portfolio > gone on the river

day 47
day 47
July 2022

Day 47, July 15.
Measurements: turbidity at McCoy Island 34.5 cm.

Today just wasn't my day. It was fine, and I'm fine, it's just been a grind.

I woke very early, at around 5:30am. Caught a cloudy sunrise, and got up and moving. I was on the water before 8.

It was cloudy much of the day, which after day after day of hot sun, I really appreciated. I appreciated the strengthening wind in my face much less.

I pulled into the tiny hamlet of Hamburg at around 10:30. It felt like a ghost town, literally deserted. There was no restroom anywhere to be found, and no commercial business of any kind. Many of the homes had big spray-painted red Xs on them, and words like "sold." They were vacant, with front doors hanging open.

I gave up on Hamburg and crossed the river to the ferry terminal on the Missouri, where there was a - terrible, but functional - toilet.

I set off as a tow with fifteen or sixteen barges passed, and ended up trailing it for the next few hours. The clouds developed into a light intermittent rain, and the wind picked up a few times, and then dropped away again.

In a little lagoon between Stag Island and Large Stag Island, I hit a submerged tree. There was no current - this whole area was dam pool, which means unmoving water, which means that something like a tree can be right under the surface without showing any sign of itself. I was stuck about thirty feet from shore, trying madly not to tip the boat and also to get the center of the boat off of the tree limb, for about ten minutes. It sucked. In the end, I was successful, though, and started paddling again, albeit with adrenaline jitters still coursing through my limbs for awhile.

At Turner's Island, I crossed the channel in another growing wind, to hug the right bank in preparation for the lock. Unnervingly, I had to do that right in front of a stopped tow with barges. The headwind was becoming less and less manageable as I paddled along the riprap wall, fighting the waves and the wind. I put in where a little crook of the levee wall has collected enough sand and silt to support trees and low shrubs, and set out portaging around the dam. I didn't want to wait for that tow - an hour and a half, according to the dam operator, when I called - and I didn't much want to go into the lock under those wind conditions anyway. So I slowly carried everything up the boulder-field up to a little walking trail on top of the levee. It took seven trips to get it all, with the boat last. The sun started to come out, unhelpfully, and I got very hot.

I put the boat on wheels but didn't do the rest of the road conversion (no yoke, no bike) and walked everything like that to a place where I could put into the small lake on the other side of the levee, which connected under a bridge to the main stream. After all of that, the tow and I ended up leaving the lock at almost exactly the same time. I waited to give them a bit of a headstart, to let the water calm down behind them.

The next few hours, paddling into a headwind with the sun on me, were pretty grueling. I pulled up on a beach on Two Branch Island, across from an active marina / second home area, with lots of motorboats buzzing around. The island had "no trespassing" signs, but I was too tired to care.

My campstove didn't work properly. It took a long time to make dinner - an okay-at-best quinoa with dehydrated vegan 'meat' and curtido - and I was entirely cashed in when I crawled into the tent. I was asleep before 10pm.