Close Window

Lower Mississippi River Dispatch

Vol 9 No 11d, Monday Nov 18, 2013

Photo by Brad Vest from Memphis Commercial Appeal, Sunday Nov 17, 2013

“The River is

the Real Thing”

The Rivergator made the front page story in Sunday's Memphis Commercial Appeal. Our paddles are up to veteran staff writer Tom Charlier and photographer Brad Vest who survived storms, wind, rain, sunburn and the glorious beauty of the Lower Mississippi River on Rivergator Celebration #1 down the Chickasaw Bluffs into Memphis.

Go get your copy - or read Tom Charlier’s story and see 28 beautiful photos by Brad Vest (plus a river video) at the Memphis Commercial Appeal online:

Photo by Brad Vest from Memphis Commercial Appeal, Sunday Nov 17, 2013

Mark River Rivergator Journal:

Caruthersville to Memphis

Day 3- Let the Rain Come Down

"Who-ute", I hear in my sleep, while immediately waking knowing that's the Quapaw universal signal, with the light of the day barely peeking through my fly on my tent.

"Hey River, there's a storm about a half hour out, Driftwood wants everyone to pack up."

I get excited knowing I will at least have a dry tent after the storm. I rise still fulfilled from the dinner of willow smoked catfish and steamed squash the night before. This will be our third day on expedition and the crew is in great moral as we all gear up for the cold fall rains of the Mississippi River.

I start to pray for health and strength, and the intestinal fortitude to paddle hard all day for the team to help weather the storm. Cold and wet are not my favorite environments, but I always make the sacrifice for the team and to be on the River.

We pack the boat, as the rains start to roll in. We head towards the Barfield Bend as the headwinds try to impede our velocity. I feel great. The rain switching directions around every bend changes the dynamics of the elements as we paddle forward into the rainy, foggy Mississippi River channel. The combination of towboats,wind and rain makes the water confused and choppy, but the momentum of the Grasshopper tends to blow through the waves as if they were fresh powder on wintery slopes. My body is handling the elements better than ever as the rain continues to come and go throughout the day.

We come around the bend and I can see Osceola's San Souci landing in the distant. That would be our lunch spot and pickup of our new crew member, Tom.

We make our landing and have a spirited lunch underneath the shelters over looking the Mississippi River. I look around and everyone has a smile on their face except Tom, who's wondering what he's gotten himself in to.

We continue downstream towards the first Chickasaw Bluff as the crew chats and laugh out loud. I'm excited and surprised by the strong moral our crew has upheld going throughout the day with continuous cold scattered showers. I continue to be in good spirits knowing that whenever you weather a storm, the River always blesses you with a beautiful day. We head towards our camp for the night near Sunrise Towhead with the rains stopping just long enough to set up tents, shelters, and start a fire for dinner and warmth. The rains start again as we stand around the fire gorging ourselves on a hearty vegetarian stew, while the silhouette of the rain dances through the light of our headlamps. I look around again, everyone's smiling. We finish dinner and head for our tents as the winds start shifting directions and the temperature continues to drop.

"Who-ute." I hear outside my tent as the sun beams through my fly. I look through the door and it's an immaculate sunny day with pristine sandbars freshly saturated into fluid, flowing landscapes. I step out my tent and smile. Not because of the beautiful sunny day, but what we overcame to get this beautiful sunny day.

-Mark River

Photo by Brad Vest from Memphis Commercial Appeal, Sunday Nov 17, 2013

Mapping the Lower

Mississippi Water Trail

A look at the River Gator project

to map America's longest riverine water trail

Canoe & Kayak Magazine Online

By Wolf E. Staudinger

When he brings people to his playground on the Mississippi River, John Ruskey, at right, likes to say, “The river is the rockstar here. We’re just her roadies.” But in most American minds, she’s a messy rockstar. She has a worn, faded, and even dangerous sort of celebrity that makes nervous parents cover the eyes of their children.

For 15 years, though, Ruskey has tried to clean that image up with a variety of strategies. Primarily, he guides fantastic voyages on the real river, with her wild forests and long, white, “Caribbean” sandbars. He also paints the river. He educates kids on the river. He sings songs about the river.

Then he began writing the river. He finds himself midway through The Rivergator: The Lower Mississippi Water Trail. And on Monday, he shoved off from Caruthersville, Missouri, for a 123-mile paddle to Memphis. It’s the first of three excursions to celebrate the addition of 286 new miles onto the water trail this year. In 2015, when the trail finally stretches from St. Louis to the Head of Passes below New Orleans, it will be the longest riverine water trail in America, and, he hopes, it will help change the way we think about North America’s greatest river.

The River Gator project to build a paddler’s guide to the Lower Mississippi Water Trail is now live at New 2013 feature include full-color maps, hundreds of new photos, and in-depth descriptions of the Middle and Lower Mississippi River, as the guide now covers 413 miles of the Lower Mississippi from the Caruthersville Harbor Mile 850 to the Mouth of Yazoo River in Vicksburg Mile 437. A handy Reference Index also offers quick access to any landing, town, island, back channel, or points of interest along the way.

As the River Gator dives into the first of its three November trips to mark the expansion of the trail, which Ruskey describes as “the longest free-flowing water trail in the continental United States, over 1155 miles from St. Louis to the Gulf of Mexico (including the Middle Miss from the Missouri River confluence),” the outfitter put words around the path of the mighty river as only he can in his latest Lower Mississippi River Dispatch:

“Swirling south in giant meandering loops, she dives into the verdant and fantastically fertile Mississippi Delta, mind-boggling swaths of muddy landscapes … This is the land that gave birth to the Delta Blues, and was once the cotton kingdom of the world … she carves elegant S-curves through deep woods … Her forest was once America’s Amazon, millions of acres of deep woods now removed for farmland … Coming to you from the Pawnee Hills, the Alleghenies, the Kentucky Bluegrass, down through the Missouri Bootheel and along the fantastically candy-colored Tennessee Chickasaw Bluffs, flowing past the mouth of the wild Arkansas River (more bears than humans), and into the luxuriant Louisiana Delta … Here she swells to fullness and proudly ambles along through bottomlands, batture and battlefields … connecting cities, states, public lands, festivals and all of the people and businesses found along her way.”

Lower Mississippi River Dispatch

brought to you courtesy of the:

Lower Mississippi River Foundation

For recent stories & news with photos: