I was awakened by the sound of what I thought were little feet, some kind of critters, running around on top of my tent at crack of dawn. Still confused with having been awakened so abruptly, it took me few moments to realize it was raining. Big Muddy Mike and Janet Sullens Moreland cooked a great breakfast. Walked over the levee, where we said our goodbyes to Janet and Mike.
You may have noticed a shell hanging around my neck recently. When our group was at River Angel John McCoy’s house in Hannibal, MO, I presented the shell to the team. In representation of a “complaint stone”. I apologized for all of my own complaining since the journey began, and I agreed to wear the complaint stone until such time as there was someone else who complained. Since we had to pack our tents in the rain this morning, I found the opportunity to pass on the complaint stone to Richard Sojourner. We've had fun all week saying things like, "That sounded like a complaint to me!". Poor Richard now bears the weight of the stone until he catches me, or someone else on the team, complaining.
It only took 20 minutes to paddle to the fast back waters of the Mississippi from Fort Charters, Illinois where we camped last night.
Paddled 35 miles today. Camped 10 miles past Chester, Illinois on east shore looking at the south end of Rock Wood Island and North end of Liberty Island. Very difficult to find a campsite site in these high water conditions. All places we tried were underwater. Fortunately, there was this little piece of heaven. After cleaning up the grounds a bit, it turned out to be great. Recommend this site to anyone paddling in flooded conditions because the relatively clear sand is level and piled higher than the recent waters reached. Nice canopy above as well. Spoke with Big Muddy and he is going to add this campsite to the River Gator as good for high water conditions.
Lying here in my tent, I notice a big hollow where my stomach use to be, above my belt line. Not even hungry, but must eat in the tent tonight. Weather has been taking it's toll on conditions and my body.
Considering not leaving here until the sun shines again.
Take care, and if so inclined say a prayer for us.
There were no boats in the St. Louis Harbor when we paddled out at 1030 am this morning. Only passed two moving barges but seemingly 100's more were at the shoreline. High waters, wind and yes rain again, coupled with the big holiday weekend likely created these conditions.
Wind was our biggest enemy. It followed the up stream river bottom all day. Needing some relief, we frequently paddled over raging wing dams into back waters. Those following with SPOT can see lots of zig-zaggimg and irregular patterns. Often, the steady winds were so strong that when the boat turned sideways it was very difficult to get it headed back into the headwinds.
Paddled through a deep forest to reach dry land at historic Le Fort De Charters, IL. There was no other way to get here by water. Thick dense undergrowth was at times seemingly impossible to navigate. One of the Adventureitus camera men made this statement in a text: "It will be hard to navigate through the flooded trees". That it was, but with significant effort, we paddled along side the jetty for the last mile reaching the fort area at 0845 pm where we set up camp on dry land for the evening.
No paddling today. We have restocked on food items and other boatkeeping supplies needed to start this epic journey on the Lower Mississippi tomorrow morning. Stay tuned for the next Adventureitus Productions weekly update. This is a big week...and I am sure thankful for the rest today!
This 4th of July, 2015, was an exciting day of paddling, log walking, acrobatics, mud, and fellowship with some amazing new friends and family.
The weather was perfect when we awoke from a marvelous sleep that was made possible by Joseph Ringling, Joan Twillman, and many others from the St. Charles, Missouri area. These folks made my day, not only because of the River Angel support, but also because we paddled through the final lock and dam yesterday. I am really looking forward to paddling from here to the Gulf of Mexico, with no more barriers to slow the river flow.
We paddled through the bushes to reach the flooded shoreline. Receding waters left deep muddy conditions where we needed to take out for the trip to Big Muddy's Canoe House. A great experience ending such a memorable day paddy the Mighty Mississippi.
We spent the evening eating delicious campfire-cooked foods. Blessed that Janet Moreland was able to drive down and join us for neighborhood fireworks as well.
A Fourth of July to Remember Forever.
There were multiple contributors of these photos.
We will continue to add to this blog as videos and pictures are downloaded.
John's Boat Harbor was deserted last night when we arrived. Flooded roads kept the ground crew from being able to reach us. Again this morning, there was no one to be seen. Only evidence of life among the hundreds of beautiful yachts, other than Richard Sojourner and I, was a lone groundhog that kept hanging around.
When I awoke this morning, I noticed something different about my boat. Thought I must have trashed the place in the dark last night. What really happened was that some critters had eaten a hole in my dry bag where I keep day foods. Lunch turned out to be great, though. I found a little restaurant on the river road between the Illinois River Confluence and Alton. The owner opened early just fir Richard Sojourner and I. Thank you for the fish sandwich.
Passed through the last lock on the Mississippi today. We will paddle the Chain of Rocks tomorrow and see how fast the river drops from there before venturing any further.
Alton, IL is a beautiful place to experience the end of manmade blockages (Dams) preventing the natural flow of the Mississippi. From here on out no more portages, no more locks and no more Lake (pools) to cross.
Just after passing through the lock, Richard and I were greeted with open arms in a beautiful park maintained by the National Great Rivers Museum, which connects to the dam. A group of around 30 friends provided food, shower, and a large tent with the camping permit already in place. Joseph Ringling and fellow paddle friends had prepared a meal and complete evening worthy of a King. We were also entertained by fireworks over the Alton Bridge in the evening.
I have paddled my canoe hard these last few weeks. The results are sweet. Seventy Five miles in the last two days. Am tired, now, will get some rest and retreat to this beautiful large tent erected just for us.
No worries about rumors of Lock #25 being closed. Richard Sojourner and I passed right through the middle of the dam without any difficulties. We were moving at a rapid speed, but there were no rapids. After a mid-day stop and refreshments from the road crew, we only need to paddle ten more miles downstream to make tomorrow's schedule work out.
Water didn't look fast. Smooth flowing to what we are usually a accustomed. Was able to average almost 6 MPH, a new distance record for my loaded canoe. Hope to reach Alton, Illinois for fireworks and reception tomorrow night. Have only 28 miles left and then we will pass through the LAST LOCK AND DAM ON THE MISSISSIPPI.
The problem now is to decide what to do when we reach mile marker #180 tomorrow. Please stay tuned and see how we are able to deal with the closed river conditions down river from St Louis, MO.
Two frightening experiences while paddling today. One was little scary paddling over the Lock #22 spillway. Good size drop, enough to get the adrenalin up.
Most frightened I have been on the river so far was when I saw the Loch Ness Monster... At least I thought I did. Every hair on my entire body stood on end when I saw what appeared to be a large head rising out of the water. This could not have happened at at more remote island shore. After the head, then came the neck - nearly two feet in diameter - this monster shape continued to rise above the surface to six or eight feet high, right in front of my boat. That is when I really got scared. Turns out it was a large log and not to worry.
The second lock #24 of the day was quick and easy.
After passing through the lock, paddled over to the west shore where Judi, Shannon and the boys were waiting. Many great videos and images today. Slept in later than usual for we were well taken care of in Hannibal.
I'm the Grey Beard Adventurer. But you can call me Dale Sanders, and these are my stories.