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Lower Mississippi River Dispatch No 410

Terns & Turtles (Rivergator Update)

Monday, June 5, 2017


Box Turtle, watercolor by John Ruskey

Two final Rivergator 2017 Events to announce!



Aug 18: Rivergator Celebration Exhibition: On Friday, August 18th we will be celebrating the Rivergator with paintings, photos, writing, film, music, food and drinks! Starts 6pm at Catalpa House in Clarksdale, Miss. 6-9pm. Featuring paintings by John Ruskey, writing by Boyce Upholt, photos & film by Chris Battaglia, and music TBA. Catalpa House is located at the corner of Riverside & Catalpa (110 Catalpa Street — across the Sunflower River from downtown Clarksdale). For more information contact John Ruskey, john@island63.com, Lena Von Machui, lena@island63.com, or Mark River markriver@island63.com.



Nov 1-Nov 10: Continuation of the Rivergator Expedition: We will return to Bonne Carre Spillway in early November and resume the expedition to the Gulf of Mexico. More details forthcoming, but dates are approx Wed, Nov 1 to Fri Nov 10th, weather dependent of course.

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Also coming soon! Sat June 17th

Outdoors Inc Canoe & Kayak Race
Memphis, Tennessee

You can read more about race here:

https://www.outdoorsinc.com/pages/oick

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Rivergator Update: Sorry for the delay in sending out any more news of the Rivergator Celebratory Expedition. We had to jump back into a very-busy Spring Summer season of guiding & outfitting on the Lower Mississippi River, and leave the story behind for a minute. At Quapaw Canoe Company guiding & outfitting is our bread and butter — the activity that keeps us alive and enables us to engage in community-based projects like the Rivergator and our all of our youth training and outdoor education. When you go on a trip with Quapaw you help out with our strong ethic of community service.

So anyway, we are safely back at base and running trips. The river crested at Helena a couple of weeks ago 2 inches above flood stage, but is now dropping into the mid 30s, which means the big sandbars are returning and the terns and turtles now have dry places to lay their eggs. (Yesterday the river was at 36.0 on the Helena Gage and falling). Recent trips to remote islands exhibited excited activity by both terns and turtles. Turtles are seen everywhere on the edges of the river, or their tracks are seen, and sand scratches indicating hidden clutches of eggs pepper the bars. Also places where coyote has dug up the eggs and partaken in the feast.

Why is the river so high below Vicksburg? Downstream at and below the mouth of the Arkansas the Mississippi is still way above Flood Stage (such as Natchez, which yesterday it was at 53.6 feet, and won't drop below flood stage until June 13th. Flood stage at Natchez is 48). Why is it still so high south of us? Because of rainfall. Eastern Texas, SE Arkansas, South Mississippi and all of Louisiana have been subject to repeated heavy rainfall. The combined high water coming down the Arkansas, Yazoo, Big Black, Homochitto, Bayou Sara and other tributaries have led to continued highwater. If the rain doesn’t ease off, the river levels will remain above flood stage. (Note: dry weather in forecast). In addition to this, the Red River has also been flowing above normal levels. While the Red no longer reached the Lower Miss, its water levels direct effect everything below Old River Control Structure. When the Red is high, less water is drawn off the main channel Mississippi at ORCS, hence the water remains higher downstream.




When it's Time to Retreat

Note: in case you did not see in last dispatch, several weeks ago, Y’all, due to dangerous above flood-stage conditions at New Orleans (and other factors) the 6 members of the Rivergator Expedition voted unanimously to postpone the expedition at our most recent camp, the Bonne Carre Spillway. The many factors challenging us seemed to be stacking higher and higher, and we reached the point that to continue seemed foolhardy and asking for trouble. How many lives does the voyageur have? We had already used up several lives in the last week alone, and the danger-factors seemed to be stacking higher.



Stormy Crossing, watercolor by John Ruskey

What were the factors involved?

Flood stage was the first and foremost. To continue would go against one of the basic tenants of the Rivergator. The Rivergator states that it’s not safe to paddle the Mississippi above flood stage. Second was the wind, and falling trees. In the space of one week we have had two trees fall directly onto our tents (and two additional near-misses). It is a miracle that none of us were crushed. Repeated severe storm systems was third. The fourth major factor was personal: my mother-in-law was hit by a car, which broke her legs, and my wife needed my assistance. Many valuable lessons learned, which will be shared in the next dispatch: When Disaster Strikes. For now, please know that we are off the river, and back home, and send our big river blessings to all of you! Thanks for being there with us, sending emails, and blessing our journey with your thoughts and prayers. (Thanks also for the well-wishes to Mrs. Emma Crisler. The operation was successful and she has been in recovery. It will be several months, but the Port Gibson Reveille continues publication via remote writing from the recovery room — and her dedicated staff, including Marjorie Bufkin!)




Upcoming Events:

June 17: Outdoors Inc Canoe & Kayak Race

Largest Canoe Race in SE United States!

https://www.outdoorsinc.com/pages/oick

Aug 11-13: Sunflower River Blues & Gospel Festival, Clarksdale, Miss

http://www.sunflowerfest.org

Aug 18: Rivergator Celebration Exhibition: On Friday, August 18th we will be celebrating the Rivergator with paintings, photos, writing, film, music, food and drinks! Starts 6pm at Catalpa House in Clarksdale, Miss. 6-9pm. Featuring paintings by John Ruskey, writing by Boyce Upholt, photos & film by Chris Battaglia, and music TBA. Catalpa House is located at the corner of Riverside & Catalpa (110 Catalpa Street — across the Sunflower River from downtown Clarksdale). For more information contact John Ruskey, john@island63.com, Lena Von Machui, lena@island63.com, or Mark River markriver@island63.com.

Nov 1-Nov 10: Continuation of the Rivergator Expedition: We will return to Bonne Carre Spillway in early November and resume the expedition to the Gulf of Mexico. More details forthcoming, but dates are approx Wed, Nov 1 to Fri Nov 10th, weather dependent of course.

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Next Week: When Disaster Strikes!

The rest of the story:

4 trees fallen in one week

2 falling trees crushed our tents.

2 trees fell very close to our tents. Too close.

They were all hackberry trees.

Stay Tuned for more…

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Mississippi Map Turtle, watercolor by John Ruskey

The Lower Mississippi River Dispatch

is brought to you courtesy of:

Lower Mississippi River Foundation

www.lowermississippriverfoundation.org

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