Day 06: For the love of rain
I slept last night to the sound of frogs everywhere. I kept hearing these quick swooshing sounds. I realized it was bats grabbing the mosquitoes. After things calmed down with the wildlife, fireflies (lightening bugs) came out and were everywhere. It was a good night to be in the hammock. Today started off a little earlier. The temps had dropped as a front must have moved in overnight. I did not want to get out of my sleeping bag. Once I did, I broke everything down and boiled river water for my oatmeal. A porcupine visited me while it was cooking. I said hi and he meandered on his way. While they are cute, I do not want to play with them. There was intermittent sunshine and a large line of geese that grazed my camp this morning.
The cloud were starting to get heavy and I needed to push off. I got all my gear set and as I was getting in the boat, it began raining pretty heavily. I was geared up and I did not see lightening or hear thunder, so the days adventure was on. It rained all the way through lunch. The river had a good flow to it as I entered a grassland. The green grass stood about a foot out of the water, but the tan grass and cattails stood over 6’tall. I could not see beyond them, so I just kept paddling. It made me thing about how this day has related to life sometimes. Even though you may not be able to see where you are going, always keep moving forward. The right direction will reveal itself to you when it is ready.
I kept that in mind as I hit a large open water area. It was not a lake, but more of a flooded grassland. The perimeters was all that tall grass. The water did not seep to have a lot of momevent on the surface level, but below it helped show me the way. I began following the direction of the underwater grass. It led me to a corner where there did not seem to have an exit point. I was wrong. The river opened up for me and the adventure continued. I felt really small in my big boat as I entered this open water area. Mother Nature has ways to put you in check pretty quickly. I further gained and appreciation for my life as I was figuring out my direction. After exiting this open water area, the winds started picking up. I could hear thunder in the distance as I navagated the channels. The wind took away my surface level sight of the directional flow of the water. I had to go to the underwater grass method. The river twisted and had a lot of false channels. It was challenging sticking to the main one, but I figured it out. Another cool thing I have experience over the past few days is seeing the grand water bubbling up. There are areas by the grasslands where you can see an actual influx of new water to the river. The amount of ground water is amazing to experience as it shifts and pushes my boat around.
At lunch, I stopped just before Iron Cross bridge. This bridge is where the maps says the “wild” Mississippi turns into more of the “scenic” Mississippi. I pulled up to a house on the river with a dock attached. I go out and walked up to the house to see if anyone was home. No one was, but they had a mighty fine loom ing garden hose attached to the spicket. I filled my water bags and nalagene up with clean, fresh water. I went back down to the dock and made lunch. I was ready to go forward.
After I crossed under the bridge, the rain stopped. I do believe I was able to experience a lot of the “wild” Mississippi in the first 55 miles. I have a feeling that will be some of my favorite parts of this whole journey. I will always remember the first part as being wild….and awesome. After the bridge, the water calmed down and the river opened up a bit. I began to see riverfront homes and the life that the river offered to them. I had about 5 miles to go to my end destination at Mark’s dock on the river. I enjoyed the chill pace and the wildlife around me. I entered a winding area of the river and heard a large birds screech. It was loud and strong. I finally saw a hawk being hounded and attacked by a family of smaller birds. It was an interesting experience to witness. About 3 miles before I finished my day, I saw the coolest thing. Above me was a ton of dragonflies. There were thick as they followed me down the river for about a mile. They would come in close and hang with me. I heard that they eat mosquitos. I think I need to figure out how to make a few of them as pets for this trip. Anyways, I arrived at Mark’s place. I came in, showered, made a few calls and then took a small nap. I went down to the 209 Bar to grab a burger. I ended up talking with a few locals about tomorrows festivities. There is the towns largest fishing tournament this weekend. They have a parade for it, and apparently for anything else, and a weigh in? I will be out capturing that tomorrow afternoon and evening. I am looking forward to capturing that culture of this kick ass first city on the Mississippi.