In case you haven’t heard, Iowa is flooded. The National Weather Service is using language like “major flood levels.”
The good news: the current is fast and we are making good time. We’ve even had a tailwind sometimes.
The bad news is everything is underwater. Campsites, campgrounds, towns. So we start each day wondering if we’ll be able to find a place to stay the night.
Last thursday we saw the forecast for seven days of thunderstorms and thought, “Oh, that couldn’t possibly happen.” Well, it has. We weathered a severe storm Friday morning, heavy rain saturday morning and then an 8 hour thunderstorm over Saturday night.
One of the primary concerns of our friends and family when planning the trip was the “human element.” Not that bad people aren’t a concern, but so far people have been nice above and beyond the call of duty. We were planning to do Lake Pepin in one day until Justin Staker, proprietor of Paddle Through It, offered his parents’ house partway through Pepin.
We’ve been on the road for two days after taking two days off in Minneapolis. In a lot of ways this feels like we started a new trip. Just like three weeks ago all of our gear was all over Dave’s parent’s house and garage, we were well-stocked with provisions in the form of homemade desserts, and we took off to a lot of fanfare. The river is completely different now and while before it felt like we were going home to Minneapolis, now we’re going farther and farther away. It was weird and sort of sad to watch St. Paul get smaller and smaller behind us.
To know when we pass through Minneapolis watch our twitter, @riversideblog.
UPDATE: We’re in Minneapolis. Here is a series of pictures from the lower St. Anthony lock.
First lock completed.
I meant to post on the blog this morning but it was raining too hard to get my phone out. To NOAA, a “40% chance of rain” apparently means it will downpour for 3 hours. It has rained a lot on this trip. A lot. Let’s not speak any more of it.
The most notable thing about the river at this point is the portages. The companies orm cities or counties that own the dams on the river, like the Little Falls dam here, are required by law to provide a canoe portage around them.
Some groups take this responsibility more seriously than others.
So I’ve been meaning to make this post a while ago, but life (aka paddling, portaging, drying clothes and doing it all over again the next day) has delayed me from doing so. I am able to do this trip because my employer, the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, has generously given me a three month sabbatical. At the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, I help to cordinate PDF’s Research Advocates, about 200 people with Parkinson’s and care partners from all across the country who help to bring about better treatments at a faster pace, to use our talking points lingo. Basically we help to pair them up with Parkinson’s researchers so they can share their perspective in order to reduce the barriers to research.
I am proud of to be a part of this work through PDF’s Parkinson’s Advocates in Research program, and I would like to take this opportunity to to continue to support this program while adventuring. Linnea and I decided to become PDF Champions to raise money that will go toward this program. Continue reading
I have a confession to make. I have done hardly any padding since four days ago when we went through Grand Rapids. The pain in my elbow Lake Winnie gave me was more persistent than we hoped it would be. An incredibly nice acquaintance who happens to be a physical therapist was kind enough to discuss it on the phone with me. It’s not a very painful overuse injury, but it’s knocked me nearly completely out of commission for the past four days, or 1/3 of our entire trip so far.
Until I was on the Mississippi, I never realized how difficult it can be to tell if you actually are on the Mississippi. Trackless swamps, oxbow lakes, side channels and confusing bays, combined with sparsely detailed maps, make pinpointing your location troublesome at times. This should finally start to get a little easier.
So far this trip has been hard. Back-breakingly, joint-shreddingly hard. Today was maybe the hardest day yet. At least for me. Dave seems fine. Today it took from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. to cross Lake Winnibigoshish, Minnesota’s 4th-largest inland lake.
But there were bright spots before today.