portfolio > gone on the river

day 18
day 18
June 16, 2022

Day 18, June 16.
Measurements: turbidity at Boy Scout Point almost exactly 60cm (it's the top of the range I can measure, but it was pretty cloudy - definitely not the kind of clear "off the charts" reading I was getting in the first weeks). Nitrate and nitrite just downriver from the Clearwater River: 0.

Today has been among the easiest and most pleasant so far. I woke to a beautiful view of the sunrise over the Mississippi, from up about ten feet on the Boy Scout Point campground. The wind had really come up in the night, and was blowing hard, right through the site.

This meant virtually no mosquitoes. I think the right word for my feeling this morning is "glee." I made a real breakfast, and ate it onshore, looking out at the moving water. It was grits (done "vegan cheesy" style with olive oil, nutritional yeast, tabasco), jerky, and a bit of sauerkraut, along with Earl Grey tea. Seemed at the time like one of the best breakfasts of my life.

Got on the river at around 10:30, wind still blowing hard. Thank my lucky stars, it has been behind me all day. To go against it may have been completely impossible, but at the very least it would have been draining.

Still, even when it's in your favor, a hard wind can be difficult to deal with. It wants to take the boat and spin it, so that the side of the boat is to the wind. Once the boat starts to turn a bit, it wants to keep turning.

One way to at least partially correct for this is called "trim." It's the bow-to-stern balance of the boat. I find that when I'm facing the wind, I want to have my bow be slightly heavier, so that less of the front of the boat is in contact with the wind, and more of the back is. And vice versa: with a tailwind, I want the stern a bit heavier, the bow a bit lighter. Think of it almost like a weathervane: the lighter part of the boat turns into the sail on the weathervane, and points you, hopefully, in the right direction.

I adjusted my trim partway through the day, and it certainly made some difference. But I also have a problem: the rubbermaid tubs are taller than the boat. I'm going to exchange them for something else when I get back to the Twin Cities, something short enough to fit down under the gunwales of the canoe, where they won't act as a sail. But even with the perfect setup, a hard wind takes a lot of managing - even if it's with you.

In addition to the wind, I've also had substantial current most of the day. I left the first camp at 10:30 and arrived here, 26 miles later, at 4:30. There were a few places where the river was full of waves, just from the force of all of the water being compressed into one channel. They can look pretty intimidating, but it's good to remember that they're not being formed by obstacles like rocks or trees, just by the water itself.

This site I'm in now is Dimmick Island. It is frankly just astoundingly beautiful. The water is rushing past on both sides - the site is right on the point, facing upstream. I actually got pushed a ways downstream on the left side of the island and have had to walk my stuff overland to the site, which isn't really that far. The trees are far apart, large (one is big enough that two or maybe even three people couldn't get their arms all the way around it), and there are large areas covered with ferns, which kind of reminds me of the yard of the house I just sold. The wind has continued, blowing straight through the camp. This is the fewest mosquitoes I've seen in a campsite yet. It's blissful.

Tonight's menu: blackeyed peas and rice, with peppers, onions, chipotle pepper, cumin seed, lime, a bit of homemade curtido. I just took my first bite, and it's delicious.

Today I saw eagles and herons, as usual, crows, a single seagull, families of geese (with the goslings looking like gawky adolescents, but what do I know?), a frog on the island here, a turtle on the island and several others along the way, all of whom scrambled into the water when they noticed me, and a fish that jumped clear out of the water at one point, in front of the boat.

I'm aiming to be at Cloquet Island tomorrow, just downstream of the confluence with the Crow. And Saturday: Minneapolis.