Day 24, June 22
Measurements: turbidity above Lock and Dam #2 above Hastings: 22. Nitrate below confluence with St. Croix: 1ppm. Miles today: something like 30, between just above Lock and Dam #2 and just above Lake Pepin.
I woke early today, around 6am, but only really got moving around 7. The hammock is very convenient, but it's hard for me to get a good night's sleep in it. (This could blow up my spot for a future "two truths and a lie" but I actually slept in a hammock in my room for almost a year in high school. I'd heard it could help with the back troubles I'd been having. It didn't.)
I had a lot of trepidation about using the locks, but forced myself to give it a shot after leaving the campsite this morning. Overall, the experience was pretty great, and I vowed to use the locks rather than portaging around them. The guy who helped out with the rope was friendly and curious, and we discussed the trip.
In Hastings, I had the pleasure of meeting my friend Karlee's mother, who lives there. Karlee had let her know that I was approaching, and we had a nice conversation at the waterfront. I went up a block into the old downtown, where there's a board game store that has a coffee shop attached to it. Got a good cold press, and the barista also filled my water bottle.
The next major thing was the confluence with the St. Croix at Prescott, which I'll write about separately. But it was noteworthy that for the first time I have seen a state other than Minnesota. Sure, it's "only" Wisconsin, a state in which I've spent a lot of time, but it still felt momentous. From then on, the right bank has been the Minnesota side, and the left the Wisconsin side.
Lots of powerboats on the water today. And not just the pontoons and small fishing boats I'd seen upriver. Large yacht-type things, and of course barges.
The stretch between Prescott and Lock and Dam #3 was pretty uneventful. Not a lot of current, not a lot of breeze. A slog, really, enlivened by wake from powerboats and quite a few trains on the Wisconsin side, every half hour or so, always headed south.
I have been wearing shorts but even with sunscreen my (lily white) knees started to burn, so I draped a shirt across them for much of the day.
At Lock #3, I quickly noticed that it was already claimed by a bunch of barges. I put in upstream, and called the dam. They let me know it would be about an hour to clear (though as it turns out it was really more like half an hour). I had no other option but to wait - there's no portage.
The miles down to Red Wing were similarly slow. I saw another confluence, this time with the Cannon River (which enters twice, around an island at the mouth with the Mississippi). The amount and character of the water it added to the Mississippi was basically unintelligible.
I stopped in Red Wing to try to get a beer at their brewery, but it was closed. (Also I had to wait for a train to come through, which seemed to consist entirely of oil cars).
I found this passable island campsite at dusk, just before dark. It's sandy, uneven, and there are both a few weird scrabbling noises above me and lots of nighttime motorboat shenanigans out on the water.
Dinner was a veggie brat with raw onions and the rest of last night's bread, and a few boiled potatoes. The rest of those are for the morning.
One sad and frustrating thing: my oil container broke, filling one of the food tubs with broken glass and a pool of olive oil. Oh well, something to deal with in the morning.
Another thing to deal with in the morning: Lake Pepin. Will I paddle it or bike it? Only the wind can tell.