September 20


After 2 weeks of no paddling I was as ready as I would ever be to get back on the water. I loaded up the boat and hopped in the truck and headed for the Ohio River. 2 1/2 hours later we arrived in Steubenville, OH. While trying to figure out where exactly to start, logistically Steubenville seemed like it would work. It's about 300 miles to Portsmouth where I first entered the Ohio back on June 4th.

I got on the water about 10:30. It feels like I am cheating on my boat using another one. I also feel like I am forgetting so much with the little amount of gear that I have in this smaller boat. I turned over my truck keys and said my good byes and shoved off. When I first got the boat fully in the water it felt weird. This boat is noticeably smaller and rockier. It felt amazing every time the paddle blade hit the water. I felt like I was going incredibly fast. After paddling in the ocean for the past month, it was a nice change. It took me a while to get the feel for the new boat, but after awhile I had it under control. I took in the change in scenery. Calm water winding through the foot hills of the Appalachians. It wasn't long after I got moving I passed my first barge in a while. It was like a flash back to the first time I saw one. I soon remembered that they aren't as bad as people hype them up to be. The whole day was a giant flash back. Barges, driftwood, trash and even a lock. I forgot the feeling of paddling into a lock chamber. While locks don't bother me, I always think about what would happen if the down river door broke and I went flying out with all the water. I compare it to being on a raft in an above ground pool and it breaking. When I was getting close to Wheeling, WV I noticed some young teenage girls swimming in the river. The yelled for me to come over and let them try the boat. I kindly declined as the sun was setting and I needed to get more miles in. They then asked me if they could tag the boat as if we were playing a game. I knew they were just wanting to flip me. The reason I knew that is because that is what I would have done when I was their age.  I continued to paddle further out away from them. The three of them started swimming towards me but I got away. They then yelled at me and called me a "faggot" several times. I'm not quite sure why they chose to call me that simply because I would not let them use the boat but I kind of got a chuckle out of it as I continued into Wheeling. It is a great feeling seeing the town from the water. The old buildings with murals. The town was putting off a feeling that I could only describe as "American". They had a concert of some sort set up in the park. I'm not sure what was going on but I could see and hear a marching band warming up down town. Instruments playing and color guard flags flying. A group of boys down by the water fishing. All I could think of was small town USA but in a larger setting. I took in the sunset realizing that it is getting earlier and earlier now. And with the mountains surrounding the river it gets dark quick. I found the best spot possible and set up camp. I had to do some brush clearing to be able to set up my hammock. I tried to make a small fire to fight off the bugs. I didn't make it as far as would have liked today but still a great first day back on the water. I'm 7 miles behind on my daily average to reach Portsmouth on time. But I think I can make some of it up tomorrow, that is if I can get up at a reasonable time!