Monday, September 19, 2011

Mississippi River Day 27 (Blanchard Dam, 396 miles)

Today started off pretty hazy, but it was still for most of the morning which was nice. It feels a bit otherworldly paddling through the haze without being able to see anything, but it burned off pretty quick.

I stopped in to Little Falls at mile 13 for a quick resupply at the Family Dollar, and then stopped off at the library for email, journaling, etc. One important thing that I managed while online was to set up a couchsurfing stop in St. Cloud. Hopefully this one works out better than Brainerd.

The big thing riverwise in Little Falls is the Dam and portage. It is a 300 yard portage, through a town park. I moved my stuff bit by bit down to a level area, and then a middle age lady asked me if I needed help. She wasn't very physically able, but she did help to move the canoe across a small parking lot, which helped prevent some scraping. Once she helped with that I figured that was enough for her, so I thanked her and kept going. Then an older man walked up and started talking to me. He asked me how far I was going, and then mentioned that he had seen several other paddlers come through as well. Apparently him and his neighbor are the local public portage service. They are both retired, and if they see any canoers they help them out with the portage. One of them owns a gator, so I was able to throw all my stuff in the back, and then I just had to drag the canoe. He is known as the "Can Man" because he runs the local recycling, which is what he normally uses the gator for, collecting all the cans. He mentioned how the water level was pretty low, which seemed strange, considering that it had been high up until there, but it must be dropping. I gave him my trailjournal link, and he gave me links for several other paddlers. I don't know yet where they are in the river, but they are probably going faster than me, so I won't end up seeing them. Still nice to know there are other people on the river.

I stopped for dinner at Shay Island, which would have made an excellent camping spot for tenting, with nice flat areas with low grasses. I kept going after dinner, happy for the lack of wind, which had died out. I ended up stopping just short of the next dam, which also has a 300 yard portage, this one being cautioned as a rough portage. I found a nice pine forest berm that bordered a farmers field right on the water, and set up camp.

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