portfolio > gone on the river

day 10
day 10
June 08, 2022

Day 10, 6/8
Measurements: turbidity at Swimming Bear >61cm.

Today was a little unusual - my first really social time since getting out on the river.

I woke up at Swimming Bear, braved the clouds of mosquitos to get everything packed up and in the boat, including the breakfast I'd prepped of overnight oats with fruit and peanut butter. One noteworthy thing from the morning: I saw my first snake! It was a pretty big fellow, near the boat, and quickly slithered away when I approached.

The river slowly changed over the course of today's paddle. The water since Grand Rapids has been dark and clear. Tea-colored, when I look at it in the turbidity tube. Looking down into the water, it looks black. Over the course of today, that has been shifting. The color is lightening, turning browner, and much less clear. The Big Muddy is finally getting some mud mixed in.

Also, the floodplain is a little higher as I progress. It's much less common than yesterday to see a sheet of water all the way across the peninsula formed by a meander. I'm not sure exactly what's causing this. The river dropping a bit, as the days without rain pile up? The land staying at around the same height as the river descends? Anyway, it's noticeable.

This evening, I planned to stay with my friend Shanai at her place. She let me know when I was near Verdon landing that she and her comrades were going to head into town for a beer, which sounded pretty great to me. So I parked the boat (both beached her and tied the painter to the dock), grabbed the backpack with electronics and such, and headed up a long set of stairs to the level of the road. Shanai picked me up and brought me to the house, where I met everyone: River, Ashes, Bea (sp?), Johnny. They're Water Protectors, and are all very sweet, good-hearted, and deeply committed to protecting the environment. We drove to town together and had beers at the Rustic Trail in Palisade. The place closed at 6pm, so we headed back to the house - execpt I still needed to get my canoe! So I begged a ride back to Verdon landing, and paddled the last few miles back down to the house's landing.

This was my first real experience being inside the floodplain shore, rather than blissfully sliding past on the moving water nearby. It was horrific. Like a vision from a nightmare, like Frodo and Sam walking across the Dead Marshes, but worse. Standing pools of stagnant water, air that is 50% swarming mosquitoes. It was in that awful environment that I met the owlet - but more on that later.

Shanai's crew fed me wonderful food (pasta with tempeh, delicious), made a nice cocktail (gin, lime, homemade lilac syrup) and regaled me with stories of the struggle against Line 3, and the ongoing charges and challenges they're facing. It was a lovely night, especially after having been so solitary for so long.