portfolio > gone on the river

day 72
day 72
August 09, 2022

Day 72, August 9
Measurements: turbidity at Fitler Point: 20cm. (This is a clear trend, now. Over the past few days, the water has been getting clearer. I don't know what to make of it, but that's what's happening). Miles today: 40.

I woke very early this morning, at around 5am. I hadn't slept particularly well - weird dreams, etc. - and was awakened by the persistent whine of a mosquito. Outside the tent, it turned out, after I hunted for it for awhile. This one was joined by a few, then several, then dozens of its friends. I got up, packed things inside the tent (the sleeping mat and such) and waited for the dawn and for the mosquitoes to go away. Which, because I am here and not in northern MN, they promptly did. I was on the water before 8am.

There were two tows seemingly waiting for me, right around the next bend in the river. They were actually waiting for another tow coming downstream, of course, but we complicated each other's lives a bit. I ended up hugging the right shore so as not to cross their path and get into the main channel, which meant getting uncomfortably close to the two downstream.

The river is so mercurial here. After passing those tows I had a brief window of water that was moving but not choppy, then it broadened out and slowed way down, and then out of nowhere sped way up and got uncomfortably turbulent all the way around Cottonwood Trenchway Revetment and Goodrich Revetment, which together form a miles-long curve to the southeast.

Near Belle Island Corner light, another tow went past me upstream, and the clouds that had been gathering started not just to threaten rain, but actually to rain on me. I pulled over for a bit, to assess the situation. But the rain was very light and sporadic, so I kept on.

For the rest of the day, until I reached Vicksburg, I saw thunderstorms all around me. None of them hit me, but it seemed like one might move over me many times. I saw a lot of far-off lightning, counted five-plus seconds before hearing thunder. I saw a lot of rain falling far away. There were a few moments of strange, strong, sideways winds. But none of the actual storms ever crossed my path.

The current picked up after Milliken Bend, and pushed me along without a lot of turbulence but at a steady clip for a few miles. I did run into some largish waves in the Yazoo Cut-Off, which the map claims happened in 1779 (which would mean without the aid and direction of the Army Corps).

After a few more miles of pushing, I reached the Yazoo River, where I turned north and had to paddle more than a mile against a light current to get to the Vicksburg boat ramp. This spot is interesting, because this stretch of the Yazoo used to be the Mississippi, which used to flow through a big meander to the north, then a quick turn to the east and back south again, past where Vicksburg was platted. During the Civil War, the Union tried to get the river to cut through the more direct route it now takes, but failed, But then that happened on its own, in 1876. In response, the Army Corps altered the route of the Yazoo River to follow the old Mississippi channel, so that Vicksburg would still be near that confluence. Weird stuff.

I got out, got myself what turned out to be an extraordinarily cute airbnb, and went to the local brewery for dinner and beer. It's been a lovely time here in Vicksburg so far.

The flora is pretty amazing. Very tropical-feeling, with a large palm of some kind, and actual moss instead of grass in some places as ground cover.

In terms of fauna today, I've seen herons and swifts of course, but also a smaller white rail-type bird. A crane of some kind? A stork? They have an interesting flight pattern where they flap very quickly to take off, but then much more languidly once they're in the air.

Tomorrow I'm going to take a day to look at the Civil War battlefield nearby, among other things.