David Johnson's Travel Blog
Bicycle Trip 1999
Okefenokee 2002
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Texas 2003
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Sequoia National Park 2004
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Little Bicycle Trip 2011
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Kayak Trip 2012
04/12  Most boring trip ever?
04/13  Muddy Pecatonica
04/14  Say Yes to Drugs
04/15  Add a little Sugar and Rock
04/16  Worst campsite ever.
04/21  Island Of Honking Geese
04/22  Hennepin Feeder Canal
04/23  Locks, sand and muck
04/28  Henry
04/30  No Current on Peoria Lake
05/01  Industry and Locks
05/02  Rain and Eagles
05/04  Half-Way on the Illinois
05/05  Medium-Rare Meatloaf
05/06  Always Pepsi-Cola
05/08  Onto the Mississippi
05/09  St. Louis
05/10  Short Day
05/12  Barge Full of Rocks
05/13  Between Green and Red
05/14  Now comes the hard part
05/15  Metropolis
05/18  Tennessee River
05/19  No Lock For You
05/20  Snakes
05/21  New Johnsonville
05/25  Day of the Mayflies
05/26  Look, Another Cliff
05/27  Rotund Sunburns
05/28  Free Heron
05/30  Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway
05/31  Bay Springs Lake
06/01  Locks are for the Patient
06/02  Tombigbee
06/06  Bamboo and Palmettos
06/07  Dry in AlaBAMa
06/08  Cutting Corners
06/09  Another day on the river
06/10  Demopolis
06/15  Hardest Portage Ever
06/16  Hot Rocky Beaches
06/17  First Alligator
06/18  Last Dam
06/19  Tide
06/20  Trashy Beaches
06/21  Just paddling down Interstate 10
06/27  Salty
06/28  Intracoastal Waterway
06/29  Come Sail Away
06/30  Peddling Along
07/01  Panama City
07/07  The Gulf of Mexico
07/08  Peacocks by the Sea
07/11  No Wind
07/12  Actually Sailing
07/13  Tacking
07/14  Steinhatchee
07/19  As sudden as ever
Nomadic 2012
Liverworks Productions
Nomadic 2013
Liverworks Productions
Texas Pig Hunting
Bicycle Trip 2014
Bicycle Trip 2015
Biking West 2015
Chickens and Pheasants 2016
Biking About 2016
New Zealand 2016
Kayak Trip 2017

Locks, sand and muck

2012-04-23

tl;dr: Grown tired of the locks on the boring Hennepin Canal, I took a detour. My boredom was certainly cured.

What a day. I may have used every major muscle group. Twice.

It was cold last night. Accordingly it was cold this morning. I packed up camp and was back on the Hennepin Canal before sunrise. After putting my kayak back into the canal I noticed the water which had splashed over the bow was now frost. Why do I do these things?

Today's plan was to take the Hennepin Canal all the way to the Illinois River. Never let it be said that I don't change my mind. And then regret it.

After paddling for an hour or two through those boring canals I arrived at Lock 21. Because Lock 20 was within spitting distance I portaged around both without putting in the water. That was a tough drag because I simply pulled the kayak by the fore handle. My kayak is heavy, what with all my gear in it. I then portaged Lock 19, and then 18. Dragging was easier because I connected a rope and a sling, but my legs were burning. Locks 17, 16 and 15 were so close I portaged all of them at once, dragging through gravel and grass. Getting in and out of the water is not fun because there are no landings. Portaging these locks is a pain. At Lock 14 I decided that if I was going to drag my kayak I'd do it on my terms. So I dragged it across the road, across the railroad tracks and down into Pond Creek.

Pond Creek certainly isn't big enough to enable full-time paddling. But the water was clear and the bed was sand and gravel, which was a welcome relief from the mud thus far. There were occasional deep pools filled with schools of darting fish. Let me refrain; pools filled with carp. Dragging wasn't nearly as much of a chore here, but I certainly did more of it. Constantly exiting and entering the kayak was equivalent to doing reverse press ups. And because my kayak is not built for fast water I got a good workout attempting (and sometimes failing) to control it.

As I paddled, pulled and skidded downstream the water grew incrementally deeper. And the carp bigger. I've never seen so many carp. Perhaps carp are universally this dense, but normally hidden due to the opaqueness of their environment?

Eventually Pond Creek merged with Big Bureau Creek and I was able to spend more time paddling and scaring up carp. Big Bureau Creek meanders. It's the meanderingest stream I've ever paddled. It never got too deep, though. Most of the run it was only twelve to eighteen inches deep. Anything under twenty-four inches is actually hard to paddle in due to viscosity. Keep this in mind.

As Big Bureau Creek meandered and meandered I longed for its eventual discharge into Goose Pond, which fed into the Illinois River. I could get some depth and pick up the pace. Once to Goose Pond the going would get easy and I should be able to make it to Henry before dark.

Once to Goose Pond the going got really tough. Big Bureau Creek widened and thinned out until it was an inch deep. Okay. I would just drag my kayak over the sand to the deep water. A hundred yards out into Goose Pond the water wasn't any deeper, but the sand had given way to silt and mud that sucked up past my ankles. Another fifty yards found me in despair, because I could no longer actually walk through the mud. So I climbed back into the kayak and pushed myself along with my hands, as the paddle was useless. My arms didn't last long at that exercise, so I reverse straddled the boat and pushed myself along with my feet.

By this point I may have gained another inch of water, and I was coated in muck. The boat still wouldn't drift, and my legs were growing tired. I was a quarter mile from shore, but stranded in mud. Fortunately a good stiff wind was to my stern. I could no longer actually get out of the kayak for fear of sinking into the mud, so it was an ordeal emptying my fore hatch and unpacking my sail. It was even more challenging mounting that homemade sail (that never worked very good in the first place). But the wind caught it and I started to slowly slide through the mud. I had to lay on my back and manage the sail lines with my feet to keep the sail from folding over.

Slowly I made my away across Goose Pond to its junction with Senachwine Lake. Where I got stuck again! Two inches of water! But nowhere near a shore. Apparently there is a channel between the two lakes. Someplace. I secured the sail better and began pushing with my hands, and then my feet again. For a while I doubted I'd ever find deep water, and I started wondering if the local authorities had an airboat, because nothing else could reach me. But eventually the water deepened an inch, and then another. And I was drifting again. After another mile I had maybe a foot of water. I started paddling and, with the wind in my sail, was able to pick up some speed.

I sailed and paddled across the four miles of Senachwine Lake as the sun slowly settled. I exited the lake in twilight, and by the time I made it to the Illinois Rived it was dark. I stayed close to shore where the water was still shallow, but the bed sandy, and kicked up one carp after another. I would have taken some pictures, but it was too dark.

Around 9 o'clock I drifted into the marina at Henry, Illinois and dragged myself up to the Henry Harbor Inn to get a room. I am wasted. Goodnight.

good morning Hennepin Canal




beaver


last year I cycled across that bridge


huron




Lock 21


Pond Creek flowing under the Hennepin Canal (taken while sitting in kayak)




Pond Creek


Pond Creek meeting Big Bureau Creek


Big Bureau Creek


Lunch Break




welcome to Goose Pond


what a drag


ideal


reality


five miles long, one foot deep

contact me at le@liverworks.com
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