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Mississippi River Thru Paddle...

Minnesota, Wisconson, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana

This is the first of the big rivers I explored and first major solo paddling expedition… 637 leagues right down the middle of The Basin.  What a beautiful journey for the fall; with a river that holds new fascination, challenge, and learning experiences every day; each section has its own personality and landscapes.  Starting in the wetlands of Minnesota you can walk across it as trickles from Lake Itasca. The river then meanders through a mostly remote section with arcing bends through a maze of grasses that reveals all kinds of various wildlife. Paddling skills easily and safely grow along with the size and challenges of the river. From there the Upper Mississippi River is a series of “pools” or “lakes” held by remarkable dams with a “lock” system on one side of the river to allow commercial barges or pleasure craft to get past the dam using a “water elevator“. Many bluffs in this section were painted with varying greens and fall colors and the river dotted with islands. Old river towns all along the way, and following the golden rule, friends could usually be found and supplies located. The Lower Mississippi River is free flowing with no dams on its channel, but has been impressively guided and channeled down towards the Gulf of Mexico. Gliding through both remote areas and historic towns, the canoe is a mere speck on the river.  The many remote sandbars along the bends are comparable to small deserts, sometimes miles long and up to ½ mile or more hike to the tree line and actual land. The river twists, through the fertile land of the delta with many farms and plantations along the way.  I opted to go through the control structures to the "Old River" and followed the wetlands of the swamps as it finally reaches the water immense, the rivers abyss.

Traveling in the fall and starting in northern Minnesota, it wasn’t too long for the fall colors to appear.   As a chill came along, the shades began to turn into the deep reds and bright orange; So id “throttle up” to get farther south. A few days or a week of good effort and the colors of the trees were blending back into shades of greens; so id “throttle back“, slowing but still moving steady. The fall colors would eventually catch back up, and the colors would intensify, so id pick up miles again, and go from there.  The canoe was seemingly a time machine that took me back and forth in the season, as the leaves color of  fall and late summer oscillated in colors 5 almost 6 times on the journey south.  The many people and many kinds of people I met were all great and came to be a major part of the experience; taking in and being with the people and places along the way as well as getting to be in the delight and wonder of the remote areas of the river.  I was lucky to have my sled dog as a paddling partner; not much for paddling, but a great companion for the journey. Tom Sawyer woulda been proud… Amazing people of all types, that opened my eyes to the river.  I miss you all, Thank You...

Mississippi River
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chatham, mississippi 141.JPG
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morgan city, LA 135.JPG
grafton, ILL 156.JPG
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morgan city, LA 101.JPG
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