20 some odd miles of paddling uphill, on a current that I would not call “negligible” and I am now at the top of Kentucky Lake. The current doesn’t wear on you on the river tho, as much as the heat. I’ve been draining, or nearly draining, my 3 liter water bags every day. The insulation on my water bag doesn’t even cut it. Half way through the paddles I’m drinking warm water. At least now maybe I’ll feel better about jumping into the hopefully cleaner waters of Kentucky Lake.
I’m also wondering, because I just can’t believe this, but is there really fracking going on in the Tennessee River? Can someone who knows explain these structures to me? They certainly do look like drilling pads. If so that means an unregulated industry is threatening people’s drinking water source with many times unregulated chemicals. When a chemical compound is “unregulated” that means the folks that devise tests to test your drinking water don’t have to look for that “unregulated” compound. They only look for and filter out regulated ones. I’d be super pissed and concerned if I were a downstream town of these operations.
The barge traffic was dramatically lighter than points below and on the Mississippi. Last night Chelsea and I set up camp at the sweet little Kentucky State park here in Gilbertsville. We stuffed ourselves at this restaurant, Patti’s, where we split their 2 inch pork chop. I can’t remember the last time I had a pork chop, and I don’t really eat meat, but with every person we met recommending it, we kinda felt we should just try it. The place is definitely a “go to” place with cute little shops. My mother would love it. I’ve never been to Kentucky before this trip and I’m finding the towns we’ve visited to be incredibly welcoming. I spoke with one young lady at a little boutique shop about the river, her classes at school, which she leaves for today, and scuba diving and animals. Love the friendly people here-they really make this place so special. Don’t think I’ve ever been in a place where everyone is so warm and welcoming.
The heat is completely oppressive. I am a hot weather person, but I need the water. It’s so hard to not jump in and I do get desperate and hop in on occasion, knowing full well that I wouldn’t let my kids follow suit if they were here. But I’m 49, I’ll take the risk. Certainly won’t be eating any of the fish, tho.
Speaking of fish, the Asian carp are as present as ever. They don’t normally leap very high by me, tho I have managed to scare up some that took wild leaps, but they usually hurled themselves away from my boat or at the back of it. Yesterday I almost took what I’m guessing was a three pounder to the head. I ducked back just in time as it sailed over me and flopped into the ama, the outrigger part of my boat. I’m lucky it didn’t crack it. It was so close I could smell it.
Today and for the next upcoming days it looks like there will be threats of thunderstorms. Chelsea and I weathered the storms here at the campground-me in my tent which I had to drag out of a puddle, and Chelsea in her hammock. The boomers were all around and the lightning quite close, but the big old trees surrounding us stood their ground and so did we. I did notice a guy leave his tent and tear on out. I’ve been using this REI tent because nothing beats it for ease of set up. It was only $100. Carl picked it up last year, and it kicks ass. Stayed dry and stayed put despite the blowing, torrential rain. Not as windy as when I camped out for this past May’s River Rally in Mobile when I had to be like Leonardo’s “man in a vector” to keep it from caving in in the wind, but definitely as rainy and stormy.
Time to grab a breakfast-possibly the last real decent one for awhile- and hit the water.
Poco’s Way – blog from Chelsea:
It’s the 16th night of an amazing journey following Margo on this epic outreach to raise clean water awareness. So far it’s been unimaginable. I’ve been moving along day by day staying within close driving proximity of Margo as her ground crew and logistics manager.
There are many other titles I have assumed at the spare of the moment, including public speaking in random gatherings of local towns people who begin by over hearing my description of our cause to the store clerk and can’t help but voice their concerns and silent cries for help with water management in their town. These are the moments that send goosebumps up my spine and keep me going each day.
The reasons all vary with every town, each new day brings an entire new world and lives at stake, with disappearing houses due to floods and mudslides, entire crops lost due to dry spells with newly installed dams above their town, the topic of health and cancer or birth defects come up, and all too much the people are looking at their water to blame. Here I am thinking, wow, these people are buying all their water in water bottles, what a waste of our extremely limited natural resource oil, to go through so many water bottles for just one family. It wasn’t until I ran into one of these local small town folks and she said, “You know, I’d love to be able to drink our water from the faucet but it makes me ill…. I love my water and care about my health so I’m forced to buy all these water jugs at the store and it’s too expensive to recycle here, so they all end up in the trash if I can’t figure out another way to reuse them.”
I was speechless, what could I say? We went on to talk about water and how their water company tests the water every six months and gives them the report that tells them their water is safe to drink, but yet here and the other towns people believe otherwise and I was advised not to drink the water either. One guy told me he used to have a sustainable garden but there was an ashcoal factory right across the river by his house and his vegetables would be covered in a toxic silt, so he can no longer grow his own vegetables and all the creatures in the water and along that stretch of land must have to endure the silt They don’t get the buy out of going to the grocery store like humans.
These are all things I take for granted when I’m home, and I think to myself, will my daughter have to suffer from these “humane” acts. I lay here in my hammock tent, enjoying the tender drumming of raindrops on my rain tarp and find myself in a whirlpool of thoughts as I loose myself in the ripples of a muddy puddle below me. They begin with beautiful images of nearby flower gardens being treated with this wonderful gift of rain and puddles forming around every stem as they absorb the rain fall and release their dizzying pheromones in their captivating fragrance.
I thought of my vegetable gardens in the past and the blueberry farmers whose fields I scouted in Hammonton, NJ. I thought about the different chemicals sprayed each week and remembered seeing a farm nearby our campsite right here in Kentucky. Now I can’t help but to wonder what’s washing out of those fields, where’s it going? Is it in this puddle below my feet? Perhaps it was washed into the street, and then the sewer…. which in flooding events, a night like tonight derives, would be opened to overflow into the river. It all goes into the river.
Oh boy so not only is all that trash I passed in the highway being released into this delicate aquatic environment but so are all the chemicals used in this town, the fallen trees, and any other debris from this storm. They are all going to end up in these rivers and Margo is going to be paddling against it all. I hope we get some good GoPro footage to post. You would be amazed with all the kinds of crap that ends up flowing down rivers after a good night of rain. I’m excited to meet more locals in the morning and see how a town like Gilbertville, KY feels about a good stormy night.