Jul 11

I an sitting on a little knoll overlooking the Youghiocheny River, across from McKeesport, PA. Don' know anyone here or have any contacts, so will just have to wing it tonight. I found a city owned boat ramp and I doubt anyone will bother me here - I'll wait till dark to set up my tent. Supper will probably be beans heated on my little Coleman stove.

Want to say a few words about the locks. I am sure everyone knows how a lock works - it's sort of an elevator to get a boat from a higher level of the river to a lower, without having to crash over the dam. The lock chamber is about three hundred feet long, gates at both ends. I was very wary of "locking through" but I have now been through six and it is a simple procedure. There is a rope that you have to pull that rings a buzzer inside and alerts the lockmaster that you wish to access the lock. There is a traffic light that then blinks red while they fill the chamber. The light blinks yellow as they open the upper gates, just to alert you to stay back but get ready. When the gates are fully open, the light blinks green and you paddle in. The upper gates close while you secure a line to these floating pins in the chamber walls. Then the water level goes down, slowly, and when you are at the downriver level, they open the lower gates and you paddle out.

That's how it works.

Simple, unless they put you in with another boat, which they did on my fourth turn. They put a huge tug boat in first, then told me to go in. The tugboat captain wanted me in front so I had to paddle between the boat and the wall, about eight feet wide.. But I did it, got through, got out, waved to the lockmaster and boat captain and went on my way, like it was totally routine for me. After about twenty minutes I calmed down enough to continue on my way.
Actually, the lock workers are very kind and forgiving. I think they can sense apprehension.

Well. I just saw a river otter sniffing my boat - there's food there, better go scare him off and secure my grub.