Day 79, August 16
Measurements: turbidity at Melville, LA, 31.5cm. Nitrate at same location: 2ppm. Miles today: 24.
I woke very, very early, at around 4am, and couldn't get back to sleep. So I worked on documentation for updates that I hoped to be able to post later on today. Mosquitoes were very active around the tent, whining around, until the sun began to come up, at which point they fucked off. This is the critical difference with Minnesota, mosquito-wise. They're absolutely awful in the evening and morning, and the rest of the time do not appear to exist.
When I got up and moving, I started to feel pretty weird. Like a head rush that wouldn't quite go away. So I forced myself to sleep a bit more, and this feeling mostly faded. I can't help wondering what it is: so much sun? Not sleeping well? Something I ate? Something I haven't been eating? It can't be dehydration, because I've been drinking more water than I ever have in my life.
With the extra sleep, I got a bit of a late start. After grits and peanuts (and tea and tang) for breakfast, I was on the water at around 9:30am.
The river was mostly uneventful, though I did come across some Army Corps activity at one bend in the river. They appeared to be building or adding to a revetment.
At around noon, I reached Krotz Springs, LA, and eventually found the boat ramp. It may not surprise you to learn that it was not where the Army Corps map said it was, but significantly further downstream. It was also, for the first time I've seen, being used by a towboat. The google map of the area indicates that this is a good place for towboats to change crews. I tied up a bit further downstream, and picked my way up along the muddy and rocky shore to the actual ramp, after changing out of my skirt and into my shorts.
So getting to Krotz Springs proper was a bit of a hike, mostly along a gravel path (not exactly a road, though I did see a front end loader drive down it on my way back) on top of the levee. It was very hot, and not all that pleasant.
My goal in town was the library, which turned out to be on the south end of town, nearest me, and inside a community center that was built in 2004 and looked it. The librarians seemed nonplussed by my existence, but didn't ask me anything but for me to sign in. I did, and then worked on updates for quite some time, using their wi-fi and enjoying their air conditioning very much. I filled my water bottle on the way out.
After that, I walked further into Krotz Springs. It also looks pretty poor, but definitely better off than Melville or Simmesport. Few sidewalks, many manufactured homes in disrepair. But also some other types of homes, where people seemed to be doing better. I made my way to the main highway, which crosses the Atchafalaya (and Mississippi), and has all of the businesses in town along it, including a small grocery store / butcher called Kartchner's. That's where I went. They had an interesting local beer from a nearby town's brewery, and I was able to stock up on other things as well, including an onion. It's funny how much little stuff like that matters to me, out here. An onion, whee! And they let me fill my thermos with ice.
Then I walked the mile or so back to the community center, used the bathroom, filled my water bottles again, and set off back towards the river. It was a slog. Little shade, hot sun, humid. I reached the boat in the midafternoon, at around 3pm, having spent a surprising amount of time in Krotz Springs.
Fortunately, I knew where I was going. I'd looked at the satellite view in google maps, and knew that there was some sort of sandbar-type thing near the spot where the river splits into the larger "whiskey chute pilot channel," and the smaller and windier route called the Atchafalaya. Names are funny down here.
In the early evening, I reached that spot, and noticed a somewhat more secluded bar a bit further down the Atchafalaya channel. It wasn't particularly flat, but it had some nice elevation off the water, which was good for my psychological comfort. I'm a bit worried about alligators, and don't know how far up they like to go, but have a sense that it's probably not all that far.
For dinner, I made a very nice Asian noodle dish, a hodgepodge of Chinese noodles with Japanese sauce and Taiwanese veggie protein thingies. And fresh onion, garlic, and ginger. It was very, very good.
I went to sleep quite early, again. Like before 10pm. Tomorrow, the goal is to go down this side channel, and make it back to the main channel before I need to make camp. It's not likely to have a lot of current, and my map has no mile markers, but it seems to be around 30 miles, so we'll see.