September 25

Another solid day of paddling. I am enjoying putting in the long days when the miles pay off. 41 today. That included a stop in Pomeroy for lunch. Light paddling during a board meeting call. A stop at Walmart for extra battery banks and a lock. I didn't feel as bad when I got to the lock at 12:30 AM. I was still a good hour earlier than last night entering the lock. There is something exhilarating about locking in the middle of the night. You pull up and the lights of the dam are burning. The air has a glow of a burnt manufactured orange color. You sit there waiting for these giant black steal doors to open. You actually hear them release before they open. You can see the light shining through as they open. You hear the steel slam against the walls. A loud industrial whistle blows and you paddle into the still chamber. One of the workers yells down giving you final instructions because they are more scared than you that you are locking in the middle of the night. And they have probably never seen someone in a kayak come through if they work 3rd shift. The gates close and the water drops. And drops. And drops. You hear random creaking of different parts of the chamber softly shout out. A random fish jumps. You can hear and see water spilling out around the back doors. You know that the only thing holding 40 miles of water for the second largest volume of river in the country is those doors. The water stops dropping and the black doors in front of you that are three times as tall now open. You see a little light coming in but mostly darkness down stream. The slam against the wall when fully open and the whistle blast again echoing in the still night air. You paddle out cautiously to avoid any whirlpools that have formed from the outside and inside waters meeting. You paddle past the monstrous walls with lights blazing. Almost instantaneous when you clear the last wall everything goes black again. Your eyes adjust and the stars fill the sky brighter than before. It's an intense moment but a great feeling. Once you are clear it's like it never happened. It all goes back to normal and you are paddling down the same river just a lot lower.