Lower Mississippi River Dispatch
Vol 9 No 10e, Monday, October 28, 2013
Caruthersville to Memphis
1st view of downtown Memphis: Upper Hickman Bar
Meet on Monday, November 4 at noon at Mud Island Memphis. Park your car, shuttle to Caruthersville. Put in mid afternoon. 5 days on river. Return to Mud Island around noon on Friday, November 8th. 113 miles of the big river out of the Missouri Bootheel and into the wild floodplain below between Tennessee and Arkansas, it’s so wild that no levees are needed for 60 miles along the left bank side of the river from Moss Island to Memphis! This section is full of tributary rivers with deep woody bottoms, strange colorful mud slides, and dozens of islands and back channels to explore, many protected within wildlife refuges and state parks. You’ve never seen downtown Memphis if you haven’t viewed it from the river!
The Big River meets the Chickasaw Bluffs
Monday, November 4th Meet at 12noon at Mud Island Memphis. Park your car, shuttle to Caruthersville. Put in mid-afternoon. Linwood, Boothspoint, Caruthersville Bridge. Camp: Island 18
Tuesday, November 5th
Island 18, Everett Lake, 20, 21, Mouth of the Obion River, Tamm Bend, Barfield Bend, Nebraska Point, Nucor, Tomato, Forked Deer Island 30. Camp: Ashport-Gold Dust.
Wednesday, November 6th
Osceola, Old Forked Deer, 1st Chickasaw Bluff, Fort Pillow, Mouth of the Hatchie River, Randolph, 2nd Chickasaw Bluff, Island 35. Camp: Dean Island.
Thursday, November 7th
Dean Island, Hen & Chicks, Brandywine Island, Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park, 3rd Chickasaw Bluff, Hickman, Redman Bar. Camp: Looshatchie Bar.
Friday, November 8th.
Loosahatchie River, Wolf River, Mud Island, M Bridge, Memphis Beale Street Harbor, 4th Chickasaw Bluff (Memphis). Return to Mud Island around noon.
Itinerary subject to adjustment depending on wind, water levels, and prevailing weather conditions.
113 miles of the big river from the paddler-friendly town of Caruthersville, Missouri to the thriving metropolis of Memphis Tennessee, the largest big river city south of St. Louis. Along the way you’ll paddle over mud that’s over 6,000 feet deep and an entire loess bluff caving into the river. You’ll see towboats and fishermen and a few crusty river towns like Osceola and Randolph. You’ll camp on beaches the size and feel of Caribbean beaches, and paddle through narrow chutes with lush overhanging willows and cottonwoods. You’ll be hemmed in by revetment and dikes in one place, and then released into long sections of the main channel with no levee -- where the floodplain forest/wetlands are still connected directly to the river, creating an incredibly vibrant ecosystem of bayous, sluices, chutes, pools, and back channels overflowing with wildlife. In some places you might think you’re in the Amazon jungle for all the mud and trees, in other places you might be overwhelmed by the large agricultural landscapes, or by a couple of sprawling steel plants. In one special location you’ll think you’ve discovered a land of the lost where the Mississippi River meets Utah (at the base of the startling candy-colored ridges and buttes of the 2nd Chickasaw Bluff).
The river here rolls out of the Missouri Bootheel and into the wild floodplain below between Tennessee and Arkansas, it’s so wild that no levees are needed for 60 miles along the left bank side of the river from Moss Island to Memphis! This section is full of tributary rivers with deep woody bottoms, strange colorful mud slides, and dozens of islands and back channels to explore, many protected within wildlife refuges and state parks. There is some heavy industry along the way, a couple of noisy steel plants and a giant power plant (below Osceola), and some busy grain docks and two harbors -- none of which you’ll want to camp near. Nevertheless your hard paddling will be rewarded again and again with fabulous views of the Chickasaw Bluffs along the Western edge of the state of Tennessee and adjacent bottomland hardwood forests, including the colossal cliff-bluffs at Fort Pillow (1st Chickasaw Bluff), the astounding colorful chalky glacier of mud above Richardson’s Landing (2nd Chickasaw Bluff), Meeman-Shelby State Forest (3rd Chickasaw Bluff) and finally the sweeping view of the Memphis skyline, including the Memphis Bridge and the Pyramid, and downtown Memphis (which straddles the 4th Chickasaw Bluff). The vista from the river is unparalleled! Points of interest include Obion RIver, Moss Island Wildlife Management Area, Nucor Yamamato Steel, Island 30/Osceola Back Channel, Hatchie River Bottoms, Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park, Hickman Bar, Loosahatchie and Wolf Rivers, the elegant “M” Bridge and finally the eye-popping view of skyscrapers over the Beale Street Harbor and Landing. The vista from the river is unparalleled! You’ve never seen downtown Memphis if you haven’t viewed it from the river!
By voyageur style canoe. No previous experience necessary, but must enjoy wilderness-style camping and must be willing to paddle! We are reserving 4 seats on every segment for writers, photographers and any journalists who will help us share the story about the beautiful and dynamic Mississippi River and the Rivergator Water Trail describing it! (No charge if so!)
Please contact John Ruskey, 662-902-7841 or firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your seat, and for more information. November 4-8: Caruthersville to Memphis; November 12-15 Memphis to Helena; and November 18-22: Greenville to Vicksburg.
Quapaw provides all necessary river gear & emergency equipment. Normally we prepare all food & refreshments, drinks include spring water, juices and milk. Alcoholic beverages BYOB. We will pack all necessary cookware and eating utensils, as well as camp tables and camp chairs.
Bring all personal gear and stuff into our waterproof drybags before launching (or use your own). These are backpack-style bags made of tough waterproof material - great for packing on a rainy day! It takes three complete fold to make them water-proof, be sure to lock all four buckles! If you have any questions, check with your guide.
Be prepared for rain or intense sun UV exposure! Sunlight is surprisingly intense on the river, even in the winter (you get the sun twice – once from above and once reflected from below). Sunburn is our number one complaint and has caused more than one Mississippi River paddler very painful days and sleepless nights. Be forewarned! Sunglasses, sun screen, long sleeve clothing and a wide brim hat are all good ideas, especially for anyone particularly sensitive.
We can supply tents & sleeping bags to anyone who needs them, $35ea/person/trip regardless of length. Otherwise, bring your own and pack with your gear into our dry bags.
Camping: Remote islands, sandbars, towheads, usually sandy places, sometimes it’s necessary to make a muddy landing. In inclement weather it might be necessary to find shelter within the forest. This is primitive camping on a river island, no services of any sort. Bring everything you need to make yourself comfortable. Bring your own toiletry. Bring a change of warm clothing, including summer months, when mornings can be cool. It’s always cooler on the river.
Charge is $125/day which includes canoes, paddles, lifejackets and all necessary river gear, first aid kits and emergency gear; and meals, which include all the food prep, campfire cooking, cookware and eatware, and cleanup. There is a separate shuttle fee of $100-200/person depending on which section of river. Shuttle fee covers transportation of canoes and gear plus our vehicles and drivers to and from Clarksdale for drop-off and pickup.
The Rivergator is overseen by the Lower Mississippi River Foundation which is dedicated to access, education, and the betterment of public outdoor recreation on the Middle & Lower Mississippi River.
Mark River Blog:
With the www.rivergator.org in full progress Quapaw Canoe Company and the Lower Mississippi River Foundation were off to visit our Northern allies at the Upper Mississippi River and Urban Waterfronts 2013 Joint Conference.
This year's theme "Creative Collaborations" has motivated my mind and soul in the quest of building a solid team to assure the systemic health of our great river, the Mississippi River. With that being said, it's only right for a diverse group of humanitarians should come together for a common goal of protecting and preserving our national treasure. The topics of frack sand mining, river front development, agriculture and water quality, flood insurance, and river recreation where all discussion throughout the weekend is in form of knowledgeable presentations.
Being born by the River, it's always exciting for me when I have the opportunity to discuss major river issues. Living in the state of Mississippi has given me more inspiration to go deeper into the culture of the River and realizing my family generated from this majestic waterway.
Driftwood John Ruskey started the conference with a heart felt opening keynote sharing his love and admiration for the River. With a slideshow of our adventures and river settings stirring conversation between individuals, I eves-drop on two ladies,
“I wonder where these pictures come from ?"
I lean over with pride, " that's the Lower Mississippi River."
"It's beautiful", they state with eyes filled with amazement.
Driftwood closes his keynote to a standing ovation as if he returned the opening kickoff at a football game. The momentum continues as my favorite river citizen and Mayor of Grafton, Illinois, Tom Thompson gives a spirited speech on keeping our river fronts beautiful , while also keeping the floodplain in tact.
It reminded me of a sign we saw on the way through St. Louis:
"It's called a floodplain because its plain that it floods!"
Pat Nunnally discussed the importance resiliency when it comes to planning and developing the River. He always asks the difficult questions.
"Hey River, what are we gonna do with those 10,000 River Citizens?"
I respond, "we will have to discuss that in October in your neck of the woods."
Olivia Dorothy, who keeps me informed on policy, explained the Water Resources Development Act and the challenges in funding needed for infrastructural projects along the Upper Mississippi River. She was a great host for the weekend and made sure we were included in all the events.
Natalie Marioni discuss the importance of getting kids involved in the river so they can take upon themselves to help it healthy.
I close the last session with an overview of the Rivergator, the Paddler’s Guide to the Lower Mississippi River.
Sitting in my hotel room overlooking the Mississippi River in Davenport, IA, I realize the importance of these collaborations for the sake of our River. Collaborations between www.livinglandsand water and the Memphis Warriors have shown great promise. They had 150 people show up for a cleanup in McKellar Lake recently. Over 7 tons of trash was removed from the Memphis Harbor. Quapaw Canoe Company with the Griot Arts program pick up trash in the Sunflower River weekly. With 1mississippi becoming 10,000 strong we must motivate our troops to clean up local areas which drain into our River.
More and more, when people ask me where I'm from, I'm tempted to say, "from the River", but honestly we all are.
Let's treat the Mississippi River as such and come together as one to insure its health for generations to come.
Other Rivergator Trips:
Memphis to Helena
Meet: Tuesday, November 12 at 10am in Helena (or 9am in Clarksdale). Park your car, shuttle to Memphis. Put in at noon from Mud Island. 4 days on river. Return to Helena around noon on Friday, November 15th.
Greenville to Vicksburg
Meet: Monday, November 19 at 12noon at Warfield Point State Park, Greenville. Park your car. Board canoe to Vicksburg. 4 days on river. Arrive in Vicksburg around high noon on Friday, November 22nd. Shuttle back to Greenville (3pm)
The Mysteries of the Universe are at your Doorstep
Celebrating the opening of the Rivergator:
Lower Mississippi River Water Trail
Please contact John Ruskey, 662-902-7841 or email@example.com to reserve your seat, and for more information. November 4-8: Caruthersville to Memphis; November 12-15 Memphis to Helena; and November 18-22: Greenville to Vicksburg. Presented by Quapaw Canoe Company and the Lower Mississippi River Foundation.
Paddler’s Guide to the Lower Mississippi River
We Quapaws have been working hard this year updating, upgrading and expanded the Rivergator: Paddler’s Guide to the Lower Mississippi River.
*All new full color maps of the Middle and Lower Mississippi River
*113,000 words describing the Lower Mississippi
*Hundreds of new photos for each section.
*The Rivergator now covers 413 miles of the Lower Mississippi from the Caruthersville Harbor Mile 850 to the Mouth of Yazoo River in Vicksburg Mile 437
*3 New Sections: Caruthersville to Memphis, Memphis to Helena, and Greenville to Vicksburg.
*Reference Index to quickly access any landing, town, island, back channel, or points of interest along the way
Lower Mississippi River
Lower Mississippi River Dispatch
brought to you courtesy of the:
Lower Mississippi River Foundation
For recent stories & news with photos: