Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mississippi River Day 2 (Vekins Dam Portage, 14 miles)

I woke up late today, forgetting to change my alarm clock to central time zone. The water was still incredibly calm, covered in mist, and it felt surreal as I paddled to the headwaters.

When I got there there was no one around, so I waited for 1/2 and hour to eat breakfast and wait for someone to take my picture at the headwaters sign. Finally a couple showed up, and they recognized me from the road the day before, and were happy to help me out. I also met two park rangers who started asking me about the canoe. It turns out that they were the two that had helped Fleet unload it the day before, and were curious about what I was doing.

The headwaters is a series of rocks going across the river at the edge of the lake, so my first portage was to go around these rocks. The first mile or so was a nice forested river, then it turned to 4 miles of marsh, full of long grass and cattails. Luckily for me the water is 1-2 feet higher than normal, so the channel is still quite clear.

When I was hiding under a bridge to get out of the sun for lunch, a man came down the hill and started asking what I was doing. Then he asked if I could test the wild rice for him, apparently all the long grasses are wild rice, and it is just about ripe.

At mile 5 I found Wandaga landing, a nice AT style shelter, a privy, and a water source. I used this opportunity to rest for a while and sort out gear. I also took a 4 hour long siesta, and had dinner. About an hour later I came upon Vekins Dam, an old log dam used for logging in the area. This required another portage, and the trail provided an excellent spot for hammocking for the night. Another buggy night.

So far, my muscles are tired, but no blisters, which is what I was worried about.
It was incredibly peaceful to fall asleep to the rapids/waterfall of the dam, knowing that no one else was anywhere near.

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