Day 11, June 9.
Measurements: turbidity just downstream of powerlines (landing for the Water Protector camp) *36*cm! Miles today: 32.
I got a very late start on the river today, around 11am. Woke up around 9, and then stuck around for the fantastic breakfast Ashes made for all of us - French toast, potato hash with pickled fiddleheads and ramps, fruit salad. Really tremendous. I stopped in to say goodbye to the owlet and wish it well, and then Shanai walked me down to the riverside. Or that was the plan, anyway. She had intended to see me all the way to the boat, but the swarm of mosquitoes stopped her short of that, and she took a picture of me in my full headnet-gloves-heavy-shirt battle gear.
The first thing I did was take my daily turbidity reading, and my observations from the last day or so were borne out: after being too clear to measure up until today (with one exception after the thunderstorm in the marsh on the first day, where I got a reading in the mid-50 centimeters), today the turbidity was 36 cm! Just an amazing change, in 30 river miles. I'm curious if it's always like this, or if the high water going across all that floodplain has made this stretch of river more turbid than most years, or something else (pipeline construction?).
The water is now very clearly very different. It's a rich chocolate brown, much less clear.
Other changes I noticed yesterday have continued to slowly develop. The banks are getting just a little higher, mile by mile. The forest is changing along with the elevation. It's still silver maples right at the shoreline, but just up the bank it's oaks, pines, other deciduous trees.
The river is still giving me a good solid push, but maybe just a bit slower than that first day out of Grand Rapids.
I'm writing this from Palisade, MN. It's very interesting to have returned to the same place I visited with Shanai and her friends last night. It took us about 15 minutes to get here by road yesterday. It took me more than eight hours on the river to reach the same place tonight. That's not just a function of speed, though there's a big difference between my average of 4mph and highway speed. It's also a function of the river's constant meandering back and forth, which means that there were 32 river miles between Shanai's place and Palisade, to only 17 on the road. It's my first real direct experience with this disparity, and it's really fascinating. I went back to the same bar, the Rustic Trail, and got the same beer, with a plate of fries this time, but the journey was about as different as it could get.
Tonight I'm sleeping in the Berglund County Park campsite, right near the river. One real blessing is that between the openness of the site - lots of mowed area, not just a little flat spot in the woods, right on the water - and the way it has cooled off, the mosquitoes are virtually nonexistent, just for this moment. So I spent a bit of time outside, talked to Sam on the phone, smoked a cigar. All in all, a lovely evening.