Saturday, October 22, 2011

Mississippi River Day 60 (Pouge Island, 1029 miles)

I woke up this morning to find my canoe completely beached. The water levels had dropped 6 inches overnight. I knew that the water levels were dropping, but this is ridiculous.

I saw a lock at 5 miles, and as I was getting closer a barge started coming up behind me. I didn't want to have to wait 2 hours again, so I tried going faster. I went behind an island, and when I got back out the barge was gone. It had gone into a side channel to pick up more cargo, so I didn't have to actually race it at all. Lucky.

Once I got to the lock, I happened to get there just as another barge was leaving. Good timing. There wasn't a rope to pull on for the signal, so I had to climb the ladder a bit, and then use my paddle to pull down on the lever that the rope would have been attached to.

At lunch I stopped into the town of La Grange, but it was quite the disappointment. The library was closed for the weekend, and didn't have wifi anyway. The only other thing really in the town was a gas station, so I bought some food there and took off. The whole afternoon was pretty hot, so I went slow and stayed in the shade mostly.

I decided to bypass the town of Quincy, since it was getting late and I didn't want to get stuck in town for the night. Instead, I pushed a few more miles, and got to the next lock, so I wouldn't have to wait in the morning.

At the lock there was a boater there already waiting as a barge came upstream, so I didn't have to signal the lock tenders for myself. It turns out that the boater was a Canadian named Casey, who had started four days before at La Crosse, and was planning on doing the entire river by motorboat. We ended up camping together, and I got a nice fire going so we could sit and talk for awhile.

It was an interesting race with Casey. We left the lock together, where he was obviously faster with the motor. By the time I got to where he has making camp, he already had his stuff out to set up. Then I was able to set up my hammock and make a fire, while he was still trying to set up his tent. I guess when you have been doing something for a couple months, you get pretty fast at it.

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