Day 27, June 25.
Measurements: turbidity over 61cm at Island 55. So incredibly clear. Miles today: a paltry 20.
It rained on me in the early morning, starting just before sunrise. I was prepared, with the rain fly set up but not over the tent. It was easy to get it in place, and the rain was actually rather soothing. I'd gone to sleep much later than I should have, and the combination of that and the rain made me decide to sleep in very late, like 9am, and not really get out of the site until 11:30. That was partly because I had to unload the cnoe, dump out all of the water in it, and reload it. But anyway, I got a slow start.
One other thing from the overnight: a barge went by in the night, and it was shockingly bright. Like a row of floating gas stations, glittering.
I only made it three short miles before I decided to stop in Fountain City. Partly it just had an interesting look. Partly I needed a bathroom, and wanted a soda. So I stopped at a strange little culvert-type thing under the railroad, which is one of the ways up into Fountain City. There are a number of businesses in that tiny town that brag that they've been in business a long time - 1878 here, 1856 there. There's also one of the weirder tourist attractions I've ever seen, the "Rock in the House," (which is, of course, a play on the much more famous Wisconsin attraction, the House in the Rock). It's a house, with a giant 55-ton rock still sitting where it landed in the bedroom one night.
After Fountain City, I had the wind against me again, so the going was pretty slow. I made my way through Lock #5 without incident, then paddled down to Winona. I got out again - mind you, this is only 7 miles later - and went up to Island City Brewing to use their wi-fi and get a beer. That's where I wrote yesterday's updates, which took too long. Also, the bartender recognized my Army Corps maps, and we talked about the trip, and he offered me my beer on the house. I bought a crowler to bring with me, so they did get a bit of my money. But that was very nice. He also told me I should talk to Josh, who was running the Kettle Corn operation outside and had paddled the Mississippi. On my way out, I did just that. Josh is a nice guy, and had some good advice for me about the river, especially the lower river. While we talked under an event tent, it started to rain hard again, unexpectedly.
I got a forgettable pita at a place called Acoustic Cafe, then went down to the boat. It had a bit of water in it, but not too much, and I set off at around 7pm to find a campsite.
I made a few mistakes. I'd spent too long in Winona. I passed a perfectly nice looking beach site, because there were some people on it with motorboats and I was confident - wrongly - that there would be an equally nice site just around the bend. That was the last sandy spot I saw.
So the sun was setting, and then it set, and the light was fading and fading, and then had almost completely faded, and I was still looking for a site. I got out my bike light, to be able to shine it at other boats, in order not to be run down.
Ultimately, my only option was to flatten some tall grass up behind a natural levee on an island and set the tent up there. It was definitely the roughest site I've had yet, not really campsite material. But I was relieved to no longer be on the water.
And for all of this: twenty miles.
The sunset on the bluffs and Trempeleau Mountain was very beautiful, though I wasn't in a headspace to truly enjoy it. I've been on Trempeleau before, the 'mountain whose foot is bathed in water,' with an ex and her family. It's fascinating to see it from this perspective, down in the water its foot is bathing in. That's the photo for today: Trempeleau Mountain in the sunset.
Tomorrow I'm going to try to get down near La Crosse