Saturday, I intended to paddle along the south shore of Tims Ford Lake into Winchester, retracing the route my wife and I mistakenly took during our May 2007 camping trip. On the way to Devil’s Step boat ramp, however, I noticed a wide gravel road that turned off HIghway 50 adjacent the closed gates of a public “beach.” Because I thought it might lead to a put-in nearer Boiling Fork Creek and the City of Winchester, proper, I turned off there.
The boat ramp at the end of the road was paved. One other vehicle, a battered pickup truck with an equally weathered-looking trailer, stood parked near where I’d parked. Although I wondered whether I’d find my car intact when I eventually returned to it, I launched and paddled.
That’s as far as I got on Dry Creek before turning around and paddling to Winchester
And that mill dam is as far as I got on Boiling Fork Creek
All the photos worth keeping, and maybe some that aren’t, have been posted in this album.
After putting in, I paddled south with the same shore on my left toward the public beach near Highway 50. Campsis Radicans is in bloom all along the lake’s shore. I hadn’t put in there because the gate was locked when I drove past, and a sign nearby said the park would remain closed until 9:00 am. As I approached the beach from the water, I heard voices coming from the trees in a scrubby area about a hundred yards from the park. The young people stood around a red pickup truck talking. Two males and a female. One of they guys greeted me politely, the other asked me to demonstrate an Eskimo roll. I politely refused, and the first guy apologized for his friend saying, “He’s been drinking.” The female looked on and said nothing.
Dry Creek branch south of Highway 50 was a large, almost mirror still body of water I paddled quickly. I passed on my left an elaborate dock and new-looking boat-ramp. Part of some housing development as evidenced by a number of recently built brick-fronted mini-mansions. At the top of the creek was the usual tangle of trees, vines, bushes past two or three somewhate older waterside houses on my left. To my surprise, a clear channel of water led through the trees.
The water path through the trees led to one of those places of unexpected wild and tranquil beauty that make me wish my wife shared my interest in flatwater kayak paddling.
Paddling down Dry Creek Branch, I passed a currently disused fishing camp, what looked like it may have been a beaver lodge, a tall tree standing sentry in the middle of the creek, paddled over the frame of what may have been a footbridge or a track for launching boats adjacent a neglected paved ramp, and, just past Hwy. 50, a tree with reddish fuzzy flowers reflected in the lake. A little further, up the same small, nameless branch upon the banks of with grew the reflected tree, I came upon a lakeside retreat behind a house visible up by the road. I got out of the boat near this place and adjusted the air in my kayak’s inflatable Nautiraid Greenlander seat-bottom.
Last year, when I got us lost and we paddled on through Winchester, we didn’t stop to explore Dry Creek, and it wasn’t really my primary objective Saturday, either. I’m glad I took time to have a look.
I think the next time I paddle Boiling Fork Branch into and around Winchester, I’ll put in at Winchester City Park, if I can figure out how to get there by car. Last year, to keep out of the wind, we paddled along the north shore of the lake close by the city park. This time around I didn’t care, and there wasn’t too much wind. I paddled the south shore then crossed the lake near the park to paddle under the bridge. Don’t know what street or highway crosses over there, which has something to do with the fact that I don’t know how to drive to that park.
On the other side of the unknown highway, I turned right, and paddled Boiling Fork Creek branch toward Winchester, passing a number of less imposing houses on my right, and some truly beautiful older houses on my left. Pretty soon I approached the bridge over which one drives into Winchester near the city square. Winchester’s a county seat (Franklin County), and a federal court convenes in the courthouse on the square – a boxy but decorative 1930s style government building – maybe WPA? The old jail, however, is just an old two or three storey brick building built on a high bank above the lake.
Keeping the jail to my right, I continued to paddle around to the left. Again on my right, was the mystery monorail of Winchester, probably a support and housing for a pipeline no longer extant. Maybe jail sewage?
Further around the bend, on my left, I could see the backsides of buildings housing small businesses and apartments, a gas station. The channel veered right, again; near the monorail is an ancient bridge pier looking about the same age as the piers and steps at Estill Springs City Park.
A little further, on the left bank is situated an untreated sewage discharge point adjacent to Winchester city’s public housing. Were it not for the Scheißewasser, those lakeside projects would be located on high dollar real estate. As a political conservative, I abhor the fact that my tax money goes to support what has become in this country a subculture of entitlement. I’m a little bugged about housing citizens next to untreated sewage. Remember folks, this is yellow-dawg Democrat country, so you can be sure Democrats did this.
It’s already a week later, 6/28/08, as I write this, and I’m ready to write other things and paddle other waters. I finished up Boiling Fork Branch, paddling past people fishing near the big slough west of the housing projects, then on past the new Franklin County High School, which looked like a prison on the low horizon seen from my cockpit, then on past a farm, a number of older houses adjacent a meadow that appears to flood in the high water, then to cave into which I paddled a short distance, and on past Hwy 64 on some of the prettiest, most hidden flatwater I’ve seen in this part of the state. I could there feel the flowing water of Boiling Fork Creek radiating a soothing cold up through the hullskin, past a cave like a crack in a rock wall from inside of which I could hear the sound of a small waterfall. Eventually I came to a stop near a mill dam, and the mill, itself, still standing but unworking, its broken windows attesting to a period of neglect. I pulled my kayak closer, like a child’s red wagon, tied it up to a rough support, and rested awhile, then returned (against the wind) to my car, which I found intact at the primitive boat-ramp on Dry Creek Branch.