Sunday, December 11, 2011

Mississippi River Day 110 (Atchafalaya #13.8, 2043.8 miles)

Woke up this morning and had a small fire to hang around until I pushed out again. I figured I had to leave a bit before Greg and Michael in order to do the same mileage, since they are a bit faster. That way we can end up camping together.

About 20 miles in I hit the turnoff for the Atchafalaya River, which I had been planning on taking for quite a while. It is much safer than the Mississippi, which still had to go through Baton Rouge and New Orleans, which have a lot more barge traffic (Cancer Alley and Suicide Alley don't sound like fun). Instead, the Atchafalaya is more of a river and less of a highway. It is also supposed to be more scenic, rather than a lot of levees and industry. It also doesn't hurt that it is shorter.

According to some people, the next big flood will actually divert the Mississippi into the Atchafalaya, re-routing the entire river south from there. The Army Corp of Engineers is trying to stop that, since it would ruin the economic opportunities of Baton Rouge and New Orleans. It seems to be a losing battle though.

After I got on the turnoff the current died out entirely, and I had to paddle through 5 or 6 miles of dead water. There was also a lock to pass through, but the lock master decided to drive me around in his pickup instead. He said it would be faster than draining the entire lock just for a canoe. I didn't mind. Downstream of the lock the water was a lot clearer, since there was no current to kick up the mud. After the 5 or 6 miles the channel rejoined the current, and I was being pushed along at 3 mph again, which was nice.

Greg and Michael met up with me again, since I had managed to convince them this was a better route than the Mississippi, and we ended up camping out together again.

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