Friday, September 30, 2011

Mississippi River Day 38 (Island, 612.5 miles)

Another windy day. After yesterday I would have just stayed in bed and not deal with the wind again, but I had camped a bit to close to civilization. I was pretty close to a couple houses, so I figured I should get out before they start complaining. There was also a lock 2 miles in, and I was hoping that the wind might be a bit less after that, if the water level downstream was low enough to shelter me a bit. I spent that 2 miles turned sideways again, and just let myself drift with the wind. It wasn't worth fighting to stay pointed in the right direction, and I was still making progress.

Once I got to the dam I was told I'd have to wait awhile, as they had a barge going through. I decided to pull my canoe out of the water just upstream, stop at a gas station for hot food, and watch the barge. It was quite a process to get it through the lock. There was the tug and 12 barges stacked 3 wide and 4 long. That it longer than the lock itself, so they have to separate. The lock can fit 3 barges wide, which is why they move them like that. So the first 9 barges fit in the lock, and they sever the connection to the tug, which then backs off. The lock gate is closed, and the water comes in. Once the water is high enough the upper gate is opened and a cable is attached to the barges, which are then pulled out of the lock. The process repeats for the rear 3 barges and the tug, which are then re-attached. This whole thing probably took about an hour or so, and then I got to go down through the lock. Pretty interesting.

I spent some more time drifting sideways, then took a break for the afternoon. Even though I wasn't paddling for the most part, it is still mentally taxing to be dealing with the larger waves, especially when having little control over the direction you are facing. I started again at 4:30, and was able to make a little bit of headway, still being turned sideways by gusts, but mostly facing the right direction. I stopped just short of the next lock, since it was getting dark.

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