare gun with six flares, two whistles, one .22 caliber rifle with fifty rounds of ammo, two rolls of toilet paper, two lbs. of coffee, two lbs. of jerked beef, three lbs. of trail mix, a brick of fireplace fire-starters, five lighters, a box of 250 kitchen matches, six packs of cigarettes, two bags of chewing tobacco, two rolls of duct tape, and two folding stadium seats. All of this, plus tent, sleeping bags, backpacks, foam mattresses, and all the other clutter that goes into spending a week in the bush.
To put it lightly, it was a load.
To make matters worse, we didn't know that the first five miles of our trip down the Rocky Fork crick/creek averaged in depths of 4-6 inches and not the 8-10 inches that our overloaded canoe needed to float, even without us in it. Sure, we had studied the satellite photos, but they don't tell you how deep it is and this was August. In Canton, we had gotten quite a bit of rain for two weeks before the trip but Licking County had gotten none and was in the throws of the "dog-days" of summer.
"This is the longest canoe trip I've ever hiked," Err quipped as we grunted and shoved the canoe down stream.
A mile from our starting point we found our first beaver dam. We unloaded the canoe, rucked our stuff to the other side, and sweated and swore as we hauled the canoe over it. This would later prove to be the easiest part of our first day.
It took until the afternoon to reach the Licking River and finally have deep enough water to accommodate our vessel. I have never been so glad to see lots of muddy water in all my life. It was a relief to climb in and sit down for a change. Then we began to paddle in earnest. By Err's calculations, we were averaging about 1.2 mph. This sounds damn slow, but for two out-of-shape dudes in an overfilled canoe, we were making good time.
We paddled through Black Hand Gorge, where legend has it that an Indian warrior was cheated out of the chief's daughter in marriage, and in his grief chopped off his own hand and the strength of his love and the bitterness of his loss stained a black hand into the rock. The truth of this legend is more than this old country boy can reckon, but the lush scenery that surrounded us was some of the most beautiful of the trip.