portfolio > gone on the river

day 23
day 23
June 21, 2022

Day 23, June 21
Measurements: turbidity 43.5 at Hidden Falls, St. Paul. Nitrate between 2-5ppm just downstream of downtown St. Paul, Nitrite 0. St. Paul to just above Hastings, around 30 miles.

Last night was the last night sleeping in my own bed for awhile. Kind of a strange feeling.

Sam and I got up and packed up all of my gear, then went to the bank (to put the proceeds of the sale of my house into something better than my checking account), got breakfast at the Hard Times, and collected the canoe and bike from Jesse's house. I biked from there (near 32nd St and Hiawatha) to Hidden Falls, just downstream of the Ford Dam. It was after noon when I finally put in, partly due to having to find a new way of organizing the boat, now that I have food tubs that are shorter (yay!) but also a bit wider and longer.

The first thing I went past was the confluence with the Minnehaha Creek, a body of water I know very well. That confluence was sad, frankly: there was a dirty scum of unfriendly-looking stuff on top of the water, and quite a bit of trash.

Then to Pike Island, which sits at the confluence with the Minnesota. And then to that confluence proper, which I will have to write more about later. It was the most intense version of slow river mixing I've seen so far.

And then through downtown St. Paul, which was pretty amazing. I grew up in St. Paul. I have been to the library and Landmark Center and the Science Museum and walked along Shepard Road and so much more, so many times. I've crossed each of the bridges I went under countless times: highway 5, 35E, the High Bridge, Robert Street, etc. It was really fun to see my childhood city from down on the water.

And then to make that feeling even more real, I floated past Dayton's Bluff. I grew up on Thorn Street atop the bluff, right across the street from Mounds Park. I would play in the woods that have countless little paths down to the railroad tracks and road at the bottom of the hill. I knew the river was down there. I could see it, could watch the barges. But I couldn't ever go to its edge - it was hidden away, at the bottom of the wall under the road.

That stretch of river is truly Industrial. More so than in Minneapolis, where there is some industry that once used the river, but no more. I saw my first barges in St. Paul, and then dozens more. Empty, full, still and moving. The portion of the river below Dayton's Bluff is lined with an airport on one side and heavy industry on the other. I got very used to seeing piles of sand, metal, gravel.

On the way to Hastings I passed two refineries. I had to get out of the way for two barges. I had countless small planes skim right over me as they came in to land at the St. Paul airport.

Below 494, the shore gets rocky, at least on one side. It's the first time I've seen significant elevation right on the water for any serious length of the river.

The river widens out above the Hastings dam. I had a nice gentle breeze at my back, so pushed on well into the evening, only getting out on an island just above the dam. I can see the lights of the dam from this island. I set up the hammock - going to try it for the first time.

This island has a fair number of what appear to be abandoned goose eggs. Several eggs, no geese anywhere around.

I'm tired! So interesting to be tired again, this way.

Tomorrow I'm pushing to get as close to Red Wing as I can. We'll see.