Mississippi River Trip

07 of January 2014

 

Back home again, warm and dry. I drove from Wheatley, Oklahoma to Rimrock, 1200 plus miles, in one 22 hour drive. Stupid!!! I was tired for a couple of days after that. Never again!

 

Boy, it seems like the Gods were against this one from the beginning. Ice in places that ice was not supposed to be at this time of the year. There were extremely low water levels and air temperatures not seen in the past 10 year average. These were just a few of the early challenges to be overcome, and they were.

 

Arriving in Minneapolis I found the upper 400 miles of the river effectively shut down due to ice. On Pepin Lake, just below Minneapolis,  ice was reported to be 5 to 10 inch’s thick with 100% coverage over the lake. Making many calls to local marinas I found this to be true in most of the pools all the way to St. Louis. Solution, get to St. Louis and start from there. Still 1100 miles of river!

 

Arriving in St. Louis I found that above dam and lock 27 the river was quite frozen. Below 27 the river was open, though extremely low. This increased the current to somewhat dangerous levels. The many Weir Dams were exposed and this created serious turbulence and river floor hydraulics. The water temperature was about 35 degrees. This would preclude any recreational swimming! Great conditions to play on a big river! Oh yes, did I mention that the daytime temps were about 40 with night temps ranging about 20. River level temps would be somewhat less than that. This was a heat wave as the temps by Sunday would be about 20 degrees colder.

 

I had to find a place to launch and to park my truck. Chatting with a local from a kayaking and canoeing club he told me about Hoppies Marina. This is located about 10 miles south of dam 27. After arranging storing my truck at the marina I relaxed at the Pear Tree Inn for the rest of this Christmas Eve. I would launch the next day, Christmas!

 

Getting back to the river early Christmas morning I began to study the currents and turbulence. I was to find out that this controlled river would be more difficult and dangerous than the Yukon in Alaska. After packing the Minnow I did a noon launch onto the water.

 

The current was running at about 4 to 5 miles an hour in main channel. At the exit of the Weir Dams the flow increased to as much as 7 and possibly 8 miles per hour. These Weir Dams are designed to increase water flow away from the shores to the interior of the river. I can assure you that they do work. They also seem to consolidate and increase hydraulics and concentrate currents to bothersome levels.

 

Each Weir I had to setup so that the turbulence was manageable and I did not end up with an early winter’s bath. My survival time in the water was probably less than 5 minutes. Space considerations dictated that I not wear my drysuit. Bad idea but certain risks are accepted. This was one of them. Weirs seemed to be everywhere to, about each one-half to three quarters of a mile. Get finished with one and prepare your line for the next. Each Weir is different and gave a different set of hydraulics, whirlpools and current speeds. They were quite interesting and seldom allowed for much time to relax. This was going to get tiring on an 1100 mile trip.

 

Looking at my watch I saw the ticker about to hit 3pm. Time to look for a landing spot on the beach. This was not hard as the eastern shore was a fairly flat white sandy beach. Fine beach sand! The beaches looked like Florida, white soft sand, long and wide. Reminded me of Daytona! I just pointed my boat to the shore and I was on a gorgeous flat beach.

 

I pulled the Minnow up on shore and unloaded her holds. Finding my pad, tent and sleeping bag I began to setup Casa De Mingo for the night.  This white fine sandy beach was just about perfect. Great view, the river, and a completely flat and soft surface! It could not get much better. Well, maybe a few more degrees on the thermometer would be nice.

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Paddling, Finally

23 of December 2013

Paddling, Finally

 

Mom Nature can sure cause havoc when she wants to. It is sometimes tough to adjust to these tantrums but it can be done.

On Christmas Eve I will launch from St. Louis bypassing 400 miles of frozen river. While this 1100 mile paddle may have been shorten from the original 1600, it will provide lots of exercise, beauty, camping opportunities and photography moments.

The changes made were extensive and have allowed me to carry more chocolate, Bailey’s and butterscotch disks. The water is lots warmer too, a blazing 35 degrees. This will preclude me from snorkeling and swimming. Air temps will also be warmer, Christmas Eve, about 25 degrees. Working on my tan up here! Lovely conditions! Good news, the farther south I get the heat will return. So as many of you could assume, I am REALLY looking forward to NOLA.

A problem is water. The sources are very limited even though I am sitting on a river. My next water supply is about 400 miles away in Memphis Tenn. My 7 gallons have to go a long way. South of Memphis water gets a bit easier. Problem up here is that nothing is open. Not many campers out there! Wonder why?

In the winter the water levels are quite low. This makes some great island camping but quite serious river conditions as the weir dams are close to the surface. These dams cause very large turbulence areas and whirlpools. Some of these are large enough to cause a kayak to be sucked off course and into them.

Cold water is great for a soda and ice tea but sucks if you are on paddle. Water temp is about 34 or 35 degrees. I am not wearing my drysuit so if I go in I have about 5 minutes to effectively rescue myself. Not likely. I seldom do any unintended swimming so I will just continue that trend. The cold water also increases my hypothermia chances. Just have to be aware of this issue and take counter measures to reverse any lower body temps. Best way is preventive though, so I will work at this all the time.

Otherwise, I am just happy to be doing this trip. That at my old age I still have the capability to even think that this is a possibility. LOL

I hope that some of you can help with my sponsored groups. All of our animal friends will thank you. Our companion friends give us love and friendship. I know my little Krissy is such an addition to my little family. So please help if you can.

This expedition is also in need of funds to help defray some of its costs. Please remember that you will receive some really cool pictures and a DVD for helping.

Thanks all. Have a Beary Merry Christmas and a wonderfully productive new year. Stay safe and enjoy the holidays.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Heading out

18 of December 2013

Relaxing in Tucumcari. NM. this evening. Did a repacking and resorting of gear, again. Looks pretty good to get all of the into and on top of the Minnow. This cold makes me carry way to much clothing but Sunday night temp is supposed to drop to about 9 below. Kayaking the following day will be brutal. High of 4. OMG bikini temps on the river.
Heading to north of KC tomorrow. I want to be in striking distance on Minneapolis by noon on Friday. Have to get my boat registration, setup truck storage and a hotel for the night. Saturday I want to be on the river heading for the warm waters of the gulf. Back to work, I have a thermorest that needs a patch. Have to find the hole first though. Have an enjoyable evening.

2 seconds ago
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Wednesday departure.

16 of December 2013

Hi all.

I received my last shipment today so now I can get all those last minute details finished. I will be leaving Rimrock on Wed and be on the water on Sat the 21st.

Now I am getting a bit more excited about the trip. Excited in a good way. One never knows how the planning and logistics works until these are behind you.

Weather is not great but not bad either. Good would be Honolulu temps and Minneapolis will not see these until June again. The highs will be low double digit with the lows heading to that 0 mark or close. Cool temps for sure. Love this for sure.

Part of this trip is the pure outright challenge to survive. That environment I thrive in and think that this is great fun.

I will write tomorrow for a final entry from Rimrock. After that I will be on the road heading to Minneapolis.

Enjoy your evening.

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Still relaxing in Montana

08 of August 2011

Just relaxing here and doing some Most of my symptoms are gone now with occasional cramps, muscle pains, confusion and occasional dizziness. All are minor so that pleases me. I will leave Montana on wednesday, early and hope to be home my thrusday evening. Lots of driving again.
When I get back I will write more as to what happened and how it affected the expedition. I have been writing as much as I can about it. Should be of some interest.

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