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Begins: Sep 25, 2012
Date: Tue, Dec 18th, 2012
Start: New Orleans
End: The Villages, Florida
Daily Distance: 0
Trip Distance: 1,626.0
Entry Visits: 920
Journal Visits: 29,908
Guestbook Views: 1,408
Guestbook Entrys: 26
My Thoughts on the Mississippi
My Thoughts on the Mississippi River
I have to say the Mississippi far exceeded my expectations. Going on this trip was more of a whim decision and I didn’t really know what to expect. You always hear about the Mighty Mississippi or the Big Muddy and usually not in very pleasant terms. I was expecting an environmental disaster but instead encountered a very different river from what I expected. Overall, the River felt incredibly remote. Rarely was there anyone living on the River, the amount of industry lining the River was fairly minimal and usually confined to towns and rarely was there anyone else even on the River….except the barges of course. The wildlife was pretty nice. Lots of birds and especially bald eagles. I wanted to experience the South and I did. I can’t say I loved the South, but at least I experienced it. The kindness of strangers was amazing. Between the people who gave me a ride, or couchsurfing/warmshowers hosts or fisherman / oil workers who stopped on the River to chat I really enjoyed and appreciated their help and kindness. Paddling was way more exciting than I ever would have imagined. The River threw a lot of issues at me which always kept things interesting. Mainly waves and barges but other little things like suck you in mud, camping problems, poison ivy and funguses and of course kayak problems. It was never boring for sure! I learned to really enjoy the waves and savor the epic moments of difficulties. Once I figured out how stable my kayak was, the waves were exciting as I was lifted and bounced around.
On the downside the weather overall wasn’t much enjoyable. The cold I’ve written about was definitely bothersome for much of the trip. I’d estimate it dropped below freezing more than half the nights and I’d estimate the high temps were in the 40’s half the days as well. Sometimes it was worse. Sometimes it was better. Overall when it was cold it was just uncomfortable and not dangerous but I was out here to enjoy myself and day after day of cold just wasn’t enjoyable to me. Having numb toes and/or fingers for 4-5 days a day was annoying. I wasn’t trying to break a record or do something no one had done before so the motivation to suffer through cold weather was never there and I would have just preferred to have been warmer! I definitely left several weeks too late in the season and not doing enough research on my own was my own fault and a mistake I hope to never make again. Not starting at the beginning due to low water didn’t bother me and neither did skipping a few miles here and there for low water sections early on but skipping 2 weeks ahead to finally find some enjoyable weather was really tough. Surprisingly I never lost motivation to paddle but what I did lose was some of the excitement. Paddling into the major milestones of Minneapolis, St. Louis and the end just never felt the same. The excitement of accomplishing something just wasn’t the same which is why I’ve never skipped before. I mean, I’m still proud of what I paddled and learned but I’m prouder of Alex who is still paddling and hasn’t skipped a mile!
Christine and I were possibly the worst travelling partners known to man. Neither of us are bad people, we just shouldn’t be traveling together. We’re essentially exact opposites when it comes to every significant way of doing something. We had lots of great conversations during the day but not a day went by that we didn’t want to ring each others necks. I felt like I lost a lot of independence on this trip which is something that really bothered me and put a damper on my spirits a lot. But there were also many hours during the day that we got along and it was nice to share stories.
One of the best benefits of this trip was adding a new dimension to travel. I’ve never learned so much on a single trip and learning the hard way was definitely how I learned on the Mississippi. Considering my folding kayak had never touched the water before Day 1 and I didn’t even really know how to get in the kayak, I’d say I’m pretty much a pro now. Well, maybe not a pro but I feel really confident in the kayak and can’t wait to use it on other trips.
Anyway, I’ll write another entry on some tips on paddling the Mississippi but if you’ve read this and have any interest go out and paddle the Mississippi. It’s a unique and grand adventure.
Mississippi River Thru-Kayak
The Mississippi River is the chief river of the largest river system in North America. It rises in northern Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for 2,530 miles to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains all or parts of 31 US states and 2 Canadian provinces between the Rocky and Appalachian Mountains. The Mississippi ranks as the fourth longest and tenth largest river in the world. The river either borders or cuts through the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
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