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Lower Mississippi

River Dispatch

Vol 10 No 4, Wednesday, April 2, 2014

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Today we present photos and journal writing from the BIG ISLAND EXPEDITION 2014 with Mighty Quapaws Mark River, Braxton Barden, John Ruskey and KIPP sophomore (and environmental science student) Kavadous Starr. Every day for the next four days you can join us paddle-in-hand for the cypress strip voyageur canoe journey. Paddle with us and enjoy the stories and amazing scenes from last week’s adventure, in day-by-day sequence, the magic and inspiration of the wilderness. Along the way we saw alligators, countless ducks, bald eagles, white pelicans, beaver, raccoons and one possum. One night it dipped into the 20s, one day the wind blew so hard we had to abandon ship and pull the canoe step by step down the riverbank to find shelter. This educational adventure explored the last 45 miles of the Arkansas River, as it flows alongside BIG ISLAND from the Nortrebes Dam to the Mississippi River confluence (and then upstream to the Rosedale Harbor). After reading the below, go see more stories, maps, river data and photos on our Big Island blogsite www.bigmuddyisland.org.

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Kavadous Starr Journal

First Day, First Night

Through the day we paddle hard and strong, we stop in many places to sight see. We saw cool things. I got to see Arkansas’ largest bird, the white pelican, with a 9-foot long wing span. Also I saw bald eagles, the grown ups to the children. I saw many more birds but these were the two that stuck out the most. When we finally got to camp John and I set up my tent and then took a walk. We saw many things, even an alligator, and I found a turtle shell. So we walk and walk and saw many more things. Then when we headed back to the camp site we saw four deer playing a game of chase. It looked as if they were having fun. So John and I made it back and we ate supper and drank hot ginger tea with River and Braxton. So we set out by the fire and talked and then headed to bed. The temperature was so cold, but that was what the extra clothes was for. I was trembling all night through the cold but then I got warm and it felt good.

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Mark River Blog

Arkansas River-Big Island-Day 1

I watch four juvenile deer gracefully play along a pink sandbar across the channel of the Arkansas River. They bluff and taunt each other occasionally sprinting to the shore for a drink. We started the day at the dam methodically stoping to explore and take in the beauty of the natural world. The day has been wonderful. From the time I woke from my sleep smiling about the expedition at hand. I marveled at the fact that last night was the best night of sleep this year. From the packing of the boat, logistics, and double checking the gear-the day has finally arrive to explore Big Island.

We drove through small Arkansas towns like Dewitt enjoying the calmness of farm fields being prepare for planting. Locals gazing at our canoe wondering where we're from, enjoying spring break and the start of the spawn. The birds are plentiful. Great blue herons, arctic and least terns, gulls, double breasted cormorants, and bald eagles all gather for this bountiful time of year. The state parks are packed with campers hoping to time the pre- spawn just right. Otter, raccoon, bobcat, and coyote tracts fill the sandbars scavenging along the shore.

We head downstream to find a camp spot that would shield us from the northwest wind. We find it on the left bank with a perfect view of the Arkansas River. We gather firewood and start preparations for dinner. The meal would be roast with garlic, onion, potatoes, and carrots as the sun sets right before our eyes. We linger around the fire as the temperature drops with the setting of the sun. One by one we make it to our tents for the night; except Driftwood, who choose to sleep in the canoe. The songs of coyotes and owls sing me to sleep as I look forward to the morning.

-Mark River

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Driftwood Johnnie Journal

BIG ISLAND Arkansas River Expedition

Tuesday, March 26, Quapaw Bend, Arkansas River, Temp 28 F, 86% humidity, gentle variable wind, mist on the river.

First light Arkansas River morning coffee and ginger tea made with Arkansas River water, which springs forth from my homeland, the Colorado Rockies. A few gulls (8) flew downstream before sunrise followed by Wanbli bald eagle. Numerous fish splashing all night long. Very active. It’s clear why there are so many bald eagles on this river. Two great horned owls hooting across the river to each other. One barred owl at dark. Coyotes calling. One coyote did not approve of Braxton’s choice of tent location and set up a long commotion sometime after midnight. Barks, yips, and growls. Woke Brax out of a deep slumber and what he reported to be a “good dream.” Mark River set up on a grassy knoll which collapsed off the river bank. It looked so soft and grassy, but he complained of sore back in the morning. The wild pigs had trenched the ground into a mess of dried mud. Kavadous found a flat spot covered with wrinkling dried mud. I slept in the “water bed” the cypress strip Cricket canoe left afloat, no fear of passing towboats here! The Arkansas River fell a few inches overnight and left the canoe hung on the bank. I slid into a pile on port side woke up confused!

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For more stories, maps, river data and photos

please go visit Big Island blogsite at:

www.bigmuddyisland.org

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Paddler’s Celebration!

**Help us celebrate the survival of the Lower Mississippi River Guide**

Featuring James “Super Chikan” Johnson

April 9th 4-9pm at Quapaw Canoe Company

3rd & Sunflower in downtown Clarksdale, Miss

Mighty Quapaw Fundraiser/Legislative Celebration

Featuring James “Super Chikan” Johnson!

Honoring the Mississippi Governor, and the many Representatives and Senators who believed in us -- those who authored, altered, fostered, tossed back and forth, and then finally voted in SB 2972, the new Mississippi legislation specifically addressing river guiding companies on navigable waterways, and nature tourism! We have lots to celebrate in this long journey! Also final fundraising effort. We raised our original goal of $25,000 but the bill has gone up to $37,000 for legal and accounting fees. God save the River Guide!

Mighty Quapaw Fundraiser/Legislative Celebration:

Please join us on Wed April 9th between 4 and 9pm for a Mighty Quapaw Fundraiser/Legislative Celebration. 4pm Welcome and Booksigning From Azaleas to Zydeco by Mark Nichols. 5-7pm Live Blues featuring Super Chikan and special guests. 7-8pm True Delta Photograph Exhibition by Michael Scanlan. 8-9pm Film: Who Owns Water by David Hanson, Michael Hanson and Andrew Kornylak.

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Long Live the Mississippi River Guide!

Lower Mississippi River Dispatch

brought to you courtesy of the:

Lower Mississippi River Foundation

For recent stories & news with photos:

www.rivergator.org

www.bigmuddyisland.org