Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mississippi River Day 1 (Schoolcroft Island, Lake Itasca, 4 miles)

Tonight I slept on Schoolcroft Island in the middle of Lake Itasca, which is the lake that feeds the headwaters.

I got off the bus in Park Rapids, walked 1/2 mile with all my stuff to L+M Fleet Supply, where I hoped to buy a canoe. Interesting place. I walked in, walked around, and didnt see any canoes, so I asked a clerk. They had 2 day kayaks and a canoe out in the parking lot, and that was it. Not a whole lot of choice.

I went inside to ask about the canoe, especially about delivery. 
Problem 1. Lake Itasca is outside of their normal delivery zone. Well I can pay extra, so OK. 
Problem 2. I need the exact address of where to deliver it. I just want it on the water anywhere on the lake. 
Problem 3. The lake is a state park, so they need an entrance sticker or something. OK, drop it at the gate and I'll carry it in. 
Problem 4. You can't ride along, its a company vehicle.

Long story short, $422 later, I was hitching from Park Rapids to Lake Itasca. About an hour in, a nice Native American family picked me up, and started asking me about my travels, etc.
Finally got to the park, happy to find my canoe still where they said it was, and not stolen already.

I carried it to the south shore of the East Arm of Lake Itasca, roughly 6 miles south of the headwaters, and took off, right into the wind. And boy was it windy. The only way I was able to make any headway was by going along the shore and pulling on the weeds and cattails. The wind eventually died down, and I looked for a place to camp as it got dark, finding the nice island in the middle of the lake.

Then the mosquitoes hit, and all the warning I had was a loud humming. I jumped in my hammock and called it a night.

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