Thursday, 18 October 2012

Mississippi: Little Falls

Sunrise over the Mississippi
Before Little Falls we were taught again that our low water problems were not over yet. Several times we had already encountered very shallow and rocky stretches but we had always been able to find a deep channel through - with my Warship in front and Brian following me in his POS. But 10 miles before Little Falls we encountered a section with ripples all across the river and rocks sticking out all over the place. I nearly got sucked into those small rapids while scouting them out and we both got stuck several times. We did not dare to go down those shallow rapids and eventually walked our boats through. But barely 10 minutes later we came across a similar section. To make things worse the map guide said that the next 4 miles would all be full of ripples, rapids and rocks and very difficult in low water. And we did not only have low water, we were in a record drought year.

Brian was especially worried because of his more sensitive Folbot and did not want to go on. We discussed our options and realised that we were at a very good strategic spot with a public boat access right next to a major highway. If we wanted to get out, this was the perfect place to do it. If we continued and encountered more problems, we would be stuck. It was a question of now or never. I must admit that I was not very happy with skipping another section and hitching with all our gear and boats seemed like a nightmare. But the alternative of going on and possibly damaging the boat did not sound very tempting either. Especially Brian's Folbot could be damaged beyond repair in these rapids. We eventually decided to try and hitch around this section.

Grudgingly we beached and I was not much looking forward to this difficult hitch when Brian had the redeeming idea. Three weeks ago in Lake Bemidji we had met Catherine who lived in this area and had offered us help. I found her business card and Brian gave her a call. And the unbelievable became true. Catherine answered the phone herself, remembered us and immediately offered to come and get us. We had had the incredible luck to call her at the right moment because she was in the vicinity and had a bit of spare time. I set a new record of disassembling the boat in 45 minutes and we were just about ready when Catherine showed up in her big van. She drove us the 10 miles to Little Falls thus even saving us the portage around the dam there. It is incredible how helpful people like Catherine and Richard have been to is on this trip going far out of their way to help us. We might not have had a lot of luck with the weather and water levels, but we have encountered the most helpful people possible.

After a hearty lunch I began to reassemble my kayak in 20 Celsius sunshine but everything seemed to go wrong. After almost 2 hours my boat was still not complete, my hands and arms hurting and I in tears. The park we were at was the local drug dealing place and all the locals recommended against camping there. Therefore I had to get the boat together at least an hour before sunset so that we could find another place were to camp. I just made it in time temporarily hating my Feathercraft as much as Brian hates his Folbot. With the last sunrays we found a nice campsite on an island and by next morning I had to admit that instead of hating my Feathercraft for its difficult assembly I should rather read and use the assembly instructions next time.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When all else fails read the instructions......