Today’s Swim

Today’s Swim

[Mimi and daughter, Tess. Photo: Joanna Lai.]***17 July – Ohio River mile 960-981 (Grand Chain Landing IL – Cairo IL)
Lead kayaker: Jennifer Taylor

***16 July – Ohio River mile 940-960 (Metropolis IL – Grand Chain Landing IL)
Lead kayaker: Jennifer Taylor

[Mimi signs a bookmark. Photo: Joanna Lai.]Celebrate in Cairo on Saturday, 17 July! See the Celebration page for details about the kayak give-away, parade, and gathering.***15 July – Ohio River mile 920-940 (Smithland KY – Metropolis IL)
Lead kayaker: Jennifer Taylor
***14 July – Ohio River mile 900-920 (Elizabethtown IL – Smithland KY)
Lead kayaker: Jennifer Taylor
Here’s another entry from Girls on the Run’s contest, “How Does Girls on the Run Make You Fearless?”

***13 July – Ohio River mile 880-900 (Cave-in-Rock IL – Elizabethtown IL)
Lead kayaker: Joanna Lai
***11 July – Ohio River mile 860-880 (Old Shawneetown IL – Cave in Rock IL)
Lead kayaker: Mike Russell

For some inspiring reads, check out the How Does Girls on the Run Make You Fearless? essay contest.***10 July – Ohio River mile 840-860 (Uniontown KY – Old Shawneetown IL)
Lead kayaker: Mike Russell
TV and newspaper reporters from large organizations in Pittsburgh to tiny ones in Pomeroy have followed Mimi along the river. Many of them offer excellent photos and video interviews. Browse through this selection on the In the News tab and see the heartland of American journalism at work.

***9 July – Ohio River mile 820-840 (Henderson KY – Uniontown KY)
Lead kayaker: Kelsey Hughes
We’ve got lots of intrepid Ohio River Swim collaborators who have uploaded photos. Click on the Photo tabto see the swim through these different lenses.***8 July – Ohio River mile 800-820 (Evansville IN – Henderson KY)
Lead kayaker: Kelsey Hughes

[Kelsey and Mimi, Newburgh Locks & Dam. Photo: Michael Mooney.]* * *7 July – Ohio River mile 780-800 (Newburgh IN – Evansville IN)
Lead kayaker: Kelsey Hughes

[Ohio River miles 780-800. Image courtesy of Travis Luncan, ORSANCO, and Google Maps.]

Visit the websites of organizations the Ohio River Swim supports:

Another question from Myth or Fact: The Status of Girls and Women at Girls Inc.:
Myth or fact? – In 2004, more than half of women registered to vote actually voted in the national elections.* * *6 July – Ohio River mile 760-780 (Owensboro KY – Newburgh IN)
Lead kayaker: Kelsey Hughes

[Ohio River miles 760-780. Image courtesy of Travis Luncan, ORSANCO, and Google Maps.]

The river is wide and the current is slow. For the rest of the swim, Mimi faces days at least ten hours long. If anyone knows massage therapists along the way, Mimi and her shoulders would appreciate any sessions!
Sandra L. Hogue from the Louisville Writing Project wrote the following poem for Mimi, and Mimi has used it as a swim mantra:

Dedicated to Mimi Hughes
Today, I swim.
stroke by stroke
through the weight
of doubt, fear, aching muscles, monotony.
breath by breath
inhaling the can dos of every woman who ever doubted her strength
exhaling the not-good-enoughs that attempt to hold us back
sunup by sundown
against currents and against issues
that plague great women around the world
Today, I swim.

[Nancy & Mimi, O’Bannon Woods State Park, Leavenworth IN. Photo: Joanna Lai.]* * *4 July – Ohio River mile 740-760 (Grandview IN – Owensboro KY)
Lead kayaker: Kelsey Hughes

[Ohio River miles 740-760. Image courtesy of Travis Luncan, ORSANCO, and Google Maps.]* * *

[Ohio River miles 720-740. Image courtesy of Travis Luncan, ORSANCO, and Google Maps.]3 July – Ohio River mile 720-740 (Hawesville KY – Grandview IN)
Lead kayaker: Kelsey Hughes
Kelsey Hughes is Mimi’s support kayaker today and for the next week. As Mimi’s only support kayaker on the Danube (2006) and Drave and Mura (2007) swims, Kelsey is another role model, like her mom. The picture at left shows Kelsey on the Drava and Mura swim with a group of girls, who may be planning their own long-distance swims…

* * *[Ohio River miles 700-725. Image courtesy of Travis Luncan, ORSANCO, and Google Maps.]2 July – Ohio River mile 700-720 (Rome IN – Hawesville KY)
Lead kayaker: Tess Hughes
Secondary kayaker: Huntsville Police Department

[Ohio River miles 680-700. Image courtesy of Travis Luncan, ORSANCO, and Google Maps.]1 July – Ohio River mile 680-700 (Alton IN – Rome IN )
Lead kayaker: Tess Hughes
Secondary kayaker: Huntsville Police Department
If you haven’t yet listened to the Mermaid Lau, a song inspired by Mimi’s swimming activism, composed and performed by the duo, Still on the Hill, then give yourself a treat and check it out. The song is on the main page of this website, and you can read more under the Mermaid Lau tab.

* * *

[Ohio River miles 675-680. Image courtesy of Travis Luncan, ORSANCO, and Google Maps.]30 June – Ohio River mile 660-680 (Leavenworth IN – Alton IN )
Lead kayaker: Tess Hughes
Secondary kayaker: Huntsville Police Department
Here’s an excerpt from Joanna Lai’s blog posting from 28 June (photos are from that posting):

“Time flattens. I am so involved in various aspects of the swim that I find fewer moments to step back at a distance. As my role changes, so does my perspective. The last 100 miles have been extremely diverse. From a kayak through the widest stretch of the river to a narrow channel with .7 negative current (holding back the tears!), locking through a dam (lockmaster keith is my new buddy), ‘tail-gating’ with a bunch of National writing project teachers to a take out point (that changed 2+ times ), rushing hurriedly on the back of a golf cart, being towed in the jackson by 2 cat fisherman in hurry, surrounded by the Louisville chinese community with a bounty of homemade food, and driving in beautiful open farm country to seek out rocky banks along the river.”

* * *29 June – Ohio River mile 640-660 (Fort Knox KY – Leavenworth IN)
Lead kayaker: Nancy Cissell
* * *27 June – Ohio River mile 620-640 (Louisville KY – Fort Knox KY)
Lead kayaker: Rob Gates
[Tom Schiffer’s steamboat, Miss Fortune, and kayaks – Photo: Joanna Lai]
* Ohio River Swim radio show is this evening at 7pm central and 8pm eastern. Mimi often calls in, if she’s off the river by then. Kay Campbell, reporter for The Huntsville Times and support kayaker, hosts our show. Call in! Click on the BlogTalkRadio tab on this website for the call-in number. *

Girls on the Run in Louisville is one of the many sites in this organization supported by the Ohio River Swim mission.* * *26 June – Ohio River mile 600-620 (Jeffersonville IN – Louisville KY)
Lead kayaker: Joanna Lai
Here is Tiffany Farrar’s blog posting, “Wonderings”:”A drop of water falls through the air. Down it splashes, breaking apart into tiny droplets. What would you see if you could break water into even smaller bits? No matter how closely you look, you can’t see water’s tiniest parts. Like every other substance in the world, water is made of very tiny particles called molecules. On the pin above, the smallest droplet contains more than three hundred trillion water molecules.” – A Drop of Water: A Book of Science and Wonder (Walter Wick)

I think about the vast body of water that Mimi is swimming in, yet I want to break it down on a micro level. Imagine how many molecules it takes to form the body of water she is in. Does she look at her attempt on a grand scale, or does she break her journey down into small manageable bits just as her schedule suggests?

I also wonder where Mimi got her love for water. Did it start at a young age? Were there family members who influenced her choices? Where does she get the encouragement and inspiration to keep swimming?

* * *25 June – Ohio River mile 580-600 (Westport KY – Jeffersonville IN)
Lead kayaker: Jennifer Taylor
When Mimi gets out of the water today, she’ll be greeted by teachers from the Intensive Summer Institute of the Louisville Writing Project, one of the sites in the National Writing Project. These teachers have been writing a daily Witwim?, or Where in the water is Mimi? Read these WITWIMs for some inspiration:

* * *24 June – Ohio River mile 560-580 (Madison IN – Westport KY)
Lead kayaker: Danny Cooper
Secondary kayaker: Jennifer Taylor

[Jim Gadrow, Kay Campbell kayakers and Boone County Water Rescue. Photos: Joanna Lai]Check out the new photos and blog postings at Joanna Lai’s blog, Experiment in Flight.* * *23 June – Ohio River mile 540-560 (Ghent KY – Madison IN)
Lead kayaker: Joanna Lai
Girls Inc. of Madison IN will cheer Mimi on today. The motto for Girls Inc. is “inspiring all girls to be strong, smart, and bold.” How do we each inspire others?

Here’s another question from the Myth or Fact: The Status of Girls and Women fact sheet on the Girls Inc. website. Do you think the following statement is myth or fact?
In 2005, about one in every 20 girls between the ages of 15 and 19 in the United States became pregnant.

* * *22 June – Ohio River mile 520-540 (Patriot IN – Ghent KY)
Lead kayakers: John Cunningham, Danny Cooper
See Kay Campbell’s article in The Huntsville Times, Ohio River swim: Mimi Hughes halfway to the Mississippi. Kay includes insights from her three days as support kayaker.

* * *20 June – Ohio River mile 500-520 (Aurora Marina IN – Dan’s Marina IN)
Lead kayaker: Tom Schiffer
A page from Jerry Hay’s Ohio River Guidebook, which guides Mimi and crew along the river. [Photo: Joanna Lai]The Ohio River Swim radio show is this evening on BlogTalkRadio, 7pm central and 8pm eastern time. The call-in number is (646) 381-4641. Archived shows are also available. Click on the BlogTalkRadio tab on this website’s menu. Our host is Kay Campbell, Huntsville Times reporter and recent support kayaker.

How well do you know the status of women and girls?
How many one-parent households are headed by women?
Women and children constitute what percentage of those in poverty?
How many women hold seats in Congress?
For answers to these questions and others, visit Myth or Fact: The Status of Girls and Women on the Girls Inc. website.

* * *19 June – Ohio River mile 480-500 (Stringtown KY – Aurora Marina IN)
Lead kayaker: Tom Schiffer
Mimi passes the halfway mark today!To celebrate the halfway mark, please check out Girls Inc., one of organizations the mission of the Ohio River Swim supports. Some highlights of the Girls Inc. website:

* * *18 June – Ohio River mile 460-480 (Riverview Heights OH – Stringtown KY)
Lead kayaker: Kay Campbell

Thursday, June 17, 2010 Nature and Nurturers After an interesting week full of unpredictable weather, passed out bodies and mosquito bitten ankles, it was so refreshing to come to the town of Maysville, Ky and meet the kind ladies who operate the French Quarter Inn in the historic downtown area. Met a gallery owner…[To read the rest of this story and to find out about the pictures above, you’ll need to visit Joanna Lai’s blog, experiment in flight. Happy viewing and reading!

* * *Jerry Schulte, manager of the Source Water Protection and Emergency Response section of ORSANCO, the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission, provided daily emails to Mimi informing her of river conditions. Jerry’s notes include information on town histories, dams, flow, weather, and challenges Mimi faces, such as the cute-sounding but dangerous tiny zebra mussels. Read on!

A note to understanding Jerry Schulte’s memos to Mimi:

17 June – Ohio River mile 440-460 (Neville OH – Riverview Heights OH)
Lead kayaker: Henry Dorfman
Notes from Jerry Schulte to Mimi
Good Morning! Just think, tonight we can go over the daily report together…no email! I am still compelled to give you a rundown of my home pool, so, here’s what’s in store for you today.

You have two power plants today; both of them have thermal discharges. The first one at ORM 443.2, that’s the one you can see when you get in, and the other at ORM 453.0. As you can see below, not a whole lot else going on in this stretch, with the exception of the New Richmond waste water treatment plant.


Flow:The flow looks like its going to stay up for you…2.5 – 2.6 mph, so you should make good time again.

Stage: Looks like you’ll have about 10 extra feet of water when you get in. Shouldn’t be an issue, given the layout of the Moscow ramp.

Haul out: You have the following ramps available to you for resting or haul out:

442.7, Moscow, RDB
443 , Public ramp, RDB
444.2 , unknown, RDB
445.2, Point Pleasant, RDB
446.5, unknown, LDB
447, Jolly Roger’s Marina, RDB
447.5, California, KY, LDB
449.5, New Richmond, RDB
451.4, Riverpines Resort, RDB
454, New Palestine, RDB
455.1, Shady Line Boat Harbor, RDB
455.7, Ross Resorts, LDB
458.4, Melbourne, LDB
460.3, Washington Marine, RDB
461.7, unknown, RDB
462.7, California, OH, RDB
464.0, Four Seasons, RDB*
464.5 , Tucker Marine, RDB
466.1, Ohio River Launch Club, RDB

*Four Seasons is in a backwater area. I’m not sure where you would actually get out as I don’t know of any real launching facility back there. I’ll work on this with Joanna and Dale. The Little Miami River will come in from the Ohio side first, then Four Seasons Marina entrance will be next.

Have a great swim! Be Safe! See you tonight! Jerry

* * *16 June – Ohio River mile 420-440 (Dover KY – Neville OH)
Lead kayakers: John Cunningham, Danny Cooper
Notes from Jerry Schulte to Mimi
Guten Morgen! Since you’re coming into a German town, I thought it would be appropriate! Sauerbraten, sauerkraut and wurst, sauerkraut balls (I make killer sauerkraut balls!), schnitzel and, BEER! Lots of that!

I don’t know where you got out yesterday, but I’m going to need to know where you get out today as soon as possible. Boone County Water Rescue needs to know where to meet you as they will be providing support for you starting Thursday morning and staying with you through Sunday! So, if you or Joanna can call me at your earliest convenience, I can get that to Dale to get to his crews. He has to motor up river from ORM 480 to meet you Thursday morning.

I met Lt. Timmie today. USCG from the Pittsburgh MSO. You met with him before you started. He was very interested in where you were and how you were doing. I told him the farther from Pittsburgh you got, the better you were (that’s a bit of Pittsburgh – Cincinnati humor).

Well, let’s see what’s on your plate for today…going from lovely downtown Dover, KY to Neville, OH, and in the process transitioning from the Mehldal pool to the Markland pool. The lockmaster’s name at Meldahl is Joe Hanna. Along the way you swim by the river towns of Higginsport, OH, Augusta, KY, Chilo, OH and Neville, OH. Higginsport boasts a population of 200, with no mail service…you have to walk to the post office to get the mail. Augusta has the ferry…don’t get run over! Chilo has a neat little river museum right by their boat ramp in the old lock house, which would be old lock 34 of 53. (Toward the end of your journey, you’ll have the opportunity to go over old locks 52 and 53 that are still in operation…but not for long.) And Neville boasts a population of 127. You could easily fit all of them on the boat ramp and parking lot there. It is a brand new ramp with 4 big, 10″ diameter poles sticking out of the water right by the ramp…can’t miss it. Inasmuch as you thought you might make it all the way to the ferry today, you may want to extend down to the Moscow ramp, at ORM 442.8 RDB. It’s an older ramp, but serviceable.

Ramps along this area include:

419.7, KY Fish & Wildlife, LDB (usable)
424, White Oak Cr, RDB, (good)
426.2, Augusta Ramp, LDB
426.4, Augusta, LDB, (very good)
427, Landing – Augusta, LDB
436.2, Meldahl Dam
437.4, Private launching ramp, RDB, private?
438.6, Neville, OH Ramp, RDB
438.7, Foster Public Ramp, LDB
442.7, RDB, (good)
443, Public ramp, RDB
444.2, unknown, RDB
445.2, Point Pleasant, RDB
446.5, unknown, LDB
447, Jolly Roger’s Marina, RDB
447.5, LDB, (good)
449.5, RDB, (very good)
I gave you a bunch extra in the event you feel up to it.Outfalls include the following:


You only have two between 420 and 440, but, if you extend there are others out there.

Velocity: the velocity will be somewhere around 1.8 or so on the upstream side of the dam. It will kick up downstream of the dam, maybe to 2.8 or so…woohoo! The river narrows right below the dam which accelerates the flow.

Stage: There’s almost 13 extra feet of water on the downstream side of the dam. There is no hydro at this location (although they are working on it), and no abnormal flow patterns that I am aware of, but, with that much extra water, hard to tell. Watch the kayak.

Temperature: Still holding about 76 degrees. Turbidity is around 100 NTU.

Have a great swim! Be Safe! Jerry

* * *15 June – Ohio River mile 300-420 (Manchester OH – Dover KY)
Lead kayaker: Jim Gadrow
Notes from Jerry Schulte to Mimi

Good Morning! Wish the river was in better shape for you, but with this weather, the turbidity has cranked up substantially. I hope you had a good rest yesterday…did you see George? You never know!

So, you got out at Moyers! Well done! Great place to eat and drink…have had many an enjoyable meal there…should have told you about that one, mea culpa. Glad you found it. I’m sorry I won’t be able to paddle for you on Thursday. It won’t take you long to make the 20 mile run on Thursday, but you’ll have to do it with me in my usual support role…from a chair.

OK, so you get to go from ORM 401 (Moyers) to ORM 420 at Dover. Just downstream of Moyers but on the LDB will be a limestone processing facility…it’s all white from limestone dust. Next will be the Stewart Power Plant…that’s the one with the really warm thermal discharge at 405.8. If you stayed in Maysville, you can’t miss the plant. You’ll pass Ripley, OH at ORM 417.3, then Dover at ORM 419.7. Between the limestone plant on the LDB and the power plant on the RDB, it can get pretty congested in there with barge traffic, so make sure your paddler knows how to use the radio.

Ramps in that area include:

405, Aberdeen, RDB, (Very good)
406, Maysville, LDB, (very good)
406.9/0.1, Maysville River Park, LDB
408.5, Maysville, LDB, (very good)
408.7, Aberdeen, RDB
415.8/0.5, Eagle Cr, RDB
419.7, Ky Fish & Wildlife, LDB, (usable)
424, White Oak Cr, RDB (good)

Outfalls include the following:


Given the rains, tributary flows will be significant as will be debris. Make sure your paddler understands that. Hope you don’t get any stuck in your suit again! I hope all goes well. Have a great swim! Be Safe! Jerry

* * *13 June – Ohio River mile 380-400 (Vanceburg KY – Manchester OH)
Lead kayaker: Barbara Bennett
Secondary kayaker: Marsha Wikle
Notes from Jerry Schulte to Mimi

Good Morning! Hope the thunderstorms didn’t cramp your style too much. We had almost 4 inches of rain in my neighborhood, while other parts of the city had as little as 1.5 inches. Most of that came this morning between 9 and noon.

I just talked to both Greenup dam and Meldahl dam. Seems as though this storm didn’t make it to the drainage above Greenup as they are closing down gates (less water through), while Meldahl is opening. Must be coming down the Scioto River just downstream of Portsmouth which puts the bump behind you.

On the downstream side of Meldahl they are predicting 2.6 mph velocity, while they’re only predicting 1.6 at Greenup. It will undoubtedly be somewhere between the two. Given the nature of this rain event, I’m sure the CSOs [Combined Sewage Overflows] are discharging and the tributaries will be carrying their own loads of bacteria and debris. No fun.

So, you’re supposed to start out at 380 and go to 400. We’ll assume you’re going to do something like that. You’ve only got two outfalls listed in this stretch:

397.8, Municipal, VILLAGE OF MANCHESTER 400.0, Municipal, VILLAGE OF ABERDEEN

I’m not finding anything on these being CSO communities, but our data on CSOs indicate that the tribs can bring in as much if not more bacteria during wet weather events as direct to river CSOs.

Haul out: Here’s the list of ramps as I have them: [Data lists River, River Mile, Launch, and Bank]

Ohio, 383.9, Rome Launch Ramp, RDB
Bruch Cr, 388/.03, Brush Creek, RDB (very good)
Ohio, 395.8, Manchester Island, RDB (good)
Ohio, 397.2, Manchester Landing, RDB
Ohio, 398.0, J. West Ramp, RDB (unknown)
Ohio, 407.0, Aberdeen, RDB (very good)
Ohio, 408.8, Maysville, LDB (very good)

Looking at the aerials, there may be an option right about ORM 400 on the RDB. There is new construction between the road and the river and there appears to be some sort of structure going down to the river. It will be after you pass Manchester, then a trib, Isaacs Creek, at ORM 398.2 RDB. The road is about 150 yards from the river at this point. For Joanna, it will be about 1.35 miles outside of Manchester (the edge of town is pretty identifiable. One minute you’re in town, the next you’re not!

Otherwise, there really isn’t anything until you get to Maysville at 407 LDB. That would be a haul under normal flow conditions, but I suspect tomorrow will be anything but normal flow (then again, you might get a chance to see George Clooney…that’s his home town!).

You will pass one power plant at ORM 389.5 RDB. It does not have a thermal discharge. However, there is another plant at ORM 405 RDB that has a huge thermal discharge at ORM 405.7 coming out of Little Three Mile Creek RDB. In late summer we have documented 120 F coming out of Little Three Mile Creek! Under these flows it shouldn’t be an issue.

Have a great swim today. As always, Be Safe! Jerry

* * *12 June – Ohio River mile 360-380 (Portsmouth OH – Vanceburg KY)
Lead kayaker: Barbara Bennett
Secondary kayaker: Marsha Wikle

Notes from Mimi to kayakers
Hello John and Charlie!

This morning I nixed the sugar-free yogurt because of the chemicals and am preparing to go jump back into the Ohio River. Does that make any sense?

Here is the general plan for the next few days….
Tues: I won’t know about the put-in spot until I find it Sunday evening. We are hoping for a spot at 400m off Wilson Bottom Rd.
Take out: Dover Boat Ramp 319.5 (approx.)

Weds 420-440 : In: Dover Boat Ramp
Out: Two choices….swim one mile past Neville, I get out and walk back and the kayaker kayaks back…OR if the day is one from hell, we go to 442.7 and take out at Moscow. I prefer to take out at Moscow IF I haven’t already been swimming for ten hours….

Thurs 440-460: IN: Moscow, if we made it that far
Out: 460.3 at 5 Mile Road….IF there is time, I’d like to take out at 462.7 but it is doubtful the flow will be enough to get me there in under ten hours. If I have time to swim to Moscow, then 462.7 is a good possibility. I think there is a press conference somewhere in between start/finish.

*If you are using our kayak, we will bring the boat to the put in/out spots. We do not have a special kayak carrier but tie the Jackson onto the roof of my Wrangler.

Thanks guys……I look forward to meeting you….Time to outrun the thunderstorms, Mimi

Notes from Jerry Schulte to Mimi
Good Morning Super Swimmer! Way to kick butt yesterday…awesome! A little flow, a good kayaker, and you can burn some river miles! Hope you took the opportunity to see the murals along the riverfront at Portsmouth. They are pretty interesting and currently, and unfortunately, one of the local claims to fame. Several years ago when I launched at the Portsmouth ramp, I was greeted by a replica of the Niña sailing ship, you know, of the Niña, Pinta and Santa Maria. Yep, sitting right there at the Portsmouth ramp was the Niña. This guy built her and has sailed (and motored) her all over the inland waterways, eastern seaboard and Great Lakes. Later that summer I saw her again near the Straits of Mackinaw in Michigan. An amazing craft. One of the interesting things to learn was that only the Captain had a sleeping berth. Everybody else slept on deck or down in the hold with the livestock and other supplies. It’s not as big as you would think for a ship that was built to sail the Atlantic only 65′ long!

Portsmouth and Shawnee State Park hold some interesting and fond memories for me as it was the first park I worked at as a naturalist during my college years. Not unlike Tennessee, you can find Timber Rattle snakes and Copperhead snakes in them thar hills. They rarely, if ever, swim, so don’t worry. No, we don’t have Cottonmouths (watermocassins) up here. We do have the Northern Water Snake, which can look similar to the untrained eye, but it’s harmless, although it does have a decidedly bad temperament. At one program on reptiles and amphibians, I decided to take the 4′ Timber rattlesnake out of its cage to show people how, unlike other snakes, they will always stay on the snake hook and not fall or jump off. Well, I guess nobody told this guy he wasn’t supposed to get off the snake hook and, well, let’s just say you never saw people scatter so fast in all your life! Only a handful came back for the rest of the program…go figure! That stunt garnered me my first reprimand of the summer. There were more to come…some people just have no sense of humor!

Two days before you can rest. It was great talking to Marsha while she was kayaking along side you today! What strides we have made in communications technology!

So, are you going to go for another 20 today? Might as well. I don’t think the velocity will drop off that fast and you have a serviceable? ramp in Rome, OH at ORM 383.9 RDB; Vanceburg is at 378.5 LDB. Up to you and your crew.

It’s supposed to rain tomorrow…heavy rain in the morning with a chance of thunderstorms. Glad to hear you got off the river today for a while as the thunder line went through. Lightning really hurts!

This is a pretty desolate stretch of river…not much going on and the scenery is beautiful. Look around while you stop to hydrate. The outfalls are as follows:

375.0, KY, Industrial, HOLLINEE LLC
375.5, KY, Industrial, ELECTRIC PLANT BOARD
378.4, KY, Municipal, ELECTRIC PLANT BOARD

Not much to worry about. The Electric Plant Board is not a power plant. If it rains that hard, CSOs may open up, and Vanceburg is a CSO community at ORM 378 LDB. Salt Lick Creek enters at 378.4 LDB on the downstream side of Vanceburg. I wouldn’t doubt that it carries a pretty heavy load of bacteria during such events. Stay to the RDB through this area if it has been raining, which would be your shorter line anyway. By the way, so far you have descended 216′ in elevation since your start at Pittsburgh. When you get to Cairo, you will have gone from 710′ mean sea level to 281′, a total change in elevation of 429 feet! You are now in the Meldahl Pool. It is the longest pool you’ve been in to date at 95 miles long. Your longest is yet to come.

OK, enough statistics. I hope you had a restful evening in downtown Portsmouth and are ready to face the day. Have a great swim. Be Safe. Jerry

* * *11 June – Ohio River mile 340-360 (Franklin Furnace OH – Portsmouth OH)
Lead kayaker: Barbara Bennett
Secondary kayaker: Marsha Wikle

Notes from Jerry Schulte to Mimi
Good Morning! I don’t know when you will get this, but at least it’s in the record. I actually flew over the stretch you swam yesterday and what you will swim today on my way back from VA. Unfortunately, the river is picking up a significant sediment load from recent rains; I’m not sure how or if that affects you, but you seem to be undaunted, whatever the condition. Admirable. You’ll start today at Greenup Dam and end up somewhere around Portsmouth. As I feel you are in trusted hands with today’s kayaker, I’ll make this communiqué short.

Weather: Mid 80’s. 40% chance of thunderstorm. I suspect these are the pop-up variety, so it should be hit or miss.

Flow: The velocity is supposed to go down slightly, to 1.5 mph, but I’m not sure I’d pay much attention to that given the isolated storms that have gone on around here and my knowledge of the model that is used to calculate those numbers. Again, there is a hydro at Greenup, so be careful getting in today, as usual.

Haul out: This is not good for today. You have (at least) three options: 1. short swim the day and haul out at Portsmouth, ORM 356 RDB. 2. Extend and your next ramp is at ORM 363 RDB. 3. You may have a cross-country option at 360.1 on the LDB. There is an outwash from a small tributary at this location. I’m not sure if it will be visible at the current river elevations. The road, KY route 8, is 200 yards from the river. There appears to be development around the outwash, so it shouldn’t be a hike through a field…just somebody’s yard. And I know you’ve dealt with this situation before, and you (or Joanna) is good at it! So, that might be your only option for haul out along this stretch.

Here are your outfalls for today:

349.0, OH, Municipal, CITY OF PORTSMOUTH
349.2, OH, Industrial, BP AMOCO PLC
351.8, OH, Municipal, VILLAGE OF NEW BOSTON
353.6, OH, Municipal, CITY OF PORTSMOUTH
353.8, KY, Municipal,CITY OF SOUTH SHORE

350.8 RDB is Portsmouth’s intake…it is a concrete monolith about 100 yds out in the river. Should be a good half-way reference point for you or Marsha. Don’t get sucked in.

Also, notice the terrain is starting to change. The river is getting bigger and has a bigger flood plane. More to come on that.

As you get a mile downstream of Greenup dam, you will encounter an overhead pipeline. That should be the only one you see on the river. There is an osprey that nests on the pipe. Two years ago I watched a veritable pas de deux between the pipeline painter and the osprey! One was trying to paint all the way up there, and one was defending its nest. What a sight!

Have a great swim. Be Safe! Jerry

[Photo: Ohio Department of Natural Resources]* * *10 June – Ohio River mile 320-340 (Ashland KY – Franklin Furnace OH)
Lead kayaker: Cindi Branham

Notes from Mimi
1) How do you deal with the toxins and pollutants?
Do my best not to swallow water, vitamins, alpha lipoic acid, drink lots of water to stay hydrated. That’s all I can do….

2) How does this swim compare to your other swims?
Slow current, headwinds are common, water more polluted…but twenty years ago, this river was so bad the swim would have been impossible. MOST support ever on any swim!

3) What’s the most surprising thing that’s happened?
The lockmasters at the dam doing their best to get me across as fast as possible, and The People. The closer I get to towns, the more calls we get. I think a lot of people didn’t think I’d make it this far so didn’t bother planning or calling prior to the swim. The most discouraging thing is the lack of response from women’s/girls’ groups in the towns along the river….women come out en masse to speak out about the swim and its mission and are full of good wishes but the actual groups are quiet. Metropolis, Illinois is great, using my swim to generate funds for their women’s/girls’ shelter and having a Walk with the swimmer the morning before I head out for my swim, but only a couple of organizations have plans. Awareness is the mission and in reality, that is happening better than anticipated. So, I suppose that is most important. If the groups come out, I am preaching to the choir. Too bad they miss the fundraising option. Maybe organizing is just too much work for them.

4) What have you learned so far?
The American Spirit is alive and well! It is beautiful all the kinds of people coming out in support of the swim.

5) What are you most looking forward to?
Breakfast. I do my best not to look forward to anything but the present. One stroke at a time. Looking forward can make the swim seem overwhelming.

Notes from Jerry Schulte to Mimi

Good Morning! I trust you had a good meal at the councilwomans’ house and a restful night’s sleep. I hear it’s quite nice! Looks like you had a little rain yesterday. Hope it didn’t compromise anything. How did the escort go? I hope they didn’t get in your way! Lots of barges and traffic through there, but I’m sure they moved some of it out of your way. I’m told you got a proclamation from the mayor?

Well, in this stretch of river you will still encounter some old industry. Some is still active, some shut down. One little story to tell about the Greenup pool…one of our fish sampling crews was coming back from a night’s work — that’s right, we work at night to do our fish survey work…get 30% more species and individuals at night than in the day…so, this crew has finished a long night’s work and is heading back to the ramp when BONG…they hit one of the steel channel buoys with the boat! Fortunately our boats are custom made for use on the Ohio River so needless to say they are extra heavy duty. It put a small dent in the bow, which remains there to this day as a reminder to future crews that accidents can happen. We have an exceptional safety record doing this work, and I expect to keep that in tact throughout the remainder of my tenure.

When training new crews for the river, I preach safety to them…data is not worth a life! I would also challenge them to try to make a mistake I hadn’t made…you learn by making mistakes, and while regrettable sometimes, learning from them is crucial. Make a mistake…fine…learn. Make the same mistake twice, and I may wonder why I hired you.

Enough food for thought…down to swimmin’ business.

Weather: Supposed to be good, partly sunny, high about 86. Winds 5 mph.

River: The velocity is supposed to stay up around 1.8 mph, so, it should be at least as good as yesterday. The temperature at Ashland is 77 degrees, the turbidity went from 6 in the morning to 16 tonight thanks to that rain. Still, not bad.

Haul out: The closest ramp is located in Ginat Run, at ORM 339 RDB. Sounds like Marsha has everything set up for you, but if you want to extend, the next ramp is at 344 RDB. Be careful on your approach to Greenup. There is a hydro on the RDB, so you know the drill. It doesn’t look like you will pick up much velocity on the downstream side. A little maybe, but not a lot. There is another small bump behind you. Maybe you’ll catch it tomorrow or Friday, but it’s not much.

Here are the outfalls:


Just stick to your usual 1/3 line and you should be fine. You’re doing great! I hope you have another short day tomorrow! How’s the eye? Better?

Have a great swim today. Be Safe! Jerry

* * *9 June – Ohio River mile 300 – 320 (Riverside Terrace OH – Ashland KY)
Lead kayaker: Cindi Branham

Notes from Jerry Schulte to Mimi
Glad to hear you had your best day ever so far! It’s amazing what a little current can do for you. Let’s hope it continues. I can forward the websites to you that I use to give you the daily information, but, it sounds like you don’t have a whole lot of time to do the daily research, so I’m hoping these synoptic overviews cut a little prep time off of each day.

OK, down to business. You will pick up your escort at the bridge at ORM 311. A 23′ fire boat in front, and a zodiac behind. Make sure your kayaker makes contact with them on the radio. Maybe they will crank up their fire pumps and your arrival will look like the Queen Mary pulling into New York harbor! Woohoo! Either way, you will be much safer this way being escorted through tow boat alley. Don’t be surprised if you run into a small oil sheen or two. Might want to snag a bar of soap from the hotel just in case. Here are the outfalls in this stretch:


It’s a busy stretch of river…what can I say? Keep to your 1/3 line and that will be the best thing you can do.

Flows: Says it’s going to be down to 1.7 for today’s swim. They have it listed at 1.9 yesterday, but, I think your location in the river has as much to do with it as anything. Stage is slowly dropping off as indicated on the graph you saw.

Weather: Scattered thunderstorms last night and a high of 86 and sunny today. Winds are SE at 5 – 10. Getting some of the wrap around from the front that went through. SE winds are not common.

Haul out: I think they (the councilwoman and Marsh?) will be looking for you to haul out at ORM 322.6, LDB. It’s the Ashland Public Launch Ramp. There is some construction going on around there, but I’m told there is more than enough room for a swimmer and a kayak. I don’t show any other ramps in the immediate vicinity, so, if you don’t like that one, you’re going to have to improvise! From what I understand you’ll be hosted by councilwoman Cheryl Wooten Spriggs.

The Big Sandy River will join the Ohio at ORM 317. No real significant flow, but just upstream on the Big Sandy is the home of the single, largest refinery on the river, the Marathon/Catlettsburg refinery. It’s a big ‘un. Lots of oil, lots of refined products, lots of barges.

Have a good swim today! Be Safe. Jerry

* * *8 June – Ohio River mile 280-300 (Eureka WV – Riverside Terrace OH)
Lead kayaker: Cindi Branham

Notes from Jerry Schulte to Mimi
Good Morning! I hope you had a restful day, sounds like you had a good time at the museum. Find out about the elephants? Jack is a great guy…we had our fish tank set up there a couple of years ago and that inspired him to set up his own. They did a great job.

So, you improvised again based on your paddler. Cool. I’m beginning to get the sense that you do a lot of improvisation with one of these swims. I can deal with that. Never was one much for planning. Takes too much time.

OK, here’s a quick rundown for today…
Weather – Winds are supposed to stay around 5 mph out of the NW. High 83. A chance of thunderstorms, but only 20%.

River – Don’t have a temp…sorry. Guess around 75. Velocity is going to be about 2 mph, so, if your kayaker keeps you off shore, you should catch some reasonable current. Glad the radio comms info is helping. The stage at the downstream side of Byrd is only going to be 23.4 feet. That is still 10 feet over normal, but less than they had predicted originally. Glad of that. Glad you made it a little farther down Sunday. Didn’t want you starting out at the dam with the flows they were predicting.

Haul Out. Looks like you have your choice of either side. Since you’re staying on the WV side (I’m assuming), then you can haul out at 301.1. But, there are ramps on either side of the river at this point, so wherever you want to get out at that location, you have your option. Only four discharges…even I’m surprised about that in this stretch of river, but, that’s a good thing. All are on the LDB, and I am unaware of any problems with them. Tomorrow will be a different story.


I am trying to arrange an escort for you through the Huntington/Ashland area. The Greenup Pool and the Port of Huntington are the 3rd busiest inland port and largest inland port, respectively. That’s why I would like to get you a little better escort than just the kayak. Should find out about that tomorrow.

That’s all for now. Have a great swim today! Be Safe! Jerry

* * *6 June – Ohio River mile 260-280 (Point Pleasant WV – Eureka WV)
Lead kayaker: Sharon Russell

Notes from Mimi
I don’t write much anymore, too damn busy or tired. All is going well. Sharon Russell is an amazing kayaker and takes what she does seriously–point a to point b. Yesterday the winds were challenging, but today they are going to be horrific–up to 26mph gusts. The kayakers have a tough job. Perhaps it contrasts the typical river experience because he/she has to stay focused to keep me in moving water and out of the way of river traffic. It is difficult for new kayakers to judge how far that is and most tend to move me too close to shore, too soon. These moves can add another hour to two to our day. The outgoing kayakers reflect on their day with amazement and accomplishment. They are the ones that get to see the people that line up on shore or drive up in boats to wish us well. By the time their stint is done, they have the marine radio down pat. I am thankful for their help. The swim could not happen without them. They truly are my eyes. I trust them fully that I will not run into a boat, log or concrete walk wall along a dam. Two days ago I hit a piece of driftwood that stuck to my head like a unicorn’s horn. Wish I had a picture of that! One guy ran me into a buoy. He was embarrassed but I wasn’t hurt. It was comical.

Probar sold me 250 bars and is sending a partial shipment ASAP, so I’ll have them by Monday. My supply runs out today. Initially I thought I had purchased enough for the whole swim but that was when I was expecting shorter days. I am eating 6-8 of them a day. They keep me going and are the healthiest bar I could find, dense and not too sweet. I did not ask for sponsorship; I support the company because it’s a great company. I feel sponsorship dilutes an athlete’s opinion.

[Photo: South Western Regional Fisheries Board]My wetsuit is a mess. Zebra mussels have chopped it up and toxins in the water have eaten the outer coating. I have an extra at home that I used on my swim to Russia in 97. Tree is sending it on today. I hope it fits and doesn’t fall apart when I put it on. It is important because it offers some protection from toxins and bacteria in the water and offers enough buoyancy so I can eat in the water.

I am ready for the blog radio tonight. Bad storms and headwinds but rain should give us a current. We are staying at Lowes Motor Inn…I finally am at the famous haunted Mothman hotel!

* * *5 June – Ohio River Mile 240-260 (Racine OH – Point Pleasant WV)
Lead kayaker: Sharon Russell

Notes to Mimi from Jerry Schulte
Good Saturday Morning!

Yes, it’s Saturday. Don’t know if you are aware, care, or how or if you keep track of days out there, but it is Saturday! So, you went all the way to 240, way to go! I’m guessing you hauled out on the Ohio side, as the road is close to the river. Otherwise, a haul out on the WV side would have garnered you a trek through a corn field to get to the road. Either way, glad you made it.

As you seem inclined to go “cross country” to get out, I’m going to assume you are familiar with poison ivy, which grows in abundance all along the river. Your suit will protect you from the oil that causes the itching reaction from this plant, but, it probably would not stop stinging nettle. I’ve had that go through jeans before, and it is no fun. Let me know if you need a primer on this, as it is common and absolutely miserable if you tangle with it! If you need a picture or description of this malicious species, let me know.

ORSANCO has been sampling fish from the Ohio River since 1957 monitoring the status of fish populations. We have documented the decline of several pollution-tolerant species, and the resurgence of pollution-intolerant ones (I’m sure you find that surprising based on your initial comments about the water quality of our river… I hope you’re finding it more to your liking. You really did start this trek at a terrible time, from a water quality perspective.) Anyway, we can frequently use these fish sampling events as educational opportunities for local schools. In one such instance we had a group of high school students come out and help us sort, weigh, and measure the fish. We also collect fillets from some of them for contaminant analysis. In one such event, a large catfish had been collected and was scheduled to be filleted for analysis. It had a great big belly on it, so I took the opportunity to cut it open to show the students what it had been eating. I had done this numerous times before and was quite confident it would contain fish, crayfish, etc. I opened the fish, found its stomach, made an incision, and emptied the contents onto the table. Unbelievable! I had never seen anything like it before, or since…carrots, potatoes, and nice big chunks of meat…beef stew! All perfectly recognizable…heck, you could still see the serrations in the cuts left by the knife! Someone had emptied out a pot of stew into the river and this guy had chowed down on it! Unbelievable! So much for the whole life pyramid-little fish getting eaten by the big fish theory! Naw, the big fish just hang out at the dam and eat leftovers! The lesson quickly focused on an expanded definition of omnivore! Who would have thought!

Ok, on to today’s swim. So, I’m going to guess you’ll slide back down the hill into the water at 140??? Well, no matter your modus operandi, you should be going from 240 – 260, Racine to York Station. Let’s see what you’ve got in this stretch…ah ha…power production alley! You leave the hydropower behind you at the dam (this is actually the place where I’ve witnessed the cross river eddy), and move on to not less than 4 coal fired plants in a row…Phillip Sporn, Moutaineer, Gavin, and Kyger Creek. Fortunately only two are once-through cooling, Phillip Sporn and Kyger Creek. The others are on cooling towers. How do you deal with these thermal discharges? Do you make any attempt to avoid them or do you just plow right through them? Having worked around many of these, I know how uncomfortable being in that water can be.

The Phillip Sporn and Mountaineer plants are sequential on the LDB from ORM 241.5 to 244.

Here are the outfalls in the upper stretch:
241.6 LDB 241.9 LDB
242.0 LDB 243.0 RDB
245.0 LDB
247.1 RDB 247.2 RDB

The power company outfalls will be the thermal discharge and probably their fly ash discharge. The next two are municipals, should be ok. The last two are small industrial outfalls. Stay to the middle third…I hope that is where Sharon is finding the current.

In the lower half you have:
250.2 RDB
250.7 LDB
255.0 RDB
256.4 LDB
258.1 RDB
260.0 LDB

5 small muni’s and one thermal. The small muni’s shouldn’t be a factor. Your call on the thermals.

Haul out. This isn’t looking good…260 is in the middle of the power plant, and the road is not close on the LDB. The Corps chart shows a small ramp at 261.4 RDB…but, I don’t see anything on the aerials. There might be some residential boat docks and maybe a residential ramp there…not sure. The road is close, less than 100 yards, so it might be worth a shot. The Cheshire public ramp is back at 257.8, if you want to make a short day, or, you could go all the way to the Point at the Ohio/Kanawha confluence, but that’s at 265.7! Guess its time to say nothing you do is going to surprise me! I’ll lay out the options and hope they help.

Have a great swim today, Mimi. Be Safe! Jerry

* * *4 June – Ohio River Mile 220-240 (Ravenswood WV – Racine OH)
Lead kayaker: Sharon Russell

Notes to Mimi from Jerry SchulteBonjour!

Given Wednesday’s trials and tribulations with the weather, I’m loath to hazard a guess as to what happened yesterday. The weather doesn’t look like it was too bad, but, if the wind is right, it blows right up the river valley and can make boating, let alone swimming and kayaking, difficult.

The weather report for today doesn’t look appreciably different from yesterday…chance of thunder storms, high of 86. I hope the cloud cover made it a little more tolerable for both you and Sharon. How’d she do on her first day? Still friends?

Again, I can only surmise that they are releasing water from some of the reservoirs upstream as the velocity report for tomorrow is 0.8, and predicted to go all the way to 1.2 by Sunday! Maybe you can finally put in some 8-hour days?

Somebody asked me today if you looked like a prune after spending 10 – 12 hours in the water swimming. Comment?

The schedule says you’re going to haul out at Racine today. That should be a good place. There is (was) a road that came down into the water on the backside of the landward guide wall on the LDB. We used to launch there when we were doing fish passage studies at the hydro. I talked to the lockman and he said that is still a viable take out point. I don’t know if Joanna picks up the kayak at night, but she should be able to drive fairly close to the water to minimize the distance it has to be carried. Or, you might be able to leave it on site if you’re going to launch there in the morning. There’s pretty good security around the dams these days, so it should be secure.

Let’s run the outfalls for today…I’ll assume you make it to the Ravenswood City ramp, which would put you downstream of their municipal outfall at 220.8. So, we have industrial/process water from the following locations:

222.0 LDB
226.9 LDB
229.0 LDB
231.5 LDB
232.0 RDB
234.2 RDB
235.7 LDB
237.5 RDB

Again, should be a good day for you. Enjoy!

Yesterday I mentioned a surprise for you…well, if the dam wasn’t there you’d have a class 1 rapids to shoot at Letart Falls.

The Ohio River was never a deep bodied river, that is, not until the dams were put in place. The first dams were constructed in the early 1900’s, when 53 lock and dam structures were proposed for the Ohio River to facilitate commercial navigation. Prior to that, it was a wide, shallow river for the most part where native people could walk across its breadth in many locations. I would have loved to have seen this river without the dams…what a remarkable site! To have been a fly on the cape of Constatine Rafinesque, a French explorer and naturalist who inventoried the fish of the Ohio River culminating in the publication of his treatise, Ichthylogia Ohiensis, in 1820. Rafinesque describes the Ohio as follows:

“Parts.The Ohio is naturally divided into three parts, containing each two sections, the head branches Alleghany and Monongahela for the two sections of the first part. The second or upper part lies between their junctions and the falls, being divided into two sections by Letart’s rapids; while the third or lower part includes the space below the first section of which terminates at the end of the narrow valley above Troy in Indiana, and the second, which includes the broad and flat valleys, reaches to the mouth. The upper part of the river is the longest, being about seven hundred miles long.

Depth. Very variable according to places and times. The mean depth at low water may be reckoned at three feet, and at high water at about thirty feet. Average medium fifteen feet.

Waters. They are slightly turbid, and become much more so in the rises. At a low stage they are almost clear, and at all times very salubrious. The Monongahela has the same character, while the Alleghany is almost perfectly clear.”

I think he overestimated the river’s depth, but he saw it, not me!

I’ve always felt there are two rivers to be plied: the one that we see and have access to, and the original, which is still down there, still rolling along. I’ve seen it on side scan sonar images of the bottom and in sediment and substrate grabs…the old and the new. It’s still there, covered shore to shore by a 15’ deep blanket stitched from the contributions of a watershed changed, and bordered by a headboard and footboard of concrete. Think of this “other river” as you swim over Letart Falls today…think of those who had the privilege to walk across it and to see it in its uninhibited state.

Have a great swim today! Be Safe! Jerry

* * *3 June – Ohio River Mile 200-220 (Reedville WV – Ravenswood WV)
Lead kayaker: Sharon Russell

Notes to Mimi from Jerry Schulte
Again…good morning! Something tells me you hit the currents again yesterday and made it to Belleville? That’s what we’ll assume.

I mentioned the hydro at Belleville. Hydros on the Ohio River have to monitor water temperature and dissolved oxygen content of the water. There are times during late summer when the dissolved oxygen content can fall below our stream criterion of 5.0 mg/l. If it falls below that, the hydros are supposed to shut down and they are supposed to pass water at the dam to improve aeration. So, when I told you the water temperature was 73 F at Belleville, that’s what it was at Belleville! There is minimal diurnal fluctuation. The next dam, Racine, has a hydro and temp gage too. I’ll use that one tomorrow. Again, watch for the eddy…don’t want to hear that you spent your day going around in circles!

Weather: Looks like you have a day full of possible thunderstorms. I can keep an eye on the radar for you throughout the day if that will help. I’d need Sharon’s cell number if you want me to relay information to her. Or, I could call Joanna. Not sure how the coverage will be out there…it’s pretty sketchy in a lot of places. Your call…let me know in the morning. Temp is only going up to the mid 80’s. The winds aren’t supposed to be much, but with thunder-bumpers around, you never know.

Flows: Flows are up to 0.7 mph! Some of the reservoirs on the system must be releasing rain water. Sorry, Sharon, don’t think you’re going to hit any whitewater! But there is a surprise tomorrow!

Welcome to Racine pool! Probably the most underdeveloped pool in the upper river! To wit…only 1, yes 1 NPDES discharge in your 20-mile stretch today.

That’s it! I listed the next one as your ramp is at ORM 221.1. That’s the good news…the bad news is that this municipal outfall is just upstream of the boat ramp. But, I’m hoping there is a diffuser pipe on the bottom. Both the treatment plant and boat ramp are just 1/3 mile downstream of Sandy Creek on the LDB, so, once you pass Sandy Creek, you should see the boat ramp.

It should be a nice, boring swim…a great one to “get into the zone.” Only one island to deal with, Buffington Island, at ORM 216.7. Stay on the main channel side then transition over to the LDB for haul out.

You have the following boat ramps as possible resting/lunch sites all on the RDB: ORM 207.9, 209.5 and 216.0. 207.9 is probably the best option. 209.5 is on the outside of the Murraysville bend…wrong side of the river for you at that point.

My regards to your new kayaker, Sharon! Sharon, I hope it is an enjoyable paddle for you today. Enjoy the scenery. Keep your eyes peeled for osprey and bald eagles…I believe they both nest along this stretch. I also hope you are familiar with the marine radio so you can talk to barge captains.

Let’s talk for a minute about the dams on the Ohio and how they operate, because there is a lot of misconception about these things. The reason for the dams is to provide a minimum 9’ deep navigation channel for commercial barge traffic.

First, and foremost, the dams do not hold back flood water…they have nothing to do with the regulation of flood water in the river…that’s right. They are operated on a run-of-the-river basis. X amount of water comes in on the upper side, X amount of water is passed through to the downstream side. They use the “upper” gage reading to regulate the gate openings on the dam. The upper gage is regulated to within inches of its established norm, which is actually based on some arbitrary zero point on the upstream guide wall. Usually the upper gage reading is somewhere around 13 feet. That does not mean the water is just 13 feet deep…again, it’s based on an arbitrary zero point that has nothing to do with the depth of the water anywhere other than right at the gage. As the flow increases and the water level begins to creep up, they begin opening the gates. As you may have noticed by now, the water goes under these dams, not over. At all costs, they maintain the level on the upstream side of the dam. As you get in tomorrow, while you’re standing on top of Belleville Dam, look at how close the development is to the river on the upstream side, and then look downstream. Downstream from the hydro tubes there’s a lot of rip-rap. As they open the gates on the dam and/or increase the flow through the hydro to maintain the upper gage, the water depth will fluctuate drastically on the downstream side. The upper gage may be 1 inch above normal, and the lower gage may be 10 feet above normal! Not uncommon at all. Flood control in our basin (by the way, the Ohio basin is 204,000 sq mi in size), is accomplished by the flood control reservoirs…and then only 1/3 of the rain water is controlled. The other 2/3 rolls into the river. But it’s a great system!

Tomorrow should be your best swim yet (weather permitting). Enjoy! Be Safe! Jerry

* * *2 June – Ohio River Mile 180-200 (Vienna WV – Reedville WV)
Lead kayaker: Dan Gearhart

Notes to Mimi from Jerry Schulte
Maidin Mhaith!

Seemed only fitting to start out with a bit of the Irish since you’re going to go past Blennerhassett Island. Harman Blennerhassett was born in 1764 to an aristocratic Irish family. Harman and Martha first settled in New York and then Pennsylvania before making their way to the Ohio Valley. Their first home in this region was Marietta. And then they saw the island. They settled there in 1798. The Blennerhassetts were well educated, talented and interested in any number of subjects, as their home could attest. Harman Blennerhassett had studied law when he was in England. In the New World, he had new pursuits. He studied medicine. The mansion boasted a private study. His library was one of the largest private libraries in the Ohio Valley. (from the web, not me…but still interesting).

OK…enough history lessons for the day. Thought you would find it interesting as you will swim along the 500 acre island that he once strode. A couple of years ago there was a Bald Eagle nest on the towhead of the island. I’m thinking there were too many people in the area for it to continue.

The weather will not be as kind today as we’re almost in a September weather pattern…90 F and pop up thunderstorms. Looks like the wind will be reasonable, increasing to only 10 mph by 5pm.
The water temperature at Belleville is 73 F. Up a couple of degrees, but I don’t have to tell you that!

So, I’m guessing you hauled out at the head of Neal Island in Vienna and will begin here today. No problem with going down the back channel. If you and your kayaker can do it, looks like you should start out on the LDB and head for the RDB at Belpre, ORM 184.7, then back across to the LDB and head down the back channel of Blennerhassett Island. However, as you exit the back channel, move or stay to the 1/3 LDB line from river miles 190 to 191.2. You will go by a facility with an intake that is on the bottom of the river. They backflush the intake occasionally, injecting air into the river in the process. River water + air bubbles = no buoyancy for a boat, swimmer, etc. Swim through that and you might sink. Only 100 yds or so downstream of the intake house are the first two of three discharges. These are small ones compared to the one further down. That one is substantial and thermal. Steer clear of it.

After this, the river serpentines back and forth. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, so make sure today’s paddler is familiar and comfortable with the radio to alert barges to your presence as you will probably go back and forth across the main channel.

I understand you’ve spoken with the Huntington Coast Guard. They will be issuing daily navigation notices regarding your presence. I’ll check with him again to make sure they know it’s a blue kayak and to further assure that the locational information is accurate. All of the barge captains I have met are great people. All they want to know is what is going on, so, your paddler must communicate, communicate, communicate!

It’s another gauntlet and a switchback river…nothing but fun!

Haul out. Your schedule says you’re going to haul out at Reedsville, which puts you at Belleville dam. Again, if you choose to get out earlier, there is a small ramp at ORM 202.5 LDB right at the old lock and dam #20 site. My friends that live there have been told that you might haul out there. Scott works as a fisheries biologist for WVDNR, and Patty works for the US FWS Ohio River Island National Wildlife Refuge system. Both are great people! The ramp is no more than a driveway into the river, but it’s serviceable.

There is a hydro at Belleville, so the same concerns will apply as did for Hannibal…watch for eddy currents when you get in Thursday.

Have a great swim! Be Safe! Jerry

* * *1 June – Ohio River Mile 160-180 (St. Mary’s WV – Vienna WV)
Lead kayaker: Dan Gearhart

31 May – OFF

Notes from Mimi
Yesterday [31 May] was a good day. A picnic with the paddle and cycling club was fun. Three young boys attended allowing me the opportunity to pass on SpongeBob’s Campfire song and my favorite word in the English language: hippopotomonstrosesquipadaliaphobia. I informed them if their spelling words became too long, they could tell the teacher of their phobia. They said their mom was their teacher. Oh well. We shared a few jokes before I put on my adult face and joined the crowd. Sam from the Marietta paper interviewed us and took a group picture.

Usually my daily mileage is inflexible, never going short and rarely going long. Sunday it seemed a waste of time to cut off a mile before the dam. The current is virtually nonexistent in terms of pace. Swimming the extra mile cut off an hour’s time at the dam today–I hope. Last night Alan said we were locking through for ease of entry but later changed his mind.

We are staying the next two nights at Alan’s dad’s house. I will miss the humongous breakfasts at the Hampton Inn (Rotary comp.). No joke…peanut butter waffle, two yogurts, two eggs, bowl of oatmeal, oj, coffee and ginger chews for dessert. People tend to stare. The large intake of calories in the morning allow me to swim for two 2-hour stretches between food and water breaks. After that I drop down to 1 – 1 1/2 hour water/food breaks. I prefer the longer straight stretches but they can lead to sugar lows and dehydration.

So far, so good. I have a rash or two and bumps on my back, legs, and arms, nothing alarming — just a new river experience. Sunday we went through a mass of wood debris that stretched across the river. Small sticks and splinters entered my wetsuit probably causing part of the problem.

It is time for breakfast. Time to go eat like Jethro Clampett. ciao, mimi

* * *30 May – Ohio River Mile 140-160 (Sistersville WV – St. Mary’s WV)
Lead kayaker: Dan Jones
With no current, Mimi’s daily 20 miles take 10-14 hours instead of the 8 she hoped for. Today, Mimi and her kayaker face a hot day (90 degrees), the lower end of Willow Island pool, and zebra mussels, which can slice through hands and feet. On the upside, there’s no gravel dredging in the river in this area. And the wastewater is not as intense as what Mimi has already faced at the start of the swim.


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