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Lower Mississippi River Dispatch No. 401
Friday, April 21, 2017
Rejuvenation on the River
Earth Day: Mother Earth Connects Us All!

Update: we pushed off from the Helena on Good Friday with the blessings of Mayor Jay Hallowell and many others... Thanks to everyone who helped us down the river on this stretch of the Rivergator Celebration. Easter weekend and we discovered newly hatched Mississippi Map Turtles, and freshly laid eggs (Least Tern and Canada Goose). We avoided staying on any places with nests. We all came from somewhere, and we all have our mothers to thank for our lives. Especially mother earth. Mother Earth connects us all. On Earth Day, Saturday April 22nd, please take some time and remember our Mother Earth who connects and sustains us all, and remember that we have to take care of our mother as she ages and needs our help and attention. To do so otherwise would be neglectful of our duties as her children!

Thanks to LMRF board president Kevin Smith we were met by Arkansas State Representative Chris Richey and Mayor Jay Hollowell as we pushed off from the Helena Harbor.

Thanks to Robert & Beverly Moore for the super cool tour of Arkansas City!

Katherine Stewart and Zoie Clift from Arkansas Parks and Tourism

Momma Goose had laid these 4 eggs too close to the water's edge (this during a week with a rising river!) We moved the entire nest to higher ground. It would have otherwise been swamped by the river. We saw Momma and Daddy geese returning to the nest as we pulled out.

Joined by Snoop and Tony for this stretch... Thanks for the smoked sausage and Brats Tony!

Helena Guide Corey Fletcher leads the big red canoe into Old Town Landing

Rachel celebrated her Birthday on Smith Point

Shelley and Bill beach-combing on Is. 61

Magique and Amanda

Andigator Update:
17 April 2017
I am up before sunrise for the first time in a good while, in part because of the position of my tent facing due East and in part because of how I went to bed - feeling good, even with a camping mat that decided to deflate itself during the night.

This island (Choctaw) is 8000 acres in size, including a huge sandbar at the top of the island where we pulled into a back channel to camp. After darkness and dinner last night, I decided to go for a walk to ponder.

As I sit here with the birds taking their turn to chirps and tweet away, the image of the reading lights in my three crew mates' tents slowly dimming as I paced along the sandy shore under the every brightening stars is fresh in my mind.

The water's edge seemingly endless with the sounds of wildlife still audible, it was incredibly peaceful - just me all alone in the Big Mississippi wilderness. It was the moment of the expedition so far - perfect solitude!

Boyce Upholt: Between the Levees
"America's Great, Misbehaving River - and its Walled-In Wild"

Day 28: Lessons
April 17, 2017
We’ve had three nights back on the river, after five nights off. Camped just downstream from Greenville, Miss., we’re in my home turf. Given life in the Delta, it seems suitably ironic that my cell phone signal, which has been great throughout the trip, has hardly worked these days. Thus the infrequent updates.

But it works for the landscape we’re traveling. While it has no official designation, John calls this stretch the “Muddy Waters Wilderness.” One bridge in two hundred miles, little industry, just a scattered few summer homes. Two hundred years ago the trees were different species, and might have been hung with Spanish moss, but otherwise this looks and feels the same.

Given that we are close to home, we’ve lately had more daytrippers, more single-night campers, more deliveries to and from shore. Which breaks up the wildness, but is also important, because the more people who experience this river, the safer and healthier she will be. (Though now that the weekend is over, we’re actually down to our smallest crew: Chris, Andy, and myself, the three through paddlers, plus John guiding the way.)
At some point yesterday, somewhere near the chute into Lake Whittington, we passed the geographic halfway point of the trip. Which probably means it’s too early for me to be reflecting on what I’ve learned. Nevertheless, the few-days break at home prompted reflective thoughts.

So how am I different? What have I learned. Most of all -- probably not surprisingly -- I see more wildness. Wildness in the strange crooks of the tree branches, even in an orchard where the trunks themselves are in orderly rows. Wildness in my backyard, with its bayou -- an ancient channel of the Mississippi. As I sat there last week in the sunshine, I listened, and I could hear layer over layer of birdsong, each song slightly different; I could see the different shapes of the leaves of each trees.

Before this trip these were just birds, just trees -- now (though I don’t yet know their names) they are each apparent as different species, with different stories, something new to identify and know.

Day 25: A rite of oneness with a certain terrain
April 13, 2017
“Travel by canoe is not a necessity, and will nevermore be the most efficient way to get from ne region to another . . . A canoe trip has become simply a rite of oneness with certain terrain, a diversion of the field, an act performed not because it is necessary but because there is value in the act itself…”
--John McPhee, The Survival of the Bark Canoe

Andy-Gator and Boyce Upholt

Boyce Upholt: Between the Levees

For more of Boyce’s writing, photographs, stories in magazines, and other links, go to Between the Levees at
Expedition Film-Maker Chris Battaglia (Magique) has created a new website for the expedition. Check it out at:

The journey continues...

Mother Earth Connects Us All!