Banks’ journey continuesPublished 11:43am Monday, August 13, 2012
By Harold Banks, Special to The Outlook
I rouse wearily from my tent at first light to survey the cause of the noises that interrupted my sleep all night. The main hull and most of the first floor of the old riverboat are completely underwater, and the entire boat is listing heavily on its side toward the river. The gasoline dock has been ripped to pieces by the tug between the sinking boat and the dock’s permanent anchor. The supposedly empty gasoline tank has fallen into the river. It is floating high, but I notice a sheen on the surface from something that has leaked. I fix my breakfast and some strong coffee, break camp, and pack my bags. I’m surprised no one has shown up this morning, but there is nothing I can do to help, and I want to get the heck out of here. The floating dock that I parked my canoe on the afternoon before has broken loose and is resting against the shore. That makes it easy for me to move my canoe and gear to it and launch. In a little over one-half mile I pass by Montgomery’s Riverfront Park where the Harriott II
is looking proud and spiffy, unlike its sad predecessor.
This will be one of my easiest days as I only have about 16 miles to paddle, so I’m going to take it easy and not wear myself out by paddling too fast like I did yesterday. It will be a nice break and give me a chance to recover before I start hitting high mileage days.
Most of the day I have a headwind, as seems to be the usual case when I’m canoeing, but it is not too strong. But by midday the heat is really sapping my strength. It is just not supposed to be this hot in early April. I stop at a sandbar to eat lunch and am disgusted at its condition. There are piles of beer cans and other trash all over the place. Why do people come to pretty places with full cans, and then turn them into ugly places rather than taking the much lighter empties home?
The day is uneventful, and I enjoy the leisurely paddle. At one point, what appears to be a submerged moss covered stump catches my eye. But this stump is moving pretty fast, and I then recognize it as a large snapping turtle. Despite poking along, I arrive at Catoma Creek about 2:30 p.m. and paddle one mile up it to get to the Gunter Hill campground. This is a full-facility Corps of Engineers campground, so after I make three portage trips to get canoe and gear several hundred yards from the boat ramp to my campsite, I set up my tent and head to the bath house. After a proper shower and shave, I wash my shirt and shorts by hand.
I cook a late supper, turkey tetrazzini, but it is still hot and I want to wait until it is no more than lukewarm before I eat it. I call Amy, and she says that Channel 12 news reported the incident of the sinking riverboat. Hopefully such destruction won’t follow me any further downriver. I turn in early and hope for a better sleep than last night.