portfolio > gone on the river

day 5
day 5
June 03, 2022

Measurement at Island Point: turbidity >61cm.

25 river miles today, but 29 total miles (15 river, 14 bike)

Today has been pretty rough in many ways, but beautiful too at times.

Started out at Island Point. Got an early start for once, and was on the water at 8am. That spot on the river is just magical, and it was downstream for some ways as well. There was an easy Class I rapid, right after which I saw two eagles in a tree. Herons, many kinds of ducks, large fish, not sure what type. I passed a ruin of a house on the left bank that fascinated me.

Then into another "lake cabin" section, this time not a named lake, just a number of cabins on each side. This gave way to a marsh, a smallish one, and Wolf Lake. It isn't a big lake, but it was big enough to be intimidating with the wind. Still at my back, still raising some waves close to the far shore. Another bit with even more lake cabin type development, and then into Andrusia. This was unpleasant. The wind really came up. I wasn't even going very far, just from the southwest side of the lake to the southeast side, but it was still difficult. The boat rolls very well, even when she takes waves abeam - very stable, with all the ballast.

That's where I put out, and transformed again into a land creature. A slow turtle-person, better on the water than on land. I biked the 14 miles around Cass Lake, which meant up one little highway and across on another to Pennington, then down a third. The biking was slow going. My legs were unhappy with me - two years of much more sedentary life, and then four days of essentially folding out of the way in the canoe, and now you expect us to power a bike and loaded canoe up that hill? Forget it!

I took some pictures of Pennington to share with my friend D'Ana, because that's her last name.

At the Mississippi finally, I tried to get in right on the bridge there, but there were people doing some kind of work at the shore, and a woman waved me off (in a friendly enough way). I circled around on a small dirt road and found a place to put in, right near a pretty creepy RV with lots of weird signs on it. I waved at the folks working on the bridge, and they waved back.

The next section of river was just gorgeous. Deep, fast, and incredibly clear. Almost like a whole new river, like I left a small, clear stream on the west side of Cass and now met this all grown up River with a capital R. I could see the bottom most of the time, and I swear it was more than ten feet, even tens of feet. Sandy, with gravel and the ubiquitous shells. Except near shore, where an interesting line would develop - some underwater vegetation on one side, none on the other.

And then we hit the "Mississippi Meadow." This was not my favorite part. The river debauches into a huge marsh, the size of a large lake but choked with cattails. The stream meanders a bit, and then meets open water where it's very difficult to figure out just where to go. It took me far too long to get out of there, and even so I would have been truly lost without Google Maps, of all the silly things.

And then things continued to go downhill. I couldn't find the campsite I'd planned to stay at tonight, called "Smiling Joe's." I think it may not exist. I spent far too long looking for it, and at a place that I think may have been the Meadows landing. At last, I decided to just push on for Reese landing on Lake Winnibigoshish.

That's where I'm writing this. It's the worst campsite so far, by far. Maybe one of the worst of my life. It's just a "tent" sign next to the public landing, in a grove of trees, right next to the water, no elevation. No water, no toilet facility of any kind. It's kind of wedged in between people's lake cabins and resorts, and there's a steady stream of motorboats in and out of the mouth of the river at the lake. The air around the tent is 50/50 air to mosquito. I found four ticks on me and in the tent. As I write this, there's that constant whine of many so-eager bloodsuckers, trying to get to me through the thin mesh of the tent.

Tonight's meal, cooked under great duress: fried potatoes (which had been baked last night) with more Asian dehydrated meat stuff, onions, peppers, fresh garlic. Pretty darn good, all things considered.