Day 56, July 24
Measurements: turbidity at Wolf Island Bar 38cm. Miles today: again only 26.
Today was another really rough day, unfortunately.
I tried to get up at 5am, but it just didn't work. I woke up earlier than usual, though, at 6am, and quickly got everything together, ate my leftovers from last night for breakfast, drank my tea and tang, and was out on the water by 7am.
The wind was already picking up, even this early in the day. I negotiated a couple of big turns, with areas of really wide water. It's difficult to know what to do: follow the channel as marked on the map, even if that means crossing the whole river again and again? Or languish without current?
I had a few spots of good current, mostly around the outside of pretty big turns in the river. Made it past Hickman, KY (where my diet coke benefactors from yesterday afternoon thought I'd make it last night), and rounded a big bend in the river that got me pointed west by northwest. Somehow the wind stayed in my face through all of these turns. It's from the southwest, so it's like it gets to choose whether to emphasize the southness or westness, depending on what will make the worst headwind for me.
At almost exactly noon, I had gone around 14 miles, for a speed of a little over 3mph, and was getting discouraged and ready for a break. I stopped on the left bank, on a spot where there's a big sandy rise and some shade at the top. I took a little dip to cool down, then wrote several days worth of updates, without being able to share them, all while shifting from spot to spot to try to stay in the shade. Also, I was much too interesting to a set of tiny little bee-like insects, which hovered around me basically the whole time. This took two solid hours, and at 2pm I got up, took another little dip, and got back in the boat, feeling at least somewhat refreshed and rested.
The wind was still in my face, but the current was relatively good once I got out into the main channel. I moved to the right side to avoid a tow, along a huge island marked as Island 8.
At the end of that island, where the river comes back together again, it widens out hugely, and bends to the south. I got to feel the full force of the wind, then, coming right at me. For the next four hours, I fought that wind, mostly without any help at all from any current, down the left shore. At a couple points, I had to get out and just sit on the shore and cry in frustration and desperation. It wasn't supposed to be like this. There was supposed to be current. I don't know how much more of it I can take.
eventually, after four hours, I had made it around ten miles further, to Lester's Light, which is just over the border into Tennessee. I decided to stop and assess. And then I just decided to stop for the night, rather than continue to fight the wind.
This site was also on a small rise, and the best flat spot was up at the top, so I lugged everything up there. It was a rather beautiful view, actually. And the shore was in a little bay, which was nice for taking little dips, which I did pretty shortly after making the decision to stay there.
For dinner, I made soba noodles with tofu and a hot and sour szechuan sauce from a packet, enlivened with sauteed fresh ginger, garlic, and onions, and dried mushrooms. it was delicious.
it's interesting having gone past (most of) Kentucky so quickly, even at this slow pace.
Today, I've seen a lot more fish underwater, and also a turtle floating near the surface, who didn't seem to notice me pass by. Lots of herons, some eagles, some turkey vultures (I think) on a sandbar. Lots of floating dead fish, and I wonder if that's normal, and what the cause might be. Cottonwoods and those vertical wispy trees line the shore. The water is mostly very warm, like almost bathwater temperature.
I went to sleep at around 9;30, totally exhausted and also vowing that tomorrow I will get up at five, will be on the water by six. Tomorrow the plan is to get to New Madrid, stop there for a bit in the afternoon, and then keep going, and reach thirty miles or more.