Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Mississippi Rivver Day 28 (Stearns County Park, 412 miles)

Today I woke up and packed up my stuff dry, even though it had rained the night before. Then, right after I pushed off from shore I was blown right back into it. The next mile or so to the dam was a series of repeats, pushing off, paddling a bit as hard as I could, and still being blown sideways. Then it even started raining to top it off. If I didn't know that the portage was close I would have waited it out a bit. Instead I kept going, because I could do a hard portage even in the wind.

When I got to the portage I found a very rugged trail, with several steep parts, some of which hard wooden stairs. Other sections needed stairs, but didn't have any. I think it was probably longer than 300 yards, but it took several hours to make the portage anyway, which felt extremely long. I'm making several trips, one dragging the canoe, one for food, one for camping gear, and one for exploration of the portage. It felt like forever.

Downstream of the dam I made it a few miles before the wind picked up again, and I waited it out at a small campground. The campground had a few RVs, but I didn't see anyone. At 3:00 I started out again, knowing that I had to make more miles in the day in order to get to St Cloud on time. The wind died down a bit, enough so that I wasn't being blown sideways at least. It did start misting again a bit off and on, but nothing like the rain earlier in the day.

A couple more miles into the day and I had a strange occurrence, which reminded me of the Florida Trail. I was paddling near the shoreline to try to avoid some of the wind, and a dog started running after me. It even went so far as to jump in the water and try swimming after me, but not very fast. It eventually went back to its house, and I kept going.

One thing I'm noticing more and more recently is that some of the boats and the docks are being drawn up for the winter. A sure sign is it getting colder soon.

I found a nice campsite maintained by the county. It was getting dark by the time I got there, and the rain picked up a bit. I still got a fire going, and had a late dinner, then called it a night.

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