I have gone through two days of very scary moments on the Mississippi which is enough. I have been warned of the lower Miss. R. from many ‘insiders’ who know the river. The MR has been modified a bit to aid barges and it is no recreational river. I ran into more than a few sand bars, and found that their isn’t alot of room for the barges and anything else, even small boats. A couple of people have suggested the Tombigbee R. going south to Mobile, Alabama as a better route as there isn’t the barge traffic. For anybody else considering this type of trip, I would concur wholeheartedly.
I think I started this trip about one month too late. While the weather hasn’t been terrible, I think I would rather have it be a bit warmer rather than have the 30ish degree nights. However, it will warm up the farther south I would have gotten. The water temperatures seem to be chilly but not terribly cold yet. I was in the drink this AM and it was cold but not frigid. But when you get out of the water, the air temperature on wet skin gets very cold! George Costanza was right-it’s shrinkage! I still have one night on the boat before my brother gets here and it is supposed to get down to 35. I am completely happy with the way the canoe has held up with what I have done. I would have expected it to fold in half after yesterday and today. I realized that at this rate, I was going to run out of time before I had to get back home. Rather than only make it to somewhere in the boonies of Arkansas, I have a brother that lives in Missouri who is going to pick me up here in New Madrid, Mo. It will be alot more convenient for him this way rather than trying to track me down in the boondocks. As it stands, I have travelled the entire Ohio and around 50+ of the MR. I found the Ohio to have plenty of workable water to maneuver around and the water was not too choppy most of the time. The MR is the exact opposite. I felt the most unsafe knowing that I could not get out of the way of the barges with the motor that I had. I was constantly on edge the minute I got on the MR and that was verified several times. I have probably bailed close to 500 gallons of water out of the boat the past two days. That means if I am on the river, I am probably bailing water. That got to be very tedious! But the only other alternative is to take along a battery and bilge pump thus adding on weight.
If I were to do this again, I would go to extremes to make the front of the canoe watertight. My deck/cover worked very well but water still got in. I saw the nose of the canoe go into the water about a foot and a half yesterday while the propeller was out of the water. I knew that wasn’t ideal but we got through it. I have learned a bit about weight distribution throughout this trip. I also learned a whole lot about having everything tied down even when things seemed sedate!
I will add more to this after I get back into civilization. I’m still digesting this whole thing right now!